Raspberry Pi 'Holographic' Christmas Tree Spins Ridiculously Fast

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: Sean Hodgins)

We’ve seen Raspberry Pi hologram projects before but this is the first one we’ve seen that functions as a Christmas tree. This project, created by Sean Hodgins, uses a Raspberry Pi 4 and relies on the principle of persistence of vision. This principle uses an LED strip to "paint" light at a specific speed. Using the tree's rotation, it displays custom 3D effects in mid-air that in this case resemble a festive holiday evergreen.

This tree is made from a metal, triangular frame. It’s mounted to a larger frame that has a motor capable of spinning the triangle into a cone at 10 Hz. The tree is capable of displaying both static and moving images. This makes it possible to display a simple tree or cartoon images and, in one demonstration, a flaming tree.

Hodgins was kind enough to share a video breaking down the project’s construction process. The metal frame was built entirely from scratch. Hodgins can be seen cutting the metal, mounting it together and making modifications as he went along to devise the most functional end result.

At the top of the metal frame is a motor connected to a slip ring that can deliver power to the LED strip while it spins so there’s no concern of wires getting tangled. A bearing is at the base of the triangle frame to provide support while it rotates. A Raspberry Pi 4 drives the operation along with a step down converter going from 12V to 5V and a fan for the motor. A magnet is attached to the top of the triangle frame that passes by a hall-effect sensor so the Pi knows exactly when a full rotation has been achieved.

The code was written in Python and is based on an existing library from Adafruit. There are plans to share the code for the project to GitHub but at the moment the project page is not yet live.

If you want to recreate this Raspberry Pi project yourself, check out the video shared by Hodgins over at YouTube and be sure to follow him for future updates.

Ash Hill
Contributing Writer

Ash Hill is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware with a wealth of experience in the hobby electronics, 3D printing and PCs. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting while also finding the best coupons and deals on all tech.

  • bit_user
    Based on the stills, it looks pretty good.

    Still, if you want to display real holograms with a Pi, this actually has a Pi 4 built-in: