Halloween Hack Requires Minimum Code, Produces Maximum Fun

Every year, [Conor O’Neill] hacks something together to spook and entertain trick-or-treaters who happen by his home on Halloween. He’s noticed a pattern — every year the project involves a mess of code, often slapped together using different frameworks and languages. Attempting to alleviate that, and maybe make things a bit more friendly to beginners who understandably find code-intensive project daunting, this year he set out to write as little code as possible.

Rather than take the electronics-only route, which would undoubtedly include a few 555 timers and some other classics, [Conor] elected to stick with higher-level embedded boards, including fan-favorites such as an ESP32 and a Raspberry Pi, while still trying to keep code to a minimum. Thanks to the visual languages Espruino Blockly and NODE-RED, he only needed to write a couple lines of “traditional code,” as he calls it: a simple JavaScript HTTP request. The project itself consisted of an ultrasonic sensor hooked up to an ESP32, which would detect when children approached the door. The ESP32 used Espruino visual scripting to notify a Raspberry Pi when it sensed motion. The Raspberry Pi would play some spooky sounds, and coordinate with some old conference badges to turn on some lights and trigger a fog machine. The Pi also used a service called Tines to send a door notification via Telegram.

Okay, so this is still by no means simple, but it is interesting how much can be done without writing much code (and the end result was great!). [Conor] says he’s been building similar Halloween projects every year for the last ten or so, and it shows — we wrote about another one of his haunted doorbells back in 2015. We’re looking forward to seeing what he cooks up next year, and we hope you’ll have some awesome automated Halloween decorations as well!

11 thoughts on “Halloween Hack Requires Minimum Code, Produces Maximum Fun

  1. Seriously? Who would do such an outrageous thing when kids are expected? Adults — … maybe, but KIDS? Maybe a cat, dog, or even lion “roar”, but no, this ain’t cool dude.

      1. You realize that context matters, right? What is just fine in the context of a comedy might be viewed a little differently on someone’s doorstep…

        Also Home Alone came out over 30 years ago, willing to bet nearly no children today would get the reference. And while it’s not relevant, Angels with Filthy Souls was not a real movie, the scenes shown were shot for Home Alone.

  2. That hack is cool, imho, but the sound effects.. 😰
    The first thing that came to mind was this:

    As an European, I’d be totally scared of the sheer possibility of being hurt just for ringing a stranger’s door bell (in the US). 😰
    Not to imagine what fear US kids might feel if they experience something like that. I mean, sure, it’s for Halloween, yes.. But on the other hand there are so many sick people out there (in the US) who might hate kids and actually enjoy them getting hurt.

    Anyway, I totally understand that this hack is just meant as a funny gag.
    But maybe another sound effect can be used if kids are looking for sweets?

  3. For those worried about the sound clip used, just a few quick responses:

    1. I live in Ireland not the US. Almost no one has guns here. No one thought it was real.
    2. “Haha Home Alone” was the most common response from all the kids. I’m pretty sure every kid in Ireland has seen it multiple times. It’s a stock Christmas movie on TV here.
    3. All of the smaller kids were with their parents due to Covid, not one of whom complained
    4. We’ve been doing this for over a decade and that sound clip has been used multiple times. So there’s almost an expectation in this small town locally that there’s going to be some sort of jump scare by us.

    Next year we’ll revert to the speaker under the car saying Hiya Georgie ;-)

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