Hacked Haunts

I probably don’t need to tell you that SparkFun gets pretty excited about Halloween. We scare each other on a daily basis:

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I tried to find a photo of Casey throwing kerosene into his jet engine, but this owl will have to do

This time of year is a special opportunity to take our brand of weird out into the wider world, and there are few outlets as fun as a personal haunt!

This year, it was my good fortune to be invited to HauntX, a trade show for the haunt community, and it was eye-opening to see how widespread and involved it is!

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In particular, I saw a ton of DIY electronics being used to bring life to projects, and resources to run them that are completely new to me.

In the true giving spirit of Halloween (sorry, wrong holiday), I want to share with you some of those resources, and the effects being created with them.

It’s possible that this was even more distressing in person

Skulltronix has an impressive selection of kits, components, controllers, and assemblies. You can purchase them with everything included, or a la carte, which allows you a ton of freedom to hack away to your heart’s content.

TerrorTech sells several complete animatronics (no videos yet, unfortunately), but also offers the Terror Board, a controller designed to run an entire haunt’s worth of audio, video, and servos from your phone or computer.

Haunt Hackers is a community-oriented website offering DIY instructions for several interesting hacks! Steve offers a full guide to building your own Frankenstein skull controller from scratch, using a circuit board of his design and a full BOM he provides in his build guide. It’s an interesting and challenging build!

Next year, Haunt Hackers is planning to release a new board, called the Banshee, which will offer the DIY spirit of their other projects with a lot of new functionality!

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Looking for a full kit to get started with? FrightProps has some very cool prop control kits, plus some other exciting effects (pneumatics!). They’ve also got some really helpful support documents to help you get started!

If you get a chance to connect with this community, I highly recommend it. They’re dedicated to their art, and they’ve got a unique perspective on DIY projects. I took a lot of information away that’s going to inform my projects across the board. For instance, never, ever use grey paint (Thanks, Steve O!)

If you’ve got any other haunt hacks to share, or other applications for these control boards, leave them in the comments! And get haunting!

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