Enginursday: The Spark Arts


Here at SparkFun, we’re getting geared up to decorate for Christmas!

Oh, wait. Sorry, that’s Target. Sometimes all of that red confuses me! WE are actually getting ready for Halloween, because that is the next holiday, and we are rational human beings. There’s one month left, which should be just about right to get your affairs in order.

picture of sean in zombie facepaint

So let’s take a tour through the SparkFun catalog and get some hacks up in your haunt!

Taking the kids trick-or-treating? If you like them 3-dimensional, it might be a good (and fun!) idea to light your spawn up! EL wire is a fast, easy, and inexpensive way to add a very cool TRON effect to costumes or treat bags! If you’re looking for something a little bit more twinkly, LED string lights are bright, require very little power, and pack a lot of punch! 100 LEDs are hard for even the most absent-minded motorist to miss. As a bonus, they’re also waterproof! Pack your power supply up tight and the lights will take care of themselves, so your mini-makers won’t get zapped even if it rains or snows on Halloween (or is that just in Colorado?)!

LED string lights in water

But let’s not act like only kids get to dress up. We both know better than that. Thermochromatic pigment is a pretty cool (and subtle!) component for grown-up costume effects. You may have seen it used to make moving Rorschach masks (banner ads at the link may be NSFW), and that style of application can be used to create all kinds of special effects. As a long-time Mortal Kombat fan, I’d particularly love to see a Mileena (link also possibly NSFW, depending on your workplace policy on Mortal Kombat costumes) or Reptile ninja mask that reveals hints of the true face underneath!

And what about your haunted mansion? Instructables member bkhurt shared an amazing laser candy maze last year that I still want to try! Laser pointers get an assist from an Arduino board to protect your candy stash from all but the most determined goblins. If you prefer the classic look, fiber optic fabric can make some beautiful ghosts. Check out the first ElectriCute video, where Nick and I demo our model of Zero!

Hope you’ve found some inspiration! Do you take your Hack-o-ween just a wee bit more seriously than your compatriots? Then you’ve come to the right place! Share your costume and haunted house hacks in the comments!


Comments 7 comments

  • OMG Zombie Werewolf!

  • Ah, great costume! i thought that was a multicopter accident for a moment it looks so real!

  • So, I have a friend who will paint eyes on ping pong balls, some unused LEDs, a bid on ebay, and some dark shrubs … and a couple of arduinos.

  • Man, I’ve got a bunch of these. The spaceman helmet with EL wire, the raygun, the steampunk retractable wings… Halloween is the awesomest (most awesome?) holiday to hack around.

    • Also, Chris Clark usually does some kind of giant head thing with some gadgetry involved. Think he told me he had an MP3 trigger in one.

      • Ah yes, the Kodama! Here’s a wish list that covers the gear I used. The MP3 trigger was overkill at first so I used an Audio-Sound Module. The speakers were embedded in the mask behind the “eyes” and the switch was run down the inside of the costume to my hand for easy triggering.

        The head rattle sound I was going for can be heard in this clip at about 3 minutes. Anyone who’s seen Princess Mononoke should just watch all 4 minutes to feel the chills. Such a great movie.

        This year is another giant plaster head year and I’ve already picked a character that will require judicious use of EL panels.


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