For the 2023 Season, we did a refresh of our Mega-Tree. As part of that, we wanted to replace our star topper with something new.
The old star topper was actually a “patriotic” star we found at Menards around the time we built the original mega tree in 2003. It was originally adorned with red/white/blue rope light, but it looked OK with the various colors of the Mega Tree. In 2011 we removed the rope light and replaced it with RGB strip, allowing the star to be any color. This served us well through the 2022 season, for a total of 21 seasons on top of each of the two renditions of our Mega-tree. Even if it was a bit undersized for the tree.
Tim looked around for ideas and options for a new tree topper. He knew he wanted a) something 3D, not flat, b) something larger than the old star, to be better proportioned with the Mega Tree, and c) something that could have even more color effects than the previous RGB star’s “many, but one at a time” color.
After coming up dry on commercial mega-tree toppers that met these guidelines (yes, commercial mega tree parts actually exist), we discovered the Moravian Star. These stars are a geometric arrangement of spikes in a 3D pattern that end up looking a lot like a Bethlehem star. We decided this would be a perfect new topper for our tree.
We ended up starting with a 21 inch Moravian Star kit available on Amazon. These are designed snap together with little clips and had a single LED bulb in the middle, and then snap back apart and store away at the end of the season. They were designed to be somewhat sheltered under a porch or overhang, and definitely not designed to be perched on top of a 20 foot pole from the bottom.
Therefore we needed to beef it up to handle snow, ice, and wind on top of the 20′ mega tree pole. We ended up settling on using some large rivets in place of the plastic clips to create a top half and bottom half of the star. The rivets make it a much more solid structure than the originally-supplied clips. We did use the supplied clips to attach the two halves together, allowing the ability to crack it back open for future maintenance.
For lighting, obviously the single bulb wasn’t going to do. We 3D printed some inserts that fit just into the tapered spikes. The square based ones get two bullet pixels (the same type used on the Mega Tree itself), and the triangle-based ones a single pixel. We had some difficulty finding a glue that would stick to the plastic of the star spikes, but eventually discovered that Dewalt Extra Strength Hot Melt worked great.
The top spike has a slightly thicker insert, as it will carry the weight of the whole star. A threaded rod goes up through the whole star and into the base of the top spike. Once the star halves are assembled, another nut gets spun up to support the star from the bottom. The bottom of the threaded rod will then attach to the metal tree topper, in the same way our old star topper did.
The result is a 3D star that can be not only any color, but each individual point of the star can be any color! Here’s some “bench tests” we did after building it:
As well as a video to show some effects: