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.

You know that they say about guys with big lenses?

[Tony Lovell] and [dkpeterborough] built a sizable camera lens using optics from a flight simulator projector. What they ended up with is a 900mm lens that can make a beautiful photo of the moon, or capture distant landscapes in great detail. The body of the lens was designed in CAD and sent off for fabrication out of aluminum, as seen above. The concentric baffles help to prevent lens flare but it can’t be used in its bare-aluminum condition. The internals were coated using a stippling finish that leaves a sandy texture. That was covered with matte black barbecue paint, doing a great job of preventing optical interference, and the outside received a glossy white coat. Finished weight: 59 pounds, but once you see the pictures you’ll agree it’s worth lugging the bulky instrument around to grab that killer shot.

[via Make]