All cynicism aside, one of the cool things about the holiday season is that it often provides a good excuse to play with lights.
Hanukkah in particular has been a festival of lights for more than a dozen centuries longer than there have been lights on Christmas trees. History notwithstanding, Hanukkah still lags behind Christmas in the transition from traditional light sources like candles towards microcontroller driven arrays of LEDs. While that may be simply due to the relative flammability of dry pine trees versus that of metal menorahs, the irony is that Hanukkah– unlike Christmas– actually requires observers to light up specific lights in a specific order, which is exactly the sort of thing that you want a microcontroller for.
Can’t find an open-source LED menorah at your local big box store? Not to worry!
Make one yourself from our instructions, which include source code for the AVR microcontroller (we use an ATtiny2313). Complete soldering kits to make your own– no programming needed– are also now available in quantity at our new web store.
(Note: While I cringe every time that I see Christmas displays up before Halloween, we aren’t actually too early in this case. Hanukkah starts on the evening of December 4th this year.)