Version 12

    Merry Boxes & LEDs

    Enter Your Project for a chance to win a Maker Tool Kit, an Oscilloscope Grand Prize for the project that brings the Most Joy to the Heart, and Gift to Gives!

    Back to The Project14 homepage

    Project14 Home
    Monthly Themes
    Monthly Theme Poll



    Congratulations to danielw  for Automatic christmas bell ringers.ntewinkel for Connected Christmas Trees, and 14rhb for  LED Firework Suite - the details!  You are First Place Winners of a Maker Tool Kit + $100 Shopping Cart plus Gift to Gives!


    Congratulations to archiela  for  Christmas Magic aka Advent Calendar on stereoids!  You are the winner of the Grand Prize package of a Rohde & Schwartz RTB2004 Oscilloscope and you will also get to choose a Gift to Give Winner of the Maker Tool Lab Kit!

    "This is my wish for you: peace of mind, prosperity through the year, happiness that multiplies, health for you and yours, fun around every corner, energy to chase your dreams, joy to fill your holidays!" - D.M. Dellinger, Influential American radical pacifist and an activist for nonviolent social change.

    Music, at its essence, is what gives us memories. And the longer a song has existed in our lives, the more memories we have of it." ~ Stevie Wonder, American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist


    The holidays are over and its time to announce the winners of the second annual Holiday Special!  This contest challenged you to Spread Mirth and Merry Through Music and LED Displays! It was an open ended holiday competition to bring mirth & merriment to the community.  You could use whatever components you liked to build something that made music or usedLED Displays, Nixie Pixels, Strobe Lights, a Fog Machine, or Anything Else that Puts You into a Celebratory Mood!  The project with the most heart won an Oscilloscope from Rhode & Schwartz.  The community has spoken, through our representative community judges, and the project that brought the most joy to the heart was Christmas Magic aka Advent Calendar on stereoids by archiela .  He will wins a Rhode & Schwartz Oscilloscope along with a Home Lab Tool Bundle to gift to a community member whose project you felt deserving but didn't win.


    The 3 first place winners are Automatic christmas bell ringers. by danielw , Connected Christmas Trees - Finished! by ntewinkel , and LED Firework Suite - the details by 14rhb .  You'll receive a maker tool bundle plus a $100 Shopping Cart along with a $100 Shopping cart to gift to a member whose project you felt deserving but didn't win.


    Thank you to everyone who participated.  You brought mirth and merry to the community and a joy to the heart with each of your projects..  There were some truly great projects and they will holiday treasures on the community for years to come.. TWho could not help but feel a joy to the heart when they came across projects like The Christmas Joy Spreading Machine by balearicdynamicsHoliday Lights and Music Festival With Love and Cheer by ipv1 , Caustic XMAS by neuromodulator , and Flashy LED Picture Frame by tonydbeck.


    Amongst the projects bringing a joy to the heart were names such as  Mini Singing Holiday Tree by carmelito , Santa Incoming Chimney! [SIC] by robertwerner , ESP8266 Magic Star Mirror with Alexa by jquest , Christmas tree made from WS2812 leds by kk99JackBox by dubbie , Albero di(Gi) Natale by costantinorizzuti, Probably the best possible Christmas lights by czmusg3jh56fh0jw&maa , and the list goes on and on.  There was even an appearance by Sparky the Power Chick by dougw, who made its first appearance in Techno Toys , the very first project competition we ever held!


    There's nothing like lights and music to get you into the festive mood:




    Without further adieu here are your winners....



    {tabbedtable} Tab LabelTab Content
    The Winners


    The Grand Prize


    Christmas Magic aka Advent Calendar on stereoids  by archiela


    This project is best described as a take/dream on Advent Calendar. We all know how these things typically work and we all have enjoyed them in our childhood. For those that don't know it is a way of tracking how many days are left util Christmas while eating getting to eat chocolate or cookies. Basically calendar starts on December 1st and goes until December 24th and there is chocolate hidden behind each door. You are supposed to open the door on each day  and get your chocolate - what an amazing way of waiting for Christmas. However, you are not supposed to open any future days! He always loved these things and one day while on a 5 hour driving trip with his wife, for whatever reason they started having this idea of building their own smart, fun advent calendar. They jotted all the ideas and requirements they wanted this to have and the project was born from the idea.


