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Geeky Gadgets for Halloween Parties?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the they're-here dept.

Hardware Hacking 306

Neurotoxic666 asks: "Like many others, my friends and I are going to hold a costumed party for Halloween, however we do not want it to be the typical haunt. We have some talent in computers and electronics, but we're short of ideas. Are there any good gadgets and props that the average geek can build to spice up the party? Of course, there will be the usual ambient sounds and decoration, but we're looking for more interactive, dynamic and techie stuff. One idea I've had is to use the living room computer on the TV and have white noise, ghosts and other creepy effects appear throughout the night. Does anyone have some suggestions, ideas we could build, effects that worked well in your parties? Anything from heart-beating books to special lightning to mad science devices is welcome!"

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306 comments

Who needs gadgets... (1)

Fyre2012 (762907) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854315)

When you could look like this! [anniescostumes.com]

Re:Who needs gadgets... (0)

Hogwash McFly (678207) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854392)

it's weird to think that the people who posed in those leather jackets and other costumes are going about their daily lives right now, be it sex, sleep or grocery shopping. They might even have families and mortgages to pay They are real people!

FROSTY PISS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854316)

I WIN THE INTERNET

May be too scary for people with a heart condition (4, Funny)

AppHack (622902) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854320)

But you could setup a computer running Windows and hook it up to the Internet.

Re:May be too scary for people with a heart condit (1, Funny)

sefa (888169) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854393)

dress up as Ballmer or Ellison !!

Re:May be too scary for people with a heart condit (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854524)

Come on, where's your sense of tradition? This be hallowe'en, mon!

Now here's some costume ideas that will scare the shit out of everyone, not just your inner geek:

  1. Insurance salesman
  2. Jehovah's Witness
  3. Lawyer
  4. Tom Cruise
Feel free to add to the list here [slashdot.org] - we need more ideas.

Re:May be too scary for people with a heart condit (2, Funny)

kryten_nl (863119) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854609)

Also very cost effective, since you only need 1 cheap suit. (and walk around on your knees in the TC version)

Speaking of Ballmer (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854525)

I am thinking of dressing up as a chair, and having a cardboard cutout of Steve Ballmer drag behind me. I will lunge at people, and when the cord connecting the cutout to me pulls, it will automatically play "I'm gonna fucking bury you! I have done it before and I will do it again!"

Alternatively, if it detects music it begins jumping up and down screaming "YEAAAH!"

It also doubles as a L'il John costume.

Re:May be too scary for people with a heart condit (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854409)

But you could setup a computer running Windows and hook it up to the Internet.

Every Hallowe'en party needs a zombie.

And for those who are really daring... (2, Funny)

elkyle (875715) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854427)

Windows ME and AOL 9.0 Super-Dee-Duper Turbocharged Dialup-on-Steroids!!1!eleven

Guaranteed to scare the most seasoned geek:

You: "How are you, Grandmother?"
Your Grandma: "Why do all these nekked women keep popping up? Could I have a phish? 'Cause I read that Bill Gates tries to get everyone sick by adaware-ing that clickety-click-thing."
You: <begin shaking in terror>
Your Grandma: "Oh, and how come my computer doesn't fax? You said it could send faxes, so I jammed what I wanted to fax into the cup holder thingy. Then that little box - ya' know, the one on the ground, connected to the computer? - started making some funny sounds. So I just unplugged it from the wall. Then, the strangest thing happened. My computer went blank! So anyways, I want you to come over here tomorrow and fix that little box thing. Seems I need it for my computer to work."
You: <sobbing>

Halloween? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854321)

Dude, what are you - ten years old?!

Re:Halloween? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854394)

You are retarded, you know that? Anyone who is too much of stuck up prick to have a party (you) needs to be shot.

Re:Halloween? (4, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854545)

Dude, what are you - ten years old?!

Hallowe'en is now the second-largest holiday cash generator for businesses, right behind Christmas.

People spend hundreds of bucks each on parties for ADULTS. Or go to any bar on Hallowe'en and try to say there isn't some serious coin being raked in.

It's #2 in terms of revenue, but its #1 in terms of profitability, because you don't see the wild discounting like you do weeks before Christmas.

