14 Maker projects to say ‘I Love You’ this Valentine’s Day

Talk about ‘Arduino at Heart.’

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, and for many of us, that means dashing around trying to do something special for your significant other. And, while the standard chocolates and flowers may suffice for some, it’s just not cutting it anymore for others. So, what can you do that shows you put some work into it, while not breaking the bank? Make something, of course!

Just in time for February 14th, here are some simple yet creative projects for the geek in your life. Oh, and best of all, most of them are Atmel powered.

Hack a Valentine with the ATtiny85

This isn’t just your usual heart-shaped gadget. In fact, it’s something so much more. HeartThrob is capable of creating beautiful and complex light games, and is powered by an ATtiny85 to make that possible. In terms of software, the gift can be modified according to the specific needs of a user, including duration, vibration detection and number of other functions for those who want to add or remove lighting effects.

Just a ‘littleBit’ of love for those far away


If you’re in a long-distance relationship, here’s a pair of devices that enable you to show each other that you’re thinking of them. Just push the button and the heart will spin on their desk. When they push the button on theirs, the heart will spin on your desk. Thinking of You will work across the house, or across the globe, just as long as both littleBits’ modules have an Internet connection.

Give your Charliplexed heart to someone

The Open Heart is a matrix of individually addressable LEDs, which can be controlled by an Arduino or any AVR MCU. It can be used to create a broach or bag light with highly-customizable animations, as well as configured to temporarily attach to fabrics with headers. Or, the heart can even be sewn into a project using conductive thread or wire for a more permanent setup.

Out with paper cards, in with electronic

This year, change up the card giving game by showing your admiration of a loved one with this animated Valentine. This card boasts 16 LEDs mounted onto a flexible circuit board, driven by an ATtiny45. What makes this project completely unique is that the lights can emit a pattern which pulses to the beat of your own heart.

Show your love with this POV display

Nothing says “I love you” like a box of chocolate that says, well, “I love you.” Based on an ATtiny13, this POV display was built out of a heart-shaped box of chocolates programmed to read the message “I ❤ U.” In order to make this possible, the software was written using Arduino IDE.

Collect your Valentines with this robotic box


Have several admirers? This simple box-shaped robot — which is ideal for a young Maker collecting cards from classmates — is equipped with a slot for others to insert their treats. In addition, the project also sounds a sexy whistle, raises its eyebrows and emits some flashing LEDs upon receiving a Valentine. This was achieved through a combination of LEDs, motors, sound and, of course, an Arduino Uno (ATmega328).

Not just your ordinary bouquet of flowers

And when regular flowers just won’t cut it anymore, there’s nothing an Arduino, some RGB LEDs, a proximity sensor and fake bouquet can’t solve.

Count the days spent with your loved one


Does your relationship keep getting better with years? Well, this interactive box will help count the days you’ve spent with your special someone. The project itself uses a four-digit seven segment display installed in the lid of a wooden box, which is driven by an Arduino Mini (ATmega168). Meanwhile, the device pulls time data from the Internet via a pair of RF modules.

Offer a teddy bear with some flair


Using a combination of littleBits components — including a power, pulse and bright LED modules — you can now hack a teddy bear that illuminates a heart that beats.

Light up Valentine’s Day for that special someone

Valentine Love Light isn’t just an ordinary bulb. In fact, it features an animated LED message of “I love you” along with a light bulb, whose filament was replaced with an EL-wire heart. The electronics are battery-powered and operated by a push-on-push-off switch on the back of the enclosure. Last but not least, the device is driven by an ATtiny84.

Wear your beating heart

Thanks to Adafruit, you can literally your heart on your sleeve. This badge, which is based on a FLORA (ATmega32U4), was designed to display a wearer’s heartbeat. The project uses a Polar heart rate sensor which is worn round the ribcage as it wirelessly transmits heart beats to a receiver chip. The accessory can be affixed to an article of clothing, a bag or another sort of fabric, as it is held in place by a magnetic pin back.

Surprise your loved one with an electronic Valentine

When that special someone comes home and turns on the light, the heart will spin and the buzzer will sound at different rates. As the heart casts its shadow over the light sensor, the DC motor will spin slower and the buzzer will change pitch. This project uses LEGOs, brick adapters and base kit bits.

Play a love song with this machine

This Valentine’s Day machine was comprised of a series of solenoid-actuated, controlled by an Arduino, capable of emitting special tunes. Using a web-based form, anyone was able to submit a song — chosen from either several pre-defined love songs or create their own unique arrangement — which was then played to serenade that special someone.

Add a special touch to your Valentine’s Day card

Light up your Valentine’s geeky heart using Adafruit’s 3D-printed AdaBot card, some LEDs and Bare Conductive Electric Paint. This interactive gift allows the recipient to turn the gears on the bot’s heart, which applies pressure to the batteries hidden inside and triggers its blinking LED eyes.

Bonus Gifts!

Dress up your box of chocolates

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, you can dress up that boring box of chocolates with some blinking LEDs, made possible through an ATtiny13 programmed with the Arduino IDE. While the mini MCU doesn’t have very many pins, with a bit of Charlieplexing, all 10 LEDs could easily be controlled.

Brighten the day with this LED heart

An ideal last-minute Valentine’s Day gift using some extra components lying around, one can easily create an illuminated heart using a bunch of LEDs, which of course, are driven by an ATmega48.

Skip the fortune tellers


This love machine is for those who may be secretly smitten. Based on an Arduino module (ATmega32U4), the project consists of two littleBits pressure sensors tasked with measuring the strength of a connection between a user and their crush. Simply press one end while holding down the other. The greater the connection it senses, the more that the LEDs will illuminate on the barograph.

Etch your love forever

Do something different this holiday by making a custom RGB LED mixer circuit to edge-light a piece of clear acrylic etched with a message of your choosing. Powered by Arduino, you can adjust the speed of the rainbow cycle, as well as program a mode where the user can manually change values for red, green and blue to get any color they desire. Meanwhile, the enclosure is comprised of a wooden picture box along with a piece of brass plate stock to serve as the control panel.

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