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Animated Halloween props are a lot of fun. But the props that you buy at the store have some major limitations.

One problem is that each prop is activated by its own sensor. So it is difficult to get them to work together in unison. If the props are out of sync, the overall effect isn't as scary.

Another problem is that the built-in "motion sensors" aren't very effective. Most props are activated by a light sensor that detects the change in light when someone walks by. So in order for them to work, they need light to be shining on them. They won't work at all in the dark. They can also be falsely triggered if the lighting in the room changes.

So I worked out a system that lets you control all your animated Halloween props with a single microcontroller (such as an Arduino). This lets you exactly choreograph how and when each prop will turn on an off. It also lets you use external sensors that you can customize for your exact setup.

Step 1: Watch the Video

Here is a video walkthrough of the project.

<p>Would the wiring be similar if I wanted to try this with a Raspberry Pi?</p>
<p>It should work very similarly.</p>
<p>In a multi prop system how do you control what prop operates when?</p>
Set each one to the output of a different digital pin.
<p>I have a problem with one of my props, Boris the Butler from ASDA originally.</p><p>I wired up two other props and they word fine, however when I wire up the butler he starts immediately to stutter and won't stop. I have tested his circuit by switching one of the other props onto it, and putting him on one of their circuits. I've tested I have the polarity correct, he has the same voltage and current as the others, the transistor is working (as tested on the other props). If I short his wires together then he works. I even tried removing the transistor and connecting him directly to the Arduino, but the same thing every time.</p><p>The odd thing is that even if I rapidly short his wires or hold them together I cannot get him to stutter; connect him to the circuit and he starts immediately.</p><p>I am pulling my heair out with this one. Any suggestions?</p>
Did you test the switch with a resistor as mentioned in step 6? If it is a high current switch, it could cause the problem. You may need to use a power transistor. Also check to make sure that the batteries are full. If it is a high current circuit, when it starts up the voltage will drop and that can mess with internal voltage sensors.
<p>Way ahead of you. Tested the switch with a resistor, took readings of the votls, amps and resistance, tried a power transistor, nothing seems to help.</p><p>Batteries were running low, so I have replaced them with fresh batteries, made no difference.</p>
<p>Sorry. I am out of ideas. I would need to be able to take it apart to see what is going on internally.</p>
<p>Hi there, we have showcased this great instructable in our blog. </p><p>In adition, we are searching for more Halloween projects ideas for our incompany party... ;) </p>
Thanks. Well, if you are looking for some more Halloween projects, here are a few of mine.<br><br>https://www.instructables.com/id/Spooky-Window-Silhouettes-With-Follow-Me-Eyes/<br>https://www.instructables.com/id/Decorative-Halloween-Tombstones/<br>https://www.instructables.com/id/Automatic-Moving-Halloween-Props/<br>https://www.instructables.com/id/Water-to-Wine-Illusion-Box/<br>https://www.instructables.com/id/Halloween-Props-That-Turn-to-Look-at-You-as-you-Wa/<br>https://www.instructables.com/id/The-Peppers-Ghost-Illusion/<br>https://www.instructables.com/id/Use-a-DIY-Pressure-Plate-Switch-to-Automate-Your-H/<br>https://www.instructables.com/id/Use-a-DIY-Proximity-Sensor-to-Automate-Your-Haunte/<br>https://www.instructables.com/id/Use-a-Motion-Sensor-to-Automate-Your-Haunted-House/<br>https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-Banana-Oxidation-Art-How-to-Tattoo-a-/<br><br>Or you can just search the whole Instructables site:<br>https://www.instructables.com/halloween
<p>Great instructable! I wouldn't have thought to test the switches with a resistor but you are spot on. One question came to mind; would you want to disable the on-board motion sensor or whatever mechanism the manufacturer meant to trigger the prop? This would ensure the prop doesn't go off as the manufacturer intended, but only goes off as you intend, with the additional pressure pad, motion sensor, proximity sensor, etc., that are connected to the Arduino. </p><p>Thanks for the great ideas!!</p>
Most of these props have a switch that deactivated the motion sensor. That way they don't kill the batteries before the hit the shelves. But the &quot;try me&quot; button will still work with the motion sensor off.
<p>Great information! Thanks for the reply. </p>
<p>So cool that you were able to hack those halloween store decorations! Thanks for sharing!</p>

About This Instructable

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Bio: My name is Jason Poel Smith I am a Community Manager here at Instructables. In my free time, I am an Inventor, Maker, Hacker, Tinker ... More »
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