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Posted in: Developing Perspectives (September 2014)

Happy Halloween

By Vern Graner

Wait a sec! Is this issue all Halloween instead of electronics? Nope. We're still Everything for Electronics. It says so right there on the cover. And you know what? From our (somewhat biased) perspective, Halloween is all about electronics. Electronics unifies the entire issue and every article in it.

For example, in the article, “What Do You Want On Your Tombstone?”, Len Shelton of Probotix uses a stepper motor operated/computer controlled CNC machine to demonstrate 2.5D CNC: a process where manual finishing is combined with pocketing and profiling operations to create the look of 3D contoured parts. In “Automating Your Haunt Using PICAXE Microcontrollers,” Steve Koci gives you a guