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!

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Halloween Knock Box

knock_box_top

[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

halloweenDoorHack

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.

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Pepper’s Ghost – Halloween Ghosting

peppers ghost

Peppers Ghost is a classic technique for making ghosts appear in pictures, video, and even in front of live audiences. In this week’s Halloween themed Instructable, learn how to recreate the effect at home.

It’s really quite simple. By positioning a clear piece of lexan at a 45 degree angle to your “ghost” object, and having the audience (or camera) looking at the lexan at the opposite 45 degree angle, you can produce a very simple ghost effect. This is a great trick for producing some scary ghosts in your haunted house.

But wait. Isn’t this a bit too simple? This is Hack a Day isn’t it? How about making a real moving hologram, isn’t that a bit more of our speed?

Well, this is the exact same technique that is used to make real holograms — just replace that object with a projected image or video! We’ve covered it a couple of times before, explaining the Tupac hologram, and showing off a cool leap motion controlled globe hologram.

Our challenge to you is to make a moving hologram Halloween decoration. After all, you can get pico projectors for less than $100 these days, so why not give it a try? There’s a few more ideas and techniques for positioning the lexan in the video after the break.

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Roomba and virtual walls make up this theme family Halloween costume

It figures. You spend a ton of time making a cool set of costumes and then you can’t get your kid to pose for a picture. It’s okay though, we still get the point. This themed set of costumes dresses the little one as a Roomba vacuuming robot while mom and dad are suited up as virtual walls (modules that are used to keep the bot from falling down stairs, etc.). It’s fun and unique, but had it not been for some additional electronics this would have been relegated to a links post. For safety sake each costume was outfitted with a ring of LEDs. As a challenge, the lights were given the ability to sync up patterns with each other.

Each costume has a circular frame at the top with a set of RGB LED strings attached. To get them to display synchronized patterns an IR transmitter/receiver board was designed and ordered from OSHPark. Each costume has four of these modules so no matter where the wearers are facing it should not break communications. A demo of the synchronized light rings can be seen after the break

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Happy Halloween!

Enjoy your Halloween and be safe. Keep reading for a thermite project preview.

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Halloween Props: Monster in a box

This furry Halloween decoration proves to be a simple build, but it’s still quite popular with the little ones. [Chris] had a Halloween party for a group of 2-5 year olds and this monster that peeks out of a box was a huge hit. The trick really isn’t in the complexity of the build, but in the interactivity.

The enclosure is just a shoe box which has been covered in synthetic black fur. The lid was hinged on the back, and a hobby servo with a bit of an extension on the arm is used to lift the front which reveals the monster’s paper eyes. Inside you’ll find an Arduino, breadboard, and battery pack. It’s not visible above, but a distance sensor on the front of the box is monitored by the Arduino. When it detects something in front of it the servo fires up and pops open the lid. The firmware includes a timer so that the monster waits a bit before taking its next peek at the party.

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