Vol. 03: Halloween Haunted House Controller

Build a relay board that sychronized lights, motors, and other electrical devices to a scary soundtrack playing on a computer, and create spooky haunted house special effects!

+ Downloads & Extras:

Halloween photo.
The controller can be used to drop a guillotine blade, in case you'd like to stage a beheading.
Halloween photo.
In the article, Eric describes how to make your baby Furby moan and scream like it's been skinned alive.

Materials List

Nearly all of the electronics can be obtained from Digi-Key.

  • 120 VAC solid state relays: logic-compatible input voltage (range should include 3.3-5 VDC), screw mount, with load voltage and load current ranges sufficient for any AC devices you expect to control. Get one for each device; I used three Crydom D1225 relays.

  • DC solid state relays: single-pull single-throw, logic-compatible input voltage (range should include 3.3-5 VDC), screw mount, with load voltage and load current ranges sufficient for any DC devices you expect to use. I used two Crydom D2D12 relays.

  • Terminal block for 16- to 22-gauge wire: I used a 12-position barrier screw terminal strip.

  • 25-wire flat ribbon cable

  • 25-contact male D-subminiature connector with “displacement connection” that crimps onto ribbon cable

  • 24-pin DIP (dual inline package) plug with displacement connection, for connecting ribbon cable to breadboard. These may be called either “IDC DIP plugs” or “DIP plugs,” but don’t confuse them with plain DIP plugs that don’t bite into ribbon cable.

  • 470-ohm resistors: one for each relay, plus one extra.

  • LEDs (standard 2V is fine)

  • Small plugboard (solderless prototyping breadboard)

  • Four stand-offs or some hard plastic or metal tubing that’s wide enough to accommodate your screws. These need to be long enough or cut to sufficient length to clear height of relays plus some extra headroom for wiring; I used 1.25-inch for relays 0.9 inches tall.

  • Cable ties

  • Non-conductive base: I used plywood.

  • Non-conductive transparent cover: I used a small sheet of hard acrylic.

  • Grounded extension cords: Get one for each AC relay. One should be at least 6 feet long; the rest can be any length because you’ll be cutting them and only using the ends.

  • Wire: 16-gauge stranded for AC devices, 22-gauge solid core for DC and signals.


  • Windows-based laptop (or a desktop computer, but those are less convenient and harder to conceal)
  • Wood screws


Additional content for this article, available only online.

Kid-Tested Haunted House Tricks

Eric Wilhelm's Halloween Haunted House Controller project in Make 03 explained how to build a multi-relay controller board that synchronizes lights, sounds, and other effects with soundtracks playing through Winamp on a laptop. This article describes some of the scare scenarios that Eric has staged using this controller, plus some other kid-tested tricks from haunted houses he's built.
by Eric J. Wilhelm; October 07, 2005 | Technorati | del.icio.us

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