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December 20, 2003

Tacky USB Projects

by Red Wolf

In this project called Taking Menorah Design into the 59th Century, an amateur hardware hacker uses the $8 commodity USB chipset to brew his own USB-powered menorah, then writes some code to get the shamas to blink arbitrary messages in Morse code.

Everybody has heard about USB Christmas trees, but what about a USB menorah (or USB Imani Kinara for the Kwanzaa celebrators in the audience)? Motivated by the cheap ($8!) Delcom USB chipset, I decided to throw one together for myself. It's entirely programmable, so one could presumably write code to make it work for other holidays like Paryushan (Jain, 8 days, August) or Durga Puja/Navaratri (Hindu, 8 days, Sept ember), but I don't know if these holidays involve lighting candles or not.
It can correctly calculate the dates of Hannukah for at least the next few thousand years (or any historical date back to 2 B.C.E.). As well as lighting the candles based on when the sunsets (I set the default geography for San Francisco/Berkeley, but you can enter any latitude/longitude and (assuming you don't live too close to the arctic circle) it will be correct to within a few minutes.
Furthermore, the shamas (candle you use to light the other candles) can blink out any morse-code message you want It will convert the words to morse code for you!

Homebrew USB menorah - Source (via Boing Boing).

Posted in Things to Make and Do at 01:18. Last modified on September 28 2006 at 23:42.
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