(find the old version here: LASER Maze 2011)
See the PHOTOs on step 7!
See the VIDEOs on step 8!
What is it?
The LASER Maze 2012 is a movie-style laser "security system" that is set up in the front half of my garage haunted house. Trick-or-treaters must dodge a web of green laser beams to avoid setting off the lights and sirens that are protecting the candy in the back of the garage.
How does it work?
The LASER Maze uses an Arduino microcontroller and a PC running Processing. The Arduino is wired to 4 light sensors. Green handheld laser pointers are fixed to the garage wall and pointed at the light sensors on the opposite wall. When the laser beam is broken, the Arduino activates a flashing red light and sends a signal to the PC to play an alarm sound. The Arduino is also constantly sending light level readings to the PC, which are displayed on screen as bar graphs. This helps the LASER Maze operator monitor and calibrate the sensors.
How is the LASER Maze 2012 different from last years version?
The old 2011 version of the LASER Maze was designed as a game where players watch an intro video clip, hit a start button, navigate the maze, then hit the stop button to see their total time and score. The game aspect didn't work very well for a Halloween setting, because there was a constant flow of trick-or-treaters running through the maze. Also, the old 2011 version did not include any way to monitor your light sensors, which made troubleshooting difficult if things weren't working as expected.
The LASER Maze 2012 fixes some of the problems I experienced with the old version. It is now a continuously running system with no start or stop button. Time and number of lasers broken are no longer tracked, and there is no video clip (which makes setting it up easier!). Since there is no intro video, the PC monitor is now used to display data from the light sensors, which is extremely helpful for calibrating and troubleshooting the system.
One last note on safety before we get started. Please BE SMART if you build your own LASER Maze. Use low power lasers and keep them low to the ground to avoid eye injuries. Check out the Wikipedia entry on laser safety.