(My early concept art.)
I had a great time with the Siren Head build.
Using the bandsaw, drills, files, hammers, bludgeoning the design to my will was wonderful. Almost everything I’ve done in the past two years was code-based with occasional light wiring. So, it was so visceral to use all the tools.
It kind of reminded me of the “Scary Door” project, where I built a standalone doorframe and machined an air valve assembly.
Halloween is always the perfect time to get hands-on in the nitty-gritty.
I had a couple of accidents during the build.
- There was so much pressure on the Teensy 3.2 USB connector that it was ripped off the board. I was going to fix it, but I didn’t have a reflow oven anymore. Luckily, I have a backup Teensy!
- I burned out one of the megaphone driver boards. For a split second, I have the battery wired up backward… and that’s all she wrote! It’s not too apparent, but the color schemes of the driver boards can be misleading. Again, I prepared for such issues and had a third megaphone on backup.
- The USB battery pack I had didn’t work right out of the box. Not my fault. It would never charge. I really wanted to use it too. It had a 9V output I wanted to use for powering parts of the system. Of course, I had a bunch of external battery packs… as we all do.
- Whenever I build a Halloween project, it always comes with a cascading, avalanching cost. This Siren Head one was no exception. I changed backpacks, megaphone selection, battery holders and types, fastening options. It added up big time.
- The wiring harness was enormous. I know Siren Head has wires hanging out in its design, but I may have taken that too far. I had a major tangling effect going on. Isn’t there a formula for how wires get tangled? I usually would bundle and route cables, but that would have lost the Siren Head look.
- Mounting the megaphones was too messy. Epoxy is not something you want on your hands. When I started that process, I didn’t have gloves on. Beware! The main issue I had was the amount of epoxy I used worked well for an ad-hoc mounting system. However, I would see cracks in the epoxy with use over time. Bolting it together would have been a better idea and less messy.
The effect on my son.
He loved it. Well, he loved the way it looked and operated. But the weight… yikes. It was heavy. Being able to play the siren sounds on command seemed like a mind-blowing experience for him.
But will he wear it for Halloween?
I designed the system in two parts on purpose; the microcontroller player unit and the sirens separate. 80W of siren power is awesome, deafeningly loud, but I knew it might be too much for a little kid. So, I am taking the player unit and plugging it into a small battery-powered speaker. He’ll carry everything in a smaller backpack. And we upgraded his cardboard Siren Head hat with some new faux sirens.
If I had more time and money
As I was building this, I thought, what if it was louder?
What if I put the system on a 40-foot-tall sculpture of Siren Head with even bigger sirens?
What if that 40-foot-tall Siren Head was animatronic?
What if I took that sculpture and put it someplace random, hidden as the real Siren Head would stand? Make it motion-activated?
Could I finally get my MIG welder back out and dusted off?
On a lesser scale, I would love to tighten up the design. Perhaps making my own megaphones would be a better option. It would be far less weight.
Originally, I was going to add some robotic or mechanical mouths inside the sirens. But, I had almost no time to get it done. So, this would definitely be part of a continued design.
Although the helmet is a good way to mount things, I didn’t really like the shape. I wanted something like a “hard-hat fez” instead. A cylindrical hat would look more like Siren Head’s post-like neck. So, I would explore fez hats or something like them.
If you want to see my other Halloween projects, here's the list:
1. First up is my favorite, “The Scary Door.” A lot of time went into this one, I think is has the most potential for scaring people.
2. Second, I took the idea of the door and made it an innocuous porch. It’s “The Scary Porch.” As you approach it, the lights flood the porch with red light and deafening scary sounds.
3. "Scary Eyes" up next. The idea was to place eyes that blink in the darkness of the nooks and crannies. I got the idea after seeing a few raccoons in the dark, staring at me, blinking.
4. "Scary Shadow" was something I always wanted to try. Taking a small object and projecting the shadow as large as I could. What’s most scary, to me, is I always have a hard time filming in that area. Hence the weird video effects.
5. Not part of my “scary” series exactly, but I wanted to create a pumpkin lightshow.
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6. "Scary Tapping" is another visceral sound that always gets people. I tried to make a way to create a tapping noise. Place it behind a wall or door, and it’s kind of creepy.
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7. "The Scary Doll" project is another innate fear for many, dolls that come to life. High tensile fishing line and a stepper motor goes a long way. Not to mention, creepy sounds.
8. “Longarm” a short monster movie, but also a wireless motion sensor project!
Have a question about these, feel free to reach out!