    Christmas Magic aka Advent Calendar on stereoids


    "This project ticked all boxes and is something I would like to build myself." - Community Member Judge

    "This really embodied the concept of Merry Boxes and LEDs with a fun family build. The build was well explained and demonstrated in a fun video. I liked that it was built to be reusable year after year. To be honest, I was very close to giving the Grand prize to this project." - Community Member Judge



    "This project offers a different take on the classic advent calendars. The quality of the build and the execution led to a great finished product, which would make the countdown to Christmas magical for any child (or adult!)." - Community Member Judge

    "Wow - superbly executed project, it brought many smiles watching the videos of it in action." - Community Member Judge

    "Xmas Magic, good description, great video." - Community Member Judge


    3 First Place Winners


    Automatic christmas bell ringers.  by danielw:


    After rummaging through he many boxes of what is unilaterally called 'junk' by the rest of my family this member concluded that he needed to order some RC servos.  He could also have bought a servo controller but he already had a couple of Arduino pro mini boards, so deciding to use one of them, he set to hacking. The project is based on his laptop running a Python program that interprets the musical sequence and outputs the commands over the same FT232 USB COM port as is used for programming the Arduino.  The Arduino receives the commands and moves the servos as required.


    Automatic christmas bell ringers.

    "I'm a sucker for Lego - clever and sounds great." - Community Member Judge

    "Very lovely project, I like that it uses Lego, so kids can help in the assembly of the snowmen! It's really awesome, if I can find those bells then I want to build it too!" - Community Member Judge

    "I found this to be a creative, fun and novel entry with a traditional Christmas theme. A clever build combining Lego and electronics that also involved family members." - Community Member Judge



    "Fantastic project, involving Lego, bells, servos and lots of fun. If this project doesn't lift your Christmas spirit, nothing will!" - Community Member Judge


    LED Firework Suite - the details by 14rhb :


    Following on from LED Fireworks - Festive Lights 2018  and LED Fireworks - Happy New Year this member made a variety of LED firework units and each is detailed in later sections; some units were started two years ago but have been modified and upgraded for this year. His submission is therefore a suite of projects rather than a single project.


    LED Firework Suite


    "What a fantastic project. The fireworks look so realistic, and they make an ideal display for the holidays celebrations. Hat off to Rod’s craftmanship for creating such a head-turner piece of tech-art!" - Community Member Judge



    "It really does look like fireworks. Great job!" - Community Member Judge





    Connected Christmas Tree by ntewinkel:


    In what became known as the saga of motion sensors constantly sensing motion, Nico finally decided to swap out to using pushbuttons, but those also still continuously acted like the buttons were being pressed. He thought he might have burnt out a GPIO pin or something, the way it was behaving. Given that the motion sensors take 5v input, he did end up hooking up the button to 5v (not sure if he pressed one or not!), and then realized YIKES! the button needs to go to 3.3v for the GPIO to handle it.  So he tried hooking things up the same way I had it programmed on the Witty Wi-Fi - using the same GPIO as the Witty uses for the button and for the LEDs. That led him to wonder about the Wemos documentation that mentions pull-ups and pull-downs. He was thinking that meant the same as on the other Arduinos where you can, in code, specify input_pullup and pulldown.  HOWEVER, after looking at the schematics he saw that's not the case for the Wemos! On the Wemos they are actual physical external resistors, not programmable.


    Connected Christmas Tree

    "Connected Xmass Tree, excellent description, circuit, software and video." - Community Member Judge

    "The project turned out really nice and all the steps were logged along the way" - Community Member Judge


    The Runners Up

    Runners Up


    Caustic XMAS  by neuromodulator:


    The way that light interacts with the environment is an amazing thing.  For this project the plan was to play with some of these interactions to create an interesting XMAS light show. The inspiration to develop this project was the observation of caustics generated by the surface of the water at the bottom of the swimming pool.


