Who wants grinning faces and candles when you can have an interactive pumpkin this Halloween? Play your favorite block-stacking game on an 8x16 grid carved into the face of the gourd, lit by LEDs and using the stem as a controller.

This is a moderately advanced project and requires experience soldering and programming in the Arduino environment. You'll be working with organic matter and all its inherent quirks, so measurements may need to be adapted to fit the pumpkin you're using.

Step 1: Required Materials

To build your own Pumpktris you'll need the following:

  • 128 5mm amber LEDs (I used these from Mouser)
    Buy some extra to cover any mistakes or tests. I got 140. Amber most closely resembles the flame that would be inside a traditional jack-o-lantern, but you're free to use any color you like.
  • Arduino microcontroller
  • 1/16" Heat shrink tubing (11 feet, or 256 1/2" long pieces)
  • Arcade joystick with a removable handle (this one from SparkFun worked well for me)
  • 4 #6 nylon drywall anchors
    This isn't the kind with the toggles, but the kind that look like screws with deep threads
  • 4 half-inch long screws of the same size and type that came with the drywall anchors.
    The ones that come with the anchors will be too long.
  • 6mm x 50mm bolt (or whatever size matches the mount for your joystick handle)
  • 6mm coupling nut (or whatever size is needed to match the above bolt)
    A coupling nut looks like a regular nut, but is about an inch long and is used to join two bolts or pieces of threaded rod.
And last but not least, you'll need 1 pumpkin. You only need one, but I recommend two so that you've got one you can use to practice drilling and cutting. Your LED matrix is going to cover an area approximately 4" wide by 8" tall, so you want a pumpkin with an area that size as smooth and flat as possible so your matrix doesn't wrap too far around. You could use a foam pumpkin, but where's the magic in that? I can't speak to the carving techniques needed on a foam pumpkin.

Tools and Consumables
  • Soldering iron
  • Solder
  • Wire cutters
  • Wire strippers
  • Power drill
  • Hacksaw
  • X-Acto knife
  • 13/64" drill bit
  • 1-1/8" drill bit (I used a Forstner bit, but a spade bit might work too)
  • 1/4" foam core board
Definitely deserves a win in the Halloween contest. Awesome project and great, funny documentation!
<p>Hi, cool idea. anyone knows the code for making it work with a neopixel matrix?</p>
<p>Amazing project... I did wonder how on eart don't we get the T shape ?!<br>A small mistake I have found in the code and corrected it. Also made a spash scroon so that it is button activated. I didn't have a pumpkin in had, but I've put this awesome project in an Ikea frame :P<br><br>/* Launch a new shape from the top of the screen */<br>void launchNewShape(){<br> activeShape=random(7); // pick a random shape<br><br>It said activeShape=random(6); // pick a random shape (so the T shape could never be random selected, since it is the 7th shape)</p>
<p>This is really awesome. I would definitely do this</p>
<p>How about using this? http://www.adafruit.com/products/1427</p>
<p>Hello joeybab3, I made one of these this year using that 16x8 matrix. The code had to be modified slightly and I added a splash screen which waits for a button press to begin the game. Easy enough to comment it out if you'd like, or change it to wait for a joystick input to start.</p><p>http://erocknroll.org/Arduino/Pumpktris16x8.ino</p>
<p>Wow really cool! just what I was looking for :) is it possible to make this in RGB? so the parts have different colors?</p>
This is a really obscure but totally awesome use of LEDs and a pumpkin, love it! <br> <br>5 minutes later.............. <br>Damn someone stole it !
I Want One!!!!!
Congrats! Really fun project and nicely documented
HEY! congrats on placing second!
Congrats! I cant wait to see the winners
Congratulations on being a finalist in the Halloween contest!!! Can&rsquo;t wait to see if you win! Good luck!
WOW So cool , I bet that you could some how preserve the pumpkin by covering it in a resin or polyurethane or something, then again, I guess, with all the wiring and everything else youd only have to re drill all the holse and carve the squares out again next year or maby freze it ? its such such a cool prodject, and to be put in to a fruit, (because it has seeds) or if you want call it a vegetable, guess you can always find other uses for it, its very cool man!
Very Cool! I gotta know though, how did you come up with this idea? Not many people go to carve a pumpkin and think tetris!
Thank you! I originally wanted to grow pumpkins into Tetris shapes (no idea where that idea came from, though). By the time I remembered, it was too late in the season so the idea morphed into making Tetris <em>on</em> a pumpkin.
hahaha. The things that random things that come to mind.... awesome
Awesome Idea, and nice video! Nicely done on the joystick setup. <br> <br>By the way: in the video, did you recreate the Tetris theme, or did you find it online? I found it quite fitting for a halloween project!
Cool! Voted!
this is sooo cool! love the stem joystick!
I saw this on memebase, and I figured there was some kind of evil genius behind it. - And with evil genius I mean someone on Instructables - <br>Thanks!
Now I've seen everything!!! plus very original.
So awesome! <br>Can the parts be used again next year or did they get too goopy?
Thanks! The only parts that got goopy were the LED matrices, and those cleaned up easily enough with some hot water and an old toothbrush.
Wow, I've seen this project popping up around the web, thanks for posting it here! <br> <br>
HA! This is fantastic very well done!!

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