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72-hr Microchip Technology giveaway beta – GO!

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Beginning at noon Pacific time today, October 9, and closing at noon Pacific time Monday, October 12, 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.

We have a lot of these to give away, and in order to keep it interesting I’m going to change up the “prompt” for ideas each time. For this giveaway, the challenge is to use the prize bundle in a device to react to trick-or-treaters who try to take too much candy from a bowl. Be sure to include a valid e-mail address when you fill out the comment form!

The winner will be announced Monday 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.

64 thoughts on “72-hr Microchip Technology giveaway beta – GO!

  1. Todd Harrison says:

    I would use the firmware programmable feature of the PIC10F202 microcontroller on two “MCP1650 Multiple White LED Demo Boards” with an “Ultrasonic Range Finder – Maxbotix LV-EZ1” sensor to control glowing eyes off in the bushes next to the walkway leading up to the unguarded candy dish on a table just outside my door.

    The trick-or-treaters will be totally freaked out on their way to the candy dish by the MPC1650 LED eyes glowing brighter and brighter in the bushes as the sonic sensor tracks their approach. Red film over the nine white PWM controlled LEDs on the two boards would make them look extra scary and completely distract the fiendish devils from the second more shocking trick yet to be sprung.

    What is this trick you ask? Well, there will be an innocent looking Halloween decoration next to the candy dish but it’s not so innocent because it’s really a candy guardian. The guardian will be connected to a fast linear servo motor and it’s ready to pounce!

    I would use the proximity sensor feature of the PIC10F204/6 MCU on the “PIC10F Capacitive Touch Board” to trigger a hairy jumping spider just as the trick-or-treater reaches for the candy dish (Gotcha!)

    The intensifying red eyes, off in the bushes, were just a red herring to distract from the real trap guarding the candy and controlled by the “PIC10F Capacitive Touch Board” and an Arduino Duemilanove.

    1. Odin84gk says:


      I like how you are using an Atmel ATmega part to trigger the spider. That is a nice little jab at Microchip.

  2. Todd Harrison says:

    My email for the above post:

    1. Odin84gk says:

      Place the cap sensor at the bottom of the candy bowl. Change the jumper to proximity mode.

      Hack an LED with a piezoelectric speaker.

      When a hand has been in the bowl for too long, flash the LED’s. Thanks to the PWM control on the LED’s, the Piezoelectric speaker will go off. (Can change the PWM to a slower speed to match the optimal frequency)

  3. David says:

    I would have a series of skeletons lining a walkway, each with glowing eyes as if they were watching you…after you pass several of these you arrive at a scene were a skeletons is crawling on the ground, looking at you with tracking with cyclon eyes that follow you, and reaching up to you as if his last effort. In his grasp a ancient looking key. You hesitate but as soon as you touch it, a piece or two of candy falls from above, as if from the heavens, and finally, his eyes go dark and his head drops.
    I wont go far into detail but the sensor is in the key and the eyes are controlled by the led board. When the key is pressed, a servo controlled dispenser hidden above will run and release some candy, followed by another servo that lowers his head and the board shuts off his eyes.

    My name is David and I just turned 16 and am from Ohio, I would really appreciate the help of these microchips as well as help from other makers to help me make this happen.
    I would love to achieve this goal

    Thank you and keep soldering

  4. says:

    The only way to prevent people from taking too much candy is to use the project with some kind of weight measurement device. You would program in the weight of each piece of candy (+/- some variation). Then you would use the Touch Board in proximity sensor mode to register a hand and then figure out how many pieces of candy are leaving the bowl by taking a weight measurement before and after the hand entered the bowl and dividing it by the weight of each piece. If more than 1 piece is leaving, use the LED Board and some kind of scary prob to convince the person to put it back.

  5. Mike says:

    Set the touch board in proximity mode – if it gets too far away (basically not registering the proximity anymore) set off an audio recording of screaming “NO!!! Don’t take me!! I don’t want to go!!!”

