The Making of a Steampunk Pumpkin




Introduction: The Making of a Steampunk Pumpkin

In this Instructable, I am going to walk thru the process I went through to make a steampunk inspired pumpkin for Halloween. Steampunk is a a fusion of materials and technology and a philosophy of re-use and re-engineering. This inspired my to make my Steam Pumpkin. It's complete with a fog machine controlled by the ioBridge IO-204 and lit by BlinkM RGB LEDs. The fog shots out of its ears when motion is detected by a Passive Infrared sensor.

Here is the steam pumpkin in action and some completed project photos:

Step 1: Gather Materials

From around the house I gather up materials to re-purpose to decorate the pumpkin. I found a old purse with some brass loops, gold chain, and covered in fake leather. I also got a lampshade, door knob covers, door hinge, candle stick holder, and some brass brads to hold things together.

I used a Dremel to cut off and reshape metal parts.

Step 2: Carve and Decorate the Pumpkin

I free formed the design, but was trying to keep true to the steampunk spirit. I had my Hobart welding goggles there for inspiration. The brass brads were very handy to attach washers and parts to the pumpkin.

First I made a big cut out of the top. I wanted a wedge for the front that was about all that I had planned. I made the back part flat so I could attach a door hinge to the top and bottom parts of the pumpkin.

Next I recreated my goggles using the door knob covers and straps from the purse.

Then added an improvised aviator cap using the flap of the purse.

The ears of "Steamy Wonder" was made from the candle stick holders.

Last, I tore apart the metal lampshade using the Dremel and created the mouth.

Step 3: Add Some Techno Enhancements

One thing for sure I wanted was steam shooting out of its ears when someone apprached the pumpkin. Also, I wanted it to be lit with different colors.

In order to make this work, I used a Passive Infrared sensor that I got from Adafruit to detect motion. When the pin goes high it causes the fog machine to turn on. I ran tubing from the fog machine to the ears of the pumpkin. The ioBridge IO-204 controlled the fog machine by monitoring for motion and also setting the color of the BlinkM RGB LEDs. All of the logic was easy to setup.

The fog machine came from Spencers. It's a 400w wireless controlled fog machine. It was easy to control by replacing the buttons with relays. The relays were controlled by the IO-204 and worked as expected, wireless being a nice touch. I don't recommend running the fog machine for very long or without supervision. I will be setting up the pumpkin on trick-o-treat night and some parties.

To change the RGB colors, all you have to do is send a Pulse Width to each color channel. You can mix your own colors. I wanted it to turn a deep red when fog was ready to shoot.

Step 4: Test and Enjoy

After some tweaks with the fog machine, I was enjoying a smoke filled living room and evil but somewhat friendly steampunk pumpkin. The goal was to capture the steampunk philosophy with a little re-use and adding some technology to a well established pumpkin carving tradition. The good thing is that after Halloween is over, I have a bunch of parts for another project. Have fun with your creation!

If you want to check out this project or other projects that I have been working on, please visit

Here is a video of the steam pumpkin in action:

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    11 years ago on Introduction

    Nice build, and congratulations on making Make online!
    There are artificial steampunkins on Etsy too.


    12 years ago on Step 3

    What is the purpose of using the ioBridge for this application? Since you aren't connecting your pumpkin to the internet (which seems to be what the ioBridge is all about) , couldn't you just use any microcontroller to activate the fog machine and LEDs when the motion detector is triggered?


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    You can setup control logic on the web, then disconnect from your network and it acts like a simple micrcontroller. I could have easily sent a Tweet every time the pumpkin was triggered, but that would be so 2008 (since my toaster already does that). You are right though, the IO-204 is more about the web/internet piece. You could really use any microcontroller that can read a digital input state and switch a digital output state to trigger a relay.

    What are you building?


    Reply 12 years ago on Step 3

    Thanks clarifying that.

    I'm looking to setup some type of home automation system that I can control from my smartphone. The ioBridge seems like the most user friendly route to take, since it handles most of the complex web interface stuff. I have a lot of experience with electronics and microcontrollers, but almost no experience with web based programming, so this will be a good opportunity to get up to speed with HTML, JavaScript, PHP, and all the other tools necessary to make this project come together.

    I checked out your iTurn project and your article about using perl with ioBridge, and I'll probably have a bunch of questions for you once I purchase my ioBridge and get started.