With Halloween here, there are only a few things you ought to be thinking about for the holiday weekend: What your costume should be, which candies you ought to be handing out, and of course, the décor your house needs to be adorned with to elicit equal measures of fear and awe from onlookers and trick-or-treaters alike.
Given that we live in an age of unlimited gadgetry, it’s only natural that we turn to the coolest things technology has to offer to trick out our homes with the spookiest doodads. Here are a handful of projects you can undertake at the last-minute:
1. Dress a drone up as a ghost.
If you happen to have a drone or two laying around the house, all you have to do is throw a white sheet (or, if your drone is smaller, a pillowcase) over it, cut out some holes and encircle them with a thick Sharpie to make the eyes, and call it a day. If you want to take it up a notch, use a pair of scissors to shred the edges of the sheet, mount a skeleton head or mask for the face, and attach a couple of skeleton hands for the full effect.
2. Rig a pumpkin with an Arduino to turn it into a fire-breathing Jack-O-Lantern.
October is pretty much the only month of the year when pumpkins sell like hotcakes, and carving them up is a time-honored tradition. Why not elevate your usual pumpkin design by adding a fiery component to it? Some inventive Halloween tinkerers have turned to the power of the Arduino platform to make their gourds even more sinister. As it turns out it, there’s only a few of the things you need to set up a flamethrower mechanism that can be controlled remotely.
Of course, anything related to fire can be very dangerous, especially when children and houses are involved. Only undertake this project if you are seriously handy, and if possible, have previous Arduino experience. Make sure you place the pumpkin where it can only be viewed for pleasure and out of harm’s way.
3. Turn a spare PC into a magic mirror
If you upgrade your work machine on a yearly basis, then you probably have old laptops, LCD monitors, or desktop computers to spare for this awesome project that uses sensor-activated animations. There are many setups to choose from:
If you already have an Arduino and know how to build circuits, you can purchase the project software for the magic mirror and follow the available how-to videos to construct this eye-catching bit of tech trickery.
4. Set up an automated Halloween candy dispenser.
Make the little munchkins work for their loot! This Twilio-powered project requires trick-or-treaters to text, call, or tweet a number that shows up on an LCD screen in order to gain access to a bounty of sweets.
They can also press a big red button, but it’s probably not as fulfilling as using a secret code.
Illustration by Max Fleishman