  6. brianandandie says:

    I would wire up the capacitive touch board to a fake candy bar assembled inside of a plastic pumpkin bowl. Similar to the way that monkey’s are caught using candy and a narrowed out hole, the fake candy bar would be larger than the opening in the bowl (and possibly wrapped in tin foil to make the cap part work). Then attach the LED display firmly to the bottom of the bowl with the LED’s pointing downward so they could shine through the bottom of the bowl, as well as a the audio circuit out of one of those small voice recording picture frames with a prerecorded siren type sound on it. Then using some simple touch activated programming, when a greedy halloweener reaches into the bowl digging for the largest piece of candy and latches onto the fake large candy bar at the bottom of the bowl both the lights and alarm go off! Just make sure you keep the bowl stocked with regular size candy so that an honest trick or treater doesn’t set it off…

  7. Seth says:

    I will create a candy bowl with a narrow opening, requiring the hand to be inserted, triggering the proximity touch sensor. If there are too many triggers in a short period of time (indicating digging around for too much candy) I will trigger the scare mechanism.

    On detection, I will create a sudden release of low pressure fog, illuminated by a strobing pattern on the white LED board. With the miscreant’s hand enclosed in the bowl and rushing, flashing smoke streaming out, it will create a sense of imminent danger and terror!

  8. Neil says:

    How about 2 bowls of candy. The first is one that is nearly empty but automatically refilled with good candy via a dump bin (like the bulk dispensers for nuts / grains at some supermarkets). The second one, just a little further out of reach is much more full. If the trick or treaters reach for the first one, and take an appropriate amount of candy, nothing happens. An optical sensor should be able to tell if they have reached into the first bowl (or a second proximity sensor).

    The proximity sensor is on the second bowl, so that if they have tried to take from both, the LEDs are used in coordination with the rest of the prop to scare the overly greedy trick or treater into dropping the extra candy.

  9. George says:

    I would use the LED boards as to illuminate the pathway in a maze. I would tie an input on the led controller to the output of a PIR (passive infra-red) motion detector. If the inputs and outputs don’t line up I’d use a 10F or 12F pic to manage the interconnect.

    Rather than the conventional model of light-on with motion I’d have the lights shut off (or dim) in response to motion. You can see where you need to go or where you have been but you cannot see where you are.

    Even more interesting would be to have a master control them over a serial port to allow for whole room effects (lightning flashes, blackout, etc) that overrides local control by the motion detector.

  10. pma32904 says:

    I would use the proximity sensor to sense multiple dips into the bowl and flash the leds behind a silhouette near the door. Make it look like someone was coming out to check if the hand went into the bowl too quickly, ie quicker than it might take to step aside and let someone else in. Or copy the Disney haunted house idea and backlight a swinging corpse overhead if the situation warranted it…

  11. kevin says:

    i would run out of the house screaming loudly and scare the bejesus out of all concerned.

  12. Richard says:

    Oh the famous Seinfeild line, “double-dipping” give new meaning during Halloween! I would use the Cap Touch to sense if more than one dip is used. Using a DS89C430 micro controller to count dips and output double dips to the White LED Demo Board, I would light up some ghoulish eyes staring back at the accused double-dipper.

  13. SynSlash says:

    There’s nothing wrong with taking a couple of handfuls of candy, its the “dumpers” you need to watch out for. for this the capacitive sensor would be set up with a metal plate on the bottom of the bowl. If the bowl is lifted it will trigger the sensor, in turn setting of a personal alarm and the flashing LED module. It will then be reset after 20 seconds or if the bowl has been replaced. Of course this may need a little more than the two modules but can be easily accomplished with a few hours to kill <--- just avoiding spam bots

  14. SynSlash says:

    oops somehow slipped that @ in there after all guess i’m gonna get spammed now :D

  15. Blaine says:

    I’m going to try and keep it simple, in so much as the true candy hoarders will have their mitts in the bowl for longer periods of time. They’re looking in the bowl and double/triple dipping.

    So I’m thinking narrow rim bowl, like a plastic pumpkin. Make it difficult to remove more than a few pieces of candy in one handful. Fence off the pumpkin so only one kid at a time can get in front of it. Use the cap board to detect a person from outside the bowl. Change in proximity assumes a new kid, resets routine.

    Engage the LED array to light up the inside (nice effect for the kiddies), however with a simple optical sensor directly across from the LED array, detect drop in voltage (hand is blocking the light), start timer and increase counter, if the hand isn’t out of the bowl (voltage doesn’t return) or the counter reaches 4 or proximity doesn’t shift after 30 seconds: trigger off-center-weighted motor (pager vibrator) and maybe a pre-programmed audio loop of a screaming witch with “Greedy Children are SOOOO TASTY!!!!”

