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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Five-Axis Pumpkin Carving

The day of carved pumpkins is near, and instead of doing manually like a mere mortal, [Shane] of [Stuff Made Here] built a five-axis CNC machine to take over carving duties. (Video, embedded below.)

[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.

With projects like explosive baseball bats and CNC basketball hoop, the [Stuff Made Here] YouTube Channel is worth keeping an eye on.

Alexa Controls This Savage Pumpkin

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.

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Walking Arm Trebuchet Is Different, But Effective

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.

There’s a wide variety of ways to go about building a trebuchet, and we’ve featured some before. You can even instrument your payloads to quantify performance. Video after the break.

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It’s Never Too Early To Prepare For Halloween: With Flamethrowers

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.

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3D Printing, Halloween Style

The wonders of 3D printing don’t stop coming. Whether it’s printing tools on the International Space Station, printing houses out of concrete, or just making spare parts for a child’s toy, there’s virtually nothing you can’t get done with the right 3D printer, including spicing up your Halloween decorations.

Not only is this pumpkin a great-looking decoration for the season on its own, but it can also transform into a rather unsettling spider as well for a little bit of traditional Halloween surprise. The print is seven parts, which all snap into place and fold together with a set of ball-and-socket joints. While it doesn’t have any automatic opening and closing from a set of servos, perhaps we will see someone come up with a motion-activated pumpkin spider transformer that will shock all the trick-or-treaters at the end of this month.

It’s not too late to get one for yourself, either. The files are available on Thingiverse or through the project site. And we’ve seen plenty of other Halloween hacks and projects throughout the years too if you’re looking for other ideas, like the recent candy machine game, a rather surprising flying human head, or this terrifying robot.

The Internet Of Jack-O’-Lanterns

As the candy rush fades, the Halloween hacks continue pouring in. [Jeremy S Cook] has taken a few fundamental concepts and dressed them up inside the smartest pumpkin on the block.

This pumpkin has a WEMOS D1 Mini ESP8266 brain, LED eyes in place of a candle for illumination, and a small USB power bank for power. The code [Cook] is using is a modified sketch by YouTuber [Innovative Tom], which creates a server on your network — don’t forget to insert your network credentials! — that enable control of the LEDs from your computer or smart phone.

[Cook] has wired the LEDs to the relevant pins on the D1 Mini, zip-tied the battery and board together and stuff them in a plastic bag to keep them dry. Stick that into the pumpkin, hot glue the LEDs in place, and test it out!

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