The holiday season is here, and along with it comes Christmas music. Love them or hate them, Yuletide tunes are a simple fact of life each December. This year, [Derek Anderson] put a modern spin on a few classic melodies and listened to them via his set of self-playing chimes.
Inspired by [Derek]’s childhood Ye Merry Minstrel Caroling Christmas Bells (video), these chimes really bring the old-school Christmas decoration into the 21st century. Each chime is struck by a dedicated electromagnetically-actuated mallet, which is in turn controlled by an ESP32 running MicroPython.
The chimes play MIDI files, so you could, of course, play music unrelated to Christmas if you wanted to. And they even feature an OLED screen that displays what song is being played. For added flair, the entire thing is beautifully framed in black walnut, not to mention the custom-wound solenoids.
This project incorporated mechanical and electrical design, woodworking, 3D printing, programming, and song arrangement. It’s a wonder that [Derek] was able to create the entire product in the 40-80 hour time frame he estimated. (Though it looks like he had a bit of help.)
We always love to see projects like this, ones in which several disciplines get rolled together to create a beautiful finished piece.
When it’s time to put together the annual Christmas card, most families take a few pictures of the kids, slap on a generic greeting, and call it a day. It used to be fairly common for the whole family to get dressed up and pose for a special Christmas picture, but who has the time anymore? It’s not like we have hours and hours to slave over a unique and memorable gift we can mail out to a dozen (or more) people.
As it turns out, getting sound into CAD software isn’t exactly straightforward. To start, he made a recording of his daughter saying the words “Happy Christmas From the Wolsey Family” with Audacity, and then took a screenshot of the resulting waveform. This screenshot was then brought into Adobe Illustrator and exported to SVG, which Fusion 360 (and most other CAD packages) is able to import.
Now that the wave was in Fusion 360 he could scale it to a reasonable size, and use the revolve function to bring it into three dimensions. Cutting that object in half down the length then gave [Chris] a shape which should, theoretically, be printable on his FDM printers. But unfortunately, it wasn’t so easy. His personal Anet A8 had a tough time printing it, and the Prusa i3 MK2 at work didn’t fare much better. In the end, he had to make the leap to SLA, getting the shape printed on a Form 2 via 3D Hubs.
With the finalized shape in hand, [Chris] just need to put them into production. Printing them all via 3D Hubs wasn’t really an option, so he decided to make a mold and cast them in resin. He printed up a mold box, and after fiddling around with the mix a bit, was able to settle on a resin which allowed him to de-mold the shapes just 30 minutes after pouring.
Finally, he made frames for each cast waveform, and printed up a little label explaining just what the recipient was looking at; even going as far as showing which word corresponded to which section of the shape.
This is a fantastically executed and documented project, and while it’s too late to whip up your own version this year, we have no doubt they’ll be a few people “borrowing” this idea next time the holidays roll around.
For those new and experienced, this time of year is a great chance for enterprising makers to apply their skills to create unique gifts and decorations for family and friends. [Mike Diamond] of What I Made Today built a phone controlled, light-up menorah. It’s a charming way to display some home automation know-how during the holidays.
Expanding on his previous project — a pocket-sized menorah — a Raspberry Pi Zero with a WiFi dongle, some LEDs, wire, and tea lights suffice for the materials, while setting-up Blynk on the Raspberry Pi and a phone to control the lights ties it together after mounting it in an old monitor housing.
Each gift under the tree bears no name tag, rather they are adorned with a single QR code sticker which [Thadd] printed out. When scanned, the code brings his children to a page on his web server stating who the gift is for.
The catch? Well, the codes bring up a random page each time, attributing the gift to every member of the family along the way. There’s no chance that any of the kids will be able to correctly identify their gifts before Christmas Eve, when [Thadd] flips a switch on the server and reveals the actual gift recipients.
It’s certainly a clever, yet frustrating, way to keep his family on their toes, and we think it’s a pretty awesome idea.
If you’d like to see some of the pages he has created to confuse his kids, just click the “Search” button on the link above.