Halloween is fast approaching. Peter’s local hackerspace, The Rabbit Hole had a meeting to carve pumpkins and talk Halloween hacks. After seeing how poorly a tea light illuminated a medium size pumpkin, this hack was born. We’ve seen LED jack-o’-lantern hacks before, but this one was worth a second look.
In true hackerspace style, [Peter] used what was available to him. A PIC12F508 is the heart of the project. The 12X508/9 series has been around for at many years, and is still a great chip to work with. We remember using the ‘C’ version of this chip to bypass region locks on original PlayStation systems. [Peter] created a simple circuit with two basic modes. In “value mode” the 508 drives LED’s directly from its I/O pins. This limits the total output to 60mA. In “premium mode”, some 2N3904 NPN transistors are brought in to handle the current. This allows the PIC to drive up to 5 LEDs.
Candles can be tricky to simulate with LEDs. [Peter] used 5 independent 16 bit linear feedback shift registers to generate pseudo random bit streams. The effect is quite impressive. A “wind simulation” completes the illusion of a real flame.
One pin of the micro is used to switch between value and premium mode. One mod we’d love to see is taking back that I/O pin and hooking it up to a wind sensor – possibly a microphone, or airflow sensor. Use the sensor to trigger wind mode for an even more realistic candle simulation.