Laser Projected Christmas Lights

 

laser-christmas-lights

It’s August, and of course that means that it’s time for retail stores to put up their Christmas decorations! But seriously, if you’re going to do better than the neighbors you need to start now. [Joey] already has his early start on the decorations, with a house-sized light show using LED strips and a laser projector that he built last Christmas.

What started off as a thought that it would be nice to hang a wreath over the garage soon turned into a laser projector that shows holiday-themed animations on the front of the house. The project also includes a few RGB LED strips which can match the colors displayed by the projector. The LEDs are powered from a custom-built supply that is controlled by a laptop, and the program that runs on the computer averages the colors from the video signal going to the projector which lights up the LED strips to match the projected image. This creates an interesting effect similar to some projects that feature home theater ambient lighting.

The only major problem [Joey] came across was having to account for the lasers’ motion in the projected patterns, which was causing the computer to read false values. This and a few other laser-related quirks were taken care of with a bit of programming to make sure the system was functioning properly. After that it was a simple matter of attaching the projector to the roof and zip-tying the LED strips to the eaves of the house.

The projector is weatherproof, has survived one harsh winter already, and can be up and running for any holiday. With Halloween right around the corner, this could be a great way to spice up some trick-or-treating. Check out the video after the break to see this setup in action.

[Read more...]

Infrared Controlled Remote Firework Igniter

Firework Igniter

With Independence Day just around the corner, American hackers are likely to find themselves blowing things up in the name of Independence. It’s all great fun but it can also be dangerous. The standard ignition method of “use a lighter and run away really fast” is not exactly safe. Instead of lighting your fireworks the old-fashioned way, why not follow [Facelesstech's] example and build your own infrared controlled remote igniter?

The first step was to decide how to actually ignite the firework fuse. [Facelesstech] had seen others use a car cigarette lighter for this purpose and he decided to follow in their footsteps. He started by removing the cigarette lighter from his own car and pulling it apart. Only one component was needed for this hack. The main heating element is a small disk with a “stem” on the end. If you apply 12V to the stem and attach the outer edge of the disk to ground, the igniter will quickly become hot.

[Facelesstech] originally thought he could just solder some wires to the device. However, the heating element gets so hot that the solder just melts every time it’s turned on. He then got creative and drilled a hole in a small block of wood that fits the heating element. The element is bolted into the wood and the bolt is used as a conductor for the electrical power.

The heating element is powered via a 12V relay. The relay is controlled by an Arduino Nano. The Nano allows two modes of operation. With the first mode, you simply press a button and the Nano will start a five second timer. The idea is to give you enough time to run to a safe distance before the firework is ignited. This isn’t much different from the old-fashioned method, but it does give you a slightly extended fuse. The second mode is where the project really shines. The Nano is also hooked up to an infrared receiver. This allows [Facelesstech] to press a button on an old television infrared remote control to active the igniter. This is a clever solution because it allows you to get to a safe distance without having to run a long wire. It’s also simple and inexpensive. Be sure to watch the video test of the system below. [Read more...]

Stellated Snowdecahedra

snoe deca

It’s been a pretty crazy winter here in Canada and the northern States, but at least one maker is having fun with it! He’s been making Snowdecahedras!

According to him, snow sculpting is an ancient art that was originally first discovered over 16,000 years ago outside of the caves of Lascaux, France. Despite whether this claim is true or just tongue in cheek, he’s crafted some amazing nonconvex regular polyhedra—or, stellated snowdecahedras—with a few fancy tools.

He’s created five steel molds for the sculpture by shearing 50 triangles out of steel sheet at his local hackerspace. After taping the cones together, he then welded them into place, creating a rather intricate five-piece mold. He’s welded nuts onto the outside of the pieces in order to tie the mold shut when it is filled with snow.

Plop it upside down, untie your ropes or other fastening device, and carefully remove each face, one at a time.  Et voila, a beautiful spiky star for all to enjoy.

The project is part of the New American Public Art initiative.

Valentine’s PCBs To Make Your Heart Melt

valentines

Have you ever sat in bed, staring at a bottle of Iron III Chloride, and thought “I should do something with that…”? [Tobias] has. He wanted to use his tinkering skills to make his girlfriend happy, so he decided to make this beautiful etched PCB that professes his love to her.

