Tag Archives: Halloween

A new Kraftwerk-inspired LED tie kit?

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Well, almost— With a breath of new firmware, our Larson Scanner kit takes us on a trip to the late 1970’s.

In the old videos of electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk performing their classic The Robots, a prominent prop is the animated LED necktie worn by each member of the band. If you haven’t seen this, or it’s been a while, you can see it right here at YouTube. (Additional viewing, if you’re so inclined: Die Roboter, the German version.)

The Kraftwerk tie has nine red LEDs in a vertical row, and one lights up after the one above it in a simple descending pattern. And what does it say to the world? One thing only, loud and clear: “We are the robots.” Now, if you’re anything like us, the most important question going through your head at this point is something along the lines of “why am I not wearing a tie like that right now?

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The good news is that it’s actually easy to make one. And the starting point? A circuit with nine red LEDs and just the right spacing: our open-source Larson Scanner kit. With minor modifications– a software change and dumping the heavy 2xAA battery pack–it makes a pretty awesome tie. In what follows, we’ll show you how to build your own, complete with video.

Continue reading A new Kraftwerk-inspired LED tie kit?

A pumpkin that sleeps like a Mac

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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 A pumpkin that sleeps like a Mac

Printing on a strangely shaped egg

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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.