Picture of Arduino controlled Silly String shooter
This is a fun device that's very simple to make.

I put mine in a pumpkin for Halloween. I also added an IR  motion sensor, sound, and Twitter.
You can follow the victim count on Twitter by following: hackolantern

Step 1: Materials Checklist

Items needed:

- Arduino microcontroller
- A couple cans of Silly String (it's no fun with just one can!)
- Wire coathanger
- Standard sized servo (I used a 39g servo)
- Zip ties
- Basic tools (I'm not going to list everything. You're smart, surely you'll figure it out.)
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Quite tricky to get the wire to press the spray button in the center. My spray won't shoot a string if you hit it off center, the stuff will just flow out but not shoot.
So the wire must be mounted slightly off the cap's diagonal to get it to press the button's center. Alternatively it should also work if it is on the diagonal but high enough above the button so that by the time the V-part rotates onto the spray button it's centered on the button.

This setup should also alleviate the problem of the cap coming off that a previous commenter mentioned.

Doc_RMK2 years ago
dude u need to give credit where credit is due!

erickingston (author)  Doc_RMK2 years ago
Wow, I hope he got a good grade! I also hope you're referring to the individual who wrote that report and not me. Look at the dates. I did this project in 2009 and he did his in 2011. That's a bummer he didn't add this instructable as a reference :(

Looks like they borrowed heavily from your instructable there.

Doc_RMK Doc_RMK2 years ago
You're right! Foot in mouth syndrome! My sincerest apologies. Excellent instructable!
robertmkmd1 year ago
Can u provide an explanation of the pinouts to the arduino? (which pins r used for what)?
Great project. I'm a noob at arduino and when trying to load the sketch (shooter2 as I don't want to tweet, etc), I get all sorts of compilation errors and others errors such as 'digitalWrite was not declared, etc? I have the software servo and virtual wire libraries installed. Sorry to bother but can't figure out problem?
grarged1 year ago
Great instructable! for those interested, tried the ssscat to shoot silly string, clogged on the first shot. gonna see if I can mod the solenoid valve and nozzle in it to get it to work - I'll post an instructable if so.
Mr.Monkey162 years ago
Can I use a Parallax Ping Sensor instead of an IR sensor?
gradof6b4 years ago
I really want to do this but I'm a total noob and having trouble figuring out how to connect the ir sensor and the servo to the arduino, Help please.
Raccoon814 years ago
How do you keep it from pushing the cap off when you have it press the spray nozzle? Getting the shape of the hangar just right to even turn correctly is quite the art, how many attempts on the hangar did it take you?
erickingston (author)  Raccoon814 years ago
The cap i used had a really snug fit, so i never had a problem with it popping off. I would try to add some paper or something as a shim if the cap is too loose. As for achieving the correct bend in the hanger - it only took minor tweeking. The primary issue I had was simply trying to find a good angle which allowed the arm of the servo to operate the lever correctly. Keep at it, you'll get it!
trialex5 years ago
Great idea!

Hope you don't mind some suggestions though.

You should use the side view showing the mounted servo in a lower-down step, not just in the intro.

You could also give a brief description of how the arduino is all set up. Which of the three sketches is used in the finished project?
erickingston (author)  trialex5 years ago
Thanks for the input.

I added the picture of the mounted servo to the final step, and the sketches were described in the code step.

I'll have to take a snapshot of my Arduino setup. That would be the easiest way to see the configuration.

Just curious if you ever got that shot of your arduino setup together. Very cool project.
seanturvey4 years ago

WARNING: Silly string is highly combustible and can be ignited by a lit cigarette.
erickingston (author)  seanturvey4 years ago
Not the stuff i was using, but thanks for the warning.
ly3334 years ago
How would I integrate wifi?
erickingston (author)  ly3334 years ago
There are two levels of wireless connectivity for this project. Notice the stack of components to the left of the pumpkin? Within that stack is a wifi shield from asynclabs.com. There are also two very inexpensive RF modules that you can't see. One is inside the pumpkin, and the other is connected to the stack of components on the left. I set it up this way so to avoid ruining my wifi shield with pumpkin goo. Wifi shield costs about $65, and the RF modules only cost $6 combined. So, to answer your question, it's already integrated! Just download the sketch that involves sending tweets, and you can run from there. Have fun!
Great project and outstanding photo's!

How did you get your photos so nice :)

Rated 5* and will vote when the time comes! :)
He must of used one of these
erickingston (author)  zascecs4 years ago
Nope, just a big piece of paper and lots of light!
close enough... =P
Hi :)
Longchamp4 years ago
Awesome project. Can this be combined with other projects?

As in, can this thing tweet, take a webcam photo, and fire the silly string all at once when the sensor is tripped?
erickingston (author)  Longchamp4 years ago
Absolutely... Sky is the limit my friend!
Jakeg4 years ago
Is there any way of doing this without using an Ardunio? I'm kindof interested in crapflinger's idea but I'm not sure if I want to spend the money...
erickingston (author)  Jakeg4 years ago
Sure, just look for silly string shooting toys. You should be able to easily "hack" into them, and hook them up to a cheap motion sensor.
crapflinger5 years ago
i've got one of These, it's an automated cat scare-the-crap-out-of-er (really effective by the way)....i found that if i take the nozzel off of a can of silly string (or spray paint, or hairspray)...and replace it with this thing...that it actually works pretty well (the silly string doesn't go quite as far because of the nozzel shape)....really great for scaring people
Was it the new or the old Ssscat that you have because I'm interested in buying one for this very reason. Is the distance of shooting greatly decreased or is it just by a little bit? I am just wondering if I will have to mod the nossle...

ylpihs4 years ago
Very nice guide. Will definite try this when Halloween comes.
Cool and thanx... Can not wait to adapt that idea for my pc. Already control servos from the parallel port.
What did you use for the IR motion sensor?  That's the once piece I wanted to see but there is no mention of it.  Please add a little more detail!
erickingston (author)  siliconghost5 years ago
I used the Sharp IR proximity sensor from adafruit.com

I plan on upgrading to the long range version from sparkfun.com
 With this PIR sensor at about 1/3 the cost you have an adjustable range of up to about 16-1/2ft.  I'm sure you could rig something up get around the 60 deg beam angle.  I'm giving it a try anyway :) If I'm wrong I'll find another use for it. 

Digi-Key part #269-4710-nd

Apparently I now have to pay to post a link or I would have,  and FYI thats ridiculous.  I could see paying for some features but to post a link?
erickingston (author)  Personman5 years ago
Hey personman,

That's a nice find - I like the price. Take a peek at my post below, and you'll see a link on how to narrow a PIR's detection angle. I picked one up at Radioshack for $10, so I figure the price is about the same as the one you mention after you add shipping.

The part I like about using proximity sensors, is that you can adjust the trigger distance. It's nice, because I can limit the range, letting it only shoot when an object is at a specified distance. So, in this case, we could say only activate when an object is at least 3 feet away, but not more than 8 feet away. Just a little extra control.
Excellent! Thank you! I didn't even know that one existed (and it is very reasonable).

- John
erickingston (author)  siliconghost5 years ago
There is one other option, and it's even less expensive. You can use a PIR motion sensor (check your local Radioshack) pointed through a short piece of tubing to make it unidirectional, such as Jonathan did in this instructable: http://www.instructables.com/id/S3QN9YEFRD805LC/

Whatcha building anyway?
i just thought of something - you could widen the hole in the nozzle of the can with a drill to get a shotgun effect.  you know, hit more people. 
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