You can always find something to buy on Christmas Eve - just TRY to find a costume the day before Hallowe'en - you'll be stuck wearing a "costume" you made from a roll of aluminium foil you scrounged from the pantry and some duct tape.

Re:Halloween? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854689)

Why would I want to find a costume to dress up the night before halloween? Unless you're ten years old or a woman, why would you give a fuck? Kids and girls are attention whores. As a guy, you should have something better to do than dress up like a god damned pirate and get drunk at a party full of fugly chicks dressed as a belly dancer or princess.

Have to say it .. (1, Funny)

karvind (833059) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854324)

Blue screen of death !! What can be more scary ?

Re:Have to say it .. (5, Funny)

nile_list (812696) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854386)

No kidding. When I first started running xscreensaver and hadn't yet configured it (so I hadn't seen what effects were available/selected), I just about toppled over when my debian machine got a BSOD.

Needless to say, that effect has been disabled.

Re:Have to say it .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854528)

I think that the new way of scaring people is to throw some chairs. You can spice it up by shouting: "I'm going to fucking kill $NAME".

Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854325)

A nerd party.

The free as in beer method (2, Funny)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854329)

Just undress and let your own bodies do the trick? ;-)
A method free as in beer, showing what's full of beer. Yay!

Re:The free as in beer method (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854413)

I think he is having a Halloween party, not a sausage fest.

EL Wire! (2, Interesting)

ChrisKnight (16039) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854330)

Everything looks cooler when lit with EL Wire [coolneon.com] from Benny at Cool Neon [coolneon.com]! -Chris

Re:EL Wire! (5, Informative)

ChrisKnight (16039) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854351)

Almost forgot... Cool Neon [coolneon.com] sells an audio sensitive EL Wire [coolneon.com] driver that will let you create responsive designs. I'm using EL Wire [coolneon.com] to decorate our pumpkin this year and some audio sensitive drivers to make it respond to trick-or-treaters.

-Chris

Re:EL Wire! (1)

mikerubin (449692) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854407)

this looks like the stuff here :
http://www.e-lite.com/ [e-lite.com]

Re:EL Wire! (0, Offtopic)

ChrisKnight (16039) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854442)

Same technology, different packaging. While EL ribbons and panels can be cool for lighting, I don't think it lends itself as easily to three dimensional projects. That's just my opinion though, based on the art project ideas I have had in the past. You might have some wicked ideas for the flat stuff. :)

-Chris

Re:EL Wire! (4, Interesting)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854410)

UV lights are also good. Anything drinkable that glows is very cool, and extra geek points are achieved if you can drink said glowing liquid from a conical flask or a test tube. Even without the UV, Aftershock (preferably green [thedrinkshop.com]) in a conical flask looks very mad scientisty. The markings on the flask let you see how many shots go in there too.

Dry ice rocks, you can do all kinds of mad scientist effects with that stuff. A cool one is to put some pH indicator in water and then add the dry ice - lots of bubbles, thick white smoke rolling down the sides and the liquid changes colour as it becomes acidic. Lots of flash from a very simple reaction. You might need to do some creative googling to find sources of dry ice, but last time I was looking it was fairly cheap; in the region of £15 for 10kg of pellets.

Re:EL Wire! (1)

harp2812 (891875) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854627)

Gin & tonic glows a rather eerie blueish-white under UV (from the tonic water, iirc) In the US, you can buy dry ice at nearly any grocery store... usually just have to ask for a clerk to help with it.

multichannel audio (4, Interesting)

BlueJay465 (216717) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854331)

if you have a multichannel setup (4+ speakers) you can always try and produce some creepy 3D audio, making it seem like it's from a moving source.

Cheap Tricks (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854333)

You can always get a ugly retard, put him in a diaper, an old skool samurai hat & banner (ala Yoshimitsu) and just have him run around making funny retarded noises.

Low budget and relatively low maintenance. Im sure a few packs of M&M's or whatnot would keep him happy.

1. Theramin 2. Girls 3. Genuine geek (2, Funny)

fuzzy12345 (745891) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854334)

You can build a theramin with a handful of parts, it's got the geek/cool factor and the proximity field/creepy factor for Hallowe'en. Ideal!

Want your party to be a cut above your average geek party? Get some real live girls to come. Bonus if they're geeks!

