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Updated by Ian Buckley on September 19 2017
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 your 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.
If you’re looking for something to wear that will really scare the kids, why not take a look at these futuristic Halloween costumes.
1. Creepy Cackling Cauldron
Scare Factor: 6.5/10
You enter the witch’s lair, and slowly approach the luminous, bubbling cauldron. As you close in, the evil shrieking within rises with each step to a fever pitch as the roiling fog on the murky surface engulfs you forever.
Sounds like a great horror story right? Well, this nightmare is real — and you can make it!
This impressive build takes an old cauldron prop and retrofits it with an Arduino, soundboard and speaker, along with lights, distance sensor and a fogger designed to be used in pods or fish tanks. The code side of things is already taken care of thanks to Barton Listick, who provides a sketch along with the build details for this witches brew of a project.
This project has a fair amount of parts and requires a bit of putting together, so start this project earlier rather than later!
2. Talking Skeleton
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.
3. Demon Mask Costume
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.
4. Monster in a Box
Scare factor: 7/10
A box marked with danger, and with good reason. It’s alive! This growling, thrashing, smoking box is triggered using a PIR sensor and Arduino. This project once again makes use of the Adafruit Wave Shield, and the movement and smoke come from a windshield wiper motor and a smoke machine. Due to its larger size, builder Craig Jameson was able to fit a large speaker inside too. This box is loud!
Of course the scale of this project might be a little big for some builders, but the entire project can be scaled down using a smaller motor and a fountain fogger rather than a smoke machine.
5. Moving Skull
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.
6. Automatic Candy Dispenser
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!
7. Laser Maze
Awesome factor: 8/10
Fill the room with smoke, then challenge your Haunted House goers to navigate without tripping the alarm. This laser maze 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 a while back. The dog was not impressed.
8. Fire Breathing Pumpkin of Death
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 eyebrows is another matter entirely.
Once you’ve mastered the basics with the Arduino, why not take a look at these Raspberry Pi Powered Halloween props?
Have you worked some Arduino magic into your Halloween this year? Let us know what you did!