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24-hr Microchip Technology giveaway alpha – GO!

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The sponsors of this year’s Halloween contest have sent us a bundle of, er, bundles to give away in the weeks leading up to the 31st, and we’re gonna start chucking ’em up in the air pretty fast now. Beginning at noon PST today, and closing at noon PST tomorrow, we will be accepting comments, below, describing the Halloween-y use (or uses) to which you would put the prize bundle consisting of one Microchip Technology PIC10F Cap Touch Demo Board and one MCP1650 Multiple White LED Demo Board. The winner will be announced tomorrow afternoon at the bottom of the comment thread.

Make: Halloween Contest 2009

Microchip Technology Inc. and MAKE have teamed up to present to you the Make: Halloween Contest 2009! Show us your embedded microcontroller Halloween projects and you could be chosen as a winner.

108 thoughts on “24-hr Microchip Technology giveaway alpha – GO!

  1. Dan Iseminger says:

    We’re still in Daylight Saving Time, and I assume you are too. Noon Pacific Standard Time (PST) is 1pm Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). Is that when this contest really starts?

  2. SoLasVegas says:

    I would rig up a new doorbell for kids to ring when they come to my house. Amazingly, the doorbell would ring before they ever touched the switch.

  3. says:

    The obvious project is to use the touch board in proximity mode to detect a trick-or-treater coming up and to use the LED board to light up a scary prop like a pumpkin, skull, etc.

  4. Mike says:

    Rig up something that triggers the LEDs individually based on how ghastly the person is touching them. Add some maniacal audio and poof – instant prop.

  5. murray says:

    Here are a few ideas.

    You could program the Multiple White LED Demo Board to flash lightning like patterns, of various brightness levels, for a haunted house. You could then attach the Cap Touch Board and use it’s proximity sensor to set it off when someone walks by. This would make a very good effect.

    You could also program the Multiple White LED Board to flicker the lights like a candle, and then put it inside a jack-o-lantern to make a wind-proof candle. If you hooked up the Cap Touch board, you could make the “candle” blow out when someone walks by. That would also look great in a haunted house.

    You could program the Multiple White LED Board to flash it’s lights to make you or your kids more visible by cars when trick-or-treating. This would make Halloween safer. Add the Cap Touch board to make a touch switch for ultimate convenience.

    These are just a few ideas of things you can do with these very powerful boards.

  6. says:

    Or label a Halloween prop with a DO NOT TOUCH sign. You know at least one person in the group is going to touch it. Use the proximity sensor to trigger the LED’s and possibly a tape recorder.

  7. Helvetica says:

    Very cool that the capacitive sensor can work for proximity as well as touch. It’s almost TOO obvious to replace or supplement the doorbell or have some proximity-sensitive ghoul or whatnot…instead, I’m such a bastard that I’d tape it to the back of a dollar bill and affix it to the sidewalk, using a crack or line in the cement to conceal the wire leading to a truck horn hidden in the bushes.

  8. KNfLrPn says:

    Have a prop (severed head or something) dripping blood and the white LEDs acting as a strobe, strobing at precise times to make the drips appear to fall in slow motion (i.e. controlled aliasing)

  9. Armandas says:

    I’d put the Multiple LED board into a pumpkin or a lantern.

  10. troykyo says:

    I need the lights to mount inside the Venitian mask I picked up in Venice last week, All leather, handmade, by an Italain maker. It would make the mask all the better.

    The cap touch board would be great on the lapel of the velvet jacket I am wearing. When you get close to someone it would make the mask glow.

    This will work because we just got some special capacitance sheilding cloth in at the company I work for. It would be so much fun to play with!

  11. Odin84gk says:

    Most people have been using pressure sensors for their keg full measurements. I want to attach the keg to ground, get this device to sit under the keg, and lower the sample time to once per day. LED’s will light up relative to how much beer I have left.

  12. says:

    perhaps make people to swipe their finger that spin a wheel… use the lights to light to wheel… Vary the wheel’s initial speed by the swipe. where the wheel stops is what you get?

  13. ReadyWater says:

    I’m wearing my Unicorn costume from last year, but with the addition of having been assimilated by the borg.
    Was going to actually use Arduino to control the eye laser and motors in the arm piece, but this’d be a cool way of learning to to program PIC based microcontrollers.

