Spooky Coffin Bell Spooks Passers By On Halloween

Being buried alive isn’t fun, we imagine. Fear of it led to the development of various safety coffin ideas in the 18th and 19th centuries, and [Glen Akins] wonderful Halloween prop riffs on that tradition today. 

The safety coffin was a simple solution for those afraid that this might happen to them. One concept had a bell which was installed above freshly dug graves with a string extending into the coffin. One who found themselves accidentally buried alive could then pull the string to ring the bell and summon help.

[Glen’s] installation eliminates the coffin and the dead body, and simply mounts a bell on a post. Inside, there’s an ultrasonic rangefinder that detects passers by. When someone walks closely enough to the prop, a microcontroller triggers a servo which rings the bell with a haunting urgency.

It’s a simple build, but appropriately installed with its LED lighting, it really does pop. It would be a wonderful way to add atmosphere and mood to a Hallowe’en party or haunted house. We’ve seen some great Hallowe’en hacks over the years, and some of the best are pumpkins. Video after the break.

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Join Us For The “Holiday With Hackaday And Tindie” Meet-Up

It’s a ritual in workplaces around the world this time of any other year but 2020: the office holiday party. Too much food, perhaps too much alcohol, and garish sweaters that you wouldn’t be caught dead in on any other occasion. Things are, of course, a tad different this year, which is why we’re putting our community’s party online with the Holiday with Hackaday and Tindie meet-up on Tuesday, December 15 at noon Pacific time!

Why should you come to this hangout? Because why not! This is going to be a loose, informal meet-up that will give us all a chance to get to know one another. We’ve got an amazing community here, and just putting faces to names can be really valuable. You’ll be able to connect with old friends and perhaps make new ones. It’s your chance to reach out and find someone to collaborate with, or perhaps just find an answer to a thorny problem you’ve been stuck on. Be sure to bring your latest projects to show off, and maybe even consider giving everyone a virtual tour of your shop. Ugly sweaters are optional, of course, and we don’t judge.

The Holiday with Hackaday and Tindie meet-up is being held on Remo. Those of you who joined the Friday night Bring-a-Hack session at Remoticon this year will no doubt remember the platform, which we got a lot of good feedback on. You’ll want to check browser compatibility ahead of time and reserve your spot, so head over to Remo and make it so. If you need help with timezone conversions, we’ve got you covered on that too.

We’re looking forward to seeing everyone at the Holiday with Hackaday and Tindie meet-up!

Love Songs To The Microphone

A biographer of Frank Sinatra once commented that for singers like Sinatra, their instrument is the microphone. We tend to think of microphones as ideal transducers, picking up sound faithfully. But like most electronic components, microphones are imperfect. They have a varying frequency response. They pick up popping noises when we say words like “popcorn” that are normally lost to someone listening live.

[Cheddar] has an interesting video (see below) that covers how performers like Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Billie Holiday learned to use the microphone to their advantage. They suggest that the microphone changed the way humans sing, and they are right.

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Christmas POV Display Makes Viewer Do The Work

Hackaday readers have certainly seen more than a few persistence of vision (POV) displays at this point, which usually take the form of a spinning LED array which needs to run up to a certain speed before the message becomes visible. The idea is that the LEDs rapidly blink out a part of the overall image, and when they get spinning fast enough your brain stitches the image together into something legible. It’s a fairly simple effect to pull off, but can look pretty neat if well executed.

But [Andy Doswell] has recently taken an interesting alternate approach to this common technique. Rather than an array of LEDs that spin or rock back and forth in front of the viewer, his version of the display doesn’t move at all. Instead it has the viewer do the work, truly making it the “Chad” of POV displays. As the viewer moves in front of the array, either on foot or in a vehicle, they’ll receive the appropriate Yuletide greeting.

In a blog post, [Andy] gives some high level details on the build. Made up of an Arduino, eight LEDs, and the appropriate current limiting resistors on a scrap piece of perfboard; the display is stuck on his window frame so anyone passing by the house can see it.

On the software side, the code is really an exercise in minimalism. The majority of the file is the static values for the LED states stored in an array, and the code simply loops through the array using PORTD to set the states of all eight digital pins at once. The simplicity of the code is another advantage of having the meatbag human viewer figure out the appropriate movement speed on their own.

This isn’t the only POV display we’ve seen with an interesting “hook” recently, proving there’s still room for innovation with the technology. A POV display that fits into a pen is certainly a solid piece of engineering, and there’s little debate the Dr Strange-style spellcaster is one of the coolest things anyone has ever seen. And don’t forget Dog-POV which estimates speed of travel by persisting different images.

[Thanks to Ian for the tip.]

Make Mulled Wine With A Processor Heatsink!

Now, over the holiday season there seems to be a predilection towards making merry and bright. As many an engineer and otherwise are sure to note, fine alcohols will facilitate this process. One such warm holiday beverage is mulled wine; there are many traditions on how to make it, but a singular approach to preparing the beverage would be to re-purpose an old PC and a CPU liquid cooling unit into a mulled wine heating station.

Four years ago, [Adam] found himself staring at a pile of mostly obsolete PCs in his IT office and pondering how they could be better used. He selected one that used a power-hungry Pentium 4 — for its high heat output — strapped a liquid cooling block to the CPU and pumped it full of the holiday drink. It takes a few hours to heat three liters of wine up to an ideal 60 Celsius, but that’s just in time for lunch! The Christmastime aroma wafting through the office is nice too.

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3D Printed Greeting Cards

T’is the season to hack, and the maker brigade won’t disappoint — there’s no better way to crank out a few cute holiday tchotchkes than to fire up the 3D printer. [Niklas Roy] has released gDraw, a software package that creates G-code to print out 2D drawings on your 3D printer.

The interface is simple, allowing the quick and easy creation of basic vector drawings. The program then converts the paths in the drawing to a G-code representation that your printer follows to squirt them out in plastic. Think of it as the 3D printed equivalent of the “Stroke Path” tool in Photoshop.

[Niklas] chose to demonstrate the software by creating some interesting greeting cards that Big Christmas is sure to rip off next year and sell for $30 a pop. The printed plastic drawings give a fun 3D effect to the cards, and we’d love to see more examples of art created with this technique. The software was designed to work with the Ultimaker 2, but with tweaks, it should be able to generate code for other printers, too.

We’ve seen plenty of great festive hacks over the years — like this awesome laser projection setup.

Massive Pixel Display Holiday Decoration

Decorating for the holidays is serious business! Finding themselves surrounded by neighbours who go big, redditor [wolfdoom] decided that this was the year to make a strong showing, and decided to build an oversized pixel LED display.

LED Pixel Holiday DisplayDemonstrating resourcefulness in their craft, [wolfdoom] found an old fluorescent light grid pattern to prevent bleed from one pixel to the next. Reusing this grid saves many hours of precision-cutting MDF — to be substituted with many hours of cutting the plastic with decidedly more room for error. Attaching the resulting grid to a sheet of plywood, and 576(!) drilled holes later, the LEDs were installed and laboriously wired together.

A Plastic light diffusing sheet to sell the pizel effect and a little help from their local maker space with the power circuit was enough to keep this project scrolling to completion — after the requisite period of basement-dwelling fabrication.

 

Despite some minor demotion attributed to a clumsy daughter, the massive 4×4 display remained a suitably festive decoration. For now the control system remains in [wolfdoom]’s basement, but with plans to incorporate it into the display’s frame down the road.

One of the more interesting LED matrix builds we saw this year is the one that uses 1575 beer bottles. For a more interactive holiday decorations, Halloween usually takes the cake — like this animated door knocker.

[via /r/DIY]