Christmas is around the corner, which means we have entered the festive season. What better way to celebrate this time of the year with some automation projects that will boost your Christmassy spirit – from a motorized Christmas tree to an animatronic figure, Progressive Automations will help you out. Let us get straight into 5 festive automation ideas to incorporate into your holiday season.
1. Motorized Christmas Tree
A Christmas tree can easily be converted into a spectacle piece by using a few micro linear actuators! Our PA-07 is small enough to hide amongst the Christmas tree branches, with the main housing measuring only 2.75” (L) x 0.74” (W) x 0.90” (H), and stroke lengths ranging from 0.5” to 12”.
How to Install?
Simply attach a Christmas decoration to the end of the rod using hot glue, double-sided tape, or some string and position the actuator in the tree. Ensure the rod is extended to its full stroke so that you can gauge how far out you would like the decoration to travel and the branches cover the actuator.
Run the cables of the actuator down to the motorized Christmas tree stand and attach them to a microcontroller and power supply. Alternatively, you can attach the actuator to a relay board and then to a microcontroller for increased control. Progressive Automations stock 12VDC 1A power supplies and Arduino microcontrollers that are perfect for this application.
2. Wall Mounted TV Lift Over a Fireplace
Automating the functionality of your TV is a great application for linear actuators, particularly during the holiday season when movie-watching can be huge. If you have an electric fireplace, implementing your TV within this design is a great idea, giving your living area modern and convenient functionality.
The method of actuation in this case will be determined by the location of your TV and fireplace. For example, if your TV is on top of a large cabinet, you could design it to move up and back down into the cabinet, keeping it hidden from view when unused. On the other hand, if you have your TV wall mounted above a fireplace, then an option would be to actuate a hinged flap that moves up to expose the TV. Alternatively, you can also install a drop down TV lift, bearing in mind that space would be required in your roof to store the TV and lift. An electric fireplace with a TV lift adds a touch of modernism to any room and can be extremely convenient.
3. Kitchen Automation Products
The kitchen can be an extremely busy spot over the festive period, with limited space and often disorganized chaos. To solve this, there are many kitchen automation ideas that can perform various operations. For example, a solution that’s not just limited to just the holiday season: kitchen countertops can be converted into adjustable countertops using Progressive Automations series of tables lifts.
Adjustable Kitchen Countertops
Adjusting the height of your countertops will have an immense impact on your general kitchen design as well as improve family food preparation, especially during the holiday season. Furthermore, it will create extra space as well as make the countertops easily accessible for anyone.
Installing these adjustable countertops is similar to a standard adjustable table. However, the table lift set can either be housed inside your cupboards or, for a lower level to be achieved, it can be installed as-is, with no cupboards hindering the movement of the actuators. Alternatively, lifting columns can be used to lower countertop sections.
Automated Spice Rack
Another kitchen idea is to build an automated spice rack, which raises or lowers out of a kitchen countertop or overhead cupboards, respectively. A single linear actuator is attached to the spice rack, which moves along a guide rail. For a more detailed breakdown of products you will need and assembly instructions, visit our article on how to build a spice rack.
Automated Trash Can
One final idea is to design an automated trash can lid. This can easily be accomplished by attaching a linear actuator on to the front of a pedal bin so that the rod presses down on the pedal when activated. Using an Arduino microcontroller, you can attached a motion/proximity sensor (e.g. ultra-sonic sensor), which will allow you to activate the linear actuator to open the bin when you have your hands full.
4. Christmas Yard Animatronic Figures
When it comes to Christmas decorations, many strive for bigger and better. Go beyond the traditional light show and create yard animatronic figures or animatronic Christmas window display figures using linear actuators! We demonstrate how this is possible by making a Mike Wazowski animatronic pumpkin, but you can apply this to animate any prop you would like.
If using the pumpkin design as an inspiration, we wire up the actuator to an Arduino, Wasp motor driver, and battery. The mounting bracket on the end of the actuator rod can be attached to anything you would like to animate. Bear in mind that the force of the actuator is limited, so ensure you are rotating light/small items (such as polystyrene), otherwise, you can always purchase a larger actuator with a bigger power supply and motor driver.
Using this same hinged actuation principle, you can get creative with animating a variety of different figures. For instance, you could rotate a Santa head in different directions or simply make his Christmas hat extend and retract. Alternatively, you could use a number of linear actuators that are hidden, for instance inside your front garden hedge, to make elves appear and disappear by timing the actuators to fire in a sequential pattern – the possibilities are endless!
5. Extendable Table
An extendable table is a convenient addition to any home, either acting as the main dining room table, or as an extendable outdoor table option. However, most tables take up a serious amount of space and can prove to be inconvenient. While there are space-saving alternatives in the form of foldable tables, setting them up every time you need to use them can be a tedious task.
Much like adjustable kitchen countertops, tables can be controlled in the same manner using table lift sets provided by Progressive Automations. There are also additional benefits to extendable tables beyond the Christmas advantages:
- They have a zero footprint when retracted inside their storage area.
- Fully functional when opened.
- Adjustable according to individual needs.
- Effortless to set up.
An example of how a retractable table was implemented can be seen in our Japanese style table lift project, which used pair of FLT-07 Lifting Column Sets that retract completely when not in use. This type of table gives plenty of room for the kids to run around when hidden, and easily raised with the retractable table legs when needed!
'Tis the Season
The holiday season is a time for family and getting those projects done that you may have been putting off during the year. These 5 automation ideas can be implemented to make Christmas exciting, save space, or add a touch of convenience to your home. When it comes to using a linear actuator for automation, the sky is the limit, so do not restrict your ideas to these 5.
Progressive Automations provides all the necessary linear actuation technology to make your project run smoothly. Moreover, we provide all the necessary tools and resources to turn your ideas into reality. For more information on Progressive Automations products or for additional support, contact us today.