This Box Counts Your Blessings For You

It’s that time of year again when production in Shenzhen grinds to a halt. Lunar New Year has kicked off the annual month-long Spring Festival, and the whole country has taken time off to be with family and celebrate. One tradition of Spring Festival is that everyone gives each other red envelopes with various amounts of money in them called hongbao. The point of this ‘lucky money’ is to spread good fortune in the new year, and it’s easy to amass a whole pile of hongbao by the end of the festival.

[Makerming] made this lovely counting box for anyone looking to keep track of their hongbao in style. It probably goes without saying that this would make an awesome mailbox for Valentines (or anything else that fits in the slot), but there you go. The circuit is pretty simple thanks to a Grove connector shield meant for Arduinos. An IR break-beam module detects the incoming envelope, and the Uno increments the count on the display. The wiggly, servo-driven example hongbao on top are there to add to the fun.

We love the laser-cut decoration on the front, which is an homage to the intricate paper cut decorations. If you don’t like that one, [Makerming] included design files for several other options. Watch it wiggle after the break!

If you won’t be looking to collect valentines because you’ve already found that special someone, give them something that lasts longer than chocolate or roses.

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Lovebox Gives Infinite Treats Sweeter Than Chocolate

Want to make a special Valentine’s Day gift that keeps on giving well past the holiday? We do too, especially if it’s something as cute as [Marcel Stör]’s Lovebox. This is a relatively simple build, but it’s the kind that lets you make someone’s day over and over again.

The sender composes their love note in a secret GitHub gist, either as a text message or a binary image, and updates the gist. Whenever the Wemos D1 mini inside the box receives a new message, a micro servo slowly wiggles the hearts up and down to notify the recipient.

Once they remove the lid to read it, a light-dependent resistor senses the flood of light on its face and tells the servo it can stop wiggling. We think it’s neat that the heart nudges upwardly at the box lid a bit as it moves, because it increases the cuteness factor.

Everybody loves to hear from that special someone throughout the day. The idea of sending an intimate message remotely is quite romantic, and there’s something thrilling and urgent about a physical notification. Show the break button a little love, and you’ll see a truffle-sized demo featuring both an incoming image and a text message.

[Marcel] was happy to ply his woodworking skills rather than use a laser cutter. If you have neither of these, hit up a craft store or two and you’ll find unfinished wooden boxes and pre-cut hearts galore. Or, you could just say it with copper.

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Binary Advent Calendar Does More With Fewer Doors

[John] sent this one in to us a little bit after Christmas, but we’ll give him a pass because it’s so beautiful. Think of it this way: now you have almost a full year to make a binary advent calendar of your own before December 1st rolls around again.

Normal advent calendars are pretty cool, especially when there is chocolate behind all 24 doors. But is it really a representational ramp-up if you never get more than one chocolate each day? [John] doesn’t think so. The economics of his binary advent calendar are a bit magical, much like the holiday season itself. Most days you’ll get two pieces of chocolate instead of one, and many days you’ll get three. That is, as long as you opened the right doors.

A momentary switch hidden behind the hinge of each door tells the Arduino clone when it’s been opened. The Arduino checks your binary counting abilities, and if you’re right, a servo moves a gate forward and dispenses one chocolate ball per opened door. We love the simplicity of the dispensing mechanism — the doors are designed with a ceiling that keeps non-qualifying chocolates in their channels until their flag comes up.

[John] is working out the kinks before he releases this into the wild. For now, you can get a taste in the demo video featuring a bite-sized explanation. If you don’t like chocolate, maybe this blinky advent calendar will light you up inside.

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Alexa Controls This Savage Pumpkin

Traditionally, pumpkins are carved during the holiday of Halloween to represent malicious and frightening beasts. Flying in the face of this is [minihannah]’s carving of Adam Savage, which she’s calling a hero pumpkin. It’s a fun twist on the custom, and of course, it’s packing WiFi too.

