Instructables

LASER Maze - Halloween Haunted House

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Picture of LASER Maze - Halloween Haunted House
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The LASER Maze was our Processing and Arduino powered garage haunted house for 2011. A monitor sits outside of the garage, displaying "PRESS START." After the button is pressed, an intro video plays that instructs you to dodge the lasers and get your candy in the back of the garage. Whenever you break a laser beam, an alarm sounds, a police light flashes, and a point is added to your score. When you make it back out, you press the stop button to see your final time and score.

We kept all of the lasers very low to the ground to avoid everyone's eyes. Future versions may turn the lasers off for a short time when they are broken for an added layer of safety.

We also made a couple of flashing signs out of red and white blinking bicycle lights. The house is at the end of a cul-de-sac, so we had to advertise to attract more attention.

Here is Alice in Wonderland with her pirate and gremlin friends navigating the maze.



My friend is offering them chocolate milk in the video so he can show off the pile of severed heads he has stored in the fridge.
 
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Step 1: Parts List

The parts list:
a garage
a laptop
Arduino Duemilanove with USB cord
4 green Lasers ($7.54 each at Amazon)
4 CDS cells ($0.50 each at Electronic Goldmine)
4 1K resistors
3 push buttons (arcade style buttons)
1 breadboard
1 servo
1 surge protector with switch
1 red beacon light
1 1000W fog machine
phone cord long enough to run to your sensors (cheap at the thrift store)

You will also need electrical tape, cardboard TP tubes, soldering iron with soldier, velum paper or some other semi transparent paper, and possibly some other small items.
bkhurt (author) 1 year ago
Check out the new version of the LASER Maze for 2012!
http://www.instructables.com/id/LASER-Maze-2012-Halloween-Haunted-House/
hobbz15 bkhurt10 months ago
could you put up the full and proper code for the processing app. i really like the clock feature.
ihart1 year ago

I haven't used Arduino before but I bought a proto board to try this great instructable out. Some quick questions:

1) Could you explain the relationship between the "laser_maze_processing.pde" file and the "laser_maze_arduino.pde" file? Does the "laser_maze_processing.pde" run on the laptop and the other on the arduino?

2) Does the "laser_maze_processing.pde" file cause graphics showing the counter to be displayed on the laptop?

3) Do the laptop and arduino board communicate over the USB connection? Is that what you call serial? So for example:
Serial.println("alarm");
sends an alarm message from the arduino board to the laptop which is running the arduino SW?

4) Do you have the c:/alarm.mp3 file referenced in "laser_maze_processing.pde"?

Thanks again.
Ira-
bkhurt (author)  ihart1 year ago
laser_maze_arduino.pde gets uploaded to your Arduino. This program monitors the light sensors (CDS cells). When the value of the light sensors falls too low (laser is broken), it activates a servo on a power strip to turn it on, and sends the alarm signal over USB to the laptop.

laser_maze_processing.pde runs on your laptop in the Processing environment. It draws all the graphics to the screen. It listens for the alarm signal, and increments the alarm count. It controls the timer, and controls the start and stop of the game.

You will need to install GSVideo and Minim(for the audio, may be in Processing by default) in Processing to get everything working.

GSVideo - http://gsvideo.sourceforge.net/
Minim - http://code.compartmental.net/tools/minim/

See the comment to brandon83 below - I have new versions of the code that do not need video and really simplify setting everything up. It removes the "game" aspect and just runs continuously. I will get the LASER Maze 2012 instructable up as soon as I can.
ihart bkhurt1 year ago
Thanks for the replies. I have Processing up and running. I had never heard of it before. I can see the "PRESS START" page of your program now!

I had to make the following change to the Processing code to get it to run with the latest version:

//!! size(screen.width, screen.height); OLD FORMAT
size(displayWidth, displayHeight);

I will try to hack it some more to learn until my Arduino shows up.
Thanks again.
hobbz15 ihart10 months ago
could you put up a link or something for the complete processing file that needs to be inserted into the processing app
bkhurt (author)  ihart1 year ago
1) laser_maze_processing.pde runs on your laptop in Processing. Download it here: http://www.processing.org/download/

laser_maze_arduino.pde runs on your Arduino.

2) yes

3) Yes they communicate over USB. Yes this is called serial communication. The laptop is running the processing software.

