How to Build a Monsters INC. Scream Tank




Introduction: How to Build a Monsters INC. Scream Tank

From the movie that entertains all ages, the yellow scream canister from Monsters INC is about how monsters collect energy. They collect energy in yellow canisters, and that is what we have made today. This yellow scream canister has a moving lid and many blinking LED's that fill up just like the movie itself. Not only is it a blast to play with, but also it will get you halfway there to collecting your own scream energy, in the future.

Step 1: Design Plan

The design plan for this project is very light. It is simply a cylinder with two lids, one on the top and the bottom. One of the lids will be glued in place while the other will move via a servo. There will also be eight LEDs on one side of the cylinder that will light up. The circuitry for the LEDs and servo is very simple. The anode (+) of each LED will be connected to a signal port on an Arduino. The cathode (-) of all the LEDs will be connected with wires. Another wire connected to the cathode of any led will lead to the ground port on the Arduino. For the servo, there will be a wire connecting the Servo to the 5V power port on the Arduino, another wire connecting the servo to the ground port on the Arduino, and another wire connecting the Arduino to the appropriate signal port on the Arduino. We are planning to have the LED's fill up, the higher the energy level in the canister. We will also install a moving lid, to go inside and will look cool.

Step 2: Research and Resources

If anyone is willing to build this, you must conduct some research first. Look at Arduino books, simple circuitry designs, and the scream canister itself online to see how to design and engineer it. Below are some links that could help you in making this project.

Step 3: Tools and Materials


  • X-ACTO Knife
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint Brush
  • Scroll Saw
  • Soldering Iron
  • Hot glue gun


  • Arduino Uno
  • Wires
  • FoamBoard
  • Yellow Paint
  • 5 mm. LEDs
  • MPI Servo
  • Solder
  • Duct Tape
  • Electrical tape
  • Hot glue

Step 4: Write Your Code

Step 5: Assemble Circuit

The circuit for this project is very simple. All you have to do for the LEDs is plug the anode of the LED into an Arduino signal port(You'll Know where to put it based on the code). Then, connect all the cathodes of all the LEDs together. You can do this part on the breadboard. Then connect a wire from the cathode of any LED to the ground port of the Arduino. This wire should connect all the cathodes of the LED to the ground port on the Arduino. For the servo, the brown wire will lead to the ground port, the red one will lead to the 5V power port, and the orange one will be connected to signal port 5 on the Arduino.

Step 6: Cut Out Foamboard

Cut the FoamBoard to the desired height. In our project, this was approximately 9 inches. We cut the foam board to the width of a little over 18 inches, as that would be the circumference of our cylinder. If your cylinder will be another size, make sure to account for that.

Step 7: Score Foamboard

To allow the Foam Board to curve into a cylinder, you must score the material. To do this, use an X-Acto knife to cut lines in the foam board. These should not go through the entire foamboard, but should still cut a considerable amount. Make sure your score lines are straight, parallel, and equally spaced.

Step 8: Make the Cylinder

In this step, all you have to do is curve the foam board. You have already scored the foam board, so curving it should be fairly easy. If necessary, you must "pop" some of the score lines. When you curve the foam board, make sure every score line is bent, otherwise you will have some large flat faces on your cylinder. Adjust the cylinder to make it as round as possible.

Step 9: Make the Lids

Place the cylinder on a sheet of foam board. You can temporarily tape the cylinder together to make this step easier. Once you place the cylinder on the foam board, trace out the lid with a pencil and cut it out with a scroll saw. Cutting the lid with this method will make the lid fit much better than a perfect circle. Do this twice, once for each side, so you will have a lid and a bottom. Sand the lids to smooth the edges.

Step 10: Cut the LED Holes

In the middle score line on the foam board, measure out where you want to fit all of the LED's. Make sure they are evenly spaced out. After words, use an X-Acto knife to cut a hole just big enough for the head of the LED's to fit through. Test fit all the Led into their holes.

Step 11: Paint All Pieces

Paint all pieces yellow. Use a wide brush so you can quickly paint all surfaces quickly. Also, paint a blue M on the top of the lid. Make sure the M is painted in the right orientation so it looks like an M when it is put on the cylinder.

Step 12: Insert Switches

There are two switches that need to be added. One for main power, and another for the lid. The main power switch will be a Single Pull Single Throw(SPST) switch, while the lid switch will be a push button switch. Cut holes that match the size of the switches on the back of the cylinder with an X-Acto knife. If necessary, you can cover the edges of the holes with duct tape and paint the tape yellow. Put these switches on the back of the prop so they do not change the look of the prop. In the picture, to the right of the servo, you can see the SPST switch.

Step 13: Solder the Circuit

In this step, you will transfer your circuit from the breadboard to the prop. Currently, the only thing on the breadboard should be the wires connecting the cathodes of the LEDs. Instead of the breadboard, just solder all the negative ends of the LED's together and have one extra wire connected to the cathode of the last LED. So what you will end up having is all the cathodes of the LEDs connected, with one extra wire connected to the negative prong of the last led. That extra wire will connect to the ground part on the Arduino. Also, you will need to solder the battery connector wires in. To do this, connect the positive end of the battery connector to one prong on the main power switch. Also, connect another wire to the other prong on the switch. On the push button, solder two wires, one on each prong.

Step 14: Insert Led

Insert the Led into their respective ports. Make sure the LEDs are in the right order so that the LED that lights up first is at the bottom. While inserting the LED, make sure no wires come loose and don't stretch any wires too much.

Step 15: Insert Servo

Glue in a ledge on the back side of the cylinder. This will be where the servo rest. The ledge can be made out of foam board and inserted with hot glue and tape. Then place the servo on the ledge and tape it in. Also, make sure the top of the servo is level with the top of the cylinder.

Step 16: Add Lid

Place some tape on the top of the servo and place the lid on the cylinder. The tape will stick to the lid and that is where you should attatch the lid to the servo. This can be done by taping the lid to the servo. Make sure the the servo and lid are connected securely so the lid will rotate.

Step 17: Final Circuitry

Connect all the wires to the Arduino. Attach all the LEDs to their respective ports on the Arduino and attach the empty wire from the SPST switch to the VIN port on the Arduino. connect the anode from the battery connector to any ground part on the Arduino. Also, attach one wire from the lid switch to its respective port on the Arduino, and the other to the orange port on the servo. Then test the switches and everything should work.

Step 18: Test, Have Fun, Reflect

Test your prop, make sure it works. In the video below, the SPST switch has already been flipped on and the lid moves when we press the push button switch.

There are many great things about this prop. Overall, the prop is really nice but if one thing stood out to us, it would be the LEDs. They just look very cool in the prop. Maybe if we were to do this again, we would add more LEDs. But still, the LEDs are great. However, one thing we would change if we were to do this again would be that we would seal the cylinder at the very end of the project. This would make it much easier to add all the LEDs and circuitry. But overall, this prop is great and building it was a great experience.

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    3 years ago

    That's really cute :)