Hacked Gadgets Forum

December 11, 2006

Top 10 Christmas Project Ideas

at 6:45 am. Filed under Complex Hacks, Cool Gadgets, DIY Hacks, Electronic Hacks, Top 5 and Top 10, Toy Hacks
10. Microcontroller Christmas Music

This project will allow you to create your own music using a microcontroller.

“With Christmas fast drawing near, I thought it appropriate to create a project that has a festive theme and also shows what the humble PICmicro is capable of doing with a little imagination and the right tools. i.e. PROTON+ Compiler.

Everyone and their reindeer has created Christmas projects in the past but most of them revolve around multi-coloured flashing LEDs. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with flashing LEDs, but let’s face it, they don’t exactly stimulate the imagination?

So what I’ve created for your perusal is a project to play several well known Christmas tunes using 3 channel (polyphonic) sound, with each channel having a pleasant chime effect. And all this using nothing more than a handful of common or garden components that you probably already have lying around. And yes, you can flash LEDs while the music is playing if you wish!”

9. USB Christmas Light Mod

Instead of simply adding batteries why not power your Christmas swag from your computers USB port.

“Here is a hardware list:
Battery power xmas lights: $5.99
Elmers gel instant glue: already had
Some type of USB cable: already had
total cost for me = ~$6.00”

8. Color Mixing Christmas Light Project

Make some RGB computer controlled outside Christmas lights. Check out the videos of it in action (video 1, video 2). Looks like a DIY version of the Triklits.

“Here’s what you’ll need to make this all work on your own:

* A Macintosh OS X.3 or better (mine is a 20” iMac G5 1.8 Ghz with 768 MB RAM)
* A Copy of Max/MSP +Jitter , v4.5 or newer.
* A DMXUSB-Pro USB < -> DMX Dongle, $150 available from enttec.com
* A DMX-USB Max external available from Olaf Matthes,10 Euro & PayPal.
* A surplus PC power supply which can deliver 12V @ 6+ Amps. Mine is a Compaq 242907, $15 from weirdstuff.com
* LED Pixels to taste”

7. LED Christmas Star


Build a PIC based Christmas star. Full instructions and code are provided.

“The star is about 35cm across and designed to be displayed indoors in a window. I originally created the star three years ago using a 16F872 controller. The original version worked ok – but had no spare memory for adding more features. This new version uses a 18F2620 because I now prefer the 18F series and decided it would be a good general purpose 28 pin chip to use. It has more than enough memory (64K) so I can add as many features as I want now. Since, I made the first version, brighter LEDs are now available and cost is much lower – this project currently uses a total of 60 comprising of 25 Blue, 15 Green and 20 Red.”

6. Most Advanced Electronic Christmas Tree

This tree is not exactly a project but for about $30 you can own your own internet enabled Christmas tree! I think for the price this could be the start of a cool Christmas hack.

” Can be connected to the Internet (via a PC and a java program) – send Christmas greetings to all other LPC2104 Christmas Tree owners around the world. You will also get instant information about how many users that are connected. Let the Christmas sprit spread all over the world…

An application program controls the LEDs, display and buzzer. Source code available for the application program (see below) – add your own features!

The board can be used for your own application development after the Christmas – this makes this board the cheapest ARM7 development board ever!
…or you can save your LPC2104 Christmas Tree to the next year and see how many that are still connected to the Internet. ”

5. Audio Controlled Christmas Lights


Here is a simple circuit to control 110VAC things such as Christmas Lights with low voltage audio. Be careful, high voltage AC can kill you. Zedomax has also made a cool voice activated Christmas light controller that is real cool!

“The basic Idea was to have Christmas lights flash with the music. In my design I use an ordinary amplified computer speaker, a diode bridge, and a ‘CRYDOM’ SSR (Solid State Relay). In order to increase the time that the lights were on as well as protect the SSR I used a Diode Bridge to rectify the signal from the amplifier circuit.”

4. University of Advancing Technology Christmas Tree

Have a look at the cool internet controlled Christmas tree that these University students created. Here is another tree that can be controlled from the net. If you are feeling a bit more ambishious you can always go over to Komar and control all the lights in the yard! These links are sure to die shortly after Christmas though. 🙁

“A few students at The University of Advancing Technology got into the Christmas hacking spirit this weekend and surprised the campus attendants on Monday morning with a TCP/IP enabled Christmas tree. The tree has been the centerpiece of holiday decorations at the university for the past few years, casting a static white glow across the commons late into the night. Static no more, the tree now hosts a web page from an embedded PINK Ethernet module. The page allows access to a Basic Stamp microcontroller preprogrammed with switching patterns for a set of solid state relays connected to the lights. The sectional nature of artificial trees made controlling the lights as simple as plugging in each level of the tree to a relay.”

Via: Make

3. Parallax Christmas Tree Lighting Controller


Parallax demonstrates how versatile their microcontrollers are with Christmas tree lighting mod.

“Now it is possible to control AC loads as easily as LEDs. It being the holidays, I decided to build boxes to control the lights on Katie and my Christmas Tree. I picked up some fairly inexpensive plastic boxes, the kind used to hold wall jacks.

Since each RC-4 board can control up to four relays, I decided that each ‘brick’ would hold four outlets and a single RC-4. The boxes could then be chained together, but grouping them like this would provide the most flexibility so that I could easily reuse them for other displays and projects. Since these will be plugged into home AC lines, I used 14 gauge wire where possible. I had decided that I would be making three of these bricks, so I needed six outlets.”

2. Electronic Christmas Tree Ornaments

Evil Mad Scientists Laboratory has come up with some cool Christmas tree electronic ornaments. When the neighbors ask where they can buy them you can answer with, nowhere!

“Here we present two open-source, do-it-yourself, microcontroller-powered holiday electronics projects: A micro-readerboard Christmas tree ornament and a mini-LED Hanukkah menorah. Read on to see exactly what they do (Check out the video!), how they work, and how you can make your own.

Our micro-readerboard Christmas tree ornament displays a short message, one letter at a time, on a bright single-character alphanumeric LED display. In the animation here, the ornament is displaying the word ornament.”

1. LED Christmas Tree


This Zedomax Christmas tree has all the bells and whistles, including a POV display that says Merry Christmas!

“In this special Christmas edition of Zedomax DIY122, we will show you how to make the geekiest Christmas Tree in the world using LEDs, bathroom pipes, and an embedded cubloc module.

Parts list:

* 1 CUBLOC CB220 Module
* 1 CUBLOC Proto-Board
* 1 PC Fan
* 8 High Output Green LEDs from Alan’s store
* 8 High Output Red LEDs from Alan’s store
* 1 Tub and Shower Knob
* 1 Tub and Shower Piping that fits the Knob (I used Watts 713322BA from Home Depot)
* 1 9V Battery
* 1 Plastic folder
* 1 Glue Gun
* 1 3M Tape ”