A classic background prop for any science fiction movie, the mysterious flashing panel is ubiquitous among blockbuster and B films alike.
This little light box was designed for our office Secret Santa gift exchange (although the exchange didn't happen until March 5th). I wasn't sure what to get my giftee at first, but then I realized that with a little imagination, I could give them a device that could do everything from drive a space station, to fly the Enterprise, or even keep Darth Vader alive. It could probably walk the dog and bathe the kids for all we know. It's so mysterious!
Ideally, gifts are supposed to be made/bought for around $20, so this baby really low tech. After Christmas Target was selling all of their small Christmas electronics for about $3, so I picked up these twinkling lights, which were battery operated, and some USB LED Christmas trees. I took it all apart and made the lights run on USB. The white screen is actually the diffuser panel from a broken LCD they were trashing at work. The frame is hand cut black-on-black gator board.
Total size is 6 x 6 x 1.75 inches and it weighs 5.5oz.
Battery Powered LEDs: $3
USB Christmas Tree: $2
Gatorboard: $5 (I used about 1/4 of it)
I have plans to remake one of these for myself that will use the FadeCandy LED's, laser cut plastic, and some kind of wireless interface for updating images, possibly an Arduino Yun. That'll be far later down the line though.