I made this instructable for the Instructables Advent Calendar. I hope it adds some fun to your waiting time for Christmas.

This display is highly customizable. I used a mini breadboard instead of a solid circuit board to give you the ability to customize the behavior of the LED by changing the components around the NE555. So this display is not only beautiful - its also educational. Learn about the timer IC NE555 by playing with your "Customizable Holiday Display"!

I added a small contest. Win a 1 year pro membership with your own circuit! See step 4 for more information.

Step 1: Parts and Tools

Picture of Parts and Tools
Here is what you need:
  • Altoids tin
  • spray paint
  • mini breadboard
  • some wire
  • 9V battery+ battery clip
  • NE555
  • wire
  • black paper
  • translucent paper
for the "default mode":
  • 1 resistor 33k
  • 1 resistor 330 ohm
  • 1 capacitor 100uF
  • 1 transistor BC547
  • 1 LED yellow
for customizations:
  • various resistors
  • various capacitors
  • various LEDs
  • various transistors
  • limit in creativity!
  • knife
  • wire cutter
  • credit card sized plastic card
  • pen
  • scissors
  • paper cutter

Step 2: The display

Picture of The display
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  1. Cut out a square 1.25x1.25 in (35x35mm) on your Altoids tin lid. (Pic #1) I used a sharp knife for that.
  2. Color the tin with black spray paint (Pic #2)
  3. Use your credit card as a template to cut out a credit card sized black paper (Pic #3)
  4. Cut out a star (or a symbol you like - I made a heard shaped one for my boyfriend) in the maximum size of the square in the Altoids tin lid (Pic #4)
  5. Glue a piece of translucent paper to the back of the black paper (Pic #5)
  6. Glue the black paper to the Altoids tin lid. (Pic #6)

Step 3: The Electronic

Picture of The Electronic
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  1. I used double sided tape to fix the battery in the case (Pic #1)
  2. the mini breadboard has a self adhesive backing to fix it (Pic #2)
  3. breadboard the default circuit (Pic #3) by following the step-by-step instruction sheet (Pic #4). Click here to get a bigger version. Cut the leads of the LED, resistors, capacitor and transistor to fit in the tin.
  4. Close the tin.

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Robot Lover2 years ago
Cool! I might try this (with an ATtiny85).
mischka (author)  Robot Lover2 years ago
Its a great idea to use a µC for that. I am very curious about your circuit!
Here is mine. It's kinda lame. I didn't have any orange or yellow LEDs so I made a tree.

mischka (author)  Robot Lover2 years ago
Thanks for sharing. Would you also post the circuit and the code for the µC?
I will post a few pictures of it in an hour or two.
canucksgirl2 years ago
Very cool entry to the Advent Calendar.
A contest within a contest is an original idea too :)
mischka (author)  canucksgirl2 years ago
Thank you!