    So the combination of a kid:

    1) Standing in front of the bowl
    2) Repeatedly dipping in the bowl
    3) Keeping his hand in the bowl

    We determine his greed and punish.

    Otherwise, kids get a fun light up bowl that turns on when they get close.

  16. mykeyFinn says:

    I would use the prox sensor to light up the leds attached to acrylic tubes to turn dimly lit porch blood red, pushing the doorbell plunges all into darkness and lights two red LEDs behind acrylic eye shaped diffusers and sets off a scream or other random spooky mp3 from hidden speakers, we still do door to door trick or treating in my small town.

  17. davor says:

    You could keep the candy in the mouth of a Piranha Plant (like the ones from Super Mario Bros).

    The plant would be able to detect it’s own (and the candies) weight. And if it lost too much, it would close up, dive down into it’s pipe and make a wierd marioesque sound.

    davorb at gmaildotcom

  18. XsavioR says:

    I would make a bowl with the cap touch module in the bottom. Narrow mouth bowl to restrict where in it the person might reach to obtain candy. The module would be constantly taking proximity readings.

    The height of a (lets say) snickers bar is a constant. soo therefore so is the differance of consecutive reads IF the person is honest.

    A simpleish equation :
    reading 1 – reading 2 = diff
    if diff > constant (1 candy bar height) output = 1 (lights and sirens blazing !!!

    PS glad to see this post reopened I missed the last one by seconds. My device was a sensor to scare my boss when she went to turn the lights on at the store on halloween. The cap touch module next to the light switch of the ever scary dark back room, activating a loud horn with a quite startling siren mode. Using the series led to draw her attention from the cap touch module so she cant dismantle it. Using the code to limit the reaction to two times so I dont have to be woken up halloween morning to turn off my sirens, yet still have a chance at getting her twice when she is startled and jumps back out of the room.

    Thanks again Sean you made my day when I saw your email.

  19. Devcoder says:

    use the capacitive sensor to trigger something scary so that they would be too scared to even take a piece!

  20. uknative says:

    I would use the cap touch board to sense when a person is approaching my porch, and have it trigger a relay to play music and noises, and also drop a large skeleton from the ceiling above. I would use the LED board inside a pumpkin to light it up.

  21. robologist says:

    I thought of making a candy bowl with access only through the opening of a mini (fake) guillotine. Have the Microchip LEDs on a slow, heartbeat-like pulse through a red filter using the PWM capabilities, that speed up once the cap sensor in proximity mode detects someone reaching into the opening. Speed up is relatively quick, to dissuade “diggers” for lotsa candy, ultimately dropping the “blade” in maybe 2-4 seconds.

    robologist at

  22. dawntreader says:

    I would place the cap sensor in the bottom of a deep bowl, calibrated so that taking a piece or two of candy off the top layer would not activate it, but reaching deep (digging) into the bowl would. When activated, the cap sensor would trigger a kids’ eye-level lightening flash from the LED module, plus a simultaneous quick blast of compressed air from above. The blast of air would come from tubing connected to can of “keyboard cleaner” compressed air via a servo actuator controlled by my trusty old Basic Stamp.

    I would also rig a mechanical switch underneath the bowl, so any “dumpers” lifting the bowl would trigger the same effects, except I’d give them two or three flashes and air blasts rather than just one.

  23. nygerman says:

    Well there are many different criteria on which one can be judged as a candy hoarder. My method would be to use the cap touch board and a timer to detect someone re-taking candy too quickly. The board would be in the bowl on proximity mode, and once activated would start a time out counter. If the touch board was not reactivated within say, 5 seconds, it would reset itself. If it is reactivated, said trick or treater has invoked the wrath of the candy bowl….

    A piece of fabric would run around the entire inner circumference of the bowl. One side would be attached to the bowl and the other side would have a circular piece of SMA muscle wire embedded within it. When the circuit is activated the muscle wire will contact and pull the cloth so that it covers the bowl and “traps” the victims hand. The fabric could be decorated with anything from a scary face to a short sentence explaining why they should take less candy. It could stay activated for a long time thus exposing the thief red handed, or activate for only a short period of time, practicing a catch and release program.

