This past weekend has been quite a festive and creative one! Three of our staff were invited to FACT in Liverpool to run a workshop throughout the day to make some Christmas Trees using basic electric components and soldering. Lots of people came along eager to get their hands on making one, both kids and adults alike! Even with the need to use soldering irons, a lot of younger builders were up to the challenge and learned how to use one for the first time.
The results were fantastic, with everyone having success building their trees and some amazement when they first lit up. The trees run off a single ordinary 9V battery so they can keep running for days and days, and can easily be replaced to last the whole Christmas period! Here’s a photo of one of the young constructors from the weekend:
This workshop and a previous workshop creating Rudolph ornaments with light-up noses was designed to give children and young people an easy, fun introduction to electronics. They were based on ideas used in previous workshops such as Mitch Altman’s soldering workshops and the BUGS! workshop we did as part of Blackburn is Open. The workshops were designed around two simple LED circuits with the first Rudolph workshop using a 3V battery to power a flashing red LED connected using copper tape, while the second workshop explained in this post involved a more complicated circuit involving 7 LEDs in parallel powered by a 9V battery.
Both workshops gave us an opportunity to introduce people to basic soldering skills (don’t touch the hot end) and the principles of diodes (such as the orientation of LED legs for correct positive/negative polarity) Although these workshops were focussed on electronics we decided to use unexpected materials including laser-cut wood and copper tape to demonstrate how easy it is to make circuits that will function and that electronics need not look like traditional circuits nor use printed circuit boards to achieve the same results.
You can purchase your very own Christmas Tree to make over on Etsy, and watch a video below of how the event went with a look at the trees in action!
Written by Jake Causier, a graduate intern from Manchester Metropolitan University and Tamarisk Kay, Director at MadLab.