Light Controller Goes Overboard for Halloween


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.

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Fail of the Week: 27 Face Jack-o’-Lantern


Sheer luck brings a Halloween themed project for this Fail of the Week post. [Stryker] wrote in to the tips line to share a link to what is an extremely awesome hack. He carved four three different faces on the sides of his pumpkin, then sliced the eyes, nose, and mouth into different sections. Couple this with an internal skeleton made of wood and PVC and he’s got himself a nice hack which lets trick-or-treaters spin the sections to select one of up to 27 different faces.

The sections do spin rather well and the finished project looks fantastic. So what is it that failed? We’ll cover that after the break.

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A Killer Arcade Cabinet for Halloween


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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Class Up your Haunted House with a Disney Mansion Prop


Die-hard Disney fan [Brandon Etto] must have one of the coolest houses in the block around this time of year, especially now that he’s built his own Master Gracey changing portrait. If you’re unfamiliar with the Disney Haunted Mansion attraction, there are a few different versions at theme parks around the world; the Orlando one features a portrait above the fireplace that miraculously ages into skeletal form.

[Brandon’s] recreation uses a Raspi loaded with a Video Looper SD image that cycles through a clip of the aging man image. He fabricated a box to hold a 19″ LCD monitor and mounted an inexpensive IKEA frame to the front. The magic is hidden with window film applied to turn the frame’s glass into a two-way mirror: a technique [Brandon] borrowed from this Halloween Instructable.

For a step-by-step tutorial, you’ll want to head over to [Brandon’s] writeup on MAKE, but stick around for a quick video demonstration after the break and check out another Haunted Mansion hack: the Singing Heads.

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Fire Breathing Jack-O-Lantern of Death


[Rick] is at it again, this week he has conjured up an even more dangerous Halloween hack. Thankfully [Rick] has included a warning of just how dangerous this hack can be, especially if children are around. Don’t do this hack unless you know what you’re doing and you can do it safely.

For [Rick]’s number four hack of the month he gives us the Fire Breathing Jack-O-Lantern of death! This isn’t a new idea but it is a very unique and simple implementation. We always love seeing the ingenuity of hackers to repurpose existing commercial products. In this case, [Rick] uses an automated air freshener which dispenses a flammable spray for the pumpkins breath if you dare get too close, but not so close as to get burned. The trigger distance is controlled by an Arduino and a Parallax Ping))) sensor so as to fire only when people are farther than 3 feet but closer than 5 feet. You can get a copy of the Arduino sketch from his blog posting.

A small candle is used to ignite the flammable spray, which shoots out 5 to 10 inches from the pumpkin’s mouth when triggered by the ultrasonic sensor. It couldn’t be simpler. The most challenging part was getting the large air freshener dispenser in the pumpkin with the flames coming out the mouth. A little extra whacking at the pumpkin fixed the fit, but planning for a larger pumpkin would be advised.

Theoretically the Arduino shouldn’t trigger and throw flames if people are too close, but when kids are running around they may come right into the target area unexpectedly. If this hack is used in the right place it would make for a great Halloween display item and could be used safely.

After the break you can watch [Rick’s] flame breathing Jack-o-Lantern build tutorial.

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Pseudo-Random Flickering Jack-O-Lantern LED using ATtiny13


It’s time to get those jack-o-lanterns twinkling for Halloween. If you don’t want to use candles or buy a jack-o-lantern light this Halloween you can do like [Johannes Bauer] and code your own pseudo-random flickering super bright LED. His wife wanted their pumpkin to be illuminated this year and he knew it would be easy to do with an Arduino, but that would be overkill for such a simple project. Plus, he doesn’t have an arduino. [Johannes] used very few components; 4 slightly depleted AA batteries, a super bright LED, 680 ohm resistor and a little custom code on an 8 pin ATtiny13. The circuit does work great for a pumpkin lantern but his video is more of a tutorial on coding linear congruential generator (LCG) for the 8 bit pseudo-random LED flickering.

The code is short and can be gleaned from the YouTube video. [Johannes] used avr-gcc to compile and has packaged his code and build scripts for download. The hex file can be flashed over to the chip using avrdude or AVR Studio. If you have any ATtiny13s lying around you should cobble this hack together just in time to emulate that real look of a pumpkin candle without the hassles and hazards of real flames.

If you want something with a lot more light that still has that candle like flicker then checkout “Flickering Pumpkin Lanterns” that used the signal from LED tea lights to power some 12 V lamps.

Follow along after the break to watch [Johannes Bauer’s] video.

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Halloween Knock Box


[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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