Instructables

Use a DIY Pressure Plate Switch to Automate Your Haunted House

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When running a large haunted house, you want most of the special effects to be automated. But for this to be effective, you need to get the timing right. The best way to do this is to use sensors to detect where your guests are.

In this project, I am going to show you how to make a simple DIY pressure plate switch. This is just a pressure sensitive switch that is activated when someone steps on it. A sensor like this is really useful for effects that require someone to be in a specific location.  I also give several examples of ways that you can use it to activate special effects in a haunted house. 
 
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Step 1: Materials

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Here are the materials and tools that you will need to make your DIY pressure plate switch:

Materials:
3 Large Sheets of Cardboard
Aluminum Foil
Tape
Several Feet of Insulated Wire 

Tools:
Wire Strippers
A Sharp Knife

Step 2: Attach Foil to Two of the Cardboard Sheets

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Tear off a piece of aluminum foil that is at least as big as the cardboard sheets. Lay it centered on the cardboard. If the foil hangs over the edge of the cardboard wrap it around to the back side. Tape one side of the foil to the cardboard. Then stretch the foil tightly and tape the opposite side. Do this for all four sides of the foil. 

Repeat this process with a second sheet of cardboard and foil.

Step 3: Attach Wires to the Foil with Tape

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Take one wire and strip about one inch of insulation off of the end. Then lay it on the first sheet of cardboard so the the bare end of the wire is touching the aluminum. Apply a piece tape on top of the wire to hold it in contact with the foil. Repeat this with the second wire and the second sheet of cardboard. This isn't the most secure way of attaching the wires but it should hold together for Halloween. 

I like it . It's so simple but also extremely awesome

Just from watching the youtube video my mind is flooded with all kinds of projects I wanna experiment with now! lol Its beautifully simplistic which makes me want to try it immediately!

nbfox10 months ago
I most definitely was shorting 5V to ground. Sometimes I have to do stupid things and ask stupid questions to get things done the right way. Thanks for your help. Should be a cool little project.
nbfox10 months ago
So I have wired the switch up to the microcontroller. I wired 5V from the microcontroller to one end of the switch, and ground to the other, along with the pull up resistor. However, every time I close the switch my Arduino actually powers off.... Anyone else have this problem? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)  nbfox10 months ago
Check how you have it wired up. If you are shorting the 5V to ground, you would overload the board.
Kzummo10 months ago
Who said it had to be for halloween only?
foobear10 months ago
Seems like with extended use the cardboard would start to sag together in the middle and be constantly touching together... How long before this happens?
DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)  foobear10 months ago
It all depends on how hard you are on it. It could probably hold up to a night a 10-year-olds occasionally stepping on it. But if you want to use it for a longer time with larger adults, then you probably want to use the wood paneling and sheet metal that I mentioned in the last step.
DaBlakus10 months ago
You can omit the pullup resistor and use the internal pullup resistor by setting the input pin "HIGH". Just use the digitalWrite "digitalWrite(buttonPin,HIGH)" instruction and set the input pin high in the setup list.
djkraz10 months ago
Very nice instructable! I have created several similar for our haunted house however I use aluminum duct tape in strips on cardboard like yours but then use thin double sided foam insulation (for insulating windows & doors etc.) to separate the 2. It works great and you can make it much bigger without having to worry about the middle becoming bowed and giving a constant short. Picture a tic tac toe board with a border as the strips of foam insulation.
carlos66ba10 months ago
Nice instructable. If you use arduinos, another option is to use ultrasonic sensors to detect people. They can be had on ebay for as little as $1 a piece! (amazing, isn't it?)
bremus carlos66ba10 months ago
But then you need an Arduino which is more than $1.
naw going old school is way better. plus when yr done u can recycle the aluminum 4 money as well.
Awesome this will help so much!