We all need a special, private space from time to time – if only to escape from the pressures of day-to-day life. A tranquil corner of a leafy garden, a converted basement, an attic or a garage can suffice and allow you to indulge in a little entertainment. One dad took things a step further, though, by creating an amazing secret door to his own special world.
It can be a huge relief for all of us to get away from it all – and a well-built space dedicated to watching movies would be perfect for almost anyone. Indeed, few spaces can offer such a complete break from the mundane world. For one thing, a properly equipped home theater provides total immersion in the cinematic experience – and almost everyone has magical memories from their childhood of going to the movies.
In February 2015 this inventor began to put his plan into motion. Not only did he convert his basement into a home theater, but he gave the space a stunning high-tech entrance. And fans of JRR Tolkien will instantly recognize it.
Calling himself “Neular,” the inventor illustrated exactly how he had gone about the project with a series of photos published on image-sharing site imgur. It’s his only post on the site, but judging from his creation, the dad is clearly a talented craftsman.
To build the door, Neular constructed a shallow box using plywood and old 2x4s he had lying around. He then acquired a strip of “super bright LEDs” and secured them to the back of the box. Finally, he installed a touch sensitive Arduino Uno board and an automatic door opener.
Next, Neular turned his attention to the outside of the box. “I bought a large plexi-glass sheet [and] covered it in vinyl,” he wrote. “I drew the design on the back side and used a razor to cut it out… I just painted the back of it white to help reflect the light more inside the box.”
The design actually replicates the entrance to the Mines of Moria – a vast underground complex that features in fantasy writer JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series. Moria is in fact more than a mine: it makes up an entire dwarven kingdom, extending for hundreds of miles under the Misty Mountains, with a labyrinth of tunnels, shafts and subterranean halls.
According to Tolkien’s complex mythology, the dwarven kingdom’s history began before the Sun and Moon were created. Durin, according to Tolkien, was the first of the “Fathers of the Dwarves,” and he led his clan to a lake surrounded by mountains and waterfalls, which he named “Kheled-zâram.”
“There,” wrote Tolkien, “like jewels sunk in the deep, shone glinting stars though sunlight was in the sky above.” It was a cosmic sign, if ever there was one. Durin compared the stars to a shimmering crown and so established his underground kingdom above the east-facing caves of Kheled-zâram.
Moria endured several ages before the “Fellowship” encountered it. In fact, Frodo and his band approached the dwarf kingdom from the West-gate, which was invisible from the outside. However, under certain conditions, the door would become visible when a secret password was uttered.
The door and its delicate silvery design could, though, only be seen under starlight and moonlight. Constructed by an elf called Celebrimbor, it featured a variety of patterns. The crown and stars signify Durin, while the trees with crescent moons stand for the elves, and the single star represents Celebrimor’s House of Fëanor.
Inscribed above the archway were lines of elvish text. The words read, “Ennyn Durin aran Moria. Pedo mellon a minno.” This translates as, “The Doors of Durin, Lord of Moria. Speak, friend, and enter.” This inscription in fact contained the very key for opening the door. The password was “mellon” – the elvish word for “friend.”
The design of the door is famous among fans of the fantasy genre because it was the only internal illustration to be published in The Lord of the Rings during Tolkien’s lifetime. And while many know of it, few have adapted it as creatively as Neular. With his replica West-gate now successfully installed, he got his young son to test it.
Naturally, his boy was wowed. Standing before what appeared to be an unexceptional grey door, he pressed his hand to it, thereby activating the touch-sensitive Uno board and the strip of hidden LEDs. The door instantly lit up. And then it dramatically swung open.
However, there was one issue that still needed to be ironed out. Though clearly impressed, the boy was expecting something more. “Okay,” said the boy to his father. “Why did we not say Mellon?” A good question – what about the elvish password? “Because daddy’s still got to work on that part,” replied the dad.
He later explained on his imgur post, “Right now the door opens automatically after a touch of the hand. Soon I will integrate voice recognition, so you will first have to touch it to illuminate it, then speak the elvish word for friend ‘Mellon’ in order to gain access. I’m also going to cause the light just above this door to flicker and go out right before the door illuminates to have a much larger BAAM! effect.”
One video on Neular’s YouTube channel shows a circuit board clearly responding to the word “Mellon” with a green LED, so it looks like the final stage of the project was a success. Indeed, the complete effect must have been quiet something.
In any case, with or without voice recognition, the door is pretty awesome. What Neular has done – somewhat theatrically – is to create a threshold between the mundane world and the magical. Beyond it, a realm of fantasy awaits. And movie nights will surely be better than ever.
Above all else, the door appears to be relatively cheap and simple to construct. All you need are some building materials and basic electronics skills. And if you want to build one yourself, there’s no reason that you have to copy this exact design – unless you, too, are a major Tolkien fan.
Ultimately, Neular’s clever invention would be perfect for adults or kids alike, whether they’re putting an imaginative disposition to work or just looking to personalize their home in a fun and creative way. Indeed, we all need to escape sometimes, so why shouldn’t our own special, private spaces be as enchanting as possible?