Gather round, ghouls and girls, it’s that time of the year again when scary rules supreme. Perhaps you’re planning on dressing up to go trick-or-treating or marathoning a ghastly amount of horror films, but we’ve found some people who are deep in their lairs experimenting with a Raspberry Pi to create the spookiest projects the world has ever seen.
We’ve hunted down the most horrifying and wicked projects for your reading pleasure, but don’t worry, the only dark art at work here is the odd bit of C programming. Beware, read any further and you’ll be doomed to be inspired by these seven unholy projects… and have to read many more awful puns.
The full article can be found in The MagPi 38
Raspberry Pi Haunted House
Enter if you dare to the abode with home scare-tomation
Maker: Stewart Watkiss - data centre manager, father, part-time Count Dracula
It’s late. The night grows dark and you’re near the end of your trick-or-treat run – but what’s this? A house you’ve never seen before on your road. Eager for more sweets, you make your way to the door. A haunted house sign greets you, but you think it merely decoration. Approaching the door, you press the doorbell - only for glass to break and the light to go out. A door creaks, the sign you had dismissed flashes, and you hear screams as the lights come back on. Startled, you look to your right and realise monsters are partying in the garage next to you, celebrating another victim in their night of ghastly fun.
“I had been trying to think of something fun to do for Halloween and the Raspberry Pi was an obvious choice,” the owner of this nightmarish house, Stewart, tells us. “I’d recently built a circuit for home automation using remote-control sockets and had the idea of using that to turn lights on and off automatically. I also spent some time looking around at shops to see what other Halloween props I could add to the project.”
The system is deceptively simple, although there’s a lot of different components to it. A dedicated doorbell is hooked up to a PiFace board that interacts directly with the Raspberry Pi and some Python code. Stewart chose the PiFace for this, instead of wiring up directly to the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO pins, to make sure he didn’t send any unwanted signals through the GPIO port – although with the right amount of research and careful wiring on a breadboard, you could do this without the PiFace. The PiFace directly controls the LEDs on a jack-o’-lantern and the haunted house sign, while the porch lights and the monster party lights are controlled by a wireless home-automation remote control that he directly soldered into.
“They are not designed to be used that way,” Stewart mentions. “The solder joints were not very reliable and whilst they lasted for Halloween, they eventually came loose. Since I made the project, Energenie have released a Pi-mote Raspberry Pi board for their remote-control sockets, which is easier to use than having to solder onto the remote-control buttons.”
Speakers play the appropriate sounds and music as dictated by the code, and the system is waterproofed as, well… Stewart lives in England. The results?
“I just managed to finish it in time for Halloween. We had friends coming over for our children’s Halloween party who said they liked it, and the trick-or-treaters were certainly surprised by it. There was one young girl who was a little scared by it, but most thought it was fun rather than scary.”
MAGPI SPOOK-O-METER RATING: 3/5 - Deadly scary
A philosophical zombie, or a frightening, brain-munching head?
Maker: Dan Aldred - lead schoolteacher for Computing At School, raiser of the dead
Out late at night, you should have known better than to enter the strange shed, but it was about to rain and you needed the shelter. A sense of unease comes over you as the door closes behind you. It’s probably just because it’s a bit of a creepy atmosphere. The winds begin to howl outside, but wait - that’s not a howl, it’s more of a gurgling groan. And it’s coming from inside the shed with you. As you turn to confront the noise, you see an eerie glow from the corner of your eye. You fumble for your phone and turn the torchlight on to see the source of the noise and light… only to find an animated, undead head hungry for your flesh.
Luckily, it’s just a sculpture from a school project, but you get the picture. Its creator Dan Aldred tells us how he came up with such a horrifying idea:
“I wanted to create a Halloween hack that would scare people. Sheds are scary in the dark, but even more with a talking zombie head! I also wanted to create a interesting head that would ask my students questions related to their learning.”
We assume they learnt the true meaning of fear alongside their new-found coding and soldering skills. The head is one of the few projects in this feature that makes use of sensors to know when someone is approaching it. In this case, a PIR motion sensor detects changes in temperature that correspond to a warm body entering its field of view. This means it unfortunately would not be able to sense its fellow undead. The sensor is placed in the mouth and controls a Python script which also hooks into LEDs and a speaker to complete the effect.
If you plan to replicate this project, Dan recommends a Raspberry Pi A+ due to its small size, and to create a cron job to start the program once the Raspberry Pi is powered up. How did it fare on the night?
“I had it in the classroom, it got dark about 4pm, and the students were very intrigued and excited,” Dan tells us. “Then I moved it to my shed for the 31st and when the trick-or-treaters came around, they went in the shed and were scared. It made them jump; they really liked the zombie head.”
MAGPI SPOOK-O-METER RATING: 4/5 - Spectre-cularly frightening
Usually a delicious dish, can you stomach this version?
Maker: Drew Fustini - Software developer for element14 community, gourd sorcerer
Carved pumpkins and jack-o’-lanterns are a big Halloween tradition in many countries. Thanks to the internet, there’s been an explosion in people wanting to make their own custom pumpkins to show off, which are a bit more than just a pair of eyes and spooky grin. These days, you can print off pumpkin carving patterns for just about anything, and it’s a great way to do something a little creative with some flesh left over to maybe make a delicious soup or dessert.
Carving a pumpkin isn’t the only way to express yourself, however. To truly create a ‘hack-o’-lantern’, we need to add some electronics to its innards and dial up the spook-factor. That’s exactly what Drew did with his Pumpkin Pi for the element14 community. Some of the projects he creates are inspired by upcoming holidays, and in this case Halloween was approaching.
The whole system is fairly simple: by activating a preset script from a web interface on his computer, the lights start rhythmically changing colour. The interface is mounted on the Pi and if you use his program for such a project, you can have multiple sounds and light sequences activating within the pumpkin.
The construction of the Pumpkin Pi requires a little more than just pressing a button, though. Taking a pre-carved pumpkin (you could carve one yourself), Drew then lined it with a large plastic food bag to make sure the electronics inside didn’t get too damp from the pumpkin’s moisture. A carving on the rear was used to pass the power cables through, and the breadboard with all the LEDs and such on was placed on the Raspberry Pi to save space. He also put on chopped-up drinking straws to diffuse the light better throughout the pumpkin. A speaker is attached and the pumpkin is done and ready for testing. If you want to make it a little more permanent, you can make use of a Pi Plate to solder the circuit and then mount it onto the Raspberry Pi.
The Pumpkin Pi is simple, but well thought out and put together. If you’re going to be inspired by any of these Halloween projects, we’d recommend starting out with this one just to get the feel of creating a creepy contraption for your window or porch.
MAGPI SPOOK-O-METER RATING: 2/5 - Gravely creepy
Check back tomorrow for part two, if you dare...