8 Tech Projects for Halloween

Article By : Cabe Atwell

It's that tinkering time again: Halloween brings out the best in DIY haunted mansion engineering projects.

Halloween is drawing near, and nothing is more fun for engineers and makers than to display their talent with incredible projects. The latest technology has helped us move beyond fake cobwebs, plastic spiders, and foam lawn decorations, into an era where powerful single board computers (SBCs), LEDs, and servos drive the latest in terror. Listed in the pages that follow are eight incredible projects that have been designed for fun and fright on Halloween night.

1. Raspberry Pi Motion Activated Transparent Screaming Ghost 

(Source: George Poulos)

George Poulos’ Raspberry Pi Motion-activated Transparent Screaming Ghost creates the illusion that your home is haunted. As the title suggests, a screaming ghost appears in the doorway as trick or treaters get within range of the setup’s passive infrared (PIR) motion sensor. Once tripped, a Raspberry Pi Model B with a PiFace Digital Module activates a projector which sends a ghostly image onto a sheet of plexiglass that has a thin coating of frosted spray paint.

2: Halloween Time Machine 

(Source: Samuel Seide)

Samuel Seide’s Halloween (or outhouse) Time Machine is an exciting build that lets users travel back in time to see dinosaurs, a mystical wizard, hunchbacks, cowboys, and dragons. Samuel built his time machine using a full-sized outhouse that’s outfitted with three LCD displays, which act as front and side windows. There are also red lights in the interior (controlled by a servomotor coupled to a dimmer switch for mood lighting) as well as a vibrating seat and a set of dials that show the status of the time machine.

3: Pumpkin Pi

(Source: Brian Gillespie)

Brian Gillespie’s Pumpkin Pi is a great project that makes use of the popular SBC and offers a significant lighting effect. The build is pretty straightforward: It uses a Raspberry Pi, the Adafruit Pi Cobbler breakout kit, a PIR sensor, and several different colored LEDs, which activate in various patterns when trick or treaters get close enough to the carved pumpkin.

4: Elevator TARDIS 

The engineers over at SparkFun managed to transform the inside of one of their building’s elevators into a TARDIS: Blue LEDs flash and riders hear the TARDIS sound as they travel from floor to floor. To create the TARDIS effect, the engineers used an Arduino Pro coupled with their own MP3 Player Shield and Mono Audio Amp Breakout Board. They added super-bright LEDs, an ADXL345 triple-axis accelerometer, and a 6mAh lithium-ion battery and speaker, all of which were packed into a cardboard box and placed in the elevator ceiling. The light and sound effects engage when the accelerometer detects the elevator’s motion. The SparkFun engineers provide a word of caution when tampering with an elevator, as it may get you arrested.

5: Evil Remote Controlled Ghost 

(Source: Mason Smith)

Mason Smith’s Evil Remote Controlled Ghost is more than just a drone draped in a sheet: He designed a custom two-prop tilt-rotor drone outfitted with a pair of Turnigy counter-rotating motors and Plush 18 Watt amp speed controllers. Smith outfitted the drone with a KKMulticontroller for the flight controller (which he placed between the two propellers), added an aluminum spine to keep it level during flight, and finished it off with a sheet for a ghostly effect.

6: Haunted Mansion Singing Busts 

(Source: TheNewHobbyist via Instructables)

Chris of TheNewHobbyist.com created Arduino-powered Haunted Mansion Singing Busts that are terrifying when lit, and even more so at night. Chris designed his display using a Dell Mini 9 notebook, an Arduino Uno, an 800×600 video projector, a photocell switch, a karaoke machine, and four Styrofoam heads. When the photocell is tripped, a serial message is sent by the Arduino to the notebook, which converts the message to keystrokes. Those keystrokes engage a VLC video, which is then projected onto the Styrofoam heads.

7: Candy Delivery Monster 

(Source: Gary Fong via Instructables)

Gary Fong designed his Candy Delivery Monster using a multi-module Rube Goldberg-like system, which takes canned food donations and replaces them with candy. The head of the monster was created out of paper mâche, which is mounted to a pail and connected to PVC pipe arms and legs. The eye of the beast is animatronic and features LEDs, ultrasonic sensors, servomotors, and an internal LiPo battery, which are controlled by an Arduino Uno. A lightweight conveyor belt tongue was designed using paint rollers, PVC pipe, a Pololu Gearmotor, and duck canvas. Controlling the tongue is a SparkFun Red Board with Ardumoto Motor Shield.

8: High Tech Haunted Attractions

(Source: Cutting Edge Haunted House)

As new technology has hit the market, the old haunted attractions that used fog machines, strobe lights, and mono audio have fallen to the wayside and have been replaced by inventive designs that incorporate advanced hardware. Attractions such as the Cutting Edge Haunted House (Texas), City of the Dead (Colorado), and the Netherworld (Georgia) have adopted new technology for their fright mechanics — including realistic animatronics, virtual/augmented reality, lasers, high-definition audio, projectors, and other computer-controlled systems.

With each new year, designers of these and other haunted attractions gain access to new and updated hardware and software which they use to improve their designs. In some cases the experiences are so intense that they require patrons to sign legal waivers (Blackout, McKamey Manor, etc.). Engineers and makers alike can utilize that same technology in their projects, making for fun Halloween experiences that everyone can enjoy.

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