8 Festive Projects to Ring in the New Year

Arduino Computers & Mobile Costumes, Cosplay, and Props Craft & Design

There is a surprising lack of New Year’s Eve themed projects on the interwebs. Most anything related to NYE involves cookies and treats made into cutsie shapes or dressing spiffy for the occasion. Maybe, because NYE doesn’t have nearly as much in the way of accessories as the other winter holidays. It doesn’t have trees and nog and menorahs and such, so maybe there isn’t as much to inspire. Still, I would like to see more electronic projects for NYE. It did inspire a few people though. Check out some of their efforts.

1: NYE Countdown Jacket


This guy became the countdown timer. He started with an old suit jacket and a bunch of NeoPixels from Adafruit. The NeoPixels were soldered together in such a way as to create huge, faux 7-segment display digits. Then this assembly was attached to the back of the suit jacket. The resulting effect is very impressive. Homeboy controlled everything with an Arduino Nano. He uses an Adafruit ChronoDot temperature compensated real-time clock module to make sure that his countdown was accurate. Everything is powered by an eBay purchased battery pack from a cell phone. The creator didn’t post any more details, which is a shame. Some code and schematics would have been cool. Maybe the maker just wanted to show it off without revealing the secrets of its construction.

2: New Year’s Eve Plastic Cup LED Ball



A fellow named Garret Mace built this New Year Eve’s Ball out of around 120 plastic cups. They were stuck together with glue from a glue gun (aka the welding machine of makers everywhere). A Seeeduino, Seeed Studio’s UNO-like Arduino board, was employed here to control the six RGB LED arrays. He used a few modules and a shield from macetech.com to interface the LEDs to the Arduino. Check out the video, and see more here.

3: NYE Cereal Box Countdown Clock


Courtesy of The Soldering Station, an online seller specializing in soldering equipment, comes this NYE countdown clock built into a case made from a cereal box. A cereal box wouldn’t have been my first choice, but hey, you use what you have, right?

This being a tutorial from The Soldering Station, they tell you exactly how to build one of these yourself. They also include a list of all the tools and materials you will need as well as a link to the Arduino sketch.

The video shows this little guy in action, and although simple, I got a kick out of what the 7-segment displays did at the conclusion of the countdown. See more about the Cereal Box Clock here.

4: Party Button

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This is a great deal more involved of an NYE project but it is as awesome as it is hilarious. Using an ESP8266 wirelessly coupled with a Raspberry Pi, the Party Button starts up the NYE party at the press of, well, the press of a button. The party button was created by Mark Ireland, an IT engineer from The UK and this is the third iteration of the device since 2008.

Mark started with an emergency stop button and its associated enclosure and placed the ESP8266 and a 2xAA battery pack inside of it. ESP8266s can typically be programmed with Lua, but Mark instead loaded an Arduino sketch onboard. The sketch sends an HTTP GET request to the Raspberry Pi when the button is pushed. That’s all it does.

The Raspberry Pi itself runs a Python script which just waits for that GET request to come in. When it does, The Pi starts two tasks. First it starts playing “Final Countdown” by the band Europe. Any fans of the show Arrested Development will recognize this as Job’s stage music. Second, it starts turning the relays on and off in time to the music. Mark stated that he had to listen to Final Countdown over and over again to get this timing just right. That is an admirable level of dedication.

The relays control a laser, a strobe light, Christmas tree, fireplace, ceiling lights, and a smoke machine!

Should you want to build one of these yourself, Mark has provided links to his Python script and the Arduino sketch on his website.

5: Fireworks Countdown


Me again! I whipped up this questionably safe NYE countdown timer out of a hodge-podge of parts. This thing counts down the final seconds of the year and sets off a firework for each of the last ten seconds although for demonstration purposes I only set of a single roman candle-like fountain.

