8×8 LED Arrays Make for one Creepy Animated Pumpkin

Arduino Pumpkin

[Michal Janyst] wrote in to tell us about a little project he made for his nephew in preparation for Halloween – a jack-o-lantern with facial expressions.

Pumpkin Eyes uses two MAX7219 LED arrays, an Arduino nano, and a USB power supply. Yeah, it’s pretty simple — but after watching the video you’ll probably want to make one too. It’s just so cute! Or creepy. We can’t decide. He’s also thrown up the code on GitHub for those interested.

Of course, if you want a bit more of an advanced project you could make a Tetris jack-o-lantern, featuring a whopping 8×16 array of LEDs embedded directly into the pumpkin… or if you’re a Halloween purist and believe electronics have no place in a pumpkin, the least you could do is make your jack-o-lantern breath fire.

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Simple LED Project to Spice Up Your Halloween Party

jackolantern

[Paul's] project is a great example of how you can take a simple project and turn it into something more interesting. He built himself a jack-o-lantern with an Internet controlled RGB LED embedded inside.

[Paul] first wired up an RGB LED to a Raspberry Pi. He was sure to wire up each color using a 100ohm resistor to prevent the LED from burning out. The web interface was written in Python. The interface is pretty simple. It consists of three text fields. The user enters a value between 0 and 255 for each of the three LED colors. The program then lights up the LED accordingly.

[Paul] realized he would need a diffuser for the LED in order to really see the blended colors properly. Instead of using a common solution like a ping-pong ball, he opted to get festive and use a plastic jack-o-lantern. [Paul] removed the original incandescent bulb from the lantern and mounted the LED inside instead. The inside of the pumpkin is painted white, so it easily diffuses the light. The result is a jack-o-lantern that glows different colors as defined by his party guests. Be sure to check out the demonstration video below.

Fire Breathing Jack-O-Lantern of Death

fire_pumpkin

[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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LEDs turn the heat up on flameless pumpkin lights

led-peter

When tea lights just won’t do, why not move up to a 5 channel LED candle simulator?

Halloween is fast approaching. Peter’s local hackerspace, The Rabbit Hole had a meeting to carve pumpkins and talk Halloween hacks. After seeing how poorly a tea light illuminated a medium size pumpkin, this hack was born. We’ve seen LED jack-o’-lantern hacks before, but this one was worth a second look.

In true hackerspace style, [Peter] used what was available to him. A PIC12F508 is the heart of the project. The 12X508/9 series has been around for at many years, and is still a great chip to work with. We remember using the ‘C’ version of this chip to bypass region locks on original PlayStation systems. [Peter] created a simple circuit with two basic modes. In “value mode” the 508 drives LED’s directly from its I/O pins. This limits the total output to 60mA. In “premium mode”, some 2N3904 NPN transistors are brought in to handle the current.  This allows the PIC to drive up to 5 LEDs.

Candles can be tricky to simulate with LEDs. [Peter] used 5 independent 16 bit linear feedback shift registers to generate pseudo random bit streams. The effect is quite impressive. A “wind simulation” completes the illusion of a real flame. [Read more...]

Flickering Pumpkin Lanterns

epumpkins1

Halloween is coming and [Paulo] decided to make some flickering jack-o-lanterns by hijacking the flickering circuit of a cheap LED tea light to drive a much more powerful light!

He has tons of old 12V incandescent bulbs collecting dust, so he decided to make use of them for some holiday fun. He wondered if he could steal the circuit from the flickering LED tea lights and use them to drive the incandescents. Upon taking the LED tea candle apart, he discovered there was no circuit, as it was in fact embedded in the LED itself! Not to worry though, he simply integrated the flickering LED into his circuit! Coupling a capacitor with the LED, he used a transistor amplifier to take the signal, and then finally boosted it using a MOSFET to drive the light bulbs. He then powered the entire thing using an old laptop power brick. Nice one [Paulo]!

Do you have any cool Halloween hacks? Don’t forget to send them in to the tip line! For other pumpkin fun, check out last year’s Pumpkin Tetris!

Before you throw out that pumpkin, make a dragon-o-lantern

Yes, it’s a little late for Halloween, but before you throw out that rotting gourd sitting outside your front door, how about planning for next year’s festivities with a dragon-o-lantern?

The first dragon-o-lantern that made its way into our tip line is a fire breathing dragon jack ‘o lantern built by [Aaron] for a pumpkin carving contest. The idea is simple; just carve a dragon head out of a pumpkin, insert candle, and spray the open flame with a can of Aquanet. Sure, it’s crude, but with a little engineering it could turn out to be a very, very cool build.

For a slightly more complex build, [Chris] built a fire-breathing jack ‘o lantern triggered by anyone saying the words, “trick or treat.” The key part of this build is a Microsoft Kinect, used for its voice recognition capabilities instead of its capacity to form a 3D depth cloud.

The fire portion of [Chris]‘ build is controlled by an Arduino triggering a solenoid to dispense a small amount of fuel into the pumpkin shell. [Chris] doesn’t go over the construction of his ‘poofer,’ but any member of your local hackerspace should be able to show you how it’s done.

Videos after the break.

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Halloween Hacks: A light and music show fit for [Jack Skellington]

Halloween Hacks Banner

singing_pumpkin_halloween_show

[Greg] was looking for something to build using his recently acquired Arduino, and with Halloween approaching, he thought a cool light display would make a great project. He browsed around online and found this tutorial that shows how to build a chorus of singing pumpkins controlled by a computer’s parallel port. Since he didn’t have any computers with a parallel port kicking around anymore, he decided to try his hand at recreating it with an Arduino.

[Greg] gathered eight light up Jack-o-Lanterns, along with a handful of relays and other miscellaneous components. He wired up the relays to trigger each individual pumpkin’s built in light when switched by the Arduino. He sat down and carefully listened through “This is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas, choreographing each of the pumpkins to take on the voice of one of the movie’s characters.

When the show begins, the display transforms from a group of unassuming pumpkins with candles a-flicker to a chorus of ghouls extolling the virtues of Halloween.

It really is fun to watch, so be sure to check out the video below. If you’re looking to throw together a quick display before the big day rolls around, [Greg’s] source code and diagrams should get you headed in the right direction.

[Read more...]

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