Ooh, a third thought: How about a real geek - i.e. someone who bites the heads off live chickens???

Re:1. Theramin 2. Girls 3. Genuine geek (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854603)

For the second part; something like this [nyud.net] (not entirely work safe)? Yes, I did have to sell my soul for that, yes it was worth it, and yes everyone in the photo has given permission for the photo to be distributed.

I have an idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854337)

Use your computer to... wait for it... buy some alcohol!! In fact lots and lots, saves you using your small geeky muscles to try and carry a couple of cans. You probably don't realise this but I swear to you, it will make the party the most fun!

Please (0, Troll)

Ed Thomson (704721) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854338)

You are too old to suckle from your mothers breast

and you are too old for halloween. Please leave it for the little kids to enjoy.

Singing Buck (2, Interesting)

JohnPerkins (243021) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854344)

I'm having a major fight with temptation about the Singing Buck [dennicasplace.com], which K-mart has for $120 and is supposed to go on sale for $100 even. I had them get the Mr Microphone part out and held it up to my pda. It was nice getting to see the buck read Andromeda Strain to me in the middle of K-mart.

Linux CDs (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854346)

Thankfully, I was able to get 200 Ubuntu 5.10 "Breezy Badger" LiveCD+Installer CDs well before Halloween, so in addition to the delicious cheezy treats that I'll be handing out, I'll also be giving out the gift of open source. Is anyone else doing this?

-- @T4C

Re:Linux CDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854418)

You're doing the same on Christmas, right?
Your friends must *love* you.

Re:Linux CDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854492)

Nice. So some kid is going to take it home and install it, destroying all of daddy's files.

Re:Linux CDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854564)

Loser.

LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854578)

Worst. Idea. Ever.

I can understand Christmas, and while stretching it a bit Thanksgiving could also make sense, but Halloween?!?! Oh, I get it now. The candy is the treat and the CD is the trick.

Re:Linux CDs (2, Funny)

Mad_Rain (674268) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854614)

I'm doing the same thing - except, the thing I'll be doing differently is I'll be handing them out from my neighbor's house, so he'll be the one cleaning egg off his house and riced-up car.

Mwahaha!

Re:Linux CDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854632)

You just took zealotry to the next level; I think its called idiocy.

ambient sound installation ala max/msp (cycling74) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854347)

ambient sound installation ala max/msp (cycling74.com) OR pure data AND microphone AND speakers

I usually set off explosions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854379)

using a Roland U20 keyboard, whenever a kid knocks on the door. With the keyboard hooked up to an amplifier with a 12" speaker pointed directly at the front door, about 4 ft away, it sounds like an earthquake is taking place if you have the right keyboard sample playing.

The younger kids (3 years or less) usually run at full speed away from the front door before I can open the door. The older kids usually say, "Holy $h!t, what was that?" Saves on candy inventory loss if nothing else...

All kinds of neat things :-) (4, Informative)

Vario (120611) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854390)

We had several low- and high tech things at our Halloween parties. Just to give you some ideas I list some fun stuff:

  • infrared motion detector in the bathroom, no other lights working and when a person enters a small light in the shower goes on and an mp3-player starts playing music from Psycho
  • a stuffed animal sitting in the washing machine with a led light and a pen. The animal wrote "help me!" on the inside of the glass door
  • something like this here http://cgi.ebay.de/STERNENHIMMEL-LED-Sauna-LAMPE-D esign-Leuchte-UVP-499_W0QQitemZ4408536089QQcategor yZ107585QQcmdZViewItem [cgi.ebay.de] and then using the individual lights to create ghosts, bats, etc.
  • a dancing skeleton as a screensaver on the tv
  • the obligatory spider coming down from the ceiling on a string

Just google a bit to get plenty of other ideas. Liquid latex is also a very nice thing to make fake body parts, that you can stick between a door or something.

Get this... (4, Funny)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854396)

A lifesize Jack Thompson complete with fangs!

Re:Get this... (1)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854483)

Or, for that matter, a Jack Valenti (how come that all these people are called "Jack", BTW? We know that there's an Eric conspiracy - could there also be a Jack conspiracy?)

