Halloween Hacks: Transform that annoying dancing Santa into a Halloween mummy!

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santa_mummy

If you have one of those annoying dancing (Santa/Elvis/Frankenstein) decorations sitting around collecting dust, you could always repurpose it like [mischka] did. He originally wanted to enter our Santa-Pede challenge and purchased a dancing Santa, but time eventually got the best of him. With no other use for it in mind, he decided to make his dancing Christmas toy into a fun Halloween decoration.

An electronic rendition of “Jingle Bells” isn’t exactly the scariest thing around, so he dismantled the dancing toy and started fiddling with the sound board. A few well placed resistors later, his circuit-bent Santa Claus started to sound like he had five too many egg nogs, which was perfect for the dancing mummy [mischka] had in mind.

He transplanted some LEDs from Santa’s base into his head, and masked it off with some electrical tape so that only the eyes were visible. He then wrapped the mummy in the requisite bloodied bandages and set him out for the kids to enjoy.

Since it’s hard to find someone who genuinely likes these dancing toys, we think this is a great way to make them useful again. If you’ve got a few of these things kicking around, we suggest reenacting the dance routine from Thriller using an army of Santa-zombies and sending a video our way.

Continue reading to see a video of [mischka’s] mummy in action.

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Keeping simple children’s toys interesting with small modifications

souping_up_slot_cars

[Jaroslav] was racing slot cars with his son not too long ago, but like many of us discovered in our youth, driving cars around a small oval track can get dull after awhile. Rather than buy more track sections, he decided to fiddle with their cars a bit to make racing them a little more exciting.

After removing the top of his slot car, [Jaroslav] found that it cruised around corners with ease, giving him a distinct advantage over his son. He did the same with his son’s car to level the playing field, then he decided to add a few extra LEDs to make driving around the small track more lively.

Now, this obviously isn’t the most advanced of modifications, but it is a great example of extending the useful life of a toy by using cheap, easy to access components. We think that it would be reasonable to add even more features to the cars/track such as speed-dependent lighting or lap counters without changing the car dynamics all that much.

Any thoughts or suggestions to help [Jaroslav] soup up his kid’s race track even more? Share them with us in the comments.

Toy robot hand vastly improved, now more offensive

YouTube user [onefivefour] posted a video of his hacked up toy robot hand. These cheap robot hands usually only use one wire to move all five fingers. [onefivefour] improved upon the design and added five servos to allow independent control of each digit.

The servos are controlled by a PICAXE microcontroller, and [onefivefour] is willing to share the code. A few pressure sensors in the fingertips would turn this build into a great test bed for future development. It would also be great for an [Anakin Skywalker] Halloween costume if anyone on the planet ever wanted that specific costume.

[onefivefour] says he only spent $6 on his and while there’s more money sunk into the servos, it was probably a good investment. We love seeing hacked up pieces of plastic like the fully functional Wall-E or the dancing Androids. If you’ve got a toy hack in the works, drop us a line on our tip form.

R/C Hexababy is guaranteed to give you nightmares

hexapod_baby

For this week’s hack, [Dino] was working on a mechanical cat toy, but the project fell apart towards the end for some reason or another. With time running out, he had to come up with something on pretty short notice, using whatever he happened to have on hand. Luckily he picks up some seriously weird stuff at the local thrift store and had a disembodied doll’s head kicking around for this last minute project.

Taking a cue from Toy Story’s [Sid Phillips], [Dino’s] doll’s head hexapod is as creepy as it is simple. He had a remote controlled hexapod from RadioShack sitting around, and thought it would be fun to combine it with the doll’s head. He replaced the dolls eyes with a handful of LEDs, which are green as the hexapod retreats, but glow a bright red as it advances towards you. The only way it could be any creepier is if [Dino] added a voice box that plaintively called for “mommy” as the doll crawls around!

It’s a relatively goofy project, but it gave us a good chuckle. The most disturbing highlight of the build is when [Dino] removes the doll’s eyes using a wood drill bit around the 6:00 mark.

If you’re looking to kill a few minutes, be sure to check it out – [Dino’s] work is entertaining as always.

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Take to the skies with this flying RC superhero

flying_rc_superhero

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s….

A flying RC super hero?

No, you’re not imagining things. Maker [Greg Tanous] loves both RC airplanes and super heroes, so he thought it would be awesome to combine his two loves into one spectacular toy. The RCSuperhero comes in two flavors, measuring 75″ and 57″ tall. The larger plane can be purchased as a kit, but the smaller unit is only available in plan form.

The flying superhero weighs in at just about three pounds, and is constructed from foam, carbon fiber, and various other lightweight materials. When using the recommended motor, the RCSuperhero can be launched from a standing position, doing away with the need for runways. The craft looks to be just as maneuverable as any regular RC airplane, making it easy for any seasoned pilot to pick up the controls and get started.

RC planes are pretty cool, but we’ve got to admit that the idea of a vertically launching, flying superhero sounds like a lot of fun!

Stick around to see [Greg’s] RCSuperhero in action.

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Enhancing simple circuit kits with microcontrollers

picaxe_powered_circuit_learning_kits

[manuka], aka [Stan Swan] is a teacher in New Zealand who enjoys enlightening his students on the wonders of electrical circuits. He primarily uses “snap connector” circuit kits, sold under the BrainBox name in NZ, for his interactive labs as they can be easily manipulated by pupils of all ages.

While the kits are great, he says that the range of experiments they provide can be a bit limited, so he decided to swap out the kit’s sound module for something far more useful – a PICAXE-08M. The space left by removing the sound module was pretty small, but [Stan] got everything to fit without too much hassle. His modification allows his students to program the PICAXE, as well as utilize four of the uC’s output pins.

Needless to say, the addition of the PICAXE module was a huge hit with his students, allowing them to create far more exciting circuits. [Stan] has been revising his system over the years, adding extra output pins, enabling lamp and motor control, as well as tweaking his setup to respond to IR commands.

We think [Stan’s] work is pretty awesome, and we’re still wondering how this flew under our radar for so long. He says that his students vary from preschool kids to centenarians, so if you’ve got someone that you would like to introduce to the fun world of electronics, we suggest picking up one of these kits and getting to work.

[Thanks Haku]

Meet Mr. Clappidoo

mr_clappidoo

[Laurence] tinkers around the house quite a bit, making all sorts of fun interactive toys for his children to play with. Mr. Clappidoo is a toy that he finished a while back, which bears a striking resemblance to one of his projects we recently showed you, Papydoo. This is not a coincidence, as Papydoo was created after Mr. Clappidoo was built, borrowing many features from his predecessor.

Who is your daddy and what does he do?

It’s a good thing you asked. Mr. Clappidoo uses an IR motion sensor to detect nearby objects, waking up and interacting with whatever crosses his path. He is capable of four different random moods ranging from angry to flirty. He projects these moods by changing the color of his LED-lit eyes as well as playing simple sounds. A balsa wood chest makes up Clappidoo’s body, and he repeatedly claps his lid mouth open and shut using a small servo, hence the name.

Like his other projects, [Lawrence] has focused his efforts to ensure that the three AA batteries used to power Clappidoo last as long as possible. He says that with moderate usage the device can run off the same set of batteries for a few months before needing replacement.

It’s a fun little contraption, sure to please the kids. Stick around for a quick video of Clappidoo in action.

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