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Survey. How is your mega tree constructed?

Discussion in 'Mega, Mini, Spiral & Pixel Trees' started by Greg.Ca, Oct 19, 2016.

  1. Greg.Ca

    Greg.Ca Apprentice Elf

    Jan 1, 2013
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    I tend to think of a mega tree as the 'Center piece' of your Christmas light show. it may have started years ago when Mason Williams had that famous video in which his mega tree 'danced' back & forth with the music from Trans Siberian Orchestra's 'Wizards in Winter' (Still my favorite) with his early LOR show.

    Somehow I either read or was told years ago that you needed to go to home depot hardware store and buy one or two 10 foot 1 1/4 steel threaded mast poles. Well that's exactly what I did. For over a decade my mega tree has been propped up with two 10 foot steel threaded 1 1/4 heavy metal steel pipes joined together in the middle with a female-female threaded coupler. This mast pole is extremely heavy and terribly top-heavy making it very difficult to handle. If it starts to tip over, it could easily find it's way into the neighbors living room through one of their large living room windows. YIKES!!!

    I worked just fine but over the years but the hook head grew in size to accommodate more lights and the 'star' on top of the mega tree also grew to accommodate more lights. In the past all of this was made of steel and there was one big disadvantage. Yes, you guessed it. WEIGHT! Having large steel structures (hook head and star) on the end of a long heavy steel pole has been increasingly difficult to erect and stand up. It was just a matter of time before a disaster may have happened. 2-3 feet of this monstrous pole slides into a cemented slightly larger 'sleeve' that is always buried under the ground by a few inches. Trying to get the end of this pole to slip into the sleeve has been a difficult task at best because it is just so cumbersome with it being so top heavy.

    As time grew my labor force of strong teenage boys dwindled down to zero as my three sons became adults and moved out of the home starting their own lives. They now live thousands of miles away at University in a different state, Coast Guard academy on the east coast and my oldest son is just lazy and useless. He wont help his dad even for money. It is now become impossible to erect this very heavy monstrosity, lift it up from the bottom and fit it into this sleeve. I need either a cherry picker bucket truck to lift it from the top or three more strong helpers.

    But alas I have come up with a different solution. If airplanes were made of steel they wouldn't fly yet every airplane flies because they are made with aluminum. Over the years I have had the hook head re-manufactured with aluminum, the large pixel star is made entirely with aluminum and now I am using a aluminum mast pole. To keep strength, I am using a larger size pipe 1 1/2 diameter instead if 1 1/4, and went with a schedule 80 not schedule 40. The difference between schedule 80 vs. schedule 40 is thicker wall diameter. The pole appears much beefier, has a thicker wall diameter and yet it still is 1/3 the weight. Hooray!!!

    I really don't know what other people are using to prop up their mega tree for their center pole. So therefore, please let me know how tall your mega tree is, what it is supporting, and what type of props (hook head and star) reside on top of your tree.

    I'm proud to say that this mega tree in the LOR days had 16 strands of 300 count full wave LED's X 8 different colors/strand. 16 X 8 X 300 =38,400 LED's. In the modern pixel world, it will have 64 strands of 240 5V pixels WS2812b pixels (each strand) which I currently in process of constructing all the necessary devices to drive and support this. The Pixel star on the top will also have thousands of 5V pixels.

    So far I have seen no negative consequence except for the high cost of having everything built from aluminum. In my real job, I'm paid to over-engineer everything for worse case scenario and have done the same with my Christmas light show.

    So, how is your Mega Tree propped up?? Tell me how your mega tree is designed especially the center pole.

    Thanks --Greg--
  2. marmalade

    marmalade cats & pixels

    Dec 1, 2015
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    'So, how is your Mega Tree propped up?? Tell me how your mega tree is designed especially the center pole. '

    like yours.. sunk 1m (36") into shale/clay and held in with 80kg of concrete.. just to be sure :D

    This is a bit of an open ended question, as the overall structure has to be engineered depending on the environment.. soil type, rainfall, wind loading, string type & mass etc. There may also be the temptation for local kids to start climbing & swinging on it.