Fire Breathing Carved Pumpkin (3, Interesting)

aarku (151823) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854401)

You're going to need a carved pumpkin with a lit candle in it, a hose of some sort, and some flour. Boar a hole in the back base of the pumpkin just big enough for your hose. Stick a small amount of flour in one end of the hose and insert the end into the hole of the pumpkin. Now stand back and blow into the other end of the hose and witness the fireball. Experiment with things to get maximum plumage. The hose can be pretty long, so you can really freak out kids while in the cover of stealth.

Dot matrix printer motion controller (4, Insightful)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854403)

If you have an old (pre-USB) computer and an old dot matrix printer, then you can use it to create two axes of motion control for moving dismembered hands, dangling spiders, etc. Sending the right bytes out through the serial or parallel port will cause the print head and feed rollers to move on command. For extra credit, one can wire switches into a keyboard so that the system detects when a door opens, etc. With a bit of programming, the system can be quite interactive.

The modern stuff is not as easy to hack in this way because its hard to talk directly to the hardware -- too many drivers, libraries, and embedded smarts between the CPU and the printer's motors.

Projectors rule... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854408)

Hook up a projector to your computer, and fire up some winamp visualizations in fullscreen mode. Choose some scary stuff to play(such as silent hill maybe?) and choose darkish vis presets.

Oh, and throw in a fog machine to make the effect even nicer. 3

Ultraviolet (1)

fadethepolice (689344) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854412)

Fill clear containers with a mixture of glow in the dark paints available at spencer's. Cover the container in tape, or paper. Cut out designs, ghosts, whatever. Then remove a good section of the rear of the container, and put a black light behind. I like to hide the blacklight from view. Works best as a display of different designs grouped around a single blaclight.

Smoke machine sensor (2, Interesting)

itscoldhere (851838) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854434)

I bought a cheap smoke machine for $15. It comes with a switch on 6 Ft of cable. Press the button, you get smoke. So fine if your going to sit beside it all night but a not very useful otherwise. You can get a timer for $25, It will trun the smoke machine on and off for a set time ever so often.

But I came up with a much better idea. A montion sensor switch to trigger the smoke machine when someone approches.

I picked a "tomb stone" for $6 that has has a montion sensor. When the sensor is tripped it makes a sreaming noise and flashes some LED's. Open it up and disconnect the LED's, wire in a 5v reed relay, from Radio shack, in place of the LED's. Then wire the relay to the switch that came with the smoke machine (or use a separate cable).

Now when the sensor is activated the screams come on for 3 or 4 seconds and a the same time the smoke is on. Great to put just out side your door.

Pumpkin projector (3, Interesting)

proverbialcow (177020) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854443)

Cut your design in the pumpkin backwards, and set the pumpkin facing the wall. Insert a lit candle, and the silhouette is projected.

Kind of low tech, but cool nonetheless.

I Hate halloween. (-1, Flamebait)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854449)

Humbug!!

For me Halloween absolutely does not mean little smiling kids saying trick or treat. For me halloween invariably means bands, no mobs of teenagers throwing eggs, launching firecrackers, assaulting my friends and neighbours, and law enforcement generally allowing the night, and the surrounding week, to become a sort of suburbian version of biblical anarchy. Great.

The IQ of a mob is that of its lowest member divided by the number of people in a mob. teenagers tend to become even more reckless, vindictive and violent when they have an audience of their peers. Teenagers are largely minors, and thus are granted huge lienience in the eyes of the law. Add all this up and you essentially get what we had around here last Halloween. Namely, assaults, property damage, vandalism and not a few people in hospital, and not one prosecution.

I'm a liberal person. I believe in personal freedoms. So it really gets my goat when a bunch of parents, put my liberties in jeopardy but giving their offspring carte blanc to run riot because of some old pagan festival. If there was a curfew on Halloween, I would be a lot more outraged than relieved.

Forget geek party gadgets! I need an article explaining how to set up concealed wireless night vision and infrared cameras all over my house and neighbourhood so on November the 1st I can, with the biggest of smiles on my face, walk into the local police stations( and newspaper offices) with high definition pictures of the 'carte blanc' brigades' little angels, engaged gleefully in criminal acts.

Ahh! Sweet Geeky Justice.

Re:I Hate halloween. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854493)

Wow. Get a life.

Re:I Hate halloween. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854499)

Let me guess, you're 80 years old AND off your meds?

Dude, you need to get out more. (1)

jonfromspace (179394) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854565)

Your anti-social attitude is probably going to cause more problems for society than the "'carte blanc' brigades' little angels" TP'ing your volkswagon and egging your Mom's house.

Kids do dumb shit, deal with it. Any kid that is not running around at night jacking cars or robbing liquor stores is f'n fine with me.

I honestly believe you are about 2 traumatic social experiences shy of a major phsychotic break.

Re:I Hate halloween. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854583)

"Teenagers are largely minors" Really? Who would have thought?

Time Machine (5, Interesting)

mathgenius (526070) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854450)


Get a strobe onto some dripping milk. When the strobe is flicking at the same frequency as the driping it looks like the drops are suspended in time. Adjust the strobe frequency and you can watch the splashes form back into droplets and move back up into the spout they came from. I built something like this at a party once, in a darkened room, it was a big hit. Called it a "time machine".

Simon.

Steve Ballmer with throwing chairs! (2, Funny)

antdude (79039) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854480)

You don't need gadgets for this. Dress up as Steve Ballmer and do these things:

1. Monkey dance and sweat!
2. Say "Developers, developers, developers, etc.
3. Cuss and throw chairs.

My trick (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854481)

I have Steve Ballmer's PocketPC, and I'm prepared to use it. It is authentically coated in layers of mid-level executive blood. Mmmmm .... bludgeony.

Scary? (1)

heller (4484) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854498)

Scary? You want scary? I've got scary. . .present yourself as idiots who can't use google, that's pretty damn scary! Sheesh, I've been reading Halloween haunting sites for years, all of which I found from google. . .

So, to *actually* help you, here's an idea: go use google.

** Martin

Re:Scary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854572)

So you go through all this effort to make a post and you don't even give 1 suggestion? Thanks a lot, asshole.

All-time spookiest music from Kraftwerk (1)

ccmay (116316) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854511)

You can get exactly the right freaky-geeky musical ambience for Halloween from the seminal German electronic music group Kraftwerk. Try to get the tunes "Kometenmelodie 1" and "Mittelnacht" from their "Autobahn [amazon.com]" album.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be on iTunes.

-ccm

Gadgets (1)

JeffGB (265543) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854513)

I've used my Green Laser for Halloween.
It would be cool to use a beam expander for a light sabre type effect, but then the beam would be too weak to see unless it was pitch black.

Also, I've walked around with a handheld Tesla coil powered by a 12v 7.2Ah SLA battery and a 75 Watt inverter.

I fried my 800 W inverter with the tesla coil last year, but the 75 W was ok, I guess it was so cheaply made, there wasn't anything that could get damaged too easily. The 300 W had a microprocessor.

Re:Gadgets (Lasers!) (2, Interesting)

Buffo (773488) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854631)

I've done quite a few displays for halloween using lasers. While it's a bit late to start purchasing the equipment, you can accomplish quite a lot with nothing more than a green laser pointer, a fog machine, and a few basic optical components.

The "time tunnel" effect is always a crowd pleaser. Drill a hole in a penny and press it onto the shaft of a small DC motor. (It needs to be almost, but not perfectly, perpendicular to the shaft.) Glue a small mirror (1" square or less) onto the penny. Turn on the motor and bounce the beam off the spinning mirror. Add some fog to the room and dim the lights, and you've got a very cool effect indeed. (Wrap a rubber band around the barrel of the laser pointer to keep it on, and tape it into position near the spinning mirror.)

Or you can build two spinning mirror assemblies and generate lissajous patterns. (Think: Spirograph)

Or use some hot glue to tack a tiny mirror onto your speaker's woofer. Bounce the laser off the mirror while you play loud music, and you'll get all sorts of wierd patterns.

Or lay a CD-ROM on your turntable (you do still have one, right?) with the reflective surface up, and bounce the laser off the disc. (The narrow tracks act like a diffraction grating, splitting a single beam into multiple beams.) Slowly rotate the turntable platter (especially with the disc slightly offset from center) to get more effects.

Have a look at my site [rr.com] for some idea of the types of effects you can produce.

