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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

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
  • ....no limit in creativity!
tools:
  • knife
  • wire cutter
  • credit card sized plastic card
  • pen
  • scissors
  • paper cutter

Step 2: The Display

  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

  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.


Step 4: Customize and Win

Because I used a breadboard instead of a solid pcb you can simply change the behavior of the LED by changing the components around the NE555. In the default mode it fades in and out. Have a look at the images for some alternative circuits.

The first one is the simplest. Just light.

Picture #2 shows a circuit for a flashing LED. Change the value of C2 and R1 to adjust the speed.

Picture #3 shows 2 alternately flashing LEDs.


Go creative and share your circuits! (Contest)

I would be happy if you made the display and play around with the circuit. If you made your own circuit design, share it in the comments to get a 1 year pro membership. The only restriction: the circuit has to fit on a mini breadboard. Deadline is Jan. 31th 2012. So go creative and win! 
Cool! I might try this (with an ATtiny85).
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.<br> <br> <div class="media_embed"> <object style="height: 390.0px;width: 640.0px;"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/pQHQpeSy3Yg?version=3&amp;feature=player_detailpage"><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"><embed allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" height="360" src="http://www.youtube.com/v/pQHQpeSy3Yg?version=3&feature=player_detailpage" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="640"></embed></object></div>
Thanks for sharing. Would you also post the circuit and the code for the &micro;C?
Sure!
I will post a few pictures of it in an hour or two.
Very cool entry to the Advent Calendar. <br>A contest within a contest is an original idea too :)
Thank you!

About This Instructable

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Bio: I like to play with electronics and other fun stuff, modify things to make them more useful or just more funny, putting things together that ... More »
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