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Picture of the Haunted Cabin centerpiece Vern & Kym Graner's
Haunted Cabin Centerpiece for
The Weasel Ball, Ironstock 2005
Picture of the electronics of the Haunted Cabin

The Story:
It all started with a silly "off the cuff" comment I made on the Halloween-L. :) Wormy-t had an AWESOME centerpiece for the upcoming Ironstock Weasel Ball, and I remarked that it obviously wasn't done since it didn't have LEDs, servos or sound effects in it yet! :) A few people then asked what *I* had done for a centerpiece and so it was time to "put up or shut up" :) The Haunted Cabin was born.

My son had created a small rustic looking "log cabin" from sticks and hot melt glue for his elementary school "pioneer" days project. The forlorn little shack had sat upon a shelf unused, so I decided to "haunt" it with a mini-FCG. I started by adding a continous rotation modified servo to the roof, so I had my motion source. I then added a Parallax PROP-1 controller to run the servo. Now I needed to light the scene. I added a Scary Terry "Fading Eyes" circuit board with UV (blacklight) LEDs. I then of course, needed some sound effects so I mounted a small sound module to the mix and had the spooky haunt sounds.

So far, so good. I then decided that since I had another servo on my bench, I could add it in and make a small rubber spider "jump" up from the shack. I added the spider and the servo to the cabin. I then mounted a 1/8" jack for a N.O. push button Lastly I needed to power the whole thing (without an AC power plug, according to the answers I received from the "L" when I asked) so I cobbled together two 4-cell AA battery holders and I was done... Right? uh.. nope.

At this point I had no software written! But I packed the unit into a cardboard box and it went with us as checked baggage to Ironstock. When I arrived, and after we unpacked, I sat out by the pool with my laptop and, while my son swam, I coded! :bleh:.

I managed to get the code written to control the FCG, the lights and the sound, and also to "pop" the spider up which surprisingly actually gave a few folks a good "boo" scare! :) I wasn't happy with the FCG motion and decided I would work on the code on Saturday.

Satruday night and it's 20 minutes before we leave for the Weasel Ball. I'm franticly coding away trying to make the prop work properly (I had made some changes and overwritten my working code, so I had to go back and try to "undo" what I had messed up! Arg!). I downloaded my last rev of the code, unplugged the serial programming cable, picked up the cabin and headed for the door. We were on our way. :)

For those of you who might be interested, here's the yucky, bad, nasty, rushed code I jammed together that night:


When I arrived, I discovered the centerpieces there were FABULOUS! Embarrased, I even considered taking my junky little pile of sticks back to the car, but my wife grabbed my elbow and in we went. I placed the centerpiece on a table and turned on the power. People then walked up to see it, and I would activate it for them and then would hunch down to get a close look at the FCG, and then the little spider would "jump" up and some people would jump back and say "WOW! :) It was fun and they would then drag others over to se the little cabin. When it came time for judging, I was AMAZED that we got so much applause! I have to say I certainly didn't expect it and I was quite humbled by the approval from the much more experienced haunters. Thank you guys! :)

We won first place in the centerpiece competition and received a set of six Krypt Kiddies dolls. Since my wife was not a current collector of the dolls, we decided to share them with some of the other centerpiece entrants. I think we gave one to Wormy-T and Witchy-poo ended up with two, one for her and one for her princess!

The Videos:
The night of the Weasel Ball, I managed to shoot a "nightshot" version of the cabin running through it's show. I edited it together with a video I shot of the electronics going through the show with the cabin itself removed so you can see all the electronics. I saved it in low and hi res to suit as many internet connections speeds as I could ;)

Lowres Video Clip of the Haunted Cabin: haunted-cabin-low.wmv (Low Res 3.9 megs WMV)
Hires Video Clip of the Haunted Cabin: haunted-cabin-hi.wmv (Hi Res 14.9 megs WMV)

Anyway, thats the story of the haunted cabin if you have any questions, please feel free to send an email to

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