DIY Magic Mirror and Photobooth - Arduino Powered




About: Al is a wearable tech entrepreneur and creator of a line of smart phone controlled LED handbags With 22 years of experience in the IT industry, Al is currently Senior Director of Info...

Updated August 2018

A kit is now available for this project from

The Magic Mirror shield / kit makes the wiring easier but you can also do the project with your own Arduino Uno, see Arduino Uno Setup Guide along with this wiring schematic.

More info at this project at
The software for this project is open source

Who's the fairest of them all. Make your own Magic Mirror and find out. The Magic Mirror can read the weather, tell you how your stocks did, can be wired to your doorbell with an IP camera video feed, turns lights & appliances on and off using X-10 control, and even has a Breathalyzer that tells you when you've had too much to drink. The Magic Mirror plays pre-recorded animations based on input from various sensors. Featuring four characters, each character responds to the sensor inputs with its own personality. Characters include a skull for your next Halloween party, a pirate, a princess character, and a really mean pumpkin who disses you New York cabbie style.

Magic Mirror Features:

  • Breathalyzer with optional Tweeting
  • Photobooth Mode (Link to Separate Instructable on Photobooth Mode)
  • Speak your Tweets from Twitter
  • Weather Forecast
  • Money Performance (Stocks or Bitcoin)
  • Sends X-10 CommandsDoorbell input with IP camera feed
  • Picasa based slideshow
  • Princess, Pirate, Halloween, Insult Characters
  • Text to Speech Mode
  • Personalize it with your own Videos
  • Runs as a native application on the PC, Mac, and Linux

El Cheapo PC or Laptop (Windows 7 or Windows 10)
Arduino Uno R3 or Seeeduino 4.2
Used 15" LCD monitor - $50
Dielectric Glass TV Mirror 4mm (2-Way Mirror) 12x12 Sample (Optional) - $20
Magic Mirror Kit with Software - $139 or $49 for DIY Magic Mirror Software Only
Picture Frame with Oval Matte (Optional)

Sensors (Pick and choose the sensors based on your installation)

Maxbotix Proximity Sensor (better for longer distances) or Sharp IR Long Range Proximity Sensor
Seeedstudio Grove Touch Sensors (3)

Seeedstudio Grove Alcohol Sensor(1)

Seeedstudio Grove Button(1)
Reed Switches (2) - $5 each
See here for all supported sensors

X-10 Components and LEDs (Optional)

X-10 Firecracker - $5 on eBay
X-10 Transceiver Module - $20
X-10 Dimmer Switches (2) - $12 each
LEDs - $5

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Step 1: Arduino and Adobe Flash

The basic concept is the Magic Mirror plays pre-recorded and dynamic text to speech videos (Adobe Flash format) based on input from various sensors (proximity, touch, switches). I chose Flash because there is an open source Flash library available called AS3Glue that talks to the Arduino.

On the Arduino, you have to load a program called "Standard Firmata" which let's you control the Arduino from Adobe Flash (specifically Action Script 3.0). This guide steps you through how to load the "Standard Firmata" sketch on your Arduino Uno. You also have to run a serial server (included in the software download) which acts as a middleman converting serial data received from the Arduino to a TCP/IP port that Flash can access.

Step 2: Connecting the Sensors

I used the following sensors: proximity, touch, momentary switches, reed switch, alcohol sensor, and a potentiometer.

For the proximity sensor, I have the first video set to go off when the subject is standing at a specified distance from the sensor (the distance can be changed from the configuration program). The Video then tells the subject to come a little closer and then a second video plays.  There is also a stealth mode setting where the Magic Mirror appears as a normal mirror and then gives people a surprise when within range of the proximity sensor (good for Halloween parties).

I mounted the touch sensors behind the drywall.

Connect the sensors per this schematic below.

The door and window reed switches are the same ones used in home alarm systems. I got mine from

Step 3: Configuring the Software

After connecting the sensors, you'll then launch the Magic Mirror configuration program which tells the Magic Mirror software what sensors are hooked up as well as other configuration parameters like your zip code for the weather forecast, your stock portfolio, your Picasa album, IP video camera stream if using that option, the Arduino port, and X-10 addresses. You can also adjust the size and orientation of the video to suit your installation (ex. if you rotate the monitor to a portrait orientation).

Step 4: Controlling the Lights

I also wanted to have the video events turn the lights and appliances on and off using X-10 control. After quite a bit of research, the best solution I could find was to use the x-10 Firecracker which is a dis-continued serial port (DB9) dongle that you can find on eBay for $5. Unfortunately, there was no built in Flash/Arduino interface for this device so I wrote my own which turned out to be fairly easy in Action Script 3.0 using the Timer class. This website was great and has everything you need to know to interface the Firecracker.

Step 5: The Installation

Your installation can be as simple as this plug and play installation where you can be up and running in 10 minutes or a full on installation with in-wall sensors.

Of course, I had to do the full on installation which was a playhouse I built for my two girls. The playhouse is 8x8x8, I got the plans for the playhouse here My Dad built it in Oregon and then dis-assembled it and drove it down to California where we put it back together. We then poured a concrete slab for it and then roofed and painted it. Its basically a full blown mini-house with electrical, insulation, drywall, vent, TV, phone, pergo floor, etc.