4) It is the "Industrial Alarm" from soundbible.com - http://soundbible.com/suggest.php?q=industrial+alarm&x=0&y=0

I renamed it to alarm.mp3. You can use any sound you want here as long as you rename it to alarm.mp3.
hobbz1510 months ago
Im bad with schematics. Im working on it though. Could you give a better picture or wiring diagram so i can see and follow along. if it makes any difference i have this type of bread board. Also still having difficulty with the processing software. can you please give a step by step. it is giving me alot of trouble.

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The arduino code is not working, and the video file is not supported...
So what i supposed to do.
if any solution you can any one provide sujayjoarar@yahoo.in
bkhurt (author)  sujayjoardar1 year ago
You need to download and install GSVideo for Processing to get the video working. Get it here: http://gsvideo.sourceforge.net/
hi bkhurt
bt the problem is that when ever am tring to upload the code and comple the code to the arduino then the message shows in the sketch that, the video gs is not supported..so what to do now..
bkhurt (author)  sujayjoardar1 year ago
There are 2 different programs. The laser_maze_arduino program should be uploaded to the Arduino. There is nothing about video in the Arduino program.

The other program is laser_maze_processing. This runs in the Processing environment on your PC, and this is the program that controls the video. You have to download Processing from here. Then install GSVideo from the comment above.

I wrote a new version of the LASER Maze for 2012. It does not have any video, so it is easier to set up. You can see the new instructable here - http://www.instructables.com/id/LASER-Maze-2012-Halloween-Haunted-House/

brandon831 year ago
is that speaker wire to power the lasers via the D batteries?
I am attempting a simplified version of this instructable and speaker wire does indeed carry the power around well. I don't see how three D batteries in paralell can power this though. I'm no electrician, but it seems I need 3V(two D batteries) to light the laser. I've made a 2x3 matrix of D batteries that seems to work, though it seems to get pretty hot, which is worrysome.
bkhurt (author)  brandon831 year ago
Yes I am using heavy gauge speaker wire to power the lasers. A 5mW green laser draws about 250-300mA when it is on. So my 4 lasers in parallel are drawing about 1000-1200mA (1.2A). The 3 batteries are in series, it is the lasers that are connected to the batteries in parallel.

I started with 2 batteries in series, but that wouldn't power all 4 of the lasers. I'm sure that drawing 1.2 amps puts a heavy load on the batteries, but it worked for the time I needed. This year, I will only run 2 lasers on each battery pack to make sure nothing heats up.
hey thanks for the reply. my 2x3 matrix of batteries should be okay then, as it outputs 3V, enough for the lasers. my heat issue was due to a short as i wired in a switch wrong, oops. all fixed now. i'll post back once it's all done. thanks for the inspiration.
here is my simplified version, as promised: www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTEXSwVxYxI
bkhurt (author)  brandon831 year ago
I have new versions of the processing and the arduino code for the 2012 version, but I haven't had time to write up a new instructable yet. Instead of a start and stop button with a timer and a counter, the new version is just continuous running. The screen does not show a game display, it just shows a graph of the sensors current readings. There is no intro video in the new version.

The "game" aspect didn't work well for Halloween last year, because a constant flow of people were going through the maze. We ended up just starting it and leaving it running the whole time. The new 2012 version is better for that situation, plus the screen shows you some diagnostics(the sensor readings and alarm level) to help troubleshoot if it isn't working correctly.
JDJr1 year ago
Nice instructables. I made something similar. Here are some things I did different. I mainly wanted the laser effect, I didn't worry about the video.

1 - Instead of the cardboard tube, I used 1 1/2 black ABS and bought the white PVC 1 1/2 end caps. I drilled two small holes in the end caps to pas the photo sensor leads through then hot glued them in place. Then I cut the paper slightly bigger then the tube and put the end cap on. I only shoved it down about 1/4 - 1/2 inch so it would stay on. I also screwed and tapped the tube so I could use mini tripods I found cheap on eBay. This helped to mount and position the receivers and make them more durable.
2 - I used mirrors to bounce the laser around a little bit. I tried the front side mirror trick instrucable and a few others. Some worked better then others. I used blue tack to stick them to the same little mini adjustable tripods.
3 - Because of the mirrors sometimes the signal could not be picked up properly with the fog, the 1k resistor was not sensitive enough so in order to make them more sensitive I bumped up the resistors. I also modified the arduino code slightly to take serial input so I could put it into a test mode and continually show the values so I could get a feel if the resistors were working. Also used this for alignment.
4 - I made a couple small changes to the arduino code to change sensitivity, so instead of variance from a sample, it took a low thresh hold value (Because I was mucking with the resistors).
5 - Instead of a servo, I used transistor (2n3904?), a diode, resistor and a relay to trigger a remote control for a cheap remote doorbell.

Thanks for the instcutable. It inspired me to get off my bum and do something.
bkhurt (author)  JDJr1 year ago
It's cool to see the imporvements you made to this project. I am writing the LASER Maze 2012 instructable right now, and I have made some similar changes.
1. I'm wanting to upgrade to PVC also, and I want to look in to RCA connections so I can run RCA cable between the sensor and the Arduino.
2. Old hard drive disks work well for bouncing the lasers if you have them laying around. I ordered some front surface dental mirrors from Amazon for this year: LINK
3. I got rid of the video in the new version and now the monitor shows bar graphs that disply sensor reading in real time. It also shows a red line that marks the alarm trigger value. I changed to 10k resistors this year.
4. Did you hard code an alarm value then? Or is it a percentage change?
5. I'd like to add some more props also, so that when laser1 is broken prop1 activates and so on. Maybe in the 2013 version...

Good work on getting yours set up. You made a lot of the same modifications that I had in mind. Post a video link if you can! I will get the new version and new code up as soon as I can.
JDJr bkhurt1 year ago
1 - RCA Connectors. Great idea. Maybe I'll switch mine over too!
2 - Tried HD platters worked ok kept foregtting there was a hole in the middle. I might try those little dental mirrors next time too.
3 - I'd love to see your new version. I used 10ks also. Although my CDS are rated a little different I like the higher sensitivity with the higher resisters.
4 - I just made a low threshold. Had them on without and without the laser to see how low/low they get, then (Frankly randomly) I picked a number. 30 worked good for me. Because of the shielding over the sensor it seemed to work good for this. The problem is where the fog machine was sometimes would trigger a false alarm.
5 - That's an awesome idea. I found using the transistor was slightly easier leading out to a relay.
6 - Couple other things I changed was the ability to use all 6 analog ports on arduino, just incase.

I ran it last night. One problem I have with Green lasers is they start off bright then dim after a few minutes. I'm just using the pen lasers with the AAA batteries. Do you see that problem with your setup? I was wondering if wiring them to a power supply would solve this problem (But it did this with new batteries too).

Thanks,
JDJr
bkhurt (author)  JDJr1 year ago
The AAA batteries die really fast when you run them constantly. I left off the battery part of the laser case and wired them to D-cell batteries instead. I will be using 2 D-cell batteries per 2 lasers this year. A green ~5mW laser draws 250 - 300 mA of current, so if you wire them to a power supply make sure its current rating is high enough. 4 lasers at 300mA each will need a minimum of 1.2A supply, but I would go with 2A rating just to have some wiggle room.
tinker2342 years ago
wow i like the idea wonder if i could set it up for a prop to pop up
bkhurt (author)  tinker2341 year ago
Yes you could. It is already powering a servo to turn on a power strip when the laser is broken. You could copy that code to make it activate any motor, servo, lights or whatever other props you want to control.
ihart1 year ago
Absolutely awesome! I want to try making this.
Wow, what a really fun idea. I might try to recreate this for some kind of spy adventure security system.
You could also probably make it so that, the more beams you break, the less candy you get. (like you lose one of those mini chocolate bars).
mathieulj2 years ago
Another safety measure would be to make sure you only use class 1 or 2 lasers. These are considered relatively safe. You want to stay away from class 3 and class 4 lasers, the former can cause instant eye damage and the later will also burn the skin.

With a class 1 laser -> no danger unless they bring a telescope or microscope into your maze (unlikely)
With a class 2 laser (1mW max) -> generally safe as the blink reflex will protect they eye from damage but intentionality holding your eye open (fighting the reflex) can lead to damage

Take it from me (I have a laser burn on my retina), higher power lasers should not be taken lightly.