The Minecraft Christmas tree that lights up in real life

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Have you ever dreamt of creating a project inside of minecraft and then seeing it come to life in the real world?

Well @RyanDCarter, electronics and redstone hobbyist did just that.

 

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Redstone has long been a minecraft sensation spurring much creativity and innovation within the ever growing community. Every now and then a project such as a minecraft server (theserver.fluctis.com ) having a button that lights up both a Christmas tree in-game and one in real life comes along. Featuring fully customisable RGB LED’s players in-game can even go as far as controlling the color that the lights emit directly from their minecraft client.

When speaking to Ryan we found that he “has been learning about micro-controllers for the last year or so and I have been fascinated with the idea of being able to reach out through the internet and really interact with something REAL.”

I wanted to create a project that was challenging enough to expand my own horizons while at the same time innovative and interesting for OTHER people to come enjoy.

Having next to no electrical engineering  background, Ryan has always found himself interested in redstone mechanics and decided to bring his knowledge of coding and electronics to the forefront by tackling a potentially challenging project. Working with his friends, Tyler and Josh, to make the scenery/spawn and gaining knowledge from freely available resources found online – the project was put into motion.

How does a thing like this work?

With simplicity in mind, Ryan is using a Minecraft server running the latest version of Spigot. Using in-game command blocks and a downloadable plugin, scriptcraft, this allowed him to create commands that talk via HTTP requests to a arduino which controls the lights.

Although this sounds simple in concept, Ryan explains how “There is a little more going on behind the scenes that will be explained in the tutorial.” that he will be releasing at some point after the new year. You can find the video series here 

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Surely there must of been some problems in setting this up?

In making a project that involves real time lighting and in-game mechanics, there are bound to be some issues that come crop up. Ryan explained to us how the whole project took around a month to put together and how there were many small hurdles along the way. One of the biggest limitations was the ability to stream live low latency video 24/7.

In order for the tree control to feel responsive ,the response time between in-game buttons and seeing the changes on the webcam needed to be minimal.

“I had intended to use a service such as Livestream or Ustream but early tests had as much as 10 seconds lag.  I found the quickest (and cheapest) solution was to use a Raspberry Pi as my webcam.  The frame rate isn’t the highest but for something like the Christmas Tree a low frame rate is better than high latency.”

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Things to come in the future…

Although we are yet to see drivable cars direct from minecraft, there is a very real possibility that something like that could be achieved. The near and far future of technology and games combined could prove to be alot more eventful than critics are willing to admit. With other conceivable projects such as this bound to be popping up more and more often, we can only be hopeful that peoples’ imaginations can further expand to explore new depths of understanding & innovation within the gaming and technology world.

As Ryan puts it, “We have gotten to a time in technology where anyone can create anything.  Literally – if you can imagine it, and it doesn’t break any laws of physics, you can create it.”



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