Thursday, November 1, 2012

Electronic Halloween - My Pumpkin 2012

Halloween is a natural time for Makers to show their skills, be it a simple but effective decoration or costume or something way over the top.  I wanted a sound project so I had the choice of using a Raspberry Pi or an Arduino with a sound board.  I chose Arduino with an Adafruit Wave Shield as the programming is very straightforward, reading and outputting sounds via an SD card.  The pumpkin is controlled using a IR receiver to decode keys representing commands to the pumpkin.  I chose IR over radio control for simplicity and time.  The LED array is a Larson Scanner kit from Evil Mad Scientist - it can vary the scanning frequency and eye size.
The remote can select from five phrases and can mute/unmute the cylon eye sound.

I plan to reuse the Arduino/Wave Shield in upcoming projects, perhaps my robot/home automation project.

If you would like to see a video of it, go to Youtube at

The sad thing overall: many of the younger folks in the office did not know what a cylon is.  I thought it might be confusion over new Battlestar vs. old
but that wasn't it - must be Geek vs. The Rest of Humanity :(


  1. This project made the Adafruit Blog!

    If anyone wants more details about construction before Christmas, post and I'll get it together.

  2. Replies
    1. I'll repurpose the parts before then. I didn't want to make the offer open ended in case someone two years from now wanted materials I no longer have.

  3. I'm interested in the IR receive + wave playback combo... Would it be possible to get a copy of your code? Which Wave and IR libraries did you use and did you run into any conflicts (timers or pins, etc.) between them?

    1. Thanks for your interest Adam. I have posted the code in a public GitHub repository at

      You should get the WaveHC and WaveUtil libraries from IRremote library by Ken Shirriff at You should use one of the IRtest programs with Ken's library to discover the codes for
      whatever remote you chose. I used an old Creative RM-1500 remote but you can use any remote and map the codes you discover to the keys you push. This project used number keys 1 to 6 for effects, mute to turn off sound, Volume + to turn it on. The code is not overly clean as there was a bug with the mute button so I ignored presses that turned
      out to be just over 1.5 seconds. It was frustrating - you'll probably have better luck. The sounds can be found via Google "Cylon WAV". I cannot post the sounds as they may be copyrighted.

      I'll post some build pictures with pin connections to match the code.

    2. The details are now posted at

    3. Mike,
      Thank you very much for posting that. :)

      In the intervening few days before I saw your response I've done a bunch of work on audio playback and looping random selection of wav files from sub-directories (using indexes for lower latency)... I found and decided on the same IR library, but had only gotten as far as getting it to output the incoming IR codes to serial without responding to them beyond that.

      Your code will be helpful in finishing my project off and is greatly appreciated. I'm sure other people will find it helpful too. Thanks again!


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