You’re not seeing double: RGB Christmas trees

[mrpackethead], created this monster of a tree.  As shown in the video, it’s capable of showing animations, patterns, and potentially video. The 6m tall creation is studded with 2000 waterproof RGB LED modules. Software for the tree was written in Apple’s own Quartz Composer and integrated into Madrix, a piece of software designed with the purpose of controlling LEDs. The 600W system is 100% Arduino-free and costs less than the equivalent of 0.04USD per hour to run in New Zealand.

[Geoist] opted for the Arduino way to rig up his own smaller RGB Christmas tree. Finding a slightly kitschy fiber-optic model in his local department store, [Geoist] was eager to harness its colour-changing powers. Upon opening it up, it was discovered that it was controlled by nothing more than a light bulb and a spinning disk of coloured light filters. [Geoist] gutted the setup in favour of a breadboard with 3 RGB lights hooked up to an Arduino. The sketch for it is available on his site.

Choreographed Christmas light show (x4)

[Lucas] is at it again this year. Not satisfied by the computerized systems available on the market, [Lucas] decided to build on last year’s project. To save a bit of cash, he built the setup around Parallax’s low-cost SX28 proto board. The system is capable of controlling 102 channels, with 8-bit dimming. 6 boards control 7 channels each and are communicated to through a serial protocol (reducing the whole setup to only 36 feet of wiring).

More importantly, he’s teamed up with 3 other neighbors who also share a passion for outdoor Christmas lighting and they’ve put together the Christmas Tour of Lights. Money raised from all donations goes directly to the St. Jude Children’s Reasearch Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

Spreading christmas cheer w/ auto parts

The folks over at [Soup], a British marketing agency, thought up this cool project. It’s a set of handbells hooked up to an Arduino, actuated by central locking motors found in car doors. By the look of some pictures, there was also a Lego version. Songs written by users (through the online interface) are placed in the que of a server. Once it’s time for the song to be played, serproxy sends the Arduino an appropriate set of commands for ringing the bells in sequence. All of this happens in the [Soup] office while it is streaming live through a webcam.

We think that this is definitely a great way to use surplus auto parts. After all, not everyone can build helicopters.

It seems as though the bells are down for the moment, or the employees got a bit annoyed at hearing them constantly ring.

Let it Snow (Leopard)

Yet another netbook can now run OS X. This one happens to be the Samsung n310, making it our first published non-Dell netbook to accomplish the feat. The key lies in a custom (and downloadable) .ISO for intalling said operating system onto a netbook. Full instructions for the task, and an audio driver for the n310 in OS X, are available on the [ComputerSolutions] website.

Oddly enough, the platform swap probably ‘freed up’ some space.

Open source artillery

Thanks to [Josh, Kyle, and Mike], it is now possible to wage (Nerf) war with an Arduino. The turret designed around it is capable of shooting 6 foam projectiles in close succession, between reloads. The faux weapon interfaces with a computer through the Arduino’s onboard serial link (via USB). Software on the PC sends commands to the Arduino, which then executes functions, such as panning, tilting, firing, and rotating the cylinder. The power for the firing itself comes from a 5 gal, 80 psi air compressor. The Java software on the host PC also does smarter things, like show streaming video from the turret’s webcam and even performs basic object tracking (with mixed success). All the code for building the brute is available on [Josh's] website.

19th century all-in-one PC

…well not quite, but Victorian-styled nonetheless.

In the same vein as his previous creation, [Jake] decided to steampunk his new monitor. However, this time around, he managed to squeeze a full pc into the retro case. A custom aluminum chassis had to be designed and safely house the disk drives and motherboard behind the monitor.  Since the 350W PSU was a bit too clunky to mount behind the screen, [Jake] rebuilt the base of the unit around it. The P4, 250GB SATA hard drive, and gold painted cooling fan allow the machine to run Kubuntu “Gusty Gibbon” smoothly. Coupled with a typewriter-inspired keyboard, [Jake's] got a cutting edge antique setup.

Arduino now controlling – the crop harvest?

We’ve seen the Arduino board in charge of some pretty unique tasks in the past. Harvesting locally grown soybeans was not one of them.

[Lance] rigged this beast up in order to automate the monotonous task of driving up and down the vast soybean fields of Iowa. The 15 ton farm combine’s hydraulic steering pump is at the mercy of a team of gadgets, including a GPS, Windows 7 PC, and the omnipresent Duemilanove (which acts as the output card, connecting the PC to the pump). So far, it is reported to be doing a great job, straying only about an inch and a half from its desired, GPS-programmed, path. Even if the Arduino decides to go totally berserk and drive the combine off course, speeding around at 5mph makes it pretty avoidable. A supervisor is also in the cabin at all times, looking out for errors. [Lance] eventually hopes to offload all steering-related calculations to the ATmega328P onboard.

Commenters are welcome to share heavier-duty uses for the Arduino (if they exist).

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