Halloween animatronics using pneumatic actuation

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

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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