Here are a few other sites that might give you more ideas:

LaserFx.com [laserfx.com]

Sam's Laser Faq [repairfaq.org]

How about this....... (1)

Garion911 (10618) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854516)

Watch some movies through Mythtv or something or other... THen, at some random point in the movie, overlay a dripping blood effect over the movie... Or random "redrum redrum" inserted in to the audio..............

Never tried it, but it sure would be cool......

Re:How about this....... (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854529)

It'd probably work best if you did that with some uber-cutesy Disney movie or something similar. Same as how red queen in Resident Evil is all the more creepy because she sounds like a little girl.

Standard Mad Scientist costume prop (2, Informative)

shawb (16347) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854532)

I've done a mad scientist costume a couple years, and my favorite prop starts with one rubber chicken.

Add fake eyeballs [sciplus.com] with LEDs wired through them. Flashing LEDs or wiring up a bread board to make them flash is extra points. A knife switch [sciplus.com] wired to turn the eyes on and off is a delicious addition. Resistors may need to be placed in series with the LEDs depending on the batteries used. Batteries are of course placed inside the body of the chicken.

Decorate liberally with old serial/parallel ports from old computers, scraps of wire, resistors and other interesting looking electronics equipment. I've even had a serial cable running from the chicken to an old defunct laptop.

Electronic gizmos, such as a cheap box from Radio Shack or similar which can record a couple seconds of sound and playback always add to the fun.

I have rigged the chicken with coathangers and fishing line so I could move the head around puppet-like.

Frankenstein bolts in the neck are easy to accomplish... a bolt can easilly be held on with a nut inside the neck and one outside the neck.

Stitch the whole thing up coarsely with thick black thread, possibly leaving a hole to be able to get to the battery/make spot repairs.

Best accompanied with a labcoat, miss-buttoned white or light blue shirt, rubber chicken tie [crazyhatsandties.com] poorly tied. Brown dress pants or curdoroys, one leg tucked into the socks. Bright yellow chuck taylor's make good shoes, although clunky dress shoes work too. A pair of welding goggles (don't have to be worn on eyes... up on forehead is good enough) is good. Having poofy hair which can be costume painted white/gray is great, although a white wig from a costume shop does the trick too (better if gray/bluish highlights are added with costume paint.) And of course, an Erlenmeyer flask or graduated cylinder to drink from (Red Bull works well, with or without liquor.) Pocket protector, comically large syringe (preferably real 60cc syringe with no needle) stethescope, doctor's head reflector, and other medical trinkets always a plus. Black facepaint/ash to simulate explosion leaving clean goggle lines is good for effect, but seems to be counterproductive in actually talking to people.

Find a good book on animatronics. (2, Informative)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854535)

I don't have any myself, but I typically rig up various moving things from assorted bits I have laying around the house.

A quick search pulls up books like Animatronics: Guide to Holiday Displays [amazon.com], which seems to be right on target.

The problem is, you don't even have two weekends left to get stuff done -- if you need to look for odd parts, or mail order something, it's really, really, late to be planning anything big. (yes, we typically do a conversion the day of halloween, so no one sees it too far in advance, as it's outside, but we've been doing it for years, and already have the stuff, and plenty of people to help.)

Oh ... if you're looking for a durable fog machine, you might want to look at a music store -- they're intended to be lugged about, etc, as opposed to the cheap ones that show up in Target and the like at this time of year.

Ideas we've done or considered (2, Informative)

Anonymous Daredevil (109528) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854538)

  1. Rasterbate [homokaasu.org] an image over a large wall or ceiling.
  2. Get a cheap fog machine, which heats the fog juice so it tends to fill the whole room, not just the floor. Then build a cooler system for it to chill the fog down and keep it on the floor. Plans [hauntedillinois.com] abound [gotfog.com]...
  3. Create spooky mixes for an iPod or laptop that involve lots of silence. Put them with mini speakers locked under the bathroom sink, or behind closed closets to periodically make creepy sounds. Having a sound go off 15 seconds after someone enters a bathroom often results in a very satisfying scream for those waiting to use it. You can also use any other sensor to set off the sounds rather than just looping them with silence between.
  4. We had a collection of old black and white horror movie clips running without sound on a TV in a corner.
  5. I've been wanting to have a webcam snap X seconds of video every Y minutes to provide a semi-stop-action recording of the party for later (X an Y still TBD). I've done this at other events and they can be a blast to review later. In my case a Mac is the only machine available for this and I'm a PC guy so I need to figure out what software or scripting can make that happen with an iSight. It was also suggested that the image from the webcam could be displayed on a screen in another area so that, for example, people in the back yard could see what's happening on the dance floor.
  6. Webcams can also be used as motion detectors to trigger computerized events such as sounds.

