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Christmas with the Robo-Sharks

A couple of Christmas robot projects for an Arduino. These projects kept us busy for a few weeks.
If you do something similar, we would love to hear from you...
Tree 2.0: An Interactive Xmas Tree
The Plan

Make a model Christmas tree which will play a carol and flash its yellow lights when disturbed. When the light level goes down sufficiently, the star at the top and the red/green LEDs twinkle.
tree 2.0

Parts Needed
  • Tilt switch
  • Light sensor
  • Red, Green and Yellow LEDs
  • Conductive Tape
  • Piezo Buzzer
  • Assorted resistors and wires
  • Arduino UNO
Proposed Method

The original plan was to make the tree by layering papier mache onto a frame made out of modelling balloons twisted into a series of triangles. Once the papier mache had dried, it would be painted green and the LEDS, sensors and other components will be embedded into it.

Problems Encountered

The papier mache prototype was an interesting shape, but didn't give an impression of sophistication. We therefore decided to use a heptagonal pyramid made from stiff green card as a more stylish alternative.

The components were pushed through the card and soldered easily onto the conductive tape applied to the inside of the tree. However, this resulted in one problem. We had tested the piezo buzzer when breadboarding. However, the soldered circuit must have registered a different level of resistance. The music was recognisable, but somewhat more irritating than a novelty Christmas card.

When a suitable tolerance was set for the LDR, the light sensor worked both as an ambient light sensor and a crude proximity sensor. The tilt switch proved to be more sensitive to vibration than we thought it would be, providing amusement to anyone who walked or jumped heavily past it.
iCrib: a Nativity with a Difference
 The Plan

Make a crib scene including a flying angel and animated Magi (with assorted exotic animals). The diorama will be overlaid on a computer monitor which will be running S4A in presentation mode - the screen will include an animated stable scene which will react to noise.

Parts needed
  • Hobby motors
  • Servos
  • Yellow LEDs
  • Light sensor
  • Assorted resistors and wires
  • Computer with mike and speakers running S4A
  • Arduino UNO
Proposed Method

A cardboard frame is needed to house the mechanism for the angel and magi - this will surround the screen and will have LEDs and light sensor embedded into it - the light sensor will act as a relatively crude proximity sensor.

Problems Encountered

Our biggest challenge has been getting S4A to talk to an UNO without installing any additional files. Ideally, we want it to run from a flash disk. We shall investigate next term whether this can be done with a Leonardo instead.

So, this project was scaled down to a waving Santa with an Arduino in his sack.


Next year, we will be a bit more ambitious - with Rudolf's nose flashing and a proximity sensor in the sack...