A Raspberry Pi Model B is used as the cornerstone of the project. This is wired to one of those extremely popular SainSmart relay boards. An Adafruit logic level converter handles the disparity between the Pi’s 3V outputs and the relay board’s required 5V logic. The relays onboard activate buttons on a cheap 4 channel remote control from Amazon. The remote control in turn sends an activation signal to a relay receiver unit which ignites a rocket motor ignitor, which in turn light the bottle rockets.

I wanted a wireless setup to remove the main electronics, and myself from the ignition site. I drew up a “Schematic” more on the fun side how all the hardware works and included a Bill of Materials in the project post over on Element 14p.

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Here was the biggest issue… the cold. The cold temperature made the batteries almost useless. I heated them up with a hairdryer at first. Super secret tip: disposable pocket warmers did the trick.

6: Carbide countdown project

This next project is the creation of Edwin Eefting, Johan Postema, and Elger Postema from The Netherlands. Now, this is a crazy dangerous project. I really don’t think anyone else should be attempting anything even remotely like this. Just sit back and enjoy the result of other people’s efforts from a nice and safe distance.

To understand this project, you will need a little bit of background. It is a Netherlands winter tradition to participate in something called Carbidschieten. Carbidschieten involves dropping chunks of calcium-carbide into a metal container with some water in it. Then you cap the container and wait for a short time. Inside the container, a reaction between the water and the calcium-carbide is causing a build-up of highly explosive acetylene gas. After what is judged the necessary wait time, the acetylene is ignited by various methods and the cap is blown off the container. Like a cannon ball. Nice and safe.

What these guys did was build an electronic ignition system for one of these cannons. Now they never actually posted a video of their own cannon in action on New Year’s Eve, however, lucky for you, I provided links to a few videos showcasing the zaniness and danger of these things.

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At the 2:30 mark, a carbide-cannon turns a Porta-Potty into confetti.

For their project, they built a really nice control box with two interlocked fire buttons. Both buttons have to be pressed down for longer than one second to activate the system. It’s kind of like how missiles are launched from submarines in the movies. Once the system is activated, a bell starts ringing faster and faster, until a solid ring means that a glow-plug is powered up. Of course, the glow-plug is meant to be inserted into the cannon.

An Arduino UNO acts as the brains of it all and is interfaced with the glow-plug via one of those relay boards. Man, those relays boards are absolutely everywhere!

A video of the system being tested is below. You can see the glow-plug lighting up at the end.

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7: 2015 to 2016 New Year’s Eve Countdown


This project is pretty modest compared to some of the others on the list. But what makes this one so cool is that this countdown timer gets its timing data from a GPS unit.

Watching the video, we can see that the creator connected his TM32F429 discovery microcontroller board to a 32×32 RGB LED matrix, a battery pack, and an unspecified GPS unit. There are a few other mystery components shown as well.

The LED matrix is really cool as it shows not just the current time but the remaining seconds to NYE. For the last ten seconds of the year, the matrix starts a countdown which ends in a big scrolling “Happy New Year 2016” and the lighting of a single sparkler on a plate! It’s just one sparkler, but something about it is really satisfying. The maker of this project does have a website but sadly, there is no mention of the countdown timer. I would have really like to see what parts went into the construction of this.

Specifically, how did he light that sparkler? Until that mystery is solved, see more here.

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8: NYE sparkle dress


This project came about as a result of the desire to have the most sparkly dress on NYE. This being an Instructable, we get to see the whole process of fabrication. Which is great if you decide to build one of these as well.

Check out this video of dress in action.

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To create the twinkly effect, Adafruit FLORA gets data from a FLORA Accelerometer/Compass Sensor. When the accelerometer detects movement past a threshold, like from a twirling motion, it sparkles the 12 NeoPixels sewn into the dress. Everything is connected with stainless steel conductive thread sewn threw the material of the dress. A small, 150mAh lithium-polymer battery pack powers everything. To hold the battery and the Adafruit LiPoly module used for charging that battery, a small pocket was sewn inside the dress.

No-one is going to out-sparkle this… unless they built a sparkle dress too but with more lights! See the whole build here.

Have fun this NYE; stay safe, and see you in 2017!

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