The cool thing about this project is that [Tobias] has never etched a PCB, or even worked with SMD parts before! After designing the PCB layout on his computer, he printed it out on an inkjet transparency film and applied it to his PCB. After 14 minutes of exposure he then put the board into development fluid for about 60 seconds — it was starting to look good already! He then pulled out his trusty bottle of Iron III Chloride and began the etching process.

Once the board was etched, he soldered 18 red PLCC-2 LEDs in place, each with its own 330Ohm resistor. Not content with a simple on/off switch, [Tobias] decided to program a Trinket with a voltage regulator and mosfet to have it pulse on and off, similar to a beating heart! The finished project looks great, and we’re sure his girlfriend will love it.

Another bonus to doing something geeky like this for your loved ones means it will increase their acceptance of tools laying about, and half-finished projects that aren’t quite as pretty!

Walkalong Heart Glider

IMG_2924-1000

[Darcy Whyte] is a bit of a paper plane aficionado, so in preparation for this year’s Valentine’s day (that’s one month from today!) he’s created a flying Walkalong heart glider you can make yourself!

First off, what’s a Walkalong glider? Well, it’s a type of toy airplane made out of a light material with geometry that allows for a very slow descent — one that can be extended almost indefinitely if you walk behind it to create a slight draft. [Darcy] has made a whole bunch of these in all different shapes and sizes, and even got to fly them around the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum for a Walkalong Glider Meetup!

He’s since created the do it yourself Walkalong heart glider which can easily fit inside a card for a very unique Valentine’s memento. It does require a foam cutter to make, but [Darcy] also has plans on his site for a DIY hot-wire foam cutter that costs less than $10 to build!

It’s a cute little project — stick around after the break to see how it’s done!

[Read more...]

Christmas Tweetball

photo

The holidays are long over, but we’re still getting a smattering of holiday themed hacks. For this one, the [Han's] family decided to make a Christmas bauble that relays their tweets to them!

They call it the Tweetbal which is Dutch for — well — Tweetball! Whenever someone tweets with the hashtag #tweetbal it gets displayed on the 20×4 serial LCD display. They’re using an Arduino Uno with an RN-XV WiFly module to receive and send the tweets to the display. A large white plastic ornament ball houses it all secured very firmly with our favorite adhesion method — duct tape. It’s a pretty simple project, but a great holiday hack if we do say so ourselves — plus it could be easily used for non-holiday purposes — like a desktop trinket twitter feed!

Stick around after the break to see its tweeting capabilities in action.

[Read more...]

Hacking a Christmas Tree for Less Blinkyness

Hacking a Christmas Tree to Blink Slower

What good is a fiber optic self-lighting Christmas tree if it flashes so fast it will put you into an epileptic attack? The answer is “Not very good”, if you ask [Mads Nielsen] a.k.a [EcProjects]. So [EcProjects ] started a little project to slow the Christmas tree’s blinkyness down to a more reasonable rate. The task didn’t seem too difficult at first but turned into a quality tutorial building a variable frequency H-bridge motor control.

After opening the base of the tree [EcProjects] found a 12 volt AC geared synchronous motor turning a multi colored translucent plastic disk. A bright spotlight was shining upwards through the turning disk into the ends of hundreds of small fiber optics. This mechanism dumps loads of multi colored light out the ends of the fibers at the tips of the Christmas tree branches as the disk turns.

His goal was to slow down the motor; however, the rotation was based on the 50 Hz mains signal. In order to continue using this motor a lower frequency AC power source was needed. What follows in the video is an excellent lesson on how an AC synchronous motor works plus how to build a variable frequency control and H-bridge using some transistors, resistors and CMOS 4069 inverter chip.

In the end the frequency drive could only be lowered to about 30 Hz before the synchronous motor would stall and reverse using his design. [EcProjects] was bold enough to include several fails which always provides more opportunity for learning and is greatly appreciated.

If you believe you have a better solution please share your idea in the comments. I’m sure the first proposal will include an Arduino and servo modified for continuous rotation, but any solutions would be fascinating including modifications to his design. You can join us after the break to watch the video.

[Read more...]

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