The core of this project involves three talking/singing skulls that I picked up for about $10 each from Walmart’s seasonal Halloween section (see Figure 1). A simple
lobotomy of the skull’s built-in controller put an end
to the corny, “I ain’t Got Nobody” song and gave
access to the jaw movement system. In place of a
costly servo, these skulls use a simple motor to
open the jaw, with a spring to close it again when
the power is turned off.
The design consists of a power supply, band
detection circuit, MP3 player, and CPU/driver
board. A CHI035A PICAXE-18M2 power project
board was used to control the MP3 player, the
three jaws, and to show lights. The right channel of
the MP3 player was fed into the three-spectrum
band detector and the left channel goes to both left
and right audio outputs (see Figure 2).
Autumn is my favorite time of year. As the days grow shorter, the blistering
heat of summer in Southern California is coming to an end, and it’s a great time
to be outside working on my very popular Scary Lane yard haunt for Halloween.
This is a perfect hobby for my
creative side, and I get to have a
little fun with the neighbors. Each
year, the haunt improves with
new scenes and props to scare
and delight the trick or treaters.
About five years ago, I wanted to
include a new audio animatronic
of a trio of singing skulls that
would fit nicely into the old west
ghost town theme.
Single Chip Audio
Makes Singing Easier
32 September 2015
FIGURE 1. Ready-to-go skull with a nice aged look.