Solderless Flickery Flame

We’ve talked previously about making simple LED pumpkins with candle flicker LEDs. Lately we’ve been playing with making better looking flames by using multiple independent flickering LEDs with different colors and lens styles. It makes a spectacular difference: it goes from something that looks like, well, a flickering LED to something that really looks like there might be a flame in there.

The end result is pretty neat: A compact battery powered “flameless flame” that looks great in a pumpkin, luminaria, or as a stage prop. The interplay of the different LED types and colors gives an ever-changing and shifting flame display.

Other than the candle flickering LEDs, the parts are commonly available. We’ve also bundled them together in the Solderless Flickery Flame Kit.

Components:

  • Battery Holder (2×AA with switch)
  • Mini-breadboard
  • 6 × candle flicker LEDs (2 red diffused, 2 yellow diffused, and 2 yellow clear lens)
  • 6 × 68 ohm resistor
  • 2 × wire jumper
  • White paper bag (optional)

Also needed:

  • 2 × AA Batteries (not optional)
  • Wire clippers, cutting pliers, or “beater” scissors (optional)

Hook up the battery holder to the breadboard several rows apart to give enough room to install the resistors and LEDs. Optional: peel off the backing on breadboard and adhere it to the battery holder. Connect each LED with its own 68 ohm resistor. (Use the “in parallel” method from this article.) The extra jumpers are included to help bridge across the center gap in the breadboard.

Trimming the resistor leads will keep the breadboard tidy, and help prevent short circuits. Trimming the LED leads to varying heights will help distribute the light in different ways.

The white paper bag included with the kit can be used for creating a traditional luminaria or for making a ghostly halloween decoration.


You can find more Halloween decor projects in our Halloween Project Archive.

Lady Ada Lovelace Day 2014

For Lady Ada Lovelace Day, we would like to celebrate some of the women working in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics that we got to meet and spend time with at Maker Faire New York this year.

Homemade dresses picture
Our friend AnnMarie Thomas had just released her book Making Makers, and was speaking several times during the faire, including hosting the Making Makers panel I participated in, as well as assisting her daughters, Sage and Grace, in presenting a Squishy Circuits workshop.

Also on the Making Makers panel was Sophi Kravitz, who was showing her WobbleWorld virtual reality experience.

Dyeing
Patricia Miranda of Alchemical Tech was there again this year teaching dye-making. I reluctantly declined her offer to get my hands dirty.

Jenine Bressner, who has been sharing her glassworking and laser textile projects at Maker Faire for years, was there as an attendee, finally getting a well-deserved chance to see the faire.

astronomical quilting
Emily Fischer of Haptic Lab was displaying her beautiful astronomical quilts.

NYSci costume making workshop Peggy Monahan of NYSci was helping run a costume design workshop with low cost, easy to use materials like plastic tablecloths, butcher paper and snow-cone cups. Many people bedecked with dinosaur spikes and other fanciful accessories could be seen roaming the faire.

Othermill Representing Othermachine and demonstrating the Othermill was their project and support engineer, our friend Simone Davalos.

Fellow electronics shop owner and friend Cheryl Hrynkiw of Solarbotics was demonstrating their projects, like the solar marble machine.

Rachel Meyer, Selena Ahmed, and Ashley Duval of Shoots & Roots Bitters are three scientists who care about culturally important plants, and bring their stories to people through their uniquely blended bitters.

Sharon Shattuck of Eavesmade was selling laser cut and engraved coasters and ornaments of scientists. You can find her sets of women heroes of science coasters and ornaments in her etsy shop.

Toward the end of the faire, we ran into Limor Fried of Adafruit. It was great to catch up with her and hear about the great strides her electronics business has been making.

There were many more women there showing amazing projects. If I left out someone you want to celebrate, please feel free to share about them in the comments.

Evil Mad Scientist Halloween Projects

EMSL Halloween Roundup

Halloween, always one of our favorite holidays, is fast approaching again. We’ve updated our Halloween Projects Archive as we do every year to ensure that all of our Halloween projects are gathered together in one convenient location. We’ll continue to add projects as we post them. If one of our projects inspires you to make something, we’d love to hear about it!

