Using automation to scare the neighbors on Halloween

Automation is used in ghoulish and frightful ways by one particular sales manager on Halloween who is determined to satisfy his children's urge and desire to scare. See video for more frights and scares.

By Mike Arcure October 31, 2016

When Halloween season rolls around on a certain neighborhood in Cincinnati, Ohio, the house on the corner of a certain block upgrades its front lawn terror by calling upon the powers of the control automation profession. The one responsible for this terror is Advantech Corporation’s Eastern US sales manager, Mike Arcure, who is doing all this to satisfy his children’s urge to scare.

My Halloween decorations started out simple 7 years ago. My oldest daughter didn’t like the normal decorations. The pumpkin, the stuffed witch, and the Happy Halloween sign. She told me that was not scary enough. So, I went to the store and bought a couple other decorations, but that was only a slight improvement. It was from that point on that my Halloween creations began to evolve. 

I had put together a guy that would pop out of a coffin. I did some research on the web and found a lot of things that I could build and add to my front yard. Every year I try to add one more scene. That same year I created the monster in the box. This was accomplished using a windshield motor to move the lid up and down and old PC speakers that emanate a screeching sound. 

In 2014, I built an electric chair diorama. The electric chair uses a digital input/output (I/O) module and a digital I/O terminal to control the lights and trigger the fog machine. A graphic condition logic (GCL) is used to trigger the relays on the I/O module. I was able to control when lights turn on and off­, and dialed-in the perfect scare timing. 

This year, I added Dr. Evil’s lab. I used triggering devices and added delay timers to make this work. I usually start working on these projects in July or August but this year I got a late start. To make the beakers bubble, I used a fish tank bubbler and set up terminals so that I could control each beaker.

For next year, I plan on creating a zombie locked in a box. I am going to use an industrial panel PC and trigger the walls to move as the zombie on the screen moves. 

Mike Arcure, Eastern US sales manager, Advantech Corporation. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, Control Engineering, CFE Media,