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If you need any inspiration for your Make: Halloween DIY Haunts project, check out these props that were on display at World Maker Faire, made by the folks at Halloween Animatronics. The rather slender gentleman above is named Marvin and is what they call a “grave popper.” They explain how he was built:

We had a grave popper (Marvin). A small skeleton sold at a local party store that had three or four audio comments. He was designed to use a push button or a light sensitive resistor to detect someone close to his face and then say something funny. I hacked the circuit board, added a transistor, and wired DC voltage back to a PICAxe carrier board. The PICAxe could control when he said something. I then built the lift mechanism with angle stock and pressure treated lumber. The lift arm was actuated by a pneumatic cylinder. A Passive Infrared sensor in a plywood gravestone detected movement and the PICAxe fired a relay to the solenoid valve and waited a few hundreds of a second and then fired the transistor to make the skeleton talk.

Photos by Blake Maloof.

DIY Haunts: A Halloween contest sponsored by Jameco Electronics

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.

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