Tag Archives: holidays

Holiday Cards with AxiDraw

Pitch Interactive, a data visualization studio, sent out “Happy Holidata” cards made using the AxiDraw.

This year’s card features a snowflake that uses two data points in its generation: how long we’ve known the recipient and the air quality where we’re sending the card. It is unique to the person we sent it to, and no two snowflakes are alike.

After getting some inspiration from dozens of photos of snowflakes, we brainstormed about the different types of symmetry and shapes that would make our design. We then generated the snowflake with a script that draws a certain number of radial spikes based on how long we’ve known the person we were sending them to. Other parameters for the generation rely on random numbers, ensuring that each generated snowflake was completely unique.

They’ve published the code on github, as well as a set of svg files.

Stippled Utah Teapot

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A Utah Teapot is an ideal design for a geeky ornament. For this one, I generated a vector stipple drawing from a photograph of the source object for this digital design icon. There are certainly many other ways to create a Utah Teapot ornament, including, of course, 3D printing.

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In this case, I took our photo of our teapot, adjusted it to give it slightly higher contrast, and loaded it into StippleGen 2.

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I removed any background stipples and plotted it on an ornament. The ornament is 2.6 inches in diameter and I used a 0.2 tip Copic Multiliner SP. I have posted the design on thingiverse.

Star Wars Holiday Ornaments

Imperial crest & Rebel Alliance Ornaments

We’re getting into the spirit with a couple of seasonally appropriate decorations. The Rebel Alliance Ornament and the Imperial Crest Ornament for EggBot are both available on thingiverse. Our guide to printing ornaments with the EggBot may be helpful, too.

Both designs are derived from a set of silhouettes from vecteezy.com.

Interactive LED Christmas Tree

LED Christmas tree on Octolively derivative boards

Our friends at Mouser sent us this picture of their Octolively derived display, updated for the holidays:

We continue to have fun with your Octolively module design. In the attached photo you can see why we decided to use sockets for the LEDs on our boards.  We plan on changing out the display for each of the holidays.

I was a little concerned at first about using the red LEDs with resistors that were chosen for white or blue, but they’re socketed, so replacing any that get damaged by overdriving should be easy! Looks like a fun way to celebrate at the office, and the snowflake tree-topper is a nice touch.

EggBotting with Metallic Pens

Our friend Fran has been making holiday ornaments with the EggBot and writes:

I just wanted to let everyone know that I have finally gotten to be able to use the Pilot Gold/Silver Markers.

She suggests dividing the drawing into layers so that after each layer you can take the pen out to shake it to keep the ink flowing. We’ve added her tips to the wiki page about choosing pens for the EggBot.

If you have other tips for which pens you like to use or for working with ornaments, we’d love to hear about them!

Mega Menorah 9000!

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MM9k  MM9k

Introducing our newest Hanukkah menorah kit: Mega Menorah 9000!

This is a great new easy soldering kit to make a handsome and decently-sized menorah. Once built, it stands just over 6 inches (15 cm) tall, and is 7.5 inches (19 cm) wide.

It’s USB powered, USB programmable with a built-in interface based on the Adafruit Trinket, and features 9 discrete RGB LED “pixels” that can produce all kinds of bright colors. Flickery flame effects built in too, of course.

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One of the cool things about this kit is that it has a unique “Trompe-l’œil” circuit board design that gives some illusion of a rounded 3D surface. As you can see above, it’s actually flat as a board.

To make it, we started with a 3D CAD model of what we wanted the circuit board to look like. The outer contours of the model became the outline of the circuit board. We then rendered the CAD model, and used our StippleGen 2 software to convert the resulting image into a vector stipple drawing— one that could eventually be converted into the artwork for the circuit board. All together it’s over 9000 stippled dots of black silkscreen! (To be more specific, there are roughly 17,000 dots on each side.)

MM9k FAQ: OK, but isn’t the name “Mega Menorah 9000″ perhaps just slightly on the excessive side?
Yes, we must (grudgingly) admit that it is. It just slipped out when we were trying to come up with a working title for the project — a name that meant “better than deluxe” so as to distinguish this model from our old favorite Deluxe LED Menorah Kits.
Alas, it was funny. And so it stuck. And now, it’s too late.

MM9k  MM9k

There are two circuit boards in the kit. The “top” PCB is shaped like a menorah and the components (mainly just the nine WS2812-style LEDs) are for the most part hidden on the back side.

The base circuit board has rubber feet, the control buttons (color, night, reset), an ATtiny85 AVR microcontroller, USB power/programming jack, and a programming indicator LED. The circuit is actually an implementation of the Adafruit Trinket, which allows for reprogramming the microcontroller without requiring any hardware other than a regular USB cable.

MM9k FAQ: Why is there a binder clip there?
It’s an assembly jig that helps to align the parts in place so that it’s easy to build and looks neat. We’ll write more about it later.

MM9k

And, wow does this thing do colors! The nine WS2812-style individually addressable RGB LEDs in 5 mm packages, look reminiscent of candle flames, but can be tuned to just about any color in the rainbow. From a control standpoint, it’s awfully nice that they’re managed by just a single pin of the microcontroller, and have the built-in ICs to handle colors and dimming.

Mega Menorah 9000 begins shipping this week.