Each year there is a little section of Phillipsburg, NJ that gets a special haunting. For the past few years I have been invited to an awesome Halloween display put on by my favorite fake cousin, Mr. Mark Zgoda. Three years ago I told Mark that we could probably liven up the scenes with some simple animated props. Last year we started!

I built a grave jumper, he pops up from behind a grave stone and comments on his situation. The design is readily available on the web and with your own modifications you can really make it into a neat show. I used a Passive Infrared sensor to detect movement and fire the prop. There was a sleep time in the program that kept the poor guy from popping up over and over when the kids figured out where the sensor was. The poor quality result was that Marvin would sometimes wait too long to pop up and wouldn’t make for much of a fright. This year I have some new sensors and I think we are going to really spook some passers-by!

The second project was to be a talking singing pirate (Boris). I had some help from Uncle Jim on the fabrication. We went with PVC and wood to keep things simple. Mom and I found a scary mask at a Halloween store and I built a face plate with hobby servos to control the mouth, head rotation and nod. Mark came over to Bantam Music Factory to do some vocal tracks with scary dialog. His dialog came with quite a bit of movement. He was very expressive and I was sorry Boris’s arms didn’t move (he didn’t actually have any arms). The kids seemed to like Boris and his spooky speeches as well as a silly rendition of Monster Mash.

2009 was a really great start to a new hobby!

As you can see from some of the pictures and running documentation, Boris is getting arms, and they will move!

Marvin will still be jumping from behind his grave but his sensor upgrades and some programing updates should make him a little more active.

New this year we will be adding backup singers for Boris. We will have to come up with a name for the band…

I picked a couple domain names that I thought would help us get found.