Video – Turning Good Gnomes Evil

Image of gnomes with glowing eyes

In this video [Jack] will show you how to take a garden gnome and a solar light to create a FrankenGnome that is sure to creep out your friends and neighbors. This Hackaday original video is the first in a new series of videos that we will now be posting on a weekly basis.

You’ll notice a few symbols at the beginning of these videos. These symbols are there to help you understand what the video is all about. In the upper left corner, we have the skill level. These will range from 1 for very basic projects to 4 for highly advanced projects. The upper right corner breaks the video into two categories. The first category is ‘feature adding’. In these videos we will be taking off-the-shelf items and modifying them to do something new. The other category is ‘skill building’. In these, we will be exploring different topics in depth. At first, the skill building videos will be mostly about electronics and software. In the future when we have excavated more room in Hackaday Headquarters, located deep beneath a mountain in remote [REDACTED], we will start doing videos showing you topics with a more mechanical nature. The other icons represent the major skills involved in the project.

Check out the video after the break.


  1. theodore says:

    What do you mean “turning gnomes evil”? I thought they were allreedy!

  2. default says:

    I really like the how-to concept! I really look forward to seeing more from the HaD staff! One suggestion, perhaps making a list of materials, and a list of tools needed just after the 1-4 difficulty and feature/skill intro page. This could allow people to see the type of build and the difficulty to see if they would be generally interested. Then one could view the required tools first to know if they have the main components of the build, then the materials needed to see if the cost is feasible after that. I personally would like to see that added. And I personally will love to see more how-to’s!

  3. XiuiX says:

    This is great! I want to see more of these tutorials

  4. XiuiX says:

    2:40 … awesome

  5. EFH says:

    Didn’t say what the gnome is actually made of…

  6. Squintz says:

    :Sigh: [Insert negative comment here]…

  7. George says:

    Great video and a good beginner hack, but It’d be nice if it started with a short demonstration before going through the how-to so the viewer can decide if they are interested.

    Also maybe there should be two cuts, one with the step-by-step like this, and another that speeds through the action, as I don’t think everyone is interested in or needs to hear the “this is a wire stripper”, “the flat edge indicates the polarity of the LED…” stuff.

    Great stuff though!

  8. Will says:

    Tips for newbie or self-taught soldering people:
    DO NOT coat the tip of your iron with a big blob of solder and then try to wipe the solder onto the two pieces you are joining. Secure one or both pieces with clamps, etc. and then heat the metal part with the iron before touching the solder to the hot metal instead of the iron. You will get a MUCH better solder joint and release fewer funky fumes from burning flux and rosin. Using a fume extractor/strong fan is a really good idea. And I know it looks stupid, but wear eye protection, especially if you are trying to desolder something. I can tell you from experience that molten solder in your eye is less fun than a math test.

  9. pt says:

    @jack – great start to what looks to be a very cool video series!

  10. T0ast says:

    Awesome post, cant wait to see more things like this, nice job HAD.

    Only things I would do different with the project is to tie a knot in the wire inside of the garden light so if the wire is pulled it wont stress the solder joints. Also, I would have drilled the hole in the light so that the wire is coming out of the stake and would be close to the ground and not at a diagonal going from the top of the light to the bottom of the gnome.

    But thats just me :]. Cant wait to see more!

  11. Ivan says:

    This didn’t gain anything from being a video. If anything, it lost something.

    Suggestions for video posts:

    Include a transcript.
    Have a gallery of keyframes.

    You can’t search a video. You can’t print out a video and follow the steps during construction. There’s nothing wrong with a video how-to, but even PBS realized hundreds of years ago with New Yankee Workshop that hard copy is required. Even worth charging extra for.

  12. BAKup says:

    This would make it more complicated, but instead of just powering the LEDs directly, build up a pummer to drive the LEDs, blinking eyes would be much creepier.

  13. jim says:

    The joke is when you quietly install these to a garden with a hundred or so gnomes, but don’t tell the owner first.

  14. The Cageybee says:


    Really high quality graphics and production values.

    More of this stuff please!!

  15. RandomReader says:

    Cant wait to see what is done next, no doubt some will be terrible and some brilliant so gonna be intresting to see what gets done :D
    Time Fountain next for a bit of framerate fun ^_^

  16. rob says:

    I like it. How about a yard light into mailbox alarm next time. It’s going to take more than the evil gnome to protect my Publisher’s Clearinghouse.

  17. Lots of good suggestions. I’m shooting next week’s video tomorrow. I’ll try to incorporate your ideas!

  18. Sigg3 says:

    Very informative, simple and nerdy. I’ll see if I can get this done at my GF’s place.. :D

    Please change the intro tune, though. It’s sort of the trademark of the TuxRadar Linux Podcast..

  19. Denise says:

    Great, would be very evil to do this with an ceramic fawn :-)

  20. Kbill says:

    I’ve built one of these earlier this year and people enjoy it by the front door. Today we made several with my kids and friend of their’s. My son was doing some testing and we discovered that they look even more eerie with the LEDs inside of the gnome pointing up at the head. The eyes are still drilled out, but the LED light is reflected off the inside of the head, giving a hollow look. Spooky.

  21. warddr says:

    At VoidWarranties (hackerspace Antwerp) we made our own version of this, and we now have garden gnomes with fading eyes, even more creepy :D.

    You can find them next week at OHM2013

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