It's a Through-Hole Christmas, Charlie Brown!

Replacement: None at this time. Good grief... we are no longer carrying the It's a Through-Hole Christmas, Charlie Brown! Kit in our catalog. This page is for reference only.

Decorate for the holidays in SparkFun style with the Through-Hole Christmas Kit! This ornamental kit comes with a neatly-cut, tree-shaped PCB, adorned with super-bright green LEDs, and topped with a yellow LED. The LEDs are controlled by a pre-programmed ATtiny85 AVR, and the circuit is powered via a couple AA batteries. The included battery holder has an ON/OFF switch so you can turn the ornament off to save on battery life.

This kit comes as a bag of parts, which you'll need to solder onto the tree PCB. All components are through-hole, so this is a great kit for that first-time solderer. Make sure you install everything with the correct polarity!

Happy holidays, from SparkFun!

It's a Through-Hole Christmas, Charlie Brown! Product Help and Resources

Core Skill: Soldering

This skill defines how difficult the soldering is on a particular product. It might be a couple simple solder joints, or require special reflow tools.

2 Soldering

Skill Level: Rookie - The number of pins increases, and you will have to determine polarity of components and some of the components might be a bit trickier or close together. You might need solder wick or flux.
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Core Skill: Electrical Prototyping

If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.

2 Electrical Prototyping

Skill Level: Rookie - You may be required to know a bit more about the component, such as orientation, or how to hook it up, in addition to power requirements. You will need to understand polarized components.
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Looking for answers to technical questions?

We welcome your comments and suggestions below. However, if you are looking for solutions to technical questions please see our Technical Assistance page.

  • jandirks / about 14 years ago / 4

    With reference to this item: Adafruit receives a letter from lawyers representing Velleman

  • DeanB / about 10 years ago / 1

    Please? A few more?

  • charliebrown / about 11 years ago * / 1

    There is a bug in the source code posted above. The line for(int s_led=2; s_led s_led < 4; s_led++) should read for(int s_led=2; s_led < 5; s_led++) or one set of LEDs will never light!

    • Member #1863 / about 11 years ago * / 1

      I believe the line of code should be

      for(int s_led=1; s_led < 4; s_led++)

      because LED=s_led and the switch statement has cases for LED equal to 1, 2 and 3.

  • Ed Hartnett / about 12 years ago / 1

    My nine-year old put this together in about 20 minutes - the first time he has fired the solder gun in anger!
    Plugged in the batteries and everything worked. He was delighted. ;-)

  • pdp7 / about 13 years ago / 1

    Howdy - I built the kit last night, but it seems the pattern runs incorrectly.
    When I power it on, the yellow LED turns on solid and then it fades in and out sets the three sets of 3 LEDs (lasting about 2 secs for each group).
    However, then all the LEDs turn off for about 30 seconds (a seemingly long time).
    I'm guessing this is not the correct operation. One thought was that the internal clock is running slow for some reason but not sure how to verify and correct that.
    Anyone else have this problem?

    • Member #40311 / about 13 years ago / 2

      Mine does that as well. I upped the voltage to 5 volts and it runs constantly. It seems two AA cells is just not enough.

    • SomeGuy123 / about 13 years ago / 2

      They all do that to conserve power.
      If it ran continuously, it would get boring after a while.

  • St3fan / about 14 years ago / 1

    Wow that yellow LED is so extremely bright!
    Can you guys post the software so that we can hack this thing?

  • abartky / about 14 years ago / 1

    Just out of curiosity, what tricks did you use so you don't need current limiting resistors?
    Looks like for the Green LEDs, they are forward voltage of 3.0 to 3.4V, so I assume for those, you don't bother with one as 2 batteries shouldn't exceed 3.4V.
    For the LED, that has a lower forward voltage. Are you running some kind of square wave with a duty cycle so that you don't overload the LED?
    Thanks :-)

    • The LEDs are controlled using a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM). Essentially a square wave whose duty cycle changes in order to create different brightnesses; current consumption can also be managed using PWM.
      We also benefit from the fact that there are 3 LEDs on each output pin (except the star). Each pin can only source around 40 mA, so when that current is split between all 3 LEDs we're looking good!

  • promethean / about 14 years ago / 1

    @zv470: Many AVR micros (maybe all? I don't know) have a built-in clock. For example, the ATmega168 defaults internally to 1MHz, but can go up to 8MHz, and only needs an external crystal for MHz > 8MHz <= 20Mhz speeds.

    • zv470 / about 14 years ago / 1

      @promethean Thanks :) that was really informative. I ordered an AVR chip and oscillator... so I'm looking forward to lots of AVR fun. Interesting I don't need the oscillator unless I need the faster speed. Wonder if the power usage is a lot less at 1MHz compared to 16MHz.

  • zv470 / about 14 years ago / 1

    excuse my ignorance, don't you need an oscillator or something to provide a clock/timer signal to a micro-controller?

    • omnivescence / about 14 years ago / 1

      I'm pretty sure it uses the internal oscillator.

      • omnivescence / about 14 years ago / 1

        lol, i didn't read the other comments :D nevermind...

  • Lee / about 14 years ago / 1

    If you plan on routing this board on a CNC mill, an outline with a little smoother shape will help minimize damage to the machine. The outline EAGLE creates is made up by a ton of tiny segments with a lot of sharp angle -- bad stuff from a manufacturing point of view. I generated a new outline that minimizes vector error (direction change, basically) which can be had at this direct link:

  • RobotGrrl / about 14 years ago / 1

    Can you post the source code for the ATtiny? :)

    • tz / about 14 years ago / 1

      If you have the actual kit, you should be able to read out the program by issuing a read command to the programmer.
      The code should be very simple, but without having a kit it would be hard for me to recreate (though I could get something to flash).
      There is also the issue of "the fuses" - they control how some of the ports operate, e.g. if you need a crystal or something else.
      (I got an AVR Dragon from digikey which lets me use something called High Voltage Serial Programming that lets me fix wrong fuse settings or other problems, and a chip-clip so I don't need the 6 pin ISP connector - I do use a ZIF socket I got from sparkfun).

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