  14. jes1510 says:

    A large cauldron of candy could be placed outside unattended. The capacitive board would be buried underneath the candy so that when a hand reaches into the cauldron to get candy the capacitive board triggers in proximity mode.

    A dummy witch prop would be hidden in the shadows where it is not noticed. The proximity trigger would then start and audio playback of a witch screaming “Just a couple of pieces!”. The LED board would strobe illuminating the hidden witch. The proximity switch would also trigger a laptop to take a picture via a web cam as the rest of the prop triggers. The pictures could be printed and given to happy parents as a Halloween memento.

  15. KoryBricker says:

    I would use the Cap Touch Demo to explore adding proximity detection and other interactive scenerios to my project. It is a “live” Snow White talking mirror style project in which an a large gothic mirror frame is combiined with and LCD screen attached to a PC as a secondary monitor (through a long cable so it can be set around the corner). A small camera and microphone are embeded and hidden inside the mirror frame as well to provide visual and audio feedback of what is in front of the “mirror”. The PC captures and transmits video of the operator in costume mixed live with special effects (so it looks as if the operator’s face is floating in smoke). This allows full 2 way communication and appears to the visitor as if they are talking to a real person “floating” in the mirror.

  16. BShocked says:

    Even though I’m quite the microchip newbie I have a great idea. I’d like to make a talking pumpkin that activates with motion.

  17. Bryant says:

    The touch (proximity) in the bottom of the candy bowl to detect a nearby hand would set off a bright light from the LED board or a loud scream controlled by a PIC board.

  18. juliec says:

    Candy in cabinet; sensor on the cabinet door; the light wired to my room to detect any chocolate thieves!

    (But really, I’d probably experiment with this on my bike so I could have a little extra safety. It would be great if the LED lights were activated when I’m approaching someone or someone’s approaching me.)

  19. CRAusmus says:

    I’m working on some things that will work to trigger each other one after the other after the other. You could use this to trigger the lighting effect which would in turn trigger a voice welcoming you to the house or sounds of lightning, which would in turn trigger another device like a witch in a rocking chair that begins to rock when triggered. I would like to turn my whole yard into a mini haunted house so that different things happen the closer you get to the house. This would go a long way toward achieving that goal.

  20. nygerman says:

    We’ve all seen those “trick” candy bowls on sale at the local party store, the ones with the hand sticking out that screams “Im going to try and scare you with my rubbery, motion sensor controlled goodness.” Old, done to death, and not all that scary. This is where the PIC10F Capacitive Touch Board comes in.

    We take a large candy bowl, place a “trap” mechanism inside the bottom that will either be a rubbery hand that moves, fake mice tails that whip around, something to grab the victims hand (lightly of course, dismembered limbs really tend to spoil the skittles), etc… Basically something that lurks in the bottom of the bowl and will creep the capacitors out of an unsuspecting someone. We also place the Capacitive Touch Board at the bottom of the bowl to act as our proximity sensor. Wire the whole thing up and pour in enough candy to hide the contraption.

    Our unsuspecting victim will walk up to the bowl, place their hand inside, activate the proximity sensor and a lurking hand will spring out, grab, tickle, or other wise surprise them. Candy will fly everywhere, they’ll freak out, fall down, and leave your party never to talk to you again, but everyone else will think you’re really cool!

    …And no one will touch your candy again.

  21. hardj says:

    if i was given the proximity sensor and the led board.
    i would replace the door bell with the cap sensor and hide an air horn in the bushes and put a pneumatic goul next to the door with the leds for eyes. so when some one comes to the door the goul will pop up and the horn will go off and the leds will light up delivering a chocolate bar .

  22. jcup2306 says:

    Put the cap proximity sensor on a creepy little gate outside your darkened entry way, and when they reach to open the gate the LED board lights up a scary silhouette of Carrot Top in the doorway and sets off a sound-effect. Instant and unexpected terror. Mwahahahaha!

  23. Matthew says:

    After reading about this the first thing I thought of was replacing the door bell button like it looks like most people did! How about this though. I could attach the sensor to the metal hand rail going up my steps, and then I could use that to trigger something like the LEDs hidden in the darkness, a media player to play something spooky or something along those lines!


