Building the iWreath for a Cyber Christmas


Having the Christmas spirit and wanting to build something will make for a productive week. In my office it was announced that there was to be a contest to see what department could make the best Christmas (er, ‘winter holiday’, sorry) wreath. The guide lines were pretty vague on what the content was supposed to be so I chose to make one that properly reflected what the computer department is like. So, armed with a standard issue wreath I set out to wow ’em big time!


First thing I did was wrap the wreath in a string of 70 LEDs. These things are super! the control device has a jaw dropping 16 settings. All sorts of cool cycling and blinking going on there, sure to cause a fit or two.

Next I decided that to was going to have a big bow. All proper wreaths have them right? But mine was going to be unique. No run of the mill floppy plastic felt bow for me, no sir! I was going to make mine high tech. A while back I had bought a Juice Box MP3 and image player. I had a grand idea that I’d use it as a desktop digital picture frame. I didn’t like the way it displayed the images so I chucked it in a box for later. Making a bow that had it’s own slide show would be quite simple with the Juice Box, it’s small enough to cover with other parts and it does the job of image display good enough for this project.


I knew that I’d have to cover up the interface between box and screen so after walking around a craft shop for a while I struck upon the idea of building a micro wreath to cover things up. Using three different kinds of fake cranberries, I un-wrapped all of them and then twisted them on to a wire frame.

iWreath-05 iWreath-09

After the frame was built I started work on the bow. The bows that I could find that looked good are made up of discreet stapled ‘bow-ets’. I don’t know what the correct name is, maybe it’s a ‘sub bow assembly’. Whatever. I took each of the small bows and added two staples on either side of the center staple. I removed the original staple and cut the bows in half.iWreath-10 I used a scrap piece of black matt-board to cut a frame around the Juice Box screen, to this I started hot gluing the bow halves to.


Once the bow was pretty much back in its original shape I covered the edges and the gobs of hot glue with some bow scraps. After that I wired the mini wreath to this and shaped the wire to obscure the edges of the bow.


To secure the Juice Box bow to the wreath I zip tied a stick of bass wood at the bottom front of the wreath. On the back of the Juice Box I glued a similar stick on the top so I could wire them together. I needed to be able to swing the bow up in case I needed to make a battery change. I know, I could use a 4.5 volt AC adapter but I couldn’t find one and I was feeling clever.


Using more hot glue I attached short bits of florists wire to all the parts that are going the be infused in the wreath. The numbers are just ones and zeros that were cut into strips from a single 11×17 print out. The hard drives (not pictured) are form some old laptops that were hiding under a desk. Their 360 MB capacity platters will look nice and pretty once the lights start reflecting off them. The CPUs are AMD K6/450s that were removed from computers that were to be sent to surplus.

I needed a nice ‘Happy Holidays’ sign in it someplace so naturally I chose the keys off from the scrap laptops. Those 386’s never saw it coming! To make sure the keys were all lined up on the wire frame I taped them to a metal ruler. Never under estimate the power of magic tape! Handy stuff.

I secured a length of flipped over tape to the ruler and set out the keys. I started at the center of the keys and tacked the ends of the wires. Once all the keys were glued to the wire I then ran small bits of wires to hold the lower line of text in place. A smart curve later and I was ready to wire it in place.iWreath-24


The placement of all the parts didn’t follow any structured organization. I knew that the big things, the hard drives, needed to go on first. I worked on making a loose balance in the composition. No big clumps of stuff in any one place.

Once everything was together I added a bunch of photos to the Juice Box using Christopher JBP image converter and I was all set.

I’m happy with how it turned out. It may not win the first prize (it’s lacking in kids and animals) but it’s bound to cause a stir. I like the iWreath, too bad it doesn’t play music.

Video of the wreath in action

iWreath Christmas Cyber photoset on Flickr

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