CartoLucci: A Candle-Powered Christmas Card


If you’re looking for a last-minute Christmas present, you probably won’t have enough time to reproduce [Helmar's] candle-powered Christmas card. He’s been working on it for a few years now, since his first prototype in 2010. Though he pieced together the original card with parts lying around his workshop, the most recent iteration looks like it belongs on the shelf in a store.

We last saw [Helmar's] work two years ago, when he shared his Full Color Laser TV. This project is a bit more compact: the circuitry was printed with conductive ink on the cardstock, and all the required components are held together by conductive adhesive. To power the electronics, he decided against a battery and instead chose to embed a solar cell on the inside of the card. Placing a lit candle inside the open card provides enough juice for the exterior of the card to shine.

You can see a video of both the current and prototype versions of [Helmar's] cards after the break.

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Automated Drink Mixer Is the Life of the Party

Hosting a New Year’s Eve party, but don’t want to be stuck behind the bar all night? You could set out a bowl or two of spiked punch, but where’s the hack? Free yourself from drink slinging duties with the Automated Drink Mixer created by Cornell University students [Justin] and [Austin]. Their design uses a 14″ diameter lazy Susan powered by a 12V bi-directional motor attached to a 2″ rubber wheel. The motor is capable of 70RPM, so the glass ultimately rides around at 10RPM. Orders are entered on a push-button menu. As this is a school project that should adhere to IEEE standards, all libations are non-alcoholic.

The software uses an overarching state machine, so the system polls for input from the menu at idle. When it receives an order, the lazy Susan rotates the glass to the right spout or series of spouts and then returns it to the starting point. [Justin] and [Austin] controlled the position of the glass with an IR emitter and phototransistor. This pair detects the black strips of tape around the edge which are spaced 60° apart. A comparator digitizes the signal and triggers an interrupt in the software, which counts the number of 60° slices. A full demonstration is waiting for you after the jump. Before you jump: drink responsibly, kids. If you aren’t up to that particular challenge, make yourself an alcohol-aware LED ice cube. If you need more LEDs in your life, whip up the Inebriator.

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Arduino Xmas Tree Shield


Nothing reminds us that it’s the holiday season more than an LED Christmas Tree submission. This obviously is not the first of its kind, but [Jose] does offer up a new technique using addressable RGB LEDs.

[Jose] decided to use 20 WS2812B RGB LEDs, which if you haven’t seen before, are RGB LEDs with an integrated controller. Yep, that’s right, just power/ground and 1 data line is all that is needed to control hundreds of RGB LEDs. This LED tree’s design is simple: a custom-etched PCB cut it in to the shape of a Christmas tree. The WS2812B LEDs helped keep everything clean, so the tree lacks any ‘ugly’ ornaments, except for the required bypass cap here and there. For an added bonus, the tree’s LEDs are synchronized to music generated by an Arduino via a piezo buzzer. Why is it a shield?  Well, the whole tree plugs in nicely to a standard Arduino interface. This looks like the perfect starter project to familiarize yourself with addressable LEDs, or at least to get you warmed up before building your own infinity portal.

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Fixing Christmas Lights And Shocking Yourself Silly


As [Medhi] was setting up his Christmas tree, he found a string with a few broken lights. Because he’d bought a cheap string of lights wired in series, of course one bulb was burnt out, rendering the entire string useless. His original game plan was to search through the entire strand for the broken bulb, but that’s the easy way out. His backup plan was to zap the broken bulb out of the string. After a few hours of figuring out what that meant, he came up with a way to fix a broken string of lights.

When a bulb burns out, the filament breaks creating an air argon gap between the two electrodes. By sending a huge voltage down the string, it should fire an arc through that gap, illuminating the burnt-out bulb for a brief time.

Experiments with socks and low humidity commenced, but it wasn’t until [Medhi] stuck his finger in a lighter that he found a better source of high voltage sparks. [Mr. Brows] connected the piezoelectric element to the plugs on his string of lights and… nothing happened. At least until he plugged the lights back in. Then, strangely, they worked. The reddit thread for the video says this behavior is due to an anti-fuse built into the bulb. When enough voltage goes through this anti-fuse, a thin sheet of insulator breaks down and allows dead bulbs to short themselves.

Hackaday head honcho [Mike] just got this method of finding dead Christmas lights to work, replacing 14 bulbs in a string of 100 lights. This leads us to an interesting question: why isn’t this simple method of fixing a string of Christmas lights common knowledge? You would think something this useful wouldn’t be introduced to the world via a YouTube video where someone  repeatedly burns and shocks himself. You can, of course, buy something that does the same thing, but this is far too simple of a solution for a classic problem to pass under our noses for this long.

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LEDmas Tree

led christmas tree

[Nick] is a bit of an LED fanatic. So when his boss asked him to help make an LED Christmas tree for work, he jumped at the opportunity!

It’s a beautiful build, making use of laser(?) cut plexiglass disks, wooden “trunks” made using a lathe, and a TON of RGB LEDs. Unfortunately—because it turned out so nice—the company is thinking of selling it as a product next year, so [Nick] isn’t allowed to divulge much more information behind the build. Regardless, it looks fantastic , and we’re sure you could hack your own.

He was allowed to take a video of it though, so check it out after the break! He also has a ton of other very cool LED projects on his blog at

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Inverted Christmas Tree Made of Nespresso Tubes


What happens when you put a few geeks in a room with a curtain rod, 240 Nespresso tubes, some planks, some tape, fairy lights, and a Raspberry Pi? Well, apparently this!

There’s not too much information on how they made it, but there is a pretty extensive gallery of photos. When we consider how much packaging we waste, it’s nice to see some being reused for a project, at least temporarily! The Nespresso tubes are pretty nice looking which certainly lends itself to this project, but our real question is who drank all the coffee…

The LED fairy lights are voice controlled using a Raspberry Pi model B, nothing too fancy, but a nice added affect. Check out the video after the break — the voice commands are in French though!

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Arduino Christmas Lights

arduino christmas lights

Here’s a cool hack to get you in the December holiday mood! Arduino controlled Christmas lights!

It all started because [Anx2k] had some leftover LED’s from one of his other projects, so he decided to make use of them as permanently mounted Christmas lights. He’s installed them underneath his tiled roof, and run all the wires into his attic where he has an electrical box serving as the main control hub. He uses an Arduino Uno to control them, and a 460W computer power supply to provide the juice. The LED modules themselves are Adafruit RGB pixel strings. There’s actually three of the LED modules per tile — two shining up to illuminate the tile, and one shining out.

He’s set up a ton of different patterns to run, and they are pretty awesome! Check out the video after the break.

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