A world map with a small magetic plane sitting on Japan

“Window To The World” Brings Far-Off Places To Your Home

For those who love travelling around the world, life hasn’t been great for the past two years. World-wide lockdowns and travel restrictions have kept many people stuck inside their own homes when they would rather be jetting off to distant cities. If you’re one of those bothered by Wanderlust, [Alex Shakespeare] might have a solution for you: a window that shows a live image from another location around the world.

A window showing a live webcam feed
The Window, showing a live feed from Tokyo.

To make the experience as lifelike as possible, [Alex] used an actual window in his London home and mounted a large TV behind it. A wall-mounted map enables him to choose any of five locations by moving a little magnetic plane across the map. LEDs show the available spots, while magnetometers detect the motion of the aircraft. An ESP8266 then instructs a media server to connect to the appropriate livestream, which is subsequently displayed on the TV screen.

All of this is clever enough already, but [Alex] decided to go one step further and added a thermal sensor that detects the location of any persons standing near the display and shifts the image a little when they move. This simulates the perspective of looking out a real window, and should give the image a more life-like quality than if it were simply static.

The whole design is available on [Alex]’s GitHub page, ready to be replicated by anyone who wants to look out over some exotic location. If, instead, you want a way to reminisce about the places you’ve visited in the past, check out this cool souvenir globe. We’ve also seen a neat Google Maps based one a few years back.

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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.