with your guests? The Magic Mirror will provide you with
the opportunity to do just that! You use a microphone
and computer keyboard to add the audio and to control
the actions of your choice of characters. The products are
very affordable — only $15 each. They even offer a free
version, although it uses text files to manipulate its
behavior and is a little more complicated to control. This
effect works best if you build it into a facade, and the site
offers suggestions on how to create the perfect design.
A little practice learning to puppeteer and you’ll soon
be amazing your visitors as you converse with them. This
feature can certainly become the centerpiece of your
display (Figure 10).
11. Very Low Cost
PICAXE Controller —
This was where my interest and early education in the
world of Halloween electronics began. Mike Langensiepen
put together an outstanding beginner’s project using the
08 PICAXE chip which allows you to get started building
and programming your own controllers. His instructions
are easy to follow, and the project cost will satisfy even
the most budget conscious builder. It will allow you to get
your feet wet and complete a project to build your
My success with this build encouraged me to
continue to learn and take on more complex designs.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is just a practice
project, however. Once completed, this board can be
integrated into many different props, allowing you to
control them to fit your haunt needs (Figure 11).
Button Banger Board
— and !!
This board was designed by Tyler Straub, but is
commonly referred to as the Scuba Board after Tim
Thompson who helps distribute them. These boards are
available as either bare, solder-it-yourself printed circuit
boards or Tim will populate the boards for you at a very
reasonable cost. Prior to this board being available, I
designed my own two-channel button banger, but now
reach for this board for the majority of my applications
which require this style of controller. Tyler has
incorporated a variety of useful features which I truly
appreciate. These include reverse voltage protection on
the input and a separate wired remote that allows you to
program the board from a safe distance from a fast
One huge advantage to using a board such as this is
that there is no programming required by the end user.
You set up your sequence by simply pushing the buttons
at the desired times. By following the voice prompts, you
select your trigger type and delays again by just pushing
the buttons. This type of controller is highly recommended
for someone getting started using prop controllers or
without the programming knowledge needed for some of
the more complex controllers (Figure 12).
42 September 2015