Scare Up Some Electronic Tricks and Treats This Halloween

October 31, 2019

Christine Young  By: Christine Young
 Blogger, Maxim Integrated 


With ghosts and goblins roaming the streets in search of treats, Halloween might be the perfect time to channel your inner maker and show off your DIY skills. From robot candy dispensers to scary electronic pranks, the creative engineers in the Hackster.io community have shared some interesting ideas that might just inspire you to design something frightful.

Ready to create something scary? Here's a look at a few Hackster Halloween projects.

Pumpkin Pi

Brian Boyles and Team Seluxit love Halloween props and a good DIY project. Their Pumpkin Pi connected jack-o'-lantern comes with a web app for easy interaction and configuration. You can pick any ceramic pumpkin head you want, but it's what's inside that should get your creative juices flowing: a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B (the brains), Raspberry Pi camera module (the nose), MAX7219 serially interfaced, 8-digit LED display driver (the eyes and mouth), a MyMusic Bluetooth Boom Barrel Mini Speaker (the vocal chords), and a DS18B20 programmable resolution 1-Wire® digital thermometer (the tongue).

The development team brought their pumpkin to life using an IoT rapid prototyping web app with background automations. The hardware is connected to the "maker-friendly" Seluxit IoT Platform and, from there, to Wappsto. As the team notes in their project story, "Once you've baked this Pumpkin Pi, you will see that you can keep innovating to make your own variations. You can make it a perennial favorite that just gets better through the years."

For step-by-step instructions and other details, see the Pumpkin Pi project on Hackster.io.

Pumpkin Pi Halloween Jack-o-LanternPumpkin Pi connected jack-o'-lantern. Photo courtesy of Brian Boyles and Team Seluxit/Hackster.io

Halloween Robot v2

Need a helping hand to hand out candy on Halloween? Scott N. Miller has just the answer for you with his Halloween Robot v2. Designed with an array of Adafruit components—including digital RGB LED pixels, a quad level-shifter, a stepper motor, and a female DC power adapter—the colorful robot dispenses "fun size" candy bars at the press of a button. He notes in his project story that the effort made for a fun family activity: "It was great for the kids to get involved with the mechanical design in Onshape, laser cutting on Glowforge, and programming the colors on the Adafruit Feather. It made what seemed mysterious (how do those machines work) much more understandable and approachable."

Get details to make your own Halloween Robot from Hackster.io.

Halloween Candy Dispensing RobotA Halloween robot that dispenses candy. Photo courtesy of Scott N. Miller/Hackster.io

Dropping Spider on Doorbell

Want to give your Halloween visitors an unexpected fright? See how they react when a big spider drops on their fingers as they ring your doorbell. Kristian Blasol created this scary little prank with an ultrasonic sensor, the RobotGeek Continuous Rotation Servo, and Arduino UNO and Genuino UNO. According to Blasol's project story, this design was all his son's idea. He notes, "It is a really simple build, using an Arduino and a small sketch, we put an ultrasonic distance sensor to sense when someone came close to the doorbell, and then a servo quickly "dropped" a spider in a string on the visitor's hand. It was great fun to build and took short enough time to keep a kid interested through the build"

Watch the video tutorial and get the code from the "Dropping Spider on Doorbell" project on Hackster.

Halloween Dropping Spider on DoorbellDropping spider prank. Photo courtesy of Kristian Blasol/Hackster.io

IoT Laser Tag, with Candy!

In our IoT age, bobbing for apples is way too archaic for a Halloween party. You have to think interactive and electronic. That's where the IoT Laser Tag game from Eric Ely comes into play. With this game, you can modify simple ray guns to shoot at multiple targets you've set up. Each hit gets rewarded with candy. Ely notes that each Halloween, he and his family turn their basement into a haunted house for kids. He was inspired to pursue a new twist on laser tag in order to bring a more interactive element into the festivities.

The IoT Laser Tag game was built with Particle Photon, Adafruit Trinket, Adafruit Neopixel Ring, photon blasters, a physical web candy machine, and an IR receiver. Ely explained in his project story, "Each Neopixel would rotate through brightness of its designated color. When it was "shot" it would turn red and slowly face down over a few seconds, indicating it was hit. The target could not be shot again during this time. Once the few seconds expired, it would go back to normal. Then the Photon detected this shot, it would publish an event to dispense candy."

For the code, schematics, and video, see the IoT Laser Tag project on Hackster.io.

Laser Tag Game DispensersThe IoT Laser Tag game dispenses candy with each successful shot. Photo courtesy of Eric Ely/Hackster.io

Haunted Home Automation

Home automation technologies are making our lives more convenient and a little safer. You can also use these technologies to make Halloween scarier. With a smart mirror, a Philips Hue connected LED light bulb, a Raspberry Pi, and Amazon Alexa, you can create an environment that startles your guests with flickering lights and a scary movie played on the mirror (or a computer monitor). Ben Eagan loves the DIY nature of Halloween and figured that these home automation technologies could be used to create a good scare. He programmed the system to trigger the effects after asking Alexa to direct the smart mirror to tell him a ghost story.

For a video, code, and other instructions, see Eagan's Haunted Home Automation project on Hackster.io.

Home Automation ProjectsA scene from the Haunted Home Automation project. Photo courtesy of Ben Eagan/Hackster.io

These projects merely scratch the surface of what's available from the Hackster community. Do you have a project to share? Happy Halloween!