The playhouse in itself was quite a project. The nice thing about building it from scratch is I was able to run all the wiring for the sensors through the walls as well as the electrical, doorbell, speaker, network, coax, and phone. Here's a separate instructable on the playhouse

Step 6: The Magic Mirror PC

For the PC, an el cheapo PC or laptop will do (a Netbook works great and is nice and compact). It can't be too old though as it does need to run the video smoothly. If your PC can play these videos files, then you'll be ok. These are the same video files that come with the software installation so are quite large and will be normally running from your local hard drive so expect some network delay when you click the link.

I went the custom route and re-purposed an old vacuum tube tester case. I went with an Intel ATOM motherboard since its low power and very compact (mini-ITX form factor). One annoying thing on this model was the excessively loud fan which would ruin the effect. I found a silent fan at Fry's for $20, you can still hear it but barely. I re-purposed some of the controls, the on/off switch and a pot which is used to select the mirror mode on the fly (princess, halloween, or pirate). Also added some fiber optics for show. For the sound, I run the normal soundcard output into a whole house audio distribution system and play through the in-ceiling speakers which is nice so you don't see the PC speakers.

Another nice feature and benefit of using Flash with an Internet connection is you can play different videos based on data received from the Internet. For mine, I did different things for the weather and stock portfolio. For the weather, I call a Yahoo Weather API and then play a different video based on the forecast, one video for good weather, one for ok weather, and another for rain. For the stock, a different video plays based on how your stock portfolio performed with the stocks being specified in the config file. Same concept, one video for good performance, one for no or little change, and one for down. The threshold limits on what defines up and down can be changed in the configuration program.

For remote maintenance, VNC is setup so you can connect remotely from another PC using a ultraVNC. VNC comes with UBUNTU so if you go the LINUX route, its already there. Its very easy to install though on Windows, although I don't know if VNC works with Windows Vista or Windows 7.

Step 7: Fireplace and Fake Fire

My wife picked up this old fireplace mantle at an antique show. I used wood puddy with black spray paint to give it a weathered fireplace look.

For the fake fire, this was easy as the Arduino and AS3Glue library have pulse-width modulation (PWM) built it was just a matter of tweaking the PWM parameters to simulate a flickering fire with Red LEDs. The Magic Mirror software has the option to use the LEDs like this as a flickering fire effect or instead you can also use them as indicator LEDs (telling you how drunk you are to compliment the videos tellying you how drunk you are) for the Breathalyzer.

Step 8: Producing the Video

For the video, the folks over at make some great digital puppets which are low cost ($15) and fit the bill perfectly. The guy that runs the site is very nice and allows me to use them through a royalty agreement.

After writing the scripts, I was lucky to find a very good voice over guy who was able to do all four characters and then I produced the videos in Adobe Premiere. Here are the videos.

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Grand Prize in the
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    98 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Hello, thank you for the very useful information and the detailed instructions. You're truly a genius! I am trying to build my own mirror and will start working on it soon. I need to add a proximity sensor, and let whatever is displayed play all the time until someone stands in front of the mirror, then the display disappears or maybe will zoom out.

    How and where is it possible to edit the software to make this happen? Your help is much appreciated.

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hi , yes that is possible. In the configuration program, there is a setting called Stealth Mode that does exactly that.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    The magic mirror is GREAT! I would like to add my own comments with the Gordo character. I have purchased the Gordo animation and tried to use SnapZProX2 to capture the screen. As soon as the animation starts it terminates the screen capture. Any ideas why or how to get around this? Thanks.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, thanks, have not tried SnapZProX2. The video capture software I've used in the past is called FRAPS , had good results with that one. If you end up going that way, see starting from page 60 in the manual for how to incorporate your own recordings into the software.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    nice install! on the print out resolution, if I remember, it can go up to 720 or something like that. In the advanced config program, you'll see a resolution setting, just put it at the highest res. It won't be high res/photo quality but shouldn't be pixelated either.

    1 reply

    I love this! One question though. Is there a way to increase the resolution of the printed photobooth pictures?The proofs on the screen are hi-res, but the printouts are extremely pixelated. I'm using the Canon Selphy CP900.

    Photo Booth.jpg
    1 reply

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Cool instructable,

    Would the software be easily adapted to the raspberry pi? How hard would it to add RFID reader?

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    great question, I have a raspberry pi on order so I'll try it out when I get it. The key will be whether or not Flash runs on raspberry pi as the DIY Magic Mirror is Adobe Flash based. My guess is Flash is probably not officially supported so the question becomes if there is some hack/work around for it.

    The better option may be Android, I just ported the DIY Magic Mirror to Android (the Android version does not yet have all the features as the PC version), that may be an easier way to go as I thought I'd read somewhere Android is available now or coming to Android. Here's the Android app of the project RFID reader wouldn't be too hard, just a matter of modifying the source,, here's the source code for the Android app


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Has this ever officially received a Coolest Instructable Ever award?


    Reply 7 years ago on Step 5

    Do not question Magic Mirrors and the things that maybe.

    if you look above the window you shall see. (pumkin head)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Hmm i like to see a trans formers Optumis prime for my nephew how hard would that be?

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    You'd just need to produce the videos and then here's how to add them to the Magic Mirror Some folks have had good success with the Crazy Talk software, that would be the easiest way to author the videos.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Do the kits come with the new mask version? If not, is there any way you (the supplier) can update it or do I have to buy it myself?