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.

Halloween Props: Ghoul in the box puts on a pretty good show

[Tim's] ghoul in the box project has all the elements of a classic Halloween prop. He built it for last year’s display but we’re sure it will be a perennial favorite.

As the name implies, it’s modeled after a Jack-in-the-box toy. Fittingly, it’s decorated with bright, happy colors and includes a crank on the right side of the box. But you don’t need any man-power to make it work. Hidden in the red circle at the center of the front panel is a motion sensor. Walk in front of the box and one of two modes will be triggered. The crank may start up and a happy rendition of Pop Goes the Weasel plays. But as it nears the end of the song the tempo slows and the pitch drops as if running out of steam. It’s perfect foreshadowing for the vigorous bursting forth of the ghoul inside.

The demo after the break gives you a look at the operation, as well as the components used in the build.

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A collection of hands to inspire your Halloween animatronics

Jump scares are a lot of fun, but if you want to hold the attention of all those trick-or-treaters we’d suggest a creepy prop. One of the best choices in that category is a ghoulishly lifelike hand. You can draw some inspiration from this roundup of robot hands which Adafruit put together.

We’ve chosen four examples for the image above but there are more to be had than just these. In the upper left there is a laser-cut acrylic hand that actually features some force sensitive resistors on the fingertips to help implement some haptic feedback. This project was inspired by the hand seen in the lower right which uses flex sensors on a glove to control the bot’s movement. If you’re looking for something more realistic the 3D printed parts on the lower left are the best bet. But if you’re looking to put something together by Halloween night the offering in the upper right is the way to go. It’s hacked together using cardboard templates to cut out plastic parts and using polymorph to form joints and brackets.

OpenPLC, for industrial automation to Halloween displays

Stepping out onto just about any factory floor you’ll find complex automatons building anything and everything imaginable. These machines need to be controlled somehow and before the age of computers these manufacturing robots were controlled with relays wired together to produce a multitude of actions. Relays, no matter how reliable and bulletproof the are, can’t be programmed without rewiring the entire machine. Now, factories have programmable logic controllers to take care of their automation tasks.

[Thiago] built his own programmable logic controller and released it as open hardware.Included in the OpenPLC are four 24V inputs, four 24V outputs (two with PWM), 0-10V analog inputs, and USB, SPI, and I2C for programming and expansion.

If you’re building anything from an industrial machine in your garage, or simply want really awesome Halloween (or Christmas) decorations, the OpenPLC can take care of driving all the solenoids, motors, and actuators needed. With the extendable I2C and SPI busses, it’s possible to add a plethora of sensors to bring a project to life.

The OpenPLC is based on an ATMega328 and is compatible with Arduino code. There are a few extension boards for digital and analog IO, as well as Ethernet.