DIY Holiday Projects, Part 2

Check out these fun and festive holiday-inspired projects!

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I’m excited to share my second and final installment of the 2017 DIY Holiday Project Series. Today I have two more ideas to add some spark and fun (get it?) this holiday season - one for Christmas and one for Hanukkah.

This last Christmas project is a Caroling Door Mat, which uses a SparkFun RedBoard, MP3 Player Shield, Hamburger Speaker, DIY soft momentary push button and 10mm red LED. Let’s go into how it works.

Hidden underneath an unassuming door mat is a giant soft momentary push button, which was made using interfacing and conductive fabric. How does that work? Well, I cut a large piece of interfacing slightly smaller than my door mat, and then cut out small circles from the center of the material. Then, I hot glued a stiff piece of non-stretch conductive fabric on either side, which are kept separate by the interfacing. When pressure is applied, the two pieces of fabric will touch through the holes cut into the interfacing, making an electrical connection and acting as a momentary push button.

This soft button is then connected to a RedBoard via hook-up wire. I used long pieces of stranded wire and stripped about 10 inches on one end. Then I used masking tape to secure the exposed wire to the conductive fabric, creating a strong and secure electrical connection. I did that on either side so both pieces of conductive fabric had a wire attached that acted as leads and could easily connect to the rest of my circuit.

A large red LED has also been embedded into the mat on the reindeer’s nose, which is connected to the Redboard. When the momentary pushbutton is pressed (stepped on) the LED lights up and one of seven Christmas songs is triggered by the MP3 Player. When the user steps off the mat, the music stops and the LED turns off.

Our last holiday project is a soft and sewable Hanukkah menorah, or hanukkiah. This hanukkiah lives on an embroidery hoop, and includes nine LilyPad LEDs, nine LilyPad Switches, one LilyPad Simple Power Board, and one Lipo Battery - all connected using conductive thread.

On the front side of the fabric is the hanukkiah shape in blue felt, with yellow felt flames. Hidden behind each felt flame is one LilyPad LED. On the backside of the felt are the switches, battery pack and conductive thread traces. The LEDs are arranged so that all of the cathodes point toward the top of the hoop, and anodes toward the bottom. This kind of uniform arrangement allows for easy circuit sewing.

The negative terminal tab of the battery holder is connected directly to all the LED cathodes, and the positive terminal is connected to one end of all of the switches. The opposite side of each switch is connected to an LED anode. When all switches are turned on, the circuit features 9 LEDs in parallel. Because LiPo batteries are rechargeable, you use a wall charger and plug in to the second terminal on the Simple Power board with a USB Cable and either charge the battery, or simply use it for power. This circuit allows the user to switch the LEDs on one at a time, making it a functional and kid-friendly hanukkiah!

It has been a ton of fun putting together these projects and the process has certainly put me in the holiday spirit. I hope you enjoyed these, and as always please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!


Comments 6 comments

  • Freakin awesome Feldi! We we’re looking for a cool, crafty holiday project and this is perfect. As always, thank you for sharing.

    • Feldi / last year / 1

      So glad you like them :) Let us know what you end up making, and send us pics on twitter!

  • How about adding some type of capacitive touch switch to either the candles or the flames? Then you could “light” the candles just by touching them. I would bet your niece would get a kick out of that.

    • Feldi / last year / 1

      ohhh, that would be super cool. Definitely a fun and magical interaction.

  • I was going to mention something about using one of the lilypad µP boards to automatically turn LEDs on, but your comment about “tradition of lighting candles” it makes more sense to have to manually turn LEDs on as part of the daily ceremonies. Maybe a different placement of the switches, like glued around the outside of the hoop to make “lighting” the LED candles a little less fussy.

    Nice projects.

    • Feldi / last year / 1

      Thanks! It would be better to not have to take it off the wall to light it. Great ideas!

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