East Bay Mini Maker Faire 2014

Egg-Bot at East Bay Mini Maker Faire in 2010

Photo by Sabrina Merlo

We’re excited to be bringing the EggBot back to the East Bay Mini Maker Faire on Sunday, October 19. The schedule of presentations and performances covers everything from “The Importance of Junk” to minestrone making. The list of makers attending covers the gamut as well. Evil Mad Scientist readers get a 15% discount on advance tickets using the code MAKERFRIEND.

The Return of RoboGames

RoboGames, the huge cross-disciplinary international robotics competition, is running a kickstarter campaign to bring back the event in 2015, and they need your help to do it.

We love RoboGames. The range of competitions is so broad, there is opportunity for participation from roboticists of all backgrounds. We received a silver medal in the bartending division of the art robots category in 2011 with Drink Making Unit 2.0. In 2013, we helped Super Awesome Sylvia create the WaterColorBot, which won silver in the painting robots category. We helped to produce the medals for the winners in 2009 and 2013. But more important than our personal successes and participation, we have been privileged to see the excitement that comes from the entrants, whether they are competing in soccer, fire-fighting, sumo, or crowd-pleasing combat.

RoboGames is also planning production of a video series around the event, to bring it to those who can’t be there in person, and so that you can enjoy it whenever you need a good dose of robots.

A Special Lunar Eclipse

The upcoming lunar eclipse on Wednesday morning will offer a rare possibility for some viewers: a selenelion. Some locations (east of the Mississipi) may be able to see the setting eclipsed moon and the rising sun at the same time. But wait, it’s an eclipse, so that means that the sun and moon are on opposite sides of the earth, right? Right. So you shouldn’t be able to see them at the same time, right? Wrong. The earth’s atmosphere refracts the light from both, letting you see the sunrise a little early, and the moonset for a little longer. A guide to what part of the eclipse will be in progress at sunrise at various locations is available at space.com. You might just want to get up before sunrise for this one!

A Requiem for CandyFab

Coil

The CandyFab 4000, 5000, and 6000 were three early DIY 3D printers that we built in the years 2006 through 2009. They worked by using hot air to selectively melt and fuse granulated media, and were capable of producing large, complex objects out of pure sugar, amongst other things.

CandyFab is no longer an active project — it hasn’t been for a few years. But the time has come to retire it officially and document its history. We have taken some time to write an in-depth article about the history of the CandyFab project, the different CandyFab machines, why and how they were built, what they were capable of, and the lessons that we learned in the process. Have a seat; we have a story to tell.

The CandyFab Project: 3D Printing in Sugar. Big, DIY, and on the cheap. 2006 — 2009.
Link: candyfab.org

Fixing on the fly at Maker Faire

Maker Faire can be a pretty demanding environment for a project. Outdoor locations expose many projects to the weather, prototypes may have been unpacked and repacked by the TSA, and curious visitors may handle projects in new and unexpected ways. Or maybe ambitions were greater than preparation time, and the project just didn’t quite get finished before the fair opened. No matter what the reason, Maker Faire is a great place to see people in action fixing, troubleshooting, and finishing their projects. Below are some beautiful projects I caught in progress at Maker Faire New York.

Pick n place

The FirePick Delta pick and place machine was a victim of the TSA, and arrived less functional than when it had been packed. The team was working on it valiantly, which also provided opportunities to get a closer look at many of the components.

Pick n place

Components not in use were repurposed for holding down business cards in the breezy aisle of 3D village.

Fixing robotic soccer

The maker of this robot arm soccer game was opening up one of the control boxes to check on a malfunctioning knob.

Robotic soccer (after repair)

He had no shortage of willing testers after the repair.

Tiny 3D printer under repair

This half-scale 3D printer assembly was at least as charming in its disassembled state as it would have been all put together. It is great to see the components along with the kinds of tools that are used to assemble and repair projects like this one.

Gertie the jumping robot

Gertie the robot had seen quite a bit of action, first at the Bay Area Maker Faire and then in New York. Her actuators were apart and in the middle of repair when we came by.

Gertie the jumping robot

This let Alonso show us the mechanism and demonstrate how the internal frame worked to lean and make Gertie jump in different directions.

Maker Faire exhibitors are generous with sharing tools and materials with each other, and visitors are treated to what are typically hidden activities. No one whisks away a broken prototype to hide it out of sight. Instead, the guts are happily spilled out for everyone to see and learn from.