31 Oct 2013, 21:31

A Tech Halloween mainly made of fail


#“A Tech Halloween mainly made of fail”

This year I decided to be completely out of character and start Halloween preparations over a month ahead of time. The plans were ambitious to put it mildly. Vampires flying along guidewires, 10 feet in the air. Screaming skeletons jumping up out of bushes. Creepy crawlies automatically lowering on the heads of trick-or-treaters. You get the idea.

The reality was that almost everything took 4x as long to do as expected and I killed more tech trying to test things than actually survived. If you add in lots of work, travel and relentless human viruses and it was not a great month.

So this evening was a little less extreme than expected but seems to be going well so far.

Screaming Skulls

These are some dirt cheap flashing LED skulls from Lidl, wired to an Arduino and relay, plus PIR sensor and an audio module connected to portable speakers.


Everything works well except for those damned WTV020-SD-16Paudio modules. They truly are so awful you can’t even ignore a $4 price tag. Problems include: the serial interface just doesn’t work; it needs 3.7V not 3.3V or 5V; it only plays ad4 files of very low volume; it only works with SD cards 2GB or less; it is totally unreliable. Avoid avoid avoid.

The bit that made it all “sing” was 8yo Fionn doing an extended scream for me.

The PIR sensor is a little over-sensitive in an outdoor environment so I’ll use Ultrasonic sensors from now on.


Audio Player

I used the same bloody audio module on a portable “brains, brains, brains” sound player for our youngest. She gave up after 20 minutes this evening due to the unreliability.



Motors and Relays

All of the movement projects relied on motors/servos. I thought I only had ones which I had salvaged from a dead HP inkjet. None were strong enough and could only lift one plastic mouse.


Then I thought of my 13 year old Black and Decker drill which I had recently stripped apart and salvaged the gears/motor/switch. I actually go it working with Arduino and some 10A relays last weekend, but when smoke started coming out of the relays, I stopped. It looks like I killed the motor so sadly there are no moving scary things this halloween.


Minecraft Steve

I followed an Instructable. The head ended up 4 times too big. I stopped. The kids liked playing in it tho.



Actually pretty good but then, all I did was to print out a stencil and cut around it. Damn, we’re now out of tea-lights so two bright-white LEDs will have to do instead.



Next year will involve rockets, lots of rockets.

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