Halloween Mirror Offers A Mighty Fright

Jump scares are controversial in the horror world, whether you’re talking about movies or video games. You can bring that same irritating thrill into real life, too, with this Halloween mirror from [jasonwinfieldnz].

During the day, or simply when it’s bright inside, the mirror appears normal, like any other. However, behind the special two-way mirrored glass surface is a spooky 3D print, such as a skull or an annoying yellow cartoon character. When the lighting level gets low, everything changes. A light-dependent resistor hooked up to a Digispark detects the change, and then fires up some 5V LEDs to light the scary image, revealing it behind the mirror. Even better, it plays a loud screaming sound with the help of a DFplayer MP3 module.

We’d love to see the concept taken even further, too. It would be quite something if, when a passer-by approached, the room lights suddenly cut out and the mirror activated in its full glory.

We’ve seen some great Halloween builds over the years. If you’re eager to get one out this season, you might wanna get hacking now! Video after the break.

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Edible Electronics Let Us Hear The Lamentations Of The Chocolate Bunnies

Yet another Day of the Chocolate Bunnies has passed by, and what did you do to mark the occasion? You likely kicked back and relaxed, surrounded by whatever you gave up for Lent, but good for you if you mixed chocolate and electronics like [Repeated Failure] did. They created a completely edible chocolate Easter bunny that screams when bitten.

So obviously, the hardest part is figuring out something to build the circuit with that is both conductive and safe to eat. [Repeated Failure] spent a lot of time with carbon oleogel paste, which is made from natural oils and waxes. Not only was it less conductive than [Repeated Failure]’s skin, it came out pitch black and tasted like nothing, which kind of a bonus, when you think about it.

Then came the cake paint, which [Repeated Failure] laced with trace amounts of silver powder. While that worked somewhat better, a successful circuit would have likely required near-fatal amounts of the stuff. Yikes!

The winner turned out to be edible silver leaf, which is like gold leaf but cheaper. Ever had Goldschl├Ąger? Gold leaf is what’s suspended inside. The really nice thing about silver leaf is that it comes in thin sheets and can easily be cut into circuit traces with scissors and connected to I/O pins with copper tape. Be sure to check it out after the break, including [Repeated Failure]’s friend’s reaction to innocently biting the chocolate bunny’s ears off, as one tends to do first.

Think you’d rather hear plants giggle? Sure, it sounds cute, but it’s actually kind of creepy.

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Santa’s Beard-Combing Robot

Working all year long, herding elves and fabricating toys for all the good boys and girls; it takes dedication. It’s only natural that one could fall behind in beard care, right? This year, [Norbert Zare] saves Christmas with his beard-combing robot.

OK, this is much more of a shitty robot in the [Simone Giertz] school of wicked funny machines than it is a serious robotics project. But props to [Norbert] for completeness — the code that wiggles the two servos that get the job (almost) done is even posted up on GitHub.

Check out the video below the break. Ho ho ho!

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Self-frosting snowman

Peltier Snow Globe Features Snowman Who Dresses Himself In Real Frost

We doubt that few of us ever thought that snow globes contain real snow, but now that we’ve seen a snow globe that makes its own snow, we have to admit the water-filled holiday decorating mainstay looks a little disappointing.

Like a lot of the Christmas decorations [Sean Hodgins] has come up with over the years, this self-frosting snowman is both clever in design and cute in execution. The working end is a piece of aluminum turned down into the classic snowman configuration; the lathe-less could probably do the same thing by sticking some ball bearings together with CA glue. Adorned with 3D-printed accessories, the sculpture sits on a pedestal of Peltier coolers, stacked on top of a big CPU cooler. Flanking the as-yet underdressed snowman is a pair of big power resistors, which serve as heating elements to fill the globe with vapor. [Sean]’s liquid of choice is isopropyl alcohol, and it seems to work very well as the figurine is quickly enrobed with frost.

But wait, there’s more — as [Sean] points out, the apparatus is 90% of the way to being a cloud chamber. Maybe we’ll see a less festive version after the holidays. Until then, enjoy his ornament that prints other ornaments, his blinkenlight PCB tree-hangers, or his tiny TV that plays holiday commercials.

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A Particularly Festive Chip Decapping

As we approach the moment in the year at which websites enter a festive silly season of scrambling to find any story with a festive angle, we’re pleased to see the ever-reliable [Ken Shirriff] has brought his own take on Christmas tech to the table with a decapping of the UM66T melody chip that has graced so many musical greeting cards.

The surprise in this age of ubiquitous microcontrollers is that this is not a smart device; instead it’s a single-purpose logic chip whose purpose is to step through a small ROM containing note values and durations, driving a frequency generator to produce the notes themselves. The frequency generator isn’t the divider chain from the RC oscillator that we might expect, instead it’s a shift register arrangement which saves on the transistor count.

Although the UM66 is a three-pin device, there are a few other pins on the die. These are likely to be for testing. As a 30+ year old product its design may be outdated in 2021, but it’s one of those chips that has survived without being superseded because it does its task without the need for improvement. So when you open a card and hear the tinny tones of a piezo speaker this holiday season, spare a thought for the ingenuity of the design behind the chip that makes it all possible.

Christmas Lithophanes Make Neat Decorations

Lithophanes are neat little artistic creations that use variations in the thickness of a material to reveal an image when lit from behind. 3D printing is a great way to make lithophanes, and they can make for beautiful Christmas decorations, too!

It’s easy to make lithophane decorations for your Christmas tree with the help of the ItsLitho tool. The online application takes any image you upload, and can generate lithophane geometry that you can 3D print at home. Print your custom bell or bauble, add the printed hooks, and then the final decoration can be backlit to reveal its image by inserting an LED from a string of Christmas lights.

The result is a beautiful, glowing decoration that displays a detailed image when lit up. All you need is a few images and a 3D printer to produce decorations as unique gifts for your family and friends.

We’ve seen the technique put to other uses too, such as in this convincing lamp designed after our very own Moon. Video after the break.

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Christmas Tree PCB Just The Trick For Festive Glee

The festive season is often as good a reason as any to get out the tools and whip up a fun little project. [Simon] wanted a little tchotchke to give out for the holidays, so they whipped up a Christmas tree PCB that’s actually Arduino-compatible.

O’ Christmas Tree, on PCB…

It’s a forward-looking project, complete with USB-C connector, future-proofing it for some time until yet another connector standard comes along. When plugged in, like many similar projects, it blinks some APA102 LEDs in a festive way. The PCB joins in on the fun, with white silkscreen baubles augmented by golden ones created by gaps in the soldermask.

An ATTiny167 is the brains of the operation, using the Micronucleus bootloader in a similar configuration to the DigiSpark Pro development board. It relies on a bit-banged low-speed USB interface for programming, but the functionality is largely transparent to the end user. It can readily be programmed from within the Arduino IDE.

It’s not an advanced project by any means, but is a cute giveaway piece which can make a good impression in much the same way as a fancy PCB business card. It could also serve as an easy tool for introducing new makers to working with addressable LEDs. Meanwhile, if you’ve been cooking up your own holiday projects in the lab, don’t hesitate to drop us a line!