Eerie "projector" tv (1)

RPI Geek (640282) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854551)

Disclaimer: I've only heard about this one so I have a vague description at best.

Take a big sheet of plexiglass and put it at a 45 degree angle behind a garage window. Mask off the area behind it with dark cloth. Put a tv with spooky images facing up at the plexiglass and put fake bats/spiders/etc behind the plexi. Apparently what it looks like is a bunch of floating images moving around right behind the window, depending on the video that you put on.

I'm feeling lazy so I'll let someone else search and post links.

Re:Eerie "projector" tv (1)

mboverload (657893) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854641)

This is actually how they did alot of magic tricks around the turn of the century. However, they used someone under the stage with a really bright projector.

Check out the latest MAKE mag...... (1)

Mr._Galt (608248) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854560)

...they had an article devoted to this. They basically built a controller to synchronize lights with music and activate various halloween devices. Worth a look for sure. Also partly available online at the MAKE [makezine.com] website.

A Few Ideas (3, Interesting)

miyako (632510) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854580)

I have a good friend who is a geek and at times a bit of a bastard who is always comming up with things like this (not just for halloween) mostly because they live in a really creepy house anyway- but here are some ideas mostly from him.
Get a Y shaped fiberoptic cable and place it out of the way in a dark corner with two of the ends pointing away from the corner. Set up a red LED at the other end of a timer...instant glowing red eyes from the darkened corner.
You can set up a ghostly appirition by taking a box with a 1-way mirror facing into the box, fill it with some smoke from a fog machine, and have a projector shining in from the back. The image bounces off the mirror and hits the back of the box and the smoke gives an interesting halo effect to the whole image.
Edit a video file to include random static and ghostly images and burn to DVD or stream from your computer- pretend like it's just a regular movie (The original Night of the Living Dead is available as public domain from Archive.org if you don't want to worry about copyright infringement and was a good scary movie). This can work even better if you record a movie off the TV with commercials and all so that it may be less obvious what you are doing.
Set the Air Conditioner on a timer so certain rooms can develop "cold spots".
A lot of digital video camers will pick up Infra Red light from things like TV remotes- this is a good way to create fake "orbs" in photos or videos to spook out your guests.
A good, edible fake blood can be made with corn syrup, corn starch (to thicken it and make it less transparent) and red food coloring.
A few more general notes, remember that things are often a lot more freaksom if there is less of a setup, include some really hokey and poorly done tricks to put your guests at ease, this can make the good stuff more effective. Also remember that panick spreads- so make sure to act freaked out and assure your guests that you had nothing to do with your tricks- this can make the entire thing much more effective. Also try to make sure that things are less predictable, if a spooky noise sounds off every time someone walks down a hallway it can ruin the illusion.
Try to get a couple of other people "in" on the setup before hand- that way you have a pool of people who can set things up so that your guests don't learn to expect something every time you excuse yourself to the kitchen or bathroom.
Above all, keep in mind that the scariest things are generally unseen or heavily veiled, props that are too goesh (grammar nazis, I tried to find the correct spelling of this word to no avail, anyone care to help?) often turn out to be humerous instead of scary.

Wanna really scare 'em? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854615)

Introduce them to your date [realdoll.com]. Everyone will freak out when they realize that you aren't kidding.

True geeks don't go to parties. (1)

Internet_Communist (592634) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854623)

A true geek isn't invited to parties. They don't have enough friends.

A true geek doesn't like such silly traditions anyway, so it doesn't matter.

A true geek probably is home on their computer at halloween, avoiding those annoying kids who keep coming to the door begging for candy, disturbing us at a time which could have been well spent hacking.

But, what do I know? I hate halloween.
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