    Caustic XMAS

    "The effects produced in this project were truly fascinating and mesmerising to watch. The build blog was well laid out and the process thoroughly explained." - Community Member Judge


    Flashy LED Picture Frame by tonydbeck:

    This member has always been fascinated by LED displays and the effects that can be produced.  Over the last few years multi colour programmable LED's such as Neopixels, WS2812B LEDs etc seem to have become very popular and with the ever increasing amount of cheap development kits on the market it has become a lot more reachable for a hobbyist to create some pretty cool projects with LED's!  So he decided to build an LED matrix picture frame with an mbed LPC1768 board and 10m of WS2812B LED strip.  He programmed the LPC1768 board to use Art-Net so that I can send data to the matrix from his laptop using Madrix or Glediator software.  Although this is not the most creative LED project, He is still pretty pleased with it!


    Flashy LED Picture Frame

    "LED Picture Frame, great description, circuit and software." - Community Member Judge



    "Super-comprehensive project, well documented, and it looks awesome!!  This was another really cool project that many would love to build.." - Community Member Judge




    The Christmas Joy Spreading Machine by balearicdynamics:

    This machine represents Enrico’s virtual Best Wishes for the holidays to all the community members.  The design idea was to make a complete scenario representing - inside a box  - a metaphor of the most popular Christmas symbols. Maybe it is a bit distopyc but it moves, lights and reacts to music. The other not easy aspect of the building was just to use the cardboard as the primary material. The central moving parts have been inspired by the incredible quantity of DIY Marble Machines you can find on YouTube (just put the two terms for searching videos and you remain speechless).


    The Christmas Joy Spreading Machine

    "As always, the quality of Enrico’s work is superb. This cleverly build machine truly brings fun and joy to the spectators, and also shows that any build material is good when used with ingenuity." - Community Member Judge



    "Beautiful project, it left me almost speechless! I can't imagine a more fun project to make and also watch in action, at Christmas time." - Community Member Judge


    Holiday Lights and Music Festival With Love and Cheer by ipv1


    Christmas is a very special time of year for this member and he family. Every year, they celebrate the holidays by making a project together and it becomes a memory for him and his wife. Having moved across the continent, this year's project is one that is on a budget. He started by procuring items from the dollar store and with a handful of components that he brought with him, they set out to build a mini Christmas festival. Their project consists of 2 parts which are intended to serve two different purposes. The first part is designed with the Raspberry Pi at the centre and Texas Instruments BLE lights as the end devices along with a sense hat for good measure. Python based web app allows for the control of colours for the budget tree as well as the jolly snowman. The second part employs two BBC:Micro bits talking to each other wirelessly and are allow for the control of a string of lights and a musical house.


    Holiday Lights and Music Festival With Love and Cheer


    "I would give this to ipv1 for his Holiday Lights and Music Festival with Love and Cheer. This was a whole family project that showed a fun build with plenty of aspects to it. I liked the mixture of the electronics with the creative visual elements using a variety of materials. The build was extensive with a lot of effort put into it and well demonstrated within the video." - Community Member Judge


    Honorable Mention

    Honorable Mention



    Mini Singing Holiday Tree by carmelito :


    "This is a great weekend project to undertake, to get you in the holiday spirit ! In all, it should be a few hours of 3D printing, and then an hour or so in soldering the circuit together, and uploading the python code to the Pi. As part of the build I am using a Raspberry Pi Zero W as the heart of the project, and a RGB led strip (APA102) to diffuse the LEDs through the 3D printed tree . In addition I am also using an I2S class D mono Amp breakout board by Adafruit based on MAX98357 chip and a small 8 ohms speaker, to play some Holiday songs." - Community Member Judge


    Mini Singing Holiday Tree



    Santa Incoming Chimney! [SIC] by robertwerner:


    ESP-Now device for warning of the approach of Santa!  This device has a Master which detects with PIR or a wire break to set a pin low--it is monitored when a TPL 5111 wakes the unit up.  The solar charger keeps the device charged with a battery mounted on the roof.  The receiver device (Slave) constantly monitors for the ESP-Now communication from the master and announces the arrival of St. Nick with a bright cascade of Led's.


