Introduction: Neon Fire Retro Hanukkah (Menorah)

I made this plywood Hanukkah when I was 12 years old, which was a very long time ago. Originally the neon lamps (NE2’s) were constantly on powered by a 110 VAC isolation transformer. When moving a few years ago I found it in a forgotten box, the somewhat delicate “candles” were badly damaged. Recently, I decided to rebuild the Hanukkah and use a microcontroller (uC) to sequence the “candles” as they are to be lit during Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. One candle is to be lit for eight sequential days. The proto also has a variety of lighting sequences just to keep it a bit interesting.

The neon NE2’s need about 60 to 70 VAC to light, so I designed a circuit and built PCB as a high-voltage isolation interface between the uC, a TI TM4C123GXL LaunchPad, and the NE2’s. The LaunchPad is coded in C.

What is shown in the video is a work in process. The next step will be to replace the mains isolation transformer with a simple uC (LaunchPad) controlled DC to AC inverter power supply to drive the NE2's from USB supplied power. Then a battery charging circuit will be added for portability. Ultimately, the entire project will be designed onto a small pcb and power optimized to use a smaller (lower power and less "powerful") uC.

Step 1: Neon Fire Hanukkah

Step 2: Proto 2

Step 3: Proto 1

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