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.

If you would like to see a voice controlled dragon pumpkin that throws flames whenever somebody says “trick or treat” then checkout this Microsoft Kinect voice recognition hack .

25 thoughts on “Fire Breathing Jack-O-Lantern Of Death

  1. I’d put it in some sort of display that makes you look at it briefly but not stare at it. You know have a skeleton near it, and a few other things. Nothing different at all, until you walk PAST it, and it shoots flames. The flames would be like a 6 inches behind the barrier of fence, wrought iron, beam of wood, or wrought iron. That would probably be safer and still work out to scare the crap out of people./

  2. Is it just me, or since the new owners took over, every single post has warning labels on it.
    It’s a bit of a drag. Yes, there’s a flamethrower. No, we won’t put our kids in front of it.

    1. If they include disclaimers, people complain about the disclaimers. If they don’t, people bleat about SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY. Both of these problems are annoying, but only one carries liability implications.

    2. Respectfully I’m thinking it may just be you. I never noticed that every single post has warning label. They existed to varying degrees long before the current owner came along.

  3. Good hack! My workplace has a battery-powered automatic air freshener in each bathroom but lately they’ve not been maintained. When I hear they’re going to remove them, I’ll try to grab one!

    1. Is it the kind of air fresherer devices that spray some liquid every time the door opens? Then you have some nice Haloween trick just waiting to be realized: fill it up with lighter fuel and change the mechanism so it gives a spark after releasing the liquid. Voilá, the Heloween flame throwing air refreshener. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

    1. The triggering mechanism is probably my least favorite part of this hack in terms of safety. I mean, it literally waits for someone to be standing in front of it before it goes off. Of course, it makes sure the person is at least a certain distance away. I think it would be better to use the PING sensor as a safety feature where the pumpkin will never go off if it senses anything in front of it. Then use some other switch to activate the flames. Like maybe a floor switch. I was working with what I had available though. And I didn’t trust the cardboard floor switch to fail open.

  4. I think warnings are called for here. Sometimes the element of danger is what makes that something cool. And this is pretty cool I guess. but I have an image of a kid getting seriously injured by this, and that’s very not cool.

  5. What’s the delay time and duration? If someone is walking or running towards the pumpkin they’ll cross the two foot activation zone pretty quickly and could possibly run right into the flame.

    1. This is a legitimate problem with it right now. As soon as it senses something in the proper range it will flame up. After the short burst there is a 30 second delay so it won’t just keep firing over and over. But like you say, if someone were running toward the pumpkin they would hit the threshold, the fire would go off, and they could potentially run right into it. Because of the safety issues with it, I don’t plan to put it outside on Halloween. It was a fun experiment but the reality is it’s not safe enough as-is to put outside on my doorstep.

      1. I personally think trick or treaters will be impressed with it. You could put it in a spot away from visitors (porch roof, perhaps?) and have visitors trigger it by stepping on something or crossing an IR beam. Of course, this boils down to making sure nothing will catch fire from it!

  6. Hi I thought the safety measure of preventing a flame when people are close by is good. Also why does it have to fire forwards out of the mouth? Why not upwards out of the top of the head? Yes the ignition config would need to be changed but why not have two streams of fire to make firey horns coming out of the sides or top etc… Less likely to hit a person if the height of the lantern is correct.

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