"He Wears Black and Has a Beard"

Studio Tour: Christmas at WBHB

Toby Roworth

Dec 16, 2013

Studio might be a little strong.
For months now I've been trying to get a post done about my bedroom, usually referred to as "the best room in halls", for reasons that become obvious upon entering. However, due to all this term's deadlines falling right after one-another, and events being more common around Christmas than mince pies, I've not had a lot of time for writing. Hopefully the full tour will appear soon, but for now there are some sneak peaks in and amongst my Christmas decorations.

My Bass gets tinsel on its stand. Although replacing the strings with tinsel would have been cool, it seemed a little impractical.

My window got a proper snowflake made from cutting folded paper in the traditional fashion. I got pretty bored of doing that though, so did the rest with white gaffer and Sharpie.


Thunderbird 2 is now hauling a shiny present. Thunderbirds aficionados will realise that the scene depicted is non-canon, as in the only Thunderbirds Christmas special ("Give or Take a Million") the presents are carried by a rocket, and all Thunderbird 2 does is take a kid to visit Tracy Island.

Batman is now wearing a Santa hat.
Of course all of this was a bit boring, especially given that I have a bag of a few thousand blue LEDs in my drawer.

So out came the soldering iron. After a dozen-or-so LEDs I decided that 1000 LEDs in a string was a few too many (I was a little tempted to shove a string of 80-odd LEDs across the mains, but even I could see a certain amount of danger in that), so just made a little Christmas tree for the Transformers Christmas party.

The LEDs are flashed by a binary ripple counter IC (4020, as it's what they had spare in the lab), clocked off a 555. I've not bothered to add a circuit diagram because it's so trivial - 555 set up as astable by using your favourite 555 calculator, and it's output is fed into the clock input of the counter, who's outputs each go to a level of LEDs deadbuged in parallel.

It's worth noting for the future that the pinout of the IC is in a silly order, so my branches don't flash in the expected order. It still feels binary though, which is good enough for now. Note the GIF below misses half the steps, but Google did it for free when I wasn't looking, so I'm not complaining.