    Santa Incoming Chimney! [SIC]





    ESP8266 Magic Star Mirror with Alexa by jquest :


    This member’s eldest daughter loves all things space and is constantly looking skyward at night wondering what planet she can see.  One night he taught her about constellations and she became obsessed with Scorpio so he made a small little display stand for her using some scrap outdoor solar LEDs. This quickly escalated to whether he could build something that had all 12 zodiac signs...and Orion...and the Little Dipper...and Alexa...and EVERYTHING! Thus, the Magic Star Mirror was born.


    ESP8266 Magic Star Mirror with Alexa




    JackBox by dubbie:


    Dubbie has been looking forward to Christmas for some time and to making something electronicy with LEDs and Arduino. He loves a few LEDs and bits of tinsel. So he decided to have a go at the Merry Boxes and LEDS project. He started a while ago collecting bits to use anticipating a quick start, but Christmas preparations have intervened and he has only just been able to find some spare time. He's collected a few bits and a small wooden box and his intention is to make something relatively small that resides inside the box and then 'pops up'!  Having completed adding the sound he decided to improve the LED part a little bit. He took three of the LEDs white wooden snowflakes shapes and fixed them to the front and sides of the box. Rather than just these three LEDS on and off he decided to fade them on and off. To do this he just connected the three LEDs in parallel and then the positive (the anode) to the +5V from the Nano and the negative (the cathode) to the D5 output of the Nano. The LEDs will all come on when D5 is driven low. To create the fade on and off effect he used pulse width modulation implemented as next for loops, as illustrated in the code fragment below. He used a function just to make it tidier. The value input into the function controls the maximum brightness achieved by the LED, which also controls the frequency of the LED slowly pulsing.







    Albero di(Gi) Natale by costantinorizzuti


    Albero di(Gi) Natale is Constantino’s first project made using Arduino. "Albero di Natale" means Christmas Tree in Italian. So the name has been created by the combination between "Albero digitale" and "Albero di Natale" and can be written down in both forms: Albero digi(Na)tale or Albero di(Gi) Natale. It is a small object (27cm x 23cm x 32cm): a sculpture, made of recycled materials (CD, copper and plastic pipes, electric cables, wood), equipped with LEDs controlled by Arduino. It is aimed at evoking the shape of a strange "exotic" tree decorated by Christmas decorations. It is a work in progress started in the fall of 2012 that currently has reached its final stage for the visual aspect. Arduino controls the lighting and the power off of the LEDs through a program that, in order to generate perceptually a periodic sequences, uses prime numbers for the computation of pulse lights intervals.


    Albero di(Gi) Natale

    "Very beautiful project, it makes one want to explore it from all angles! Impressive project based on that all-time classical component, the red LED! and Arduino." - Community Member Judge




    Probably the best possible Christmas lights by czmusg3jh56fh0jw&maa


    During Christmas 2016 he stared in awe at a neighbour's fabulous Christmas light display. They had moving trains, characters, music, it was amazing. There was an ice cream van. He resolved that next year we would build a display to rival theirs. Not in volume, watts, quality, charm or creativity, but in raw nerdiness. In November of 2017, unreasonably late, he ordered 80 metres of 30 led/meter WS2812B RGB LED tape. When it arrived he took a week off work and started soldering, wiring and writing code like a madman. He recorded progressive video logs as the deadline rushed closer. The videos detail how the controllers talk to the LEDs, which protocols he used, and lots of other detail.


    Probably the best possible Christmas lights



    Of course, the holiday's are not just Christmas, we hope you had a festive holiday season and a joyous New Year in whatever way you choose to celebrate it:



    Thank you for continued support of Project14 !


    Wishing you all the best and good fortune in the year ahead!


    In the comments below:


    Be sure to Congratulate the Winners and Keep Being Awesome!