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Learning electronics with an Arduino is fun, but using one to scare the life out of trick-or-treating children is just downright heavenly. Get your back covered when they come begging this year – and if they make it through the scary stuff, all the way to your door, then at least you’ll know they really deserve some candy.

Given how long it can take some us to actually finish a project, it’s probably best if you start planning next year’s Halloween scares now. If you’re really handy, you might just have enough time to make one or two of these before the onslaught begins tomorrow.

Talking Skeleton

Complexity: Difficult
Scare factor: 7/10

Tired of having to greet those trick or treaters personally? This talking skeleton will take care of that for you, with a variety of your own pre-recorded phrases. A PIR sensor detects movement, while a Wave Shield from Adafruit stores .wav files ready to output to a pair of hidden computer speakers. A simple servo motor is used to move the hinged jaw, and some superbright LEDs in the eye sockets finish off the look.

Demon Mask Costume

Complexity: Medium
Scare factor: 5/10

Does your face look altogether too human? That’s a problem – children are used to humans, so any attempts at terrifying them will be somewhat mitigated when they see your familiar face. Use a demon mask to correct this.


Utilising I2C communications protocol and small LED matrices for mouth and eyes, while an Adafruit Wave Shield and microphone gives real time voice changing effects.

Dropping Spider

Complexity: Off the charts
Scare factor: 11/10

Sadly, the guide links are out date, but it could be inspiration for a renewed project. The dropping spider is controlled with a modified servo and VHS tape originally in this project, but here’s a video showing a better “prop dropper” device.

The complete project also combines a compressed can of silly string with servo trigger, and finally a smoke machine and cooling hose finishes off the effect by creating some low lying fog, with a relay triggering the smoke output.

Magic Mirror

Complexity: You should probably give up work for a while
Scare AND Awesome factor: At least 9/10

Featuring an old LCD screen and some mirror-glass, this authentic fairy tale prop responds to commands for home automation and even includes a breathalyser function for parties. There’s a Photo Booth mode for wacky party pics, and pre-recorded animations with a variety of character. The project has since been commercialised into kit form for $140, but you can make your own and just buy the software and animations for $50.

Moving Skull

Complexity: Easy
Scare factor: 7/10

A simple non-hinged skull attached to a single servo with a few LEDs in the eyes. Placed on the ground and masked with a net, this is the kind of prop you really wouldn’t expect to start moving around, so the effect is all the more terrifying. The approach taken by this Adobe team is a little odd and requires interfacing with a computer, but you could just as easily manage the whole thing purely on an Arduino since there’s no complex processing involved.

Automatic Candy Dispenser

Complexity: Easy
Awesome factor: 5/10

Made more for the purpose of not having to deal with little tykes, than instilling permanent memories of sheer terror that mean they’ll likely never sleep again. The candy dispenser uses two servos to both open the chute and mix the contents, preventing blockages. Bonus points if you can get the kids to hang around long enough to be hit on the head with candy!

Laser Maze

Complexity: Easy
Awesome factor: 8/10

Fill the room with smoke, then challenge your Haunted House goers to navigate without tripping the alarm. This is actually a pretty easy project to wire up, but aligning the laser beam to the light sensors is fiddly. Consider adding small mirrors to make the lasers go further, adding complexity to the maze. When a dip in the light signal is detected, fire off alarms and flashing lights. In fact, I made a similar setup but without lasers How To Make a Simple Arduino Alarm System How To Make a Simple Arduino Alarm System Detect movement, then scare the heck out of an intruder with a high pitched alarm sounds and flashing lights. Does that sound fun? Of course it does. That's the goal of today's Arduino project, suitable... Read More a few months back. The dog was not impressed.

Fire Breathing Pumpkin of Death

Complexity: Medium
Possibility of actual injury: Very high
Scare factor: Over 9000

From scare-master Rick Osgood, this probably shouldn’t be used on children, though it does have safety features that prevent it firing when people are too close. The core of this dangerous jack-o-lantern is a Glade automated air-freshener; grounding a single wire provides the manual trigger. Add in an Arduino and a sonar proximity sensor to detect distances, and you’ve got yourself the most genuinely terrifying project, ever.

Seriously though, you shouldn’t really burn trick-or-treaters – not even just a little bit. Throwing candy is acceptable; singeing eye brows is another matter entirely. Have you worked some Arduino magic into your Halloween this year? Let us know what you did!

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