[Oitzu] in Germany wrote in to let us know about a series of short but very informative blog posts in which he describes building a series of solar-powered, networked birdhouses with the purpose of spying on the life that goes on within them. He made just one at first, then expanded to a small network of them. They work wonderfully, and [Oitzu]’s documentation will be a big help to anyone looking to implement any of the same elements – which include a Raspberry Pi in one unit as a main gateway, multiple remote units in other birdhouses taking pictures and sending those to the Pi over an nRF24L01+ based radio network, and having the Pi manage uploading those images using access to the mobile network. All with solar power.
Planning to make that carved a pumpkin last past Halloween night? Forget the tealight or LED candle—here’s an easy, no-solder project that will make it extra special. By default, this jack-o-lantern looks like it has a flickering flame, but get close enough to it and it goes crazy with color.
All you need is an LED matrix, a Rainbowduino to drive it, a PIR motion sensor to trigger the random colors, and a power source. [Alpha Charlie] kept the electronics from becoming pumpkin-flavored with some plastic bags. Since he used the PIR as the jack-o-lantern’s nose, there is a bit of plastic behind it to keep moisture from interfering.
[Alpha Charlie]’s build instructions are quite detailed, which makes this project even simpler if you’ve never used a PIR before. There are lots of ways you could build on this project to make it your own, like using trick-or-treater motion to trigger screams or spooky sounds, or add more sensors to make it more interactive. Watch it react after the break.
If you have nothing else at all to do between now and trick-or-treat time, you could bust out the soldering iron and recreate this 70-LED matrix jack-o-lantern. Blinkenlights too safe for your tastes? Fire-breather it is, then.
[terenceang] got his feet wet with the ESP8266 WiFi module by hacking up an IKEA Molgan PIR light. The stock PIR light simply lights when motion is detected. [terenceang] added some extra functionality to it by making it send notifications to his phone as well.
The default configuration of the stock PIR light was to only work at night. This is done with a photo diode. It was removed to make it work in daylight, along with several other components. He removed a handful of current limiting resistors to disable the hi output LEDs. One was preserved as a visual indicator. The onboard voltage regulator didn’t supply enough current for the ESP8266. [terenceang] used some electronic wizardry and was able to solve the problem with an opto-coupler.
The one thing he would change is moving from battery to mains power, as expected battery life is less than two weeks.Schematics, source code and tons of great pictures are available on his blog. If you want to give it a try but need a crash course check out the recent news that the Arduino IDE works with ESP8266, or give direct programming a try.
[Stephpalm] had carved a pumpkin for the first time in two decades. Unfortunately, the neighborhood squirrels were all too pleased with her work and devoured it. Her original goal for the jack-o’-lantern was to have its lights controlled over the internet. These hungry critters inspired another project instead – The Jack-’o’-Lantern Squirrel Early Warning System. There have been hacks that have dealt with pesky squirrels before, such as a trap and an automatic water turret, but they didn’t have the ability to post to social media like this system does.
The system consists of a Spark Core, a passive infrared (PIR) sensor, and a piezo buzzer. When the motion sensor is triggered the buzzer sounds, scaring away any peckish creatures lurking nearby. [Stephpalm] used an NPN transistor and 1k-Ohm resistor to provide enough current to drive the buzzer. All of these components were connected using jumper wires and a breadboard that sits on top of the pumpkin. As a nod to her original idea, [stephpalm] then created “Pumpkin Watch Code” and loaded it into the Core. It posts preset messages to a Twitter account every 45 minutes of inactivity or whenever a pesky squirrel is detected. The messages can be personalized for anyone who wants to make one of these themselves.
We wonder if it would be better to place the breadboard inside the jack-o’-lantern and carve out a couple of holes on top for the PIR sensor’s wires to come out of. That would offer some protection from the elements and prevent it from getting knocked over. We think this project could be adapted for many other uses. After the break, see a video of the system in action!
Wireless sensor networks are nothing new to Hackaday, but [Felix]’s wireless PIR sensor node is something else entirely. Rarely do we see something so well put together that’s also so well designed for mass production.
For his sensor, [Felix] is using a Moteino, a very tiny Arduino compatible board with solder pads for an RFM12B and RFM69 radio transceivers. These very inexpensive radios – about $4 each – are able to transmit about half a kilometer at 38.4 kbps, an impressive amount of bandwidth and an exceptional range for a very inexpensive system.
The important bit on this wireless sensor, the PIR sensor, connects with three pins – power, ground, and out. When the PIR sensor sees something it transmits a code the base station where the ‘motion’ alert message is displayed.
The entire device is powered by a 9V battery and stuffed inside a beautiful acrylic case. With everything, each sensor node should cost about $15; very cheap for something that if built by a proper security system company would cost much, much more.
Our favorite holiday is just around the corner, so there’s no surprise in seeing a few builds to scare children turning up in the tip jar. [Greg] also loves Halloween and apparently puts on a good show – he always uses a fog machine on his porch on All Hallow’s Eve, but triggering it at the right time is always a pain.
This year, [Greg] decided to build a motion-sensing fog machine. His machine featured a wired remote with a light to signal when the fog machine is ready and a button to start the pump. This remote runs at 120V AC, but [Greg] figured he could stick a small USB phone charger in the remote and power an ATtiny85 microcontroller.
The actual circuit is just a piece of perfboard, a large, old relay from Sparkfun, and a PIR sensor [Greg] picked up last year. Whenever the PIR detects movement, the Tiny85 activates the fog machine for 5 seconds and disarms itself for another 10, until it sees movement again. Just the thing for a little interactive ambiance for [Greg]’s Halloween display.
Video after the break.
It’s less than 5 days away from Halloween and the projects to scare small children are pouring in. [Noel] sent in his robotic Halloween mask he’s been working on, and the only way his build could be any better is by placing it underneath a child’s bed.
[Noel] took the mask he used last year and stuffed a few styrofoam craft balls inside to ‘fill it up.’ Two LEDs and a PIR sensor were fitted into the eyes of the mask and a few more electronics added to the brain. A servo was fitted to the base of the project to turn the head left and right.
The build uses a Gizduino Arduino clone with an Adafruit Wave shield. After a little bit of wiring up the LEDs, PIR sensor and neck servo, [Noel] had a bit of coding ahead of him. He ran into a problem with the WaveHC and Servo libraries because they both used the same timer. After finding a another software-based servo libraries, he had a reasonably terrifying project to put in front of a bowl of candy.
Check out the video below for a demo of [Noel]’s work.