New Contest: Halloween Hackfest

It’s as if Halloween was made for hardware hackers. The world is begging us to build something cleaver as we decorate our houses and ourselves for the big day. And one thing’s for sure: the Hackaday crowd never disappoints. This year we’re fully embracing that with the Halloween Hackfest, our newest contest beginning today along with the help of our sponsors Digi-Key and Adafruit.

The animated video combined with the 3D-printed prop makes for an excellent effect.

Wait, isn’t it the beginning of August? Why are we talking about Halloween? The procrastinator’s dillema, that’s why! Start working on your build now and it will be epic by the time the day actually rolls around. Decorating for trick-or-treaters is a good place to start. For our money, projected heads are a really cool party trick, like these singing Jack-o-laterns, or these disembodied heads inspired by Disney’s Haunted Mansion. Or maybe you’re more of a flamethrower-hidden-in-pumpkin type of person?

It doesn’t take much tech to bring a good costume to life — a few LED strips make a plain old princess dress light up the night and builds some permanent memories for the lucky little one who’s wearing it. Speaking of memories, we doubt the little one will remember this mechwarrior family costume, which is why you’ve always got to make a video of these things.

Over the year’s we’ve seen claw machines for candy delivery, and even a pumpkin piano. Of course pumpkin carving is an entire category unto itself where five-axis CNC machines are fair game. Look around, get inspired, and build something!

Three top winners will receive $150 shopping sprees in Digi-Key’s parts warehouse. If your build happens to use an Adafruit board, your prize will be doubled. We’ll also be awarding some $50 Tindie gift cards to the most artistic projects.

Get started now by creating a project page on Hackaday.io. In the left sidebar of your project page, use the “Submit Project To” button to enter in the Halloween Hackfest. You have from now until October 11th to spill the beans pumpkin seeds on what you’ve made.

Halloween Pumpkin Scares With An Evil Eye

These days, a classic Jack O’ Lantern just doesn’t cut the mustard. Kids are expecting to be scared by high-quality animatronics at a minimum. This haunting work by [Zero To Infinity] might just do the trick.

A real pumpkin is pressed into service in this build, with the usual threatening grin and candlelit interior. However, where it differs is in its single, animated eye. The eye itself is constructed of a pingpong ball, drawn upon with markers for a creepy bloodshot look. A pair of servos allow the eye to twitch and roll, under the command of an Arduino Nano. For further interactivity, an ultrasonic sensor is used to only trigger the pumpkin when it senses a person approaching.

It’s a fun holiday build that also serves as a great primer on how to work with servos and microcontrollers. We can imagine a more advanced setup using more sensors and pumpkins to train multiple eyes on the unsuspecting visitor. If that’s not scary enough, perhaps just make your pumpkins breathe fire instead. Video after the break.

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Animated Pumpkins Sing And Scare On Halloween

The animated video combined with the 3D-printed prop makes for an excellent effect.

Carving Jack O’ Lanterns out of pumpkins is a favorite Hallowe’en tradition for many, but relying on candles and knives is decidedly low-tech. [Lewis] of [DIY Machines] decided to whip up something a little more animated to scare the local trick-or-treaters instead.

The build consists of 3D printed pumpkins, lit from behind with a low-cost projector. Driven by a Raspberry Pi, the projector plays video files that project animated faces onto the pumpkins. The effect is great, giving the illusion of a real anthropomorphic Jack O’ Lantern sitting on your very porch. To control the system, a series of arcade buttons are hooked up to the Raspberry Pi allowing visitors to activate a song, a scare, or a story.

It’s a fun build that is a great way to add some interactivity to your Hallowe’en decorations. If you want to take your work up a notch, consider projecting on to your whole house. Video after the break.

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Projecting Halloween Peril

Every holiday has a few, dedicated individuals committed to “going all out.” Whether they’re trying to show up the neighbors, love the look, or just want to put a smile on the faces of those passing by; the results are often spectacular. A recent trend in decorations has been away from analog lights and ornaments and towards digital light shows via a projector. [Georgia Clegg] and [Luma Bakery] have written up a fantastic guide detailing the involved process of house projection for those feeling the holiday spirit.

There is more to the effect than simply pointing a projector at a home and running a video clip. The good displays make use of the geometry of the home and the various depths of the walls don’t distort the picture. The house itself is mapped into the image being displayed.

