Reverse Engineering Candle Flicker LEDs, Again

Flickering candle LEDs are seemingly everywhere these days, and like all fads, someone has to take a very close look at the engineering behind them.

[cpldcpu] had earlier taken a look at the controller chip in these candle flicker LEDs by measuring the current used and developing a statistical model of how these LEDs flicker. That’s math, of course, and much more fun can be had by decapsulating one of these flicker LED controller chips. It’s not very advanced tech; the LED controller is using a 1 or 2um process and a pair of RC oscillators, but it appears there could be a hardware random number generator in the silicon of this chip.

Earlier, [Cpldcpu] had taken a look at the tiny controller in these flickering LEDs and determined they used a linear feedback shift register to generate pseudorandom LED intensities. The new teardown seems to confirm that a linear feedback shift register is being used to drive the flickering LED.

Custom chips are only one way to skin a cat, or flicker a LED, and PICatout used the the tiniest PIC microcontroller (French, translation) to create his own flickering LED. Seems like making a few custom flickering LED throwies shouldn’t be too hard.

LEDs turn the heat up on flameless pumpkin lights


When tea lights just won’t do, why not move up to a 5 channel LED candle simulator?

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. Continue reading “LEDs turn the heat up on flameless pumpkin lights”

Generating electricity from alcohol


Here’s a thermoelectric generator which [x2Jiggy] built. The concept uses heat from a flame, biased against cooler temperatures produced by that huge heat sink making up the top portion of the build to produce electricity via the Peltier effect.

The build is passively cooled, using a sync assembly that takes advantage of heat pipes to help increase the heat dissipation. A nearly flat heat sink makes up the mounting surface for the hot side, which faces down toward a flame driving the generator. [x2Jiggy] started the project by using a can, wick, and olive oil as the heat source. He managed to get about 2V out of the system with this method. What you see here is the second version. It swaps out the olive oil lamp for an alcohol stove. The cans with holes punched in them act as a wind screen while also providing a stable base. This rendition produces about 3V, but it doesn’t sound like there are any precise measurements of what it can do under load.

Electronic candle protects sleeping infant

[William] developed this temperature candle as a tool to help keep babies safe as they sleep. It seems that ambient temperature has an effect on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). This device is meant to alert you when room temperature is outside of the recommended envelope.

The board hosts an eight-pin PIC microcontroller (12F683P), a temperature sensor, RGB LED, and a push button. The round PCB is the same size as a votive candle, which is nice except that you’re going to have to drill a hole in your candle holder to accommodate that barrel jack.

The temperature sensor is read by the microcontroller and used to determine the color of the LED. Red is hot, blue is cold, and just right is somewhere in between. But if you’d rather know the exact current temperature you can press the button and it’ll blink out the Celsius reading using blue for 10 degree increments (three blinks is 30 degrees, etc.) and red for single degrees. Don’t miss the demo of the candle in the video after the break.

Continue reading “Electronic candle protects sleeping infant”

Machining a horizontal Stirling engine

Satisfy your need to view some quality machining by looking through this Stirling engine worklog. We’ve seen these engines used a few other times in creating electricity from solar energy, powering a car, and even built from aluminum cans. [David Morrow] built this rendition to push the limits of his machining skills. We’d say he succeeded. The finished piece should run with the help of a heat source such as a candle. There’s no video of this engine, but we’ve embedded a clip of a similar device after the break in order to give you an idea of how this would work.

Continue reading “Machining a horizontal Stirling engine”

Ghetto repairs: Desoldering with a candle

Yes, that picture you are seeing is serious. [Roland] needed a chip for a damaged piece of electronics. He was lucky enough to find one on an old board at a local shop. The problem was, he didn’t have the hot air gun to remove the chip the correct way. Instead, he simply cooked the board over a candle to melt the solder. Interestingly, after he cleaned the candle-cooked board, it looked like it survived without damage. The chip worked fine and fixed his problems. Sometimes, we just don’t have the right tools for the job.

[via HackedGadgets]

Generate electricity with a candle

What you see above is a generator that converts heat to electricity. [Reukpower’s] thermoelectric lamp is one of those hacks that makes you scratch your head even though you understand why it should work. The heart of the system uses a Peltier cool, just like the thermoelectric solar generator. When there is a temperature differential from one side of the Peltier to the other a small current is generated.

In this case a candle heats one side and a heat sink cools the other. The tiny voltage picked up from the Peltier’s contacts is then boosted using a joule thief. We’ve seen LEDs powered with a joule thief before, benefiting from their own low power consumption. In this case, the boost circuit is scavenged from an emergency phone charger and probably achieves higher efficiency than if he had built it himself.