Halloween, Innovation Circle style...

Hi Everyone!

Joe Robinson here making my blogging debut for The Innovation Circle; and what better way to do it than with a post on Halloween!

Today I'll take you for a walk through a Halloween project of my own and how I went about putting it together. Meet what has affectionately become known as The Hack-O-Lantern; a motion detecting, LED lit, smoke spewing jack-o-lantern!

Hack-O-Lantern in action

Hack-O-Lantern in action

A couple of months ago I was asked by my mum if I could put together a fancy jack-o-lantern for a Halloween party, I couldn't turn down the opportunity to put some electronics in a pumpkin! My first thought was a fire breathing pumpkin... Saner heads prevailed though, and I dug out my old smoke machine, a PIR motion sensor, some LED strips, and an Arduino.

The theory behind the Hack-O-Lantern is fairly simple - An unsuspecting party attendee walks by and trips the motion detector, prompting flashing LEDs inside and a plume of smoke from the mouth and eyes of the pumpkin.

I achieved all of this by coding the Arduino (with a couple of bumps in the road, thanks for your help Troy!) to pick up the signal from the motion sensor and subsequently turn on the LED strips and the smoke machine for set periods of time, then to turn them off until the sensor is activated again. The smoke machine and LEDs are triggered on and off using relays, and the flashing effect of the LEDs was achieved using a remote LED controller from everybody's favourite auction site. The whole lot is powered from a standard power point and a couple of adapters.

The brains of the outfit - Box with Arduino, smoke machine remote, LED controller

The brains of the outfit - Box with Arduino, smoke machine remote, LED controller

After me hurriedly finishing everything off yesterday evening, the Hack-O-Lantern performed flawlessly last night for mum's party, and hopefully will continue to do so at an event that I'm attending tonight!

Thanks for reading folks, keep scrolling for a (very) short video clip of the Hack-O-Lantern in action.

Stay tuned for more awesome hacks and project updates coming soon!

Joe