Oh, the places plastic has taken us. One of the arguably better inventions might be the fake carve-able pumpkin, which is more or less guaranteed not to shrivel up and rot on your porch, though it might get smashed by wily teenagers along with its organic brethren next door.
Though they will be around much longer, the fake kind lend themselves to all kinds of creations, including this one from [BunkEbear] which was “a nightmare” to build. Yeah, we bet it was along the lines of [Aaron Rasmussen]’s spherical keyboard, except inside out, since that one’s concave.
This tasty keyboard is modeled after the Malling-Hansen writing ball, which is arguably the first commercial typewriter and dates to 1865. [BunkEbear]’s pumpkin version features the 54-key layout, plus two additional for Shift and Escape to suit modern needs. Since the inside of the pumpkin is pretty small, [BunkEbear] wired all the connections close together on the protoboard, and used JST extension cables between the Glorious Panda switches themselves and the Arduino Pro Micro.
Halloween may be behind us, but that just means that we’ve reached the best time to buy pumpkins. After all, it’s still fall, and there are pies to be made and tables to be decorated. Why should carved-up pumpkins be restricted to spooky season?
The only problem is that it’s 2022, and we’re still expected to use those terrible little serrated knives to carve our pumpkins. Those orange-handled garbage ‘knives’ are hardly suited to cut the lid, much less carve any of the intricate designs that come in the little booklet. So what’s a pumpkin-carving enthusiast to do? If you’re [XYZ Create], you make your own out of walnut, maple, and a gently-used jigsaw blade that’s still way sharp enough to tear through pumpkin flesh.
[XYZ Create] started with a nice chunk of walnut, which he split lengthwise in order to insert the blade, which sits in a cavity within a thin piece of maple. Once [XYZ Create] had the handle ready to go, he inserted the jigsaw blade and epoxied the sandwich together. After sanding down the edges to make a comfortable grip, he finished off the build by rubbing a bit of carving board wax into the handle. Check out the build video after the break.
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.
[Shane] initially intended to modify his barber robot, but ended up with a complete redesign, reusing only the electronics and the large ring bearing in the base. The swiveling spindle is a rotating gantry with two sets of aluminum extrusions for vertical and horizontal motion. The gantry isn’t very rigid, but it’s good enough for pumpkin carving. Software is the most challenging part of the endeavor due to the complexity of five-axis motion and mapping 2D images onto a roughly spherical surface. Cartographers have dealt with this for a long time, so [Shane] turned to Mercator projection to solve the problem. We’re also relieved to hear that we aren’t the only ones who sometimes struggle with equation-heavy Wikipedia pages.
Since there are no perfectly spherical pumpkins, [Shane] wrote a script to probe the surface of the pumpkin with a microswitch before cutting, appropriately named “TSA.exe”. The machine is capable of carving both profiles and variable depth lithophanes, mostly of [Shane]’s long-suffering wife. She seriously deserves an award for holding onto her sense of humor.
Traditionally, pumpkins are carved during the holiday of Halloween to represent malicious and frightening beasts. Flying in the face of this is [minihannah]’s carving of Adam Savage, which she’s calling a hero pumpkin. It’s a fun twist on the custom, and of course, it’s packing WiFi too.
The build starts with a carving of the typical orange winter squash cultivar, using artwork cribbed from the cover of Mr. Savage’s biography. Inside, there’s a bunch of LEDs, all under the control of an adafruit feather M0, which talks to the broader internet over WiFi. The pumpkin can be controlled by Alexa, thanks to the combination of Adafruit.IO and IFTTT.
It’s a fun little Internet of Things build, and one that’s ready for the modern smarthome, where you’re already used to yelling at the lights to switch off. We’d love to see a similar Billy Corgan build, if only for the pun. If you give it a go, be sure to drop us a line. Video after the break.
For many of us, our first encounter with the famous trebuchet was Age of Empires II, or perhaps a documentary on historical siege engines. However, many people continue to pursue builds of their very own, exploring designs new and old. The walking arm trebuchet is a good example, which uses an unconventional design to great effect.
The design eschews a rigid frame, instead consisting of simply an arm and a triangular leg assembly. The arm is held upside down, and is launched by allowing the trebuchet to collapse forward to rest on the triangular leg. The triangular leg is fitted with spikes which dig into the ground, and the arm then pivots around, launching the projectile. The design is reportedly quite efficient, similar to a floating arm trebuchet, with a very simple design. Performance was so good, it netted a clean sweep of the 2018 Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin’ festival.
Using a legitimate flamethrower is on the bucket list for a lot of us. Even Elon Musk got into the action with his Not-A-Flamethrower flamethrower. For the rest of us non-billionaires though, we have to come up with clever reasons to build our own like “Halloween is only six months away”. [HandsomeRyan] took this approach six months ago to great effect, and recently released the files on Thingiverse for us all to enjoy.
The cover for building this project was making a Jack-o-Lantern shoot flames out of its face on-demand. The build is based around a car door locking solenoid, which has plenty of kick for applications like this. [HandsomeRyan] upgraded his old wood design with fancy 3D-printed parts which, with the help of the solenoid, deliver a blast of flammable material across a candle inside the Jack-o-Lantern via an aerosol can hidden in the pumpkin.
Part of the elegance of this project is that a car door locking solenoid is typically controlled by remote, meaning that if you want this to be remote-controlled the work has already been done for you. If you need a more timely excuse for building one of these, the Fourth of July is a little bit closer, which should work in a pinch as an excuse to build something crazy even if you’re not American.