  24. John says:

    I would use it to make a simple light chaser system where the rate / sequence of flashing was controlled by the touch sensor. I believe this would make a great learning project. I think it should also be possible to make Christmas lights etc …

  25. Jim Doyle says:

    I would attach a thin wire mesh (hardly visible) to my front door and wire it up to the touch sensor. The sensor will trigger my bell (or a solenoid that would knock back after half a second)). This way whenever someone knocks they’ll hear the bell ringing (or think someone is messing around with them).

    Inversely the microcontroller together with a voice chip can be used to make the door bell sound like door knocking

  26. Ichiban says:

    I would make a head or pumpkin that puked candy when the little ghoulies put their bags near its mouth. I’d also use the blinkies to add a little freakout to the fun.

  27. EthanZ says:

    I would mount the touch sensor to my dorm-room door, or wire the doorknob to the sensor. The sensor would trigger my Arduino to open the door if a correct pattern is tapped (which I already have code for), and log the entry on an attached PC… It would work much better than the piezo transducer that I’m currently trying to use to sense knocks!

  28. vinnygx3pimp says:

    I would make a POV that accepted input from the capacitive touch sensor. it has handwriting recognition and you draw in the letter or shape you want displayed on the POV

  29. pma32904 says:

    I’d use the capacitive touch sensor to trigger a fake lightning flash. We seem to get the hungry trick or treaters who go back for seconds and thirds, so I’d trigger it for that. Second, use it to back-light a silhoutte at the appropriate time so they think I’m coming after them :-)

  30. Nate says:

    I was having fun with my wife’s booklight last night…trying to blind her, and whatnot.

    So, why not use a micro kit to blind folks that ring my doorbell? Cap sensor on the button, followed by a blast of light.

    ….I think I’m a little too mean.

    Maybe just a touchable pumpkin, then.

  31. Zak Dutton says:

    I would use the two chips to set off a strobe light effect, and to set off some scary sounds.

  32. Devcoder says:

    I’d use the LED thing as a flasher for my little cousin, and the capacitive sensor could be used to give me a warning as to when to jump out of the bushes with my chainsaw!

  33. DrSmooth says:

    My son is going to be the Ghostbuster, Dr Venkman, and needs some lights for his Proton pack we are making. We’ve hacked a simon game but still need more bling …

  34. PC says:

    I would make some motio activate LED pumpkin. :)


  35. Tommonsh says:

    I think I’d put the capacitive sensor to the task of activating a magic mirror. A wave of the hand and the LEDs fire up to illuminate some gruesome horror from beyond (some props behind the ‘mirror’ glass).

  36. uknative says:

    I would use the capacitive touch sensor, to sense when people were near and use it to trigger a strobe to flash like lightening and speakers to play rolling thunder.
    I would use the LED board inside of a roving pumpkin(see hackaday).

  37. toozie21 says:

    I would use the touchpad as a makeshift thumbprint reader for a mad scientist lab. Once the person put their finger on the reader the LEDs on the demo board would flash in a random pattern while it “scanned” the finger. Then a solenoid would be triggered to release and open the lab.

  38. Shadyman says:

    I’d say have the capacitive touch board set up like a doorbell, except have it in proximity mode, and trigger a scream and a ghost in the window BEFORE they touch it. Also, there would have to be the requisite white sheet-type ghost in the window with the white LED driver.

  39. unbwogable says:

    I plan to have a fog machine shooting fog through a piece of PVC sitting below my steps, to flood the sidewalk with ground-hugging smoke. I would put the sensor in a candy bowl, so when someone reaches in, it triggers the white LED driver, hidden in the smoke, to spook whoever reached in.

    Or, I’d reprogram that PIC and make the LED board flicker and glow, much like a fire (except white), and put it under the candy in the bowl, and the sensor would trigger the fog machine to give a nice puff right through the bottom of the bowl.

  40. c0bra99 says:

    I’m not sure exactly, but some sort of touch sensitive strobe light seems obvious.

  41. Ben says:

    There are a lot of spooky ideas to turn a light on and surprise trick-or-treaters. I think it would fit more in the theme of Halloween to have a bowl of candy that is lit by the LED Demo Board, and then make the lights get dimmer the longer the kid has their hand in the bowl. When they take their hand out, the lights come back up.