There are generally two approaches to mapping: point of view mapping and neutral/orthographic mapping. The first is just setting the projector in a fixed position and designing the graphics in such a way that they will look correct. The downside is that if there are multiple projectors, each projector will need to be separately designed for and they cannot be moved or adjusted. The second maps the house in an actual 3d sense and figures out how to display the content according to the viewpoint that the projector is currently at. This means you can create one source content and simply export it for the various projectors.

As you can imagine, the second is much more involved and this is where [Georgia Clegg] has stepped in. There’s a whole series that covers creating your house in MeshRoom, cleaning it up in Blender, creating the videos in After Effects, and setting up your projector to keep it running through the season.

We’ve seen other amazing projector mapping displays with lasers here at Hackaday. Now you can make one yourself. Just don’t get bogged down refurbishing your vector projector along the way.
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Making A Halloween Costume Fit For 2020

All across the country, parents are wondering what to do about the upcoming Trick Or Treat season. Measures such as social distancing, contact free treats, or simply doing it at home are all being weighed as a balance of fun and safety. [BuildXYZ] has decided to lean into the challenges this year and incorporate a mask as part of the costume for his boys.

It started with a 3d printed mask, printed in two halves, and sealed with silicon caulk and N95 filter material in the inlet and outlet holes on the sides. The real magic of the mask is the small OLED screen mounted to the front that works along with a small electret microphone inside the mask. By sampling the microphone and applying a rolling average, the Arduino Nano determines if the mouth drawn on the display should be open or closed. A small battery pack on a belt clip (with a button to flash “Trick or Treat” on the screen) powers the whole setup and can be easily hidden under a cape or costume.

This isn’t the first hack we’ve seen for Halloween this year, such as this socially distant candy slide. We have a feeling that there will be many more as the month rolls on and people start to apply their ingenuity to the season.

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Candy Slide Keeps Halloween Spooky And Socially Distant

Pandemic got you down about the prospects for Halloween this year? While you may not be able to do the Monster Mash with all your friends and family, there are plenty of ways to hand out candy while upholding social distancing practices. [WickedMakers] built a spooky six-foot candy slide to help keep their celebration in compliance with the CDC.

Their candy slide is almost entirely made of PVC, plus some gauze to mummify it and make it scarier. It’s essentially a six-foot long section of 3″ tubing supported by two ladders made of 1″ tubing that put the top four feet off the ground and a kid-friendly two feet off the ground at the receiving end. [WickedMakers] did a great job of hiding the PVC-ness of this build. We can’t help but wonder how much harder it would be to make the skeleton put the candy on the slide. Check out the build video after the break.

Need some Halloween headgear? You could always build N95 filter material into an EDM helm to hand out candy. Stay safe out there this year, and remember: always check your Halloween candy for malicious payloads.

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Halloween Costume Turned Positive Pressure Suit

As a general rule, you probably shouldn’t be getting your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from the party store. But these are exceptional times, and rather than potentially depriving medical professionals the equipment they so desperately need on the front lines, the team at [Robots Everywhere] has been looking into improvised PPE. We’re not sure things are at the point where you would need to don this DIY Positive Pressure Suit (PAPR), but it’s certainly an interesting look at what’s possible when you think outside the box.

At the most basic level, a PAPR is a mostly air-tight garment that is continuously pumped full of filtered air. As long as the pressure inside the suit is higher than outside, there’s no way airborne bacteria and viruses can get in without traveling through the filter first.

For this project, the folks at [Robots Everywhere] took an inflatable astronaut costume and replaced the dinky original air pump with a much larger 12 V unit designed for inflating air beds. Upgrading the pump not only increased the internal air pressure of the suit, but also made it easier to add a HEPA filter to the inlet. As long as the suit is inflated and there are no leaks in the hose, the wearer will be surrounded by a bubble of filtered air.

Presumably, you don’t want to be tethered to the wall though, so the write-up briefly touches on how the pump system can be made more mobile with the addition of an RC-style battery pack. With the pump and batteries secured in a pouch attached to the suit, the wearer is free to venture outside the confines of their self-isolation bunker and go about their dystopian daily business.

A getup like this might seem a bit excessive, but with so many folks desperate for information on homemade protective gear, we aren’t passing any judgment. The team says you can modify a cheap painter’s suit in much the same way, but frankly, that doesn’t sound nearly as fun to us.

[Thanks to Aron for the tip.]