    So essentially what may work for one may not work for another.

    However there always a great deal of ingenuity & ideas to be shared and look forward to seeing some nice trees here :)
  3. cjd

    cjd New Elf

    Nov 17, 2012
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    Gosford, Australia
    Find Me On:
    I'm kind of lucky in that I have three large (7m+ trunk) solid palm trees in my front yard - so just use the middle one of them as the center pole for my megatree :)
    No tricky install, no stability issues etc ;)
  4. Heath-LightsOnTapley

    Heath-LightsOnTapley Senior Elf Generous Elf

    Aug 23, 2015
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    sheidow park
    i basically have all the bits for mine... praying that it is going to work :)

    a flagpole mounted to a VERRRY heavy umbrella stand, 6 guy wires (3 mid and 3 top - 4 secured to screw in type tent pegs, 2 secured to solar panel brackets screwed to my rafters) trampoline base, anchored to the ground.
  5. scamper

    scamper Senior Elf

    Jan 5, 2014
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    Mine is 4.5m tall and has a 1m pvc sleeve concreted in the ground.
    The pole is in 2 sections, both steel. the first section slips into the sleeve in the ground and is about 1.8m out of the ground. The second section slips inside the first and has another 1m high star on top of that.
    I have a base ring that is made to slip over the first pole and can be raised if I feel the need to make the tree higher off the ground.
    I hook up the strings, at this point only 16, then raise the inner section until it at full height, then lock it off and add a bolt for safety.
    So I am not fighting the weight of the strings and trying to lift everything at once, I usually lift the base ring up about 200mm until the pole is set then drop the base down which takes up the tension.
    I use plastic coated steel clothes line wire as me string supports and have pixels attached to them. That alleviates the need for guy wires, and the base ring is then anchored to the ground.
    Up until now I have not required a which etc to lift it, but if I add more strings in the future, I can see that becoming a real possibility.
  6. the grinch

    the grinch I guess I could use a little social interaction

    Jun 23, 2013
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    angle vale s.a.
    Hi greg yes can relate to your situation definetly our tree is 6.5 metres high to top of star and for many years have to rely on help to erect although still able and willing is a chore . Unlike yourself have stuck with using steel yes much heavier definitely but cheaper also and am able to weld etc with no great expense and ease .have tottally redesigned construction and at moment is down to 1 person job just planted pole yesterday as getting that critical time of year once again so far everything is working out well . You can see my progress on the forums here under mega, mini , spiral and pixel trees , ( reno the mega tree )
  7. MikeKrebs

    MikeKrebs New Elf

    Dec 8, 2014
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    Last year i did 20 feet of fence top pole sitting on a Boscoyo disk with their ABS head. The base will be more substantial this year but the rest will remain. Sixteen strips with 50 nodes and three guy wires attached to large screw in earth anchors. The pole is hard to manage but very doable. Last year with one helper- this year hopefully the same. I was lucky with my son- he was the reason the tree even went up last year. Says he will be around for round two next month!
  8. battle79

    battle79 Full Time Elf Generous Elf

    Dec 8, 2012
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    Chirnside Park, Victoria, AU
    Mine is an 8mtr galvanised steel 100mm x 100mm square pole. Very Heavy. I got my brother to weld up a hinge plate with a foot that slips into the bottom of the pole as you stand it up with the hinge. then put a bolt through the pole and the foot plate. The plate is dyno bolted to the concrete slab.

    I have bracket at about 2.5mtrs that mounts off the facia board of the house and another at 3mtr that mounts off the carport framework to stabilise in the other direction. 3 guy wires from the top to stop any movement.

    Star is mounted before pole is raised. It's 2D and all the arms are 12mmsq gal tubing that get hooked on after the pole goes up and bolted at bottom so hooks can't rise and come loose.

    Completely over engineered, but it will last forever and the material was a donation from my brothers steel fab work so really didn't cost me much in the end.


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