Valentine's Day is almost here, and if you're like me, you're scurrying to do something special for your mate. The standard chocolates and flowers just isn't cutting it anymore, and you can only make so many homemade cards before it becomes banal and meaningless. So, what can you do that shows you put some work into it, while not breaking the bank?
Below, five easy (depending on your skill level) projects for the tech geek. Just make sure to get them done by the February 14th deadline. Like an anniversary, this is definitely a day you can't forget.
A homopolar motor may be one of the simplest electric motors, but sometimes simplicity is all you need to show you care on Valentine's Day. I think Hendrik Lorentz would agree. Just make sure you put a little heart in it—literally.
For this project, you only need a AA battery, two conductors (wires shaped into hearts), magnetic field (in this case, a speaker magnet), and commutator (some copper coins). Instead of the bass speaker and coins, you could simply use a neodymium magnet. Just be careful when it comes to dimpling the battery.
Always forgetting your anniversary? Well, Vegard Paulsen has the perfect thing for you. A lovely box that counts the days you've spent together. Not only does it make a great gift for your Valentine, but it will help you remember the day you hooked up.
It's a painted wooden box with a red four-digit SSD (seven-segment display) installed in the lid, which keeps count thanks to a couple RF modules. Just don't expect it to help you remember your 28th anniversary.
Have another four-digit SSD laying around? Instead of counting the days of your love, simply spell it out. L-O-V-E. The parts list is less extensive than the project above, plus it'll only set you back a couple hours—just enough time to keep your mate away without arousing suspicion.
Even if you don't have a lot of circuitry experience, this is easy to do, as long as you know how to use a soldering iron.
Okay, so Valentine's Day cards are NOT out of style. Hallmark would go bankrupt if that was the case. But when it comes to homemade valentines, instead of doodling a few hearts on a piece of paper, get high-tech using a really cool DuPont Pyralux flexible circuit board.
Xander used 16 red LED lights mounted onto the flexible board, which was driven by a small microcontroller. The LEDs light up in a visual pulse harmonic array which can be timed to the beat of your own heart. Now how could that not be special? If you don't care about the flexible circuit board, you can use a standard PCB, but you're definitely sacrificing the cool effect.
This is definitely the hardest project here, but it sure beats the standard heart-shaped gizmos, because it's not so literal. It's more symbolic of your continuing love, a spark that never dies.
Nikola Tesla invented the original plasma lamp (then called the "Inert Gas Discharge Tube") after experimenting with high-voltage phenomena and high-frequency currents using an incandescent lamp and his Tesla coil. Bill Parker turned it into a novelty item we know today. Any fan of Tesla will surely take this valentine to heart.
For this specific plasma bulb project, you'll need some parts from a disposable camera, the right gas-filled light bulb, and a little bit of ingenuity. The red candlelight bulb used in this project is definitely cool, and the perfect color for Valentine's Day. If you want to be literal, you can try finding a heart-shaped bulb with the proper gas in it, but it might be hard to hunt down. I think this specific electrode looks enough like a heart as it is.
Also, you don't have to go the steampunk route. This is where your creativity comes into play. And be careful with this project. The bulb can get pretty hot, and you can even get shocked by static charge sometimes.