Halloween Links: October 30th, 2013

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Happy Halloween from everyone at Hackaday! To help you enjoy the holiday here are a few festive links:

[Mike Kohn] whipped up a set of motion tracking eyeballs to make his decor extra creepy.

There’s not much to this jet-pack costume but the results are pretty amusing.

The eyes on [Tim Butler's] skeleton prop don’t follow you around the room, but they do use a PIR sensor to light up the skull.

Speaking of skulls, [Tom] is using some real skulls as decorations. He also added lights where the eyeballs should be, but he is using a photoresistor and comparator to turn on some LEDs.

[Clark] built a Mecha Robot Warrior costume for his son. With all of those LED strips we think he’ll be pretty safe when crossing the street!

And finally, [Jesse] added a lot to his prop in order to produce a Sinister Joker. That’s Joker-as-in-cards and not as in Batman. It’s got an IR distance sensor as a trigger, with a motor to move the wrist, lights for the eyes, and a sound shield to give it a disturbing voice.

Light Controller Goes Overboard for Halloween

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Yep, we said it. This Halloween decoration goes way overboard… and we love it! Not only does [Shelby Merrick] put on an incredible sound and light show for the neighborhood, but he keeps us happy by posting all the details for the lighting controller he designed. He calls the creation FloodBrain as it’s switching a set of flood lights to achieve the effects seen above. But for the full experience you’ll want to watch the demo videos below as well.

He needed a way to switch twelve RGB flood lights which pull 10 Watts. His controller was designed to communicate with them via RS485, with an AVR Xmega8E5 controlling the system. We like it that he included some images of the manufacturing process, using a stencil for solder paste before placing components for reflow.

The floodlights themselves are also an interesting hack. To get what he wanted at the best price he picked up 10W white LED flood lights for about eight bucks a piece, then swapped out the LED itself for an RGB version (same wattage) using the same heat sink and case.

More often that not we see this type of system controlling Christmas lights. [Shelby] mentions that he did get help from Christmas light controller forum We also think he should have no problem repurposing the controller for that type of application.

[Read more...]

A Killer Arcade Cabinet for Halloween

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It’s already pretty cool that [Clay] co-owns an Arcade, but he’s really impressed us with his custom-made Splatterhouse cabinet built to get his patrons in the Halloween spirit! A Namco brawler title from 1988, Splatterhouse came in an unadorned and otherwise forgettable cabinet. [Clay] salvaged an old Williams Defender, coating the sides with a cocktail of drywall compound, sand, and paint to achieve a stone texture. He then carved up some pink insulation foam into a tattered “wooden” frame and used it as a monitor bezel. For accents, he fashioned strips of latex to resemble torn flesh and placed them among the boards. The control panel is yet another work of art: [Clay] 3D printed a life-size human femur for the game’s joystick, and converted the buttons to look like eyeballs.

[Clay] decided to go beyond the stunning cosmetics, though, and tapped into the game’s CPU with a custom daughterboard that detects different in-game events and state changes such as player health. An ATMega165 uses four PWM outputs connected to a number of LEDs inside the cabinet and around the monitor bezel to react to the different events. If a player takes damage, red lights flash around the monitor. Inserting a coin or dying in the game causes a different set of LEDs behind the marquee to go nuts.

Check out his detailed project page for more information and see a video overview below. If building a full-scale arcade machine is out of your budget, you can always make a tiny one.

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Spark-Up Your Halloween Party with this Double Helix Jacob’s Ladder

Double Helix Jacobs Ladder

Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory wouldn’t be complete without some electrical sparks. So for [Rick’s] final Halloween DIY hack this year he gives us just that, but with a twist. This time it’s a double helix Jacob’s ladder. The sparks are flying as they twist and turn their way up this unique design, powered by a standard neon sign transformer. If you can get your hands on a 15,000 V 30 mA transformer, you might have just enough time to build one for Halloween.

The build is quite simple. Other than the transformer, you will need a few feet of ¼ inch flexible copper tubing and a piece of ¾ inch PVC pipe. After twisting the copper tubing around the PVC pipe to form the double helix, [Rick] mounts the tubing to a block of wood and removes the PVC form. In his video, which you can watch after the break, [Rick] demonstrates a standard Jacob’s ladder, as well as his double helix design. The double helix version has a much nicer and slower traveling arc even stopping at times.

You don’t want to set this up anyplace someone might touch it as it can be quite deadly or cause burns. [Rick] mentions not to use wood to mount your ladder because the wood will burn as it did during his testing. And do not operate unattended. Otherwise, it adds some spark to your great Halloween fun.

[Read more...]

LED Magic Staff Just in Time for Halloween!

LED staff

[Dave's] been working pretty hard on his Arduino driven, LED-lit, magical staff for the past few months, and now it’s finally coming together.

He’s using 6 LED strips that contain 55 LEDs each — at full brightness the staff can suck up an impressive 20A @ 5V! To power it, he’s equipped the staff with 8 NiMH C size batteries (5000mAh @ 1.5V). This works out to about 15-20 minutes of runtime at full power (255, 255, 255, LED values) — to counter this he usually runs a sparkly LED algorithm that lasts much longer. Besides, at full power it’s really quite blinding.

The staff is controlled by an Arduino Uno and currently only has two different modes: random and full brightness. Not to worry though, he’s planning on adding a sound sensor to turn it into an equalizer, a shock sensor to give it a cool ripple effect while walking, and maybe a few other interesting patterns!

Stick around after the break to see the first test video!

[Read more...]

Halloween Knock Box

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[Kyle] has been an avid reader of HaD for a long time. In fact, he was inspired by a Halloween knock box from 4 years ago! He saved the link and finally this year, he went ahead and made his own.

So what is it anyway? Well, as the name implies, when you knock on it, it knocks back. And if you knock on it a special number of times, it’ll play a secret tune… It is a great little item to have at any Halloween event — and kids love it!

Design and function of the box is basically the same as the original, with a few modifications — most notably, swapping out the original PICAXE for an ATtiny85 microcontroller. [Kyle] even managed to find the lego skeleton and chains available on eBay. He’s put together a very thorough blog post on it and shared all the code and schematics — so if you’re looking for a last minute Halloween project, this might be it!

Stick around after the break to see the knocking in action!

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Halloween Doorknocker Decoration Hack

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If you’re new to hacking, Halloween is a great excuse to get started, and [Chuck] has put together an inexpensive animated Halloween decoration that you can show off on your front door. After scoring a $5 plastic Halloween doorknocker from Wal-Mart, [Chuck] gathered together a small pile of components and then set about breathing some life (death?) into its scary but motionless face.

Though he opted to use a Digispark, you should be able to use any Arduino that is small enough to stuff inside the plastic head. [Chuck] cut some holes in the eyeballs and glued in two RGB LEDs, then cobbled together a quick-and-dirty mount in the mouth area to hold a small servo. The lights and the servo are wired to the Digispark, which turns the lights on and instructs the servo to slam the ring against the door. It’s is battery powered and currently has only two settings: on or off. This should be good enough to scare the kids for this year, but [Chuck] has plans to add a much-needed motion sensor and sound via a Bluetooth connection. 

As simple as this build is, it could be just the thing to get you in the holiday spirit, or to introduce the young hacker in your home to the world of electronics and coding. Check out the short video of the doorknocker after the break, then swing by [Chuck's] website for detailed build instructions and his Github for the source code. If you’re having trouble finding this doorknocker at Wal-Mart, [Chuck] recommends a similar one on Amazon. Don’t stop now! Make some Flickering Pumpkins too, or if you want a challenge, hack together your very own Pepper’s Ghost illusion.

[Read more...]

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