Guy Spends Three Years Making an Ultra-Realistic LED Candle That Even Puffs Smoke When Blown Out

Candle technology hasn’t changed much in thousands of years—you add fire to a wax-soaked wick, and it provides light for hours. It’s simple, it’s effective, and it doesn’t need an upgrade. So of course someone on the internet spent three years redesigning the candle from the ground up with digital guts—while managing to preserve its old-school usability.

To be fair to Keith from Keith’s Test Garage, he didn’t spend every waking moment of the past three years obsessively engineering and perfecting his candle. It was a low-priority side project that he would occasionally dive back into when he needed a fun distraction. That being said, the attention to detail and the digital candle’s realistic functionality are a testament to how long it took to make.

Powered by an Arduino Pro Mini that’s hidden inside a glass container and camouflaged with actual wax, the candle uses six independent LEDs that are heavily randomized so as they flicker and randomly adjust their brightness up and down. The overall effect is that of an actual flame bouncing around.

That was the easier part, however, as there’s no shortage of believable LED-based candles on the market right now. Keith went a couple steps farther by first adding a carefully calibrated infrared sensor that could detect the presence of a lit match when placed inside the candle, allowing the LEDs to be illuminated the same way you’d light a real candle. But the best feature is a vegetable glycerin-soaked fiberglass wick that produces a quick puff of smoke when zapped with a few volts. It’s triggered by a microphone that detects when someone blows on the candle, so not only do the LEDs turn off, but the candle also produces a satisfying trail of wispy smoke that drifts away.

It’s overkill, yes, and overkill for the sake of just seeing if it was at all possible. But if you want to add a little atmosphere to your home, without the risk of burning it to the ground, this is essentially the vape of candles, letting you safely get your mood-enhancing fix.

[Keith’s Test Garage via Hackaday]