A pumpkin that sleeps like a Mac

sequence - 06   sequence - 02sequence - 10   sequence - 16

Here’s an neat idea for a jack-o’-lantern: Hide a single white LED just beneath the thin surface of the pumpkin. And program it with the same slow “breathing” effect that indicates sleep on Mac computers.

The result? A pumpkin that sleeps like a Mac. It’s actually quite striking, in part because the effect becomes invisible every few seconds. It’s also an easy microcontroller project: our demonstration video and build instructions follow. Continue reading

Printing on a strangely shaped egg

egg1

egg2

egg3

One of those questions that keeps coming up about the Egg-Bot is, “Does the surface have to be perfectly smooth?” Or sometimes just, “Can you print on a golf ball?”

While we wouldn’t go so far as to say that you’ll have good luck printing on a tennis ball, it turns out that the surface doesn’t exactly have to be flat either. Golf balls certainly aren’t a challenge. And, as you can see above, you can even plot on strangely shaped “eggs,” so long as the surface is smooth enough that you can drag a marker along. Neat.

Update: We’ve posted some tips on using the Eggbot with pumpkins here.


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

Hacking the Blinkybugs Book

Blinky Bugs Book

Our good friend Ken Murphy recently published his wonderful Blinky Bugs as a book and kit and was awesome enough to send us a copy. Blinky Bugs are easy to make LED critters with antennae as blinker switches that activate in response to vibration or air movement.


Blinky Bugs Book & Kit

Chronicle did a very nice job with it–the book itself comes out of the nifty sleeve that holds the kit and book together. The cartoon illustrations by Alexander Tarrant are very clear and there’s a nice assortment of accessories to go with the core hardware.


Blinky-o-lantern build

The bug circuit went together very easily. These little guys are super compact and self contained, which means they’re adaptable to all kinds of uses. And while putting them on pipe cleaner legs is seasonally appropriate, they’re a perfect fit for a mini-pumpkin. The first thing to do after gutting the gourd is to mark and cut the holes for the LED eyes. A 3/16″ bit turned by hand makes a hole that is just snug enough to hold a 5 mm LED firmly in place.


Blinky-o-lantern inside

A couple of slits let the LED leads stick up through the body of the pumpkin where the antenna wires will be able to reach them.


Blinky-o-lantern off

Finally, the pumpkin lid is trimmed to allow the antenna wires to move freely.


Blinky-o-lantern in the dark


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

Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories: Year 4

Evil

Happy birthday to us! Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories has now been around for four years. We’ve collected some interesting projects from this past year to celebrate.

Microcontroller and Electronics Projects:

Tabletop Pong
Tabletop Pong

Breadboard
Moving from breadboard to protoboard

Revenge!
Revenge of the Cherry Tomatoes

drink making unit
Drink making unit

pin 1
Finding pin 1

xmega - 2
Say hello to xmega

Peggydot
Adding a Chronodot to Peggy 2

Meggy Twitter Reader
Meggy Jr RGB Twitter Reader

twisted wire bundle
Twisted Wire Bundles

LED graph
Some thoughts on throwies

rovin pumpkin
Rovin’ pumpkin

ADXL335 - 10
Accelerometer with an AVR (updated)

LEDcalc - 20
Wallet-size LED Resistance Calculator

Science:

seeing magnetic fields
Seeing Magnetic Fields

Ice Spikes
Ice Spikes

opposition effect in clover
Opposition effect

Kitchen Science 18
Litmus Candy

Beans day five
Gibberellic Acid and Giantism in Sprouts

Simple LED Projects:

fake seven segment display
Fake seven segment display

LED-lit sea urchin
LED-lit sea urchins

Edge Lit Cards
Refining edge-lit cards

Food Hacking:

Ice Cream Gyoza -13
Ice Cream Gyoza

Lemon Pickle
Lemon Pickle

The array
Spices

coffee bean cooler
DIY coffee bean cooler

Marmalade 30
Marmalade: easier than it looks

AtomicCookies 7
Atomic Cookies

asteroids cookies
Asteroids (the edible kind)

Crunchy Frogs01
Crunchy Frog

Kit Projects:

tortiseshell
Bulbdial Clock Kit

Peggy2le-end
Peggy 2LE

Scale
LED Hanukkah Menorah Kit

Larson Scanner
Larson Scanner

D12 bag8
Handbag of Holding Kits

Crafty Projects:

arecibo 2
SETI Scarf

scrap acrylic
Scrap acrylic shelf

Tombstone
24 hour tombstones

ipad 3
iPad lap stand

Custom iron ons 10
Custom iron-on techniques

Geek Design:

symmetrisketch
SymmetriSketch

Typographic Coasters
Typgraphical Character Coasters

Ornamental Components 08
Ornamental Components

Cat String 6
Radio controlled string

Bookend - 9
Bookends for physics geeks

Lego business cards-2
Lego Business Cards

Tie Stools2
Portable Stools

And, don’t forget, you can win a Peggy 2 or one of 13 other prizes in our clock
concept contest
, going on this week.

Related:

Peggy-O-lantern

Pegg-O-Lantern


Lately we have been working on a new version of the PeggyDraw program, which is a program that lets you draw things that you want to display on the Peggy 2 for static images. The new version isn’t quite ready to show off this week, which is too bad because we like to put out our Peggies for halloween.

On the bright side, Mark Delp just sent in a program called bmp2peg that’s been added to the Peggy project at Google Code. It converts a (tiny) windows BMP file and generates an Arduino sketch that can run on the Peggy. (bmp2peg runs on windows, and also on linux if you recompile it, macs unknown thus far.) Both bmp2peg and the original cross-platform PeggyDraw can be used to put static images on the Peggy, or to generate static frames that you swap out in the code to build simple animations. The window-friendly pumpkin above was drawn as an image file, converted with bmp2peg, and installed on a Peggy 2 filled with orange LEDs.


Last year at halloween we took a different approach to the Peggy in the window. We took one filled with red LEDs, and every twenty seconds (or so) it would flash the letters “BOO” — huge and bright — and then go dark again. We took a little movie of this last year, showing how that works.

(The flickr video is embedded below — if you can’t see it, click through to see it.)



The video is very dark, but it’s accurate: our street really is that dark on Halloween. You have to walk slowly because you can’t see where the sidewalk is.

Update: PeggyDraw 2 is now available for your Peggy 2 fun!


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

Rovin Pumpkin

Rovin pumpkin - 01

The Rovin’ Pumpkin’ is a simple robotic pumpkin, and a close cousin of the Snap-O-Lantern. Silently, it sits on your porch– camouflaged amongst the humble squashes.

After a minute, its green eyes start to glow, and it creeps… moving about one foot to the left… and stops. The eyes go dark again. It fades into the darkness. And it waits.

Continue reading

The Larson Scanner Kit

pumpkin
Today we’re releasing a new open-source project and kit, which is an updated approach to the “Larson Scanner.” The Larson scanner is named in honor of Glen A. Larson, the man responsible for producing both the original Battlestar Galactica and Knight Rider television shows, and consists of a set of red LEDs that scan back and forth.

Three years ago, we showed how to make a Cylon Jack-O-Lantern, in what has become one of our all-time most popular tutorials. The circuit for that project was based on a 555 timer, driving a 4017 decade counter, and has 6 pixels of resolution. To create the incandescent fading effect, we added low-pass transistor drivers. We also wrote up a version of that article for the 2007 Make Magazine Halloween special, which included a slightly nicer version of that same circuit.

And while it’s been popular, we’ve always had some nagging reservations about it, and in particular its battery life. This year, we decided to do something about it and made a much betterversion of the Larson Scanner, and so here it is:

bright
Continue reading

Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories: Year 3

Evil Meggies

Happy birthday to us! Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories is now three years old.

To celebrate, we’re rounding up our most interesting projects from this past year.

Quick projects and observations:

Magnet tricks
17 cool magnet tricks

moneyDensity.kopi
The monetary density of things

Cheap calendar 2
Cheap Perpetual Calendar

Parts Tray-14
Contact Lens Case Small Parts Tray

Simple LED Projects:

lanterns - 11
Quick, easy, temporary, and beautiful LED garden lights

RoboGames Awards (on)
RoboGames Awards

LED Ghostie
LED Ghosties for Halloween

Food Hacking:

Dry Ice Martini
The Hungry Scientist Handbook

Decoder 2
South Indian Restaurant Menu Decoder

 

"That's no melon!"
“That’s no melon!”

Grillin 2
Hot Dog Bun Grilling Jig

LOLHearts - 34
Improved Custom Message Hearts

Apple Pie
Now that’s an Apple Pie!

Caprese - 16
Eyeball Caprese

Fractal Snowflake Cupcakes - 24
Fractal Snowflake Cupcakes

 

CandyFab

CF6k
The CandyFab 6000

Papercraft

Harley Sleeps
Cardboard Cat Chaise

EdgeLitCard - 49
Edge-Lit Holiday Cards

Hex Boxes5
Hexagonal Stacking Boxes

frabjous - 01
Making a Frabjous

Electronics Projects

Interactive LED Dining table
Interactive LED Dining Table Circuit

 

Color distortion
Giant seven segment displays

DarkPumpkin - 11
Dark detecting jack-o’-lantern

SolarCircuits - 06
Simple Solar Circuits

Soft Circuit Merit Badge14
Soft Circuit Merit Badge

Kit Projects

Meggy Rainbow
Meggy Jr RGB

VideoPeggy - 09
Video Peggy in action

Peggy 2 RGB
Peggy 2 RGB

2313Card - 1
ATtiny2313 breakout boards

Card1.1Top
Revised ATmegaXX8 boards

Crafty Projects

d12 Bag
DIY d12 Handbag (of Holding)

Meggy Jr RGB Cozy-21
Meggy Cozy

no-sew iPhone cozy14
No-sew iPhone Cozy

fabric klein bottle
Fabric Klein Bottle

Seat recovery
Reupholstery with Used Denim

Missile Command Skirt 24
Missile Command Circle Skirt

Fishbowl cat quilt29
Fishbowl Cat Quilt

Maulie-25
Turning Mollie into Maulie

Bicycle lunch bag
Bicycle Frame Lunch Bag

Acrylic Nesting Bracelets-1
Sinusoidal Bracelet Design

Microcontroller Projects

Time exposure
Tennis for Two, a video game from 1958

stockpumpkin - 11
Scariest Jack-o’-Lantern of 2008

mignonette - 09
70 bits of gaming goodness

Serial Port Added
AVR Serial Communication

lissajous-dark - 07
POV Lissajous figures

Mobius Circuit - 21
Single sided circuit board

bulbdial_1
A Bulbdial Clock

Geek Design

Snowflake generator
Vector Snowflake Application

Kindling
The Amazon Kindling

Pi (squared) trivet - 9
Pi Pie Trivet

lego - 2
Lego Kitchen Crafts

Binary Birthday
Binary Birthday

(Whew!)