Chancery Mailbox
19th June 2018
A mailbox that plays a light & sound show when opened

Every year at CriticalNW people bring fun, interactive art projects and gifts for the community. This year someone brought a local mail service called Critical Missives and so encouraged all the theme camps to bring wacky mailboxes. In keeping with my proclivities, I decided that our mailbox should glow. But then I got to thinking… why stop there? And why be so obvious about it? Instead of something over the top and attention getting on the outside, I decided to create a little surprise for whoever opened our mailbox (which I figured would most often be the volunteers delivering the mail). So I picked up a very standard black, plastic mailbox and got to work. By building a special back plate I was able to hide the speaker and electronics, leaving only the lights exposed at the very back of the interior. Pre-existing, large mounting holes in the bottom allowed for cable access, and a bit of soldering and programming took care of the rest.

The mailbox has two different animations that it plays, along with accompanying sounds. One is a Zelda treasure-find sound effect accompanied by fluctuating golden light, and the other was inspired by Peggle. I highly recommend watching the videos below with sound turned on.

CriticalNW has quiet hours, and even if it didn’t I like to sleep, so I built in an RTC (real time clock) and programmed a schedule of different volumes for different times of day. They vary from totally muted at night to full volume in the afternoon, with some quieter periods for morning and late evening.

The mailbox was a great hit, at least in part because of the surprise of opening a relatively nondescript mailbox and getting a light and sound show. For a pretty simple project it was great fun.