The build starts with a carving of the typical orange winter squash cultivar, using artwork cribbed from the cover of Mr. Savage’s biography. Inside, there’s a bunch of LEDs, all under the control of an adafruit feather M0, which talks to the broader internet over WiFi. The pumpkin can be controlled by Alexa, thanks to the combination of Adafruit.IO and IFTTT.

It’s a fun little Internet of Things build, and one that’s ready for the modern smarthome, where you’re already used to yelling at the lights to switch off. We’d love to see a similar Billy Corgan build, if only for the pun. If you give it a go, be sure to drop us a line. Video after the break.

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The Fun Is On The Christmas Tree With This Playable Duck Hunt Decoration

‘Tis the season for leftovers, be they food, regifted presents, or the decorations left behind in the wake of the festivities. Not to mention the late tips we get for holiday-themed builds, like this Duck Hunt ornament that’s completely playable.

Details are sparse in [wermy]’s video below, but there’s enough there to get the gist. The game is based on the Nintendo classic, where animated ducks fly across the screen and act as targets for a light pistol. Translating that to something suitable for decorating a Christmas tree meant adding an Arduino and an IR LED to the original NES light pistol, and building a base station with a Feather and a small LCD screen into a case that looks like [The Simpsons] TV. An LED on each 3d-printed duck target lights in turn, prompting you to blast it with the gun. An IR sensor on each duck registers hits, while the familiar sound effects are generated by the base, which also displays the score. Given a background of festive blinkenlights, it’s harder than it sounds – see it in action briefly below.

[wermy] has done some interesting builds before, like a RetroPie in an Altoids tin and a spooky string of eyes for Halloween. We hope he’ll come through with a more detailed build video for this project at some point – we’re particularly interested in those beautiful multi-color 3D-prints.

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Tiny Tree Is A Thermometer For Christmas Fever

Tired of the usual methods for animating all those RGB LEDS for your holiday display? How about using trendiness in a non-trendy way?

[8BitsAndAByte] caved in to increasing holiday madness and bought the cutest little Christmas tree. A special tree deserves special decorations, so they packed it with NeoPixels that turn from red to green and back again one by one. Here’s where the trendiness comes in: the speed at which they change is determined by the popularity of “Christmas” as a search term.

The NeoPixels are controlled by a Raspberry Pi 3B+ that uses PyTrends to grab a value from Google Trends once an hour. The service returns a value between 0 to 100, where 100 means the search term is extremely popular, and 0 means it’s probably the dead of January. Each NeoPixel is wired to the underside of a translucent printed gift box that does a great job of diffusing the light.

You know how Christmas trees have a tendency to stick around well into the new year? This one might last even longer than usual, thanks to the bonus party mode. Press the arcade button on the box cleverly disguised as a present, and the lights change from red to green and back at warp speed while the speaker inside blasts the party anthem of your choice. Be sure to check out the demo/build video waiting for you under after the break.

How could this little tree get any more special? Well, a rotating platform couldn’t hurt.

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[Fran] Is Helping Santa Slay This Year

We know at least one person who ought to make Santa’s ‘nice’ list this year. [Fran] was probably near the top of it already, but sending Santa a handmade greeting card with a fully-functioning guitar amp inside will probably make him rewrite her name in glitter, or silver Sharpie.

This stocking stuffer-sized amp is based around the LM386 and the bare minimum components necessary to make it rock. Everything is dead-bug soldered and sandwiched between two pieces of card stock. The first version with a single 386 sounded okay, but [Fran] wanted it louder, so she added another stage with a second 386. [Fran] glued the rim of the speaker directly to the card so it can act like a cone and give a better sound than the speaker does by itself.

All Santa needs to rock out is his axe and a small interface made of a 1/4″ jack and a 9 V wired to a 3-pin header that plugs into the card. He can take a break from Christmas music and let some of those cookies digest while he jams. Be sure to check out the build video after the break if you want to stay off the ‘naughty’ list.

Want to make your own musical greeting card? If you can program an ATtiny85, you won’t need much more than that to send a smile. If visual art is more your thing, 3D print them a 2D picture.

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