Hacklet 27 – Holiday Hacks

It’s beginning to look a lot like the holidays around here. That means it’s time for holiday hacks here on The Hacklet! This week we’re looking at the coolest festive hacks created by YOU on Hackaday.io!

xmashdrWe start with [charliex] and Cypress PSOC 4 + ESP8266 WS2812 RGB XMAS Lights. The name might be a mouthful, but the goal of the project is a simple one: Awesome Christmas lights! [Charliex] has created WiFi controllable Christmas lights. To do this, he’s utilized ARM core based PSOC4 chips from Cypress. WiFi duty is handled by the popular ESP8266 module, and the lights themselves are WS2812 addressable strips.

[charliex] really outdid himself this time, creating a complete solution from the ground up. He started with a Cypress dev board, but quickly moved to a board of his own design. The PCBs  first were milled at home, then sent out for manufacturing.
Control of the strip is via UDP through a WiFi network. [Charliex] found the strips have plenty of WiFi range to place outside his home.  The last part of the puzzle was control – which [charliex] handled in style by creating his own GUI to handle synchronizing several strips to music played on a central computer.

snowflakeNext up is [nsted] with another LED hack, Glowing Xmas Snowflake Sculpture. [Nsted] was contracted to add some extra LED bling to a sculpture. The problem was that these LEDs would be filling in gaps left in the primary interactive lighting system which ran the entire sculpture. Any time you have to meld two systems, things can get crazy. [Nsted] found this out as he added WS2812B Adafruit NeoPixel strips to the Sensacell modules already designed into the sculpture. Communications happen via RS485, with Arduino Due and Megas handling the processing. Power was a concern with this sculpture, as it was pulling over 100 amps at low voltage. Like many art installations, this was a “work down to the wire” event. Everything came together at the last-minute though, and the project was a success!

musicNext up is [Jeremy Weatherford] with Christmas Orchestra.  [Jeremy] has taken on the task of making the most epic retro electronics orchestra ever created. He’s playing Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Wizards in Winter on four floppies, three scanners, and an ancient inkjet printer. LED strips on the moving elements add lights to the sound. An Arduino Mega with a RAMPS board controls the show. [Jeremy] had his orchestra professionally recorded both on audio and in video. We’re anxiously awaiting the final video upload so we can rock out to some old hardware!

xmaslightsFinally, we’ve got [crenn6977] with his Solar powered Christmas Light Controller. This was [crenn6977’s] entry in the The Hackaday Prize. While it didn’t take him to space, we’re sure it will bring Santa to his door. Rather than run lots of tiny solar cells for his Sun powered Christmas lights, [crenn6977] is going for a single large panel and wireless control. The nRF24L01+ is handling the wireless connectivity, while a STM32F042 ARM cortex M0 processor is the brains of the operation. Solar power demands efficient design, so [crenn6977] is digging deep into op-amp circuits to keep those LEDs running through the night, and the batteries charging through the day.

It’s just about time for us to settle our brains for a long winter’s nap, so we’ll close this edition of The Hacklet here.  As always, see you next week. Same hack time, same hack channel, bringing you the best of Hackaday.io!

Doomsday Keg of Radness helps ring in the New Year

doomsday-keg

Lots of people buy noise makers for New Year’s eve, others opt to sing Auld Lang Syne – then there’s these guys.

The crew at Stone Brewing Company throw an annual bash at their brewery in celebration of New Years, and while [Dino’s] countdown timer is great for intimate settings, they needed something bigger to wow the crowd. A busted half barrel was all the inspiration they needed to build the “Doomsday Keg of Radness”.

[Mike Palmer], the Creative Director at Stone handed the keg off to the maintenance crew for some remodeling, and got ready to fit it with all sorts of lights and other goodies. Holes drilled in the keg were fitted with bright pulsing LEDs, while additional LED light strips were laid out around the perimeter. The bottom was cut out to accommodate a Moonflower LED module, and a 24” monitor was strapped to the side in order to display a countdown timer. An old Macbook jammed inside the keg runs the video display, while the rest of the lighting is remotely controlled with an RF transmitter.

Now mind you this all went down last year, but since the display was such a hit, they will be busting it out again for the 2011 celebration.

Check out the short demo video below to get a look at the Doomsday Keg in action.

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Prank gift keeps curious hands at bay

gift-prank

You all know that person.

The one who picks up every present with their name on it, shaking it before busting into their best Carnac the Magnificent impression. Heck, you might even be that person.

[Jason] was thinking about how to combat the gift shaker in his life and put together a simple prank that’s sure to provide him some enjoyment when the shaking and guessing commences.

He bought a premade audio module that stores about 20 seconds of sound, replacing the pushbutton trigger with a pair of wires that can easily make contact when the box is vigorously moved. Everything was carefully mounted in a gift box before being wrapped and set under the tree to surprise the eager gift shaker.

We definitely like the idea, since there are a plethora of ways to customize/enhance [Jason’s] work to fit your specific needs. Whether you go with the kitten/puppy in a box theme, or wire in an incredibly loud alarm, your resident gift inspector will never look at presents the same way again!

Continue reading to see [Jason] explain his gift prank in more detail.

Continue reading “Prank gift keeps curious hands at bay”

2010 Hacker Gift Guide

You’ve probably been fantasizing about getting amazing gifts this December, like robots with servo-mounted laser pointers and authentic battle damage. It’s time to realize that it’s unlikely that this will happen. Stay calm. You can still get sweet hacky things if you just forward this gift-giving guide to your friends and loved ones.

Join us after the break to see what we want and be sure to let us know what you’ve got your eye on.
Continue reading “2010 Hacker Gift Guide”

Edge-lit holiday cards

edgelit

Got 30 minutes for a holiday project and don’t want to get wrangled into some sort of decoupage disaster? Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories can show you just how easy it is to do edge lighting effects. Pictured above are three holiday cards constructed using scored plastic. You can use many different types of clear plastic for this, not just acrylic. The lighting is just an LED on a coincell. Black tape is used to prevent light leaking from the edges. The red and green version above is two stacked layers. This looks like something fun to scale up for a larger project or just to kill some time.

Gift card electronics

Gift-giving season is upon us, and it’s time for people to start panicking about what to give to their friends and families. Gift cards have gained in popularity over the years, as companies count on people to forget to use them. But how about gift cards that do more than store a token amount of cash? Best Buy is now selling a gift card that doubles as a speaker. It has a mini headphone jack that’ll plug into any audio player. You only need to spend fifteen dollars to get it. Target’s gone all out, with a gift card that is also a 1.2 MP digital camera. It comes with a USB cord and driver disk, and there’s even one with a 64MB USB flash drive. We’re very interested to see if these will take off, and what people will do with them once the cards are used up.

[via Gizmodo]

LED menorahs

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We’re barely past Halloween and people are already working on their next LED based holiday decorations. For Hanukkah, Gizmodo pointed out the PCB menorah pictured above. It uses a set of DIP switches to control which LEDs are lit. A couple years ago, Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories put together a tutorial for building a more minimal LED menorah. Each of the nine LEDs are soldered directly to the legs of an ATtiny2313 microcontroller. Every time you power up the device an additional LED is lit. [Ori] liked the project and decided to take a slightly different approach. He used an LM3914 DIP18 LED bar driver. A potentiometer controls how many of the LEDs are illuminated.