The Trompe-l’œil Menorah

Hanukkah decorations have been up in stores since before Halloween, and that means it’s time for electronic Menorahs with blinking LEDs, controllers, and if you’re really good, a real-time clock with support for the Jewish calendar. [Windell] over at Evil Mad Scientist just outdid himself with the Mega Menorah 9000. It’s a flat PCB with nine LEDs, but it uses stippling and a trompe-l’œil effect to make it appear three-dimensional.

Making a 2D object look three-dimensional isn’t that hard – you just need the right shading. A few years ago, [Evil Mad Scientist] created StippleGen, a library to turn images into something that can be easily reproduced with the EggBot CNC plotter. It’s actually quite impressive; there are Voronoi diagrams and travelling salesmen problems, all to draw on eggs. The library can be used for much more, like properly shading a PCB so that it looks three-dimensional.

The Mega Menorah 9000 is surprisingly large, at about 7.5″ wide. It’s powered by an ATtiny85 loaded up with the Adafruit Trinket firmware, making it a truly USB enabled Menorah. While it may just be a soldering kit, it is a fantastic looking PCB, something we’d like to see some more examples of in the future.

Improved LED menorah

Reader [Mike] was not too impressed by design in a recent post we did on an LED menorahs. Doing what any self respecting hacker would do, he designed and built a better one then sent it in to us. He just happened to have an AVR ATtiny13 sitting around, so he used that for the brains. It has single button operation, is powered by 2 AA batteries, and even simulates the candles burning out. His custom PCB turned out quite nicely as well, the power plug connects to the batteries in a way that uses them as a base. Check out his site for detailed plans and source code. Great job [Mike].