    1. David Ottobre says:

      Ill go deeper in depth on how it will work…
      The skeleton that is on the ground looking up to you will use the light chip for the effects in his eyes which when the key in his hand that had the touch sensor chip in it is activated, his eyes will go into an effect that will then fade out, loosing expression, and a servo in his neck will drop his head down as he is forever gone. At the same time, the touch sensor will send a signal shortly after to a hidden container, concealed above whoever activated the key, with a servo that spins a water wheel looking device a half turn so that only 1 piece of candy falls on them…
      I guess thats as in depth as I can go without posting the schematic.

  24. thewildotter says:

    One goblin (first trick-or-treater) becomes a performance artist for the ghoul (next trick-or-treater) who ostensibly becomes a tormentor. On the public side of a black, opaque partition, the ghoul sees graphic instructions to press the Cap Touch switch to progressively increase the “voltage” on the goblin. Only the goblin sees a computer screen that instructs him/her to match a sound waveform visual display with the goblin’s own simulated cries of pain. “Hurts”(25% bright), “Hurts Bad” (50% bright), and “Hurts Even More”
    (100% bright) show target waveforms with increasing volume and variability. All can see the brightness of the LED demo board. The performing goblin earns pieces of candy (operator or automated) for both participants over time based on matching the visual waveform as measured against increasingly difficult standards. The goblin (or the operator) hits a demo board power switch when weary of performing and the ghoul becomes the goblin as the next participant in line becomes the next ghoul. The operator plays recorded goblin sounds if only one participant is present. No voltage is used, the goblin is acting. This is a tame variation of the classic psychology experiments demonstrating universal sadistic tendencies. The screams and howls of the goblin will add to the general ambiance and attract other participants. I can write the software to have the computer (wirelessly) watch an IR LED added to the LED board to keep sync and run the matching goblin instructions(in English and in Spanish…for an Austin,TX Halloween), the sound visualizations and evaluate/amplify (or mercifully kill) the goblin performance.

  25. thewildotter says:

    Email target site in subject for thewildotter.
    Collecting goblin performances could provide a wealth of
    audio for other Halloween uses. Releases might also be
    automated with digital images of participants pointing at
    release text perhaps augmented with a fingerprint scan and
    payment image included in the digital picture for selected good performances for a real-time, cottage, performance art,
    turnkey business package.

  26. CaptainJ says:

    I wrote an entry Saturday, it was apparently somehow rejected as spam, since it never showed up… and I really don’t feel like rewriting the whole thing to have it happen again, right before the deadline.

    Moderators, is it possible to see what happened, or find my post? I was logged in with OpenID (from my own domain) at the time, and I have a feeling that might be related.

    I hope it’s something stupid, and I messed up the captcha or something… otherwise Make’s blog is dead to me, if I can’t trust that I can post comments when the need arises…

    or is this your way of telling me that I’m a computer?

    1. CaptainJ says:

      quick rewrite:
      I live on a boat, so I’ll be doing a Davy Jones’ Locker / Haunted Ghost Ship theme… There’ll be a treasure chest sitting on the bow, filled with treasure-themed candy (chocolate gold coins, candy jewelry, …), and the cap sensor detecting proximity. Run that to the input on an atmel I have wired into the ship’s controls, so when it’s triggered the navigation lights will flicker and the windshield wipers will turn on, and flicker the LED board (which will be lighting up a pirate skull pumpkin next to the treasure chest). If it’s triggered 2-3 times in short succession, The foghorn goes off, and all the interior lights turn on and light up the silhouette of the ghost pirate captain in the window.

      and FWIW, tried posting again with OpenID, this is the message I get:

      “Thank you for commenting.
      Your comment has been received and held for approval by the blog owner.”

  27. Sean Michael Ragan says:

    Thanks everyone for your comments/entries. Comments for this giveaway are now closed, but if yours didn’t get in on time, don’t fret. Giveaway delta is coming up tomorrow! The winner of giveaway beta will be announced at the bottom of this thread later this afternoon. For reals this time. :)

  28. Sean Michael Ragan says:

    Congratulations to brianandandie!

    If you didn’t win, stay tuned! Giveaway delta starts tomorrow noon!

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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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