LED Mini Menorahs:: Open source kits

Holiday motivation

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.)

5 thoughts on “LED Mini Menorahs:: Open source kits

  1. The laws and traditions of Hannukah require one to use a flammable source, such as olive oil or candles, to light the menorah. While open-source LED’s may be popular and modern, it does not satisfy the obligation. A popular and safe way to light without risking a fire is to use "easy lights"; or premade oil wicks. you can also buy solid-fuel (think olive oil candles, in small glass vials), which significantly reduces the fire hazard from spilled oil or a dropped candle.

    The purpose of lighting the menorah is to commemorate the miracle of Hannukah: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanukkah

    1. Your "obligation," that you see is one particular interpretation of tradition. There is much more wiggle room in the wording of what is allowed for a hanukiyah than there is on many other topics that are interpreted for convenience to be very different in modern times interpreted very differently from the "traditions," usually for obvious reasons. So… I think that the issue is less black-and-white than you claim.

      But I digress– experts on law, Jewish or otherwise, we are not. As one seller of electric menorahs states, "If you wish to recite the menorah blessing on an electric menorah, we do suggest consulting your local rabbi on this issue." We couldn’t agree more.

      Windell H. Oskay

    2. A real fire might be the law.. but I have seen plenty of bulb menorahs in my time. I really like this project and plan to build my own using the Arduino. Hopefully, I will have it complete by next Tuesday evening :)

  2. And here I thought I was the only one making LED hanukkiot! Since 2001 I have been making and selling LED Hanukkah menorahs that either can be worn as a pin or placed in a tiny hardwood stand. Besides being programmable for each night, the tiny microswitch also displays two patterns, one of which is an eye catching pattern of the LEDs racing back and forth.

    My simple web site doesn’t do it justice, since I have programmed the LEDs to flicker like candles. The coin battery is replaceable, and lasts about 66 hours. All programming was done in PIC assembly language, and if there is enough interest, I may start producing kits.

    Check out http://www.lyleslights.com

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