Has your Arduino been sitting around gathering dust? Well, no more. Today I took a look at the Instructables to find 8 fun, family or just cool Arduino projects to get you into this Christmas festivities, between brownies and brandy pies of course.

If you’re stuck on Christmas ideas, an Arduino could be the perfect gift for the kids or the hacker in your life, and be sure to list them that way for inspiration.

Word Clock

Just in case the word clock phenomenon has bypassed you, it involves an inaccurate display of time using words. It’s debatable whether this is actually easier to read (actually, it’s probably not all that simple), but still, a very cool little chique Arduino art for your living room. It is, however, a fairly complex build involving a lot of crafting.

For a simpler but no less impressive option, consider purchasing in kit form from Dougs Word Clock, pre-cut face and components.

arduino holiday projects

8x8x8 led cube

LED cubes are amazing, and yet relatively easy to assemble. In this project, the controller’s LED chipset is a key addition. The hardest part is the patience to solder 512 LEDs! If the thought of this makes you wince in horror, try my much simpler 4x4x4 cube. instead, which uses multiplexing so you don’t need extra components (only LEDs and resistors).

Please note that the video attached to this project was quite low quality, so I have included below a video from another 8x8x8 LED cube, but the same effects can be achieved.

Persistence of the Wand of Vision

Another simple project that your kids will love, Perseverance Wands just use a lot of LEDs that flash incredibly fast; when you wave your wand back and forth, your brain can’t see fast enough, so the LEDs leave a streak of light in the air, displaying a pattern or words. Science and more!

sensory singing houseplant

It’s an absolutely fun project that everyone will enjoy and has some serious science and signal processing involved. If I understand correctly, the trick is to generate an electrical sine wave and then detect changes in capacitance for that waveform as you touch different parts of the object. A computer is also required to run a processing sketch, and you will need quite a few inexpensive add-ons, so this requires a little preparation. The results are stunning, although they would make a real interactive centerpiece for a living room.

Nekomimi: Automated Cat Ears

If you’ve seen Neurowear ads for wearable ears and a wagging tail (from Japan, where else?!), you’ll know what it is and why you should definitely do it now. While this version of the Arduino will definitely not read your brainwaves, this is a pretty simple servo project that is probably more demanding in the arts and crafts department, so I think it’s a good project for the family.

If you want to take it one step further, integrate an inexpensive brainwave reader from a kid’s game they missed years ago.

Automated Laser Kitten Toy

Do you enjoy playing with laser guidance and chasing your cat? Who is not!? But I’m sure your hand gets tired after a few hours, and what could be more useful in such situations than an automatic laser pointer on a torrent platform? Again, this is basically a pretty simple servo project, but it looks pretty impressive and definitely deserves a Christmas break.

He also appears to have used some Meccano (or «Hillman Hobby Parts») for the turret construction.

Autonomous Robot Hexbug

Using Radioshack’s Hexbug base kit, an Arduino nano, and an ultrasonic sensor, this cute Hexbug becomes autonomous — moving quite happily on its own and avoiding obstacles. More like a hack on an existing project, but it’s a great little project anyway, and probably at a good level of difficulty for kids.

BubbleSteen Bubble Machine

Another thing that cats and kids will love, and because I strongly believe the world lacks bubble machines, not too long ago, is to introduce this Arduino controlled bubble machine. Using a couple of servo motors and a basic toy DC fan motor, this particular manufacturer did produce a well-polished end product, but yours doesn’t have to be that complicated. I quote — «the better the bubbles, the better the party!»

Combine with the previously mentioned laser turret for maximum cat enjoyment.

I’m sorry that this list hit in Arduino Cat Toys to the end, but I’m sure your kids or you will have fun making them and they can also be applicable to dogs.

Do you have any cool Arduino projects planned for this Christmas?

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