Monday, October 20, 2014

Arduino Controlled Halloween Props



Animated Halloween props are a lot of fun. But the props that you buy at the store have some major limitations.
One problem is that each prop is activated by its own sensor. So it is difficult to get them to work together in unison. If the props are out of sync, the overall effect isn't as scary.
Another problem is that the built-in "motion sensors" aren't very effective. Most props are activated by a light sensor that detects the change in light when someone walks by. So in order for them to work, they need light to be shining on them. They won't work at all in the dark. They can also be falsely triggered if the lighting in the room changes.
So I worked out a system that lets you control all your animated Halloween props with a single microcontroller (such as an Arduino). This lets you exactly choreograph how and when each prop will turn on an off. It also lets you use external sensors that you can customize for your exact setup.

For step by step instructions, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Control-Your-Halloween-Decorations-With-Arduino/

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Silhouette Forest Wall Mural

When we were decorating our nursery, we decided to make the accent wall a silhouette forest. This was made by applying painter's tape where all the trees were located. Then I painted over them with a light green paint. Then I stippled on dark green paint to create a color gradient. When the tape was removed, it let clear outlines of all the trees. 

For step by step instructions, check out the instructable:



Monday, October 13, 2014

Decorative Foam Tombstones For Halloween



Tombstones can make a great addition to your Halloween Decorations. In this project, I show you how to make decorative tombstones from plain sheets of Styrofoam. Carved details are made be melting lines in the stryofoam with a hot glue gun. Then paint is applied to give it the appearance of weathered stone.

For step by step instructions, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Decorative-Halloween-Tombstones/

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Ultrasonic Spider-Sense



We would all love to have superpowers. But you probably don't want to expose yourself to toxic chemicals or radiation in order to get them. Fortunately, there are some abilities that we can closely approximate with a little technology.

For example, Spider-Man has a "spider sense" that alerts him to nearby danger, and Daredevil's "radar sense" lets him see nearby objects even in the dark. Using an ultrasonic range sensor we can sense how far away objects are. This would let you navigate in the dark or detect when someone is sneaking up behind you.

For step by step instructions, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Ultrasonic-Spider-Sense/

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Automatic Moving Halloween Props

In this project, I show you how to use magnets to make Halloween props on a table move without anything touching them.

To accomplish this, I first embedded magnets inside a severed hand prop. Then I took a second set of magnets and attached them to the end of a linear motor. This motor was mounted to the bottom of a table. When the hand is placed on top of the table, the motor is able to move the hand with the magnets. This process can be controlled manually or with various sensors and a microcontroller.

For step by step instructions, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Automatic-Moving-Halloween-Props/

Monday, September 29, 2014

PC Box Fan

Whenever I upgrade a computer, I always try to salvage and reuse as many of the old parts that I can. One part that I have collected a lot of over the years is the cooling fan. You find these in power supplies, on CPU's and in tower cooling systems.

So what do you do with a bunch of small fans? You combine them into one big fan. In this project I take 16 PC cooling fans and mount them together to make a single 12 volt box fan. It is thin, light weight, strong, and quiet. It also stores easily. It can fit behind furniture or in a packed car. It can be powered by your computer's power supply, an AC adapter, or a 12 volt car battery.

For step by step instructions, check out the instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/PC-Box-Fan/

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Doorbell that Can Turn On a Light Instead of Playing a Tone



When I am using power tools in my workshop, I can't hear the doorbell ring. So I needed some other kind of system that can let me know when someone is at the front door.

I use a wireless doorbell system. This lets you set up multiple receivers without having to run wires all over your house. I also added the option to switch between audible chimes and flashing lights. That way you can still have a traditional doorbell but you are also able to silence it if someone is sleeping.

For step by step instructions, check out the Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Doorbell-that-Turns-on-a-Light/