    When the lights go completely off, trigger a recording of maniacal laughter.

  42. Purduecer says:

    For my Halloween project, I would rig the capacitive board to the doorknob to sense a victim’s (child’s) touch. I would then trigger the white LED board as a strobe light, which would add to the scary atmosphere of the monster or animatronic prop that it triggered.

  43. SixOThree says:

    The one thing I would like to do is add scary red eyes, blinking randomly, in my bushes and under my porch. We don’t have a lot of trick or treaters, so this is proportionate effort. Plus it would look really creepy.

  44. ohmegadude says:

    How about placing the Sensor board in an old computer mouse with a vibrating pager motor. The mouse could then move by itself before the victim even touches it.

    Or the unit could be placed in a chair cushion and sound a loud horn,etc. and flash the LED strobe when the person leans back.

    Oh, the possibilities …

  45. Tomato Salad says:

    I’ve got a great idea. I would dress up as Yakov Smirnoff and when kids would get close to my door I would throw the capacitive sensor demo kit at them while shouting “In Russia, capacitive sensors touch you!”

    Not sure what to do with the LED kit. I could probably throw that too, since kids would be unlikely to recognize the difference in the dark anyway. Especially the really little non-engineering oriented ones.

  46. Void says:

    I want to make a scythe with the blade made out of plastic partially painted black, and blood red. The LED board would be hooked to a small amp near the blade and an mp3 player that would light up the blade when sound files are played through it (thunder, screams etc). It would be nice to have the switch board to hide in the shaft of the scythe to turn it on or select tracks on the MP3 player.

  47. Embedded Design Er ! says:

    Even so, I think I could use this to bookmark my chair. Switch it on when I leave my chair so that anyone else using it gets a huge surprise when he uses my chair ;) Light up the seat :))

  48. Irregular Shed says:

    You know that classic effect where you hold a torch (or a “Flash Light” as I believe my colonial brethren call them) underneath your face when it’s dark, and the shadows make you look all sinister and as if your head is floating? You do? Good. Now image 9 high intensity white LEDs doing the lighting and the demo board concealed within normal looking clothes. That’s part one.

    Part two involves the capacitance sensor used to trigger a hallway lightswitch (with Arduino doing the grunt work, naturally).

    The scene:

    *ding dong!*

    Open door, lights on, looking to all intents and purposes as normal and un-Halloweeny as possible.

    “Trick or treat!” comes the cry from the local urchins.

    A swift gesture past the capacitance sensor flicks the hallway/porch into darkness and the LED board on. Cackle maniacally at said urchins, whose eyes haven’t had time to catch up with the lighting change, who freak out and scream.

    Good times had by all!

  49. BrandonU says:

    Here is my idea.
    I’ll have a carved pumpkin sitting next to the “grave site” in my lawn. The pumpkin will be lit up with with the LED demo board in a flickering fashion to simulate a candle. When the Touch demo board is triggered by an unsuspecting victim, The pumpkin will start to strobe brightly, and a hand will rise out of the grave, along with some appropriate sound effects.

  50. says:

    Use a regular mirror but put a piece of lexan/plexi over the glass. Etch a creepy face into it using dremmel etc. then light it up with LED Array. Use different lighting levels, rising and fading to make your apparition appear and disappear. Use the Cap board to trigger the lighting sequence when your guests walk by. For extra bonus points include audio of a screamer etc.

  51. fire_storm says:

    I’ve been looking for a way to make a computer controlled disco floor for my work (we’re decorating our department in the theme of 70’s), and this would help.

  52. Sean Michael Ragan says:

    Thanks everyone for your ideas and comments. Entries for this giveaway are now closed, and comments appearing below this one will not be considered. If you didn’t get your comment in on time, don’t fret. Giveaway beta is coming up tomorrow! The winner will be announced this afternoon at the bottom of this thread. Stay tuned!

  53. Sean Michael Ragan says:

    Congratulations to toozie21!

    If you didn’t win, don’t fret, there’s another giveaway on-deck for tomorrow noon, and a bunch more after that throughout October. Stay tuned!

  54. Todd Harrison says:

    Great job toozie21!

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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