Quick N' Easy Halloween Pressure Plate

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Introduction: Quick N' Easy Halloween Pressure Plate

We've all seen them, they're welcome mats for outside your front door that make spooky sounds whenever a trick or treater comes knocking. I'm going to show you how to make half of this, so that you can use it for lights, sounds, or some kind of motor powered device (like a skeleton that waves when you step on the plate). Pressure plates work very simply, there are two hard pieces (the plates) with conductive material on each one (aluminum foil) and some kind of spring in between them (sponge). Wires are attached to each piece of conductive material, so when the two plates touch each other (someone steps on it) a circuit can be completed.

Step 1: Gather Materials

You'll need:

  • Two small rectangles of thin plywood (cardboard could work, too)
  • An old sponge
  • Aluminum foil
  • Wire
  • Some kind of adhesive
  • Electrical tape
  • Cutting implements
  • Newspaper to work on (easy clean up)
  • Something to test the circuit with (Like a motor/battery)

Step 2: Assemble Each Plate

*Glue the aluminum foil onto each plate, with a small balled up piece in the middle of each. (The plates can't get close enough together to actually touch)
  • Cut and glue two small squares of sponge on one of them.
  • Tape a wire onto each plate.

Step 3: Attach the Two Plates/Testing

Now, simply glue the plates together, via the sponges. (Aluminum foil on the inside) You're ready to test it out!

Testing:

Attach one pole of the battery directly to what you're testing on, for the other pole, attach one wire of the pressure plate to the battery, and the other to what you're testing on. Push down on the plate and hope it works!

If it doesn't

Check your connections, do both wires actually touch the contacts of the battery? Do both wires actually touch the contacts on your test subject? Are both wires touching the aluminum foil? Do the foil balls touch each other when the plates are compressed?

If it doesn't stop working

Check and make sure that the aluminum foil balls are constantly touching each other, that's most likely. If that doesn't work, add just a little bit of water onto the sponge, squeeze the sponges to work it in...that should make it a little bit springier.

Have fun!

(I had a video, but you can't tell when the motor is spinning...I'll try and get a better demonstration soon)

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    40 Comments

    cool...I have just the thing! put it in plain sight and have a sign that says "step on me" when they do nothing happens. but then when they turn around there is you in a uber scary costume being all O_O at them. then you yell "WHY DID YOU STEP ON THAT!!" then you chase them. but the cool part is..something does happen. you know to pop you (if you can't see them) by a little light that goes on "behind the scenes" lol. ya kinda stupid but its the first thing that popped into my head. _

    is there anyway to make the circuit stay closed after someone steps on the plate. i wanted to put it on the entrance to my room, so when someone walks in the lights turn on and when someone walks out they turn off

    How do you hook up sound to the pressure plate?

    Hint: Try using a piece of colored tape on the spindle of the motor. Myself and many other people use that to get a visual indicator for when a motor or shaft or basically anything that spins, is spinning.

    Can someone please help me? I just finished with the sponge, foil and foil ball. What type of wire? Now where do i put the wire and what do i attach it to? How do i attach it to the battery. And what is that other black thing that the wire is connect to? Im confused. PLZ HELP?!?!!?!

    oh and if you want your motor to turn on even if they just step on it really fast then read the rest of my instructable

    Maybe it isn't considered advertsing b/c he didn't pay you to put the ad on your post. :)