Halloween hangover: talking heads

Here’s a Halloween prop leftover; [Chris] built his own version of singing heads from Disney’s Haunted Mansion on his porch for last year’s ghoulish decor. A projected image of actors singing a spooky song gives each of the four Styrofoam mannequin noggins its own digital life. There’s an optical sensor on the porch stairs that is tripped by unsuspecting candy-seekers. An Arduino monitors the sensor and uses AutoHotkey to start the video clip on a netbook. Check out the video after the break to see the finished display do its thing after dark.


  1. Thopter says:

    Nice setup. A little out of sync though

  2. silivrenion says:

    That’s pretty nifty!

  3. paul says:

    nice simple code too. and check out some of the other projects on his site. I had no idea you had to season cast iron skillets!

  4. bbsux says:

    What about the main rooms and ballroom in the haunted mansion? Don’t they use some kind of projected image onto a clear woven fabric or something? Now THAT would be COOL!!!

  5. Bill Porter says:

    I have a feeling this is one of those things that looks/sounds 1000x better then what can be captured on camera.

  6. HackerK says:

    Looks great!

  7. @bbsux That illusion is called “Pepper’s Ghost” and it actually quite old. It’s really not too hard to pull off but it helps if the viewer is in a stationary location. You can see a better explanation on Wikipedia.


  8. @Bill Porter I have a video uploaded here


    that gives a better idea how it looks but yeah, you’re right the 3D effect you get is hard to capture on camera. It doesn’t help that after a run through iMovie and YouTube the audio is out of sync too…

  9. bluewraith says:

    That’s awesome. I’d love to see what its like in real life.

  10. Mike says:

    pretty creepy looking :)

  11. robomonkey says:

    very cool. One of my favorite parts of the ride too.

  12. xoxplox says:


  13. hammy says:

    Now all that is left is to do a recreation of “Mr Sandman” from the movie “Eight heads in a duffel bag”

  14. Bill says:


    better, thanks for the link. Great work btw.

  15. jukus says:

    I would trick or treat at that house, ask for a micro-controller kit instead

  16. That is absolutely genius, it is like Disneyland on your porch. How much does something like that costs? Would love to implement some singing heads at my house next Halloween.

  17. @Robert Costume it was pretty low cost since I had/found most of the parts needed. If I had to total everything…

    Arduino UNO $30
    4x Styrofoam foam heads $40 (approx on ebay)
    Motion sensing switch $10-$15

    The rest I imagine you could scrape together:
    Laptop for video playback
    Speakers or karaoke machine

    So I guess somewhere around $80 if you had to buy everything new.

    If you have any other questions I’d be happy to answer them. Shoot me an email at chris [at] thenewhobbyist.com

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