Fire Breathing Jack-O-Lantern of Death

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[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.

[Read more...]

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

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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.

[Read more...]

LEDs turn the heat up on flameless pumpkin lights

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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

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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!

Hackaday Links: October 31st, 2012

LED Marquee Pumpkin

Here’s an LED marquee as the mouth of a Jack-o’-lantern which [Mike Skoczen] made. This comes hot on the heels of that playable Tetris Pumpkin. [Thanks Jacob]

Arduino-powered robot costume

This is a sideways view of the Arduino-powered costume [Dan] and his wife made for their son. It has lights, buttons, a character display, and makes noise.

Cylon Centurion from a pumpkin

Stuck inside because of the hurricane, [Shawn] and his girlfriend carved this Cylon Centurion pumpkin complete with lights and sound.

8×8 LED costume ‘face’

[Matthew] built this helmet which features an 8×8 RGB LED matrix as the face. He calls it the digital reaper. You can see him testing the electronics in this clip.

Makerspace costume roundup

[Jeff] wrote in to tell us about the Halloween preparations at the Port City Makerspace in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Here we have a Ghost Busters Proton Pack, weeping angel wings from Dr. Who, and an Arc Reactor from Ironman.

Hackaday Links: October 18, 2012

Capacitive touch plants

Here’s a proof of concept for using plants as a capacitive touch sensor. The sensor is simply a hunk of double-sided copper clad board attached to a microcontroller. But it seems to be able to sense what part of the plant is being touched. [Thanks Fabien]

Adding wireless charging to a Nokia N900

This hack is quite common, but it’s still fun to see what hardware is being outfitted with an inductive charger. This time it’s a Nokia N900 that’s ditching the charging cables.

Wii carrying suitcase from a plastic tackle box

This Wii carrying case (translated) looks great and cost just a few bucks. It started as a tackle box for carrying around your fishing lures. But a bit of creative cutting and there’s a place for everything.

Browser based schematic and board layout

There’s a new kid on the block when it comes to circuit design. Circuits.io offers in-brower schematic design and board artwork layout. [Thanks ADIDAIllinie (and a few others)]

Bender-o-lantern

Halloween rapidly approaches and we hope that [Tim's] carving of Bender in a pumpkin will inspire you to send in your own Halloween projects.

Singing pumpkins

This Halloween table will sing a sweet serenade to spook your guests. Each of the animatronic pumpkins were quite easy to build, but you may end up spending a bit more time choreographing the performance.

Inside each Jack-o-lantern you’ll find a custom Arduino compatible board called a Minion board. These include a wireless connection which lets the system sync with the computer playing the audio. The pumpkins are fake, which means that can be reused year after year (unlike our LED matrix inside a real pumpkin). The mouth is connected to a servo with a short piece of bent wire, allowing it to flap along with the words of a song. You can see a performance of the Ghostbusters theme in the clip after the break.

A custom GUI was written in C# to aid in the choreography. It handles the playback of the song, with a few buttons that can be used to record the light and mouth effects. This ‘recording’ is then used to drive the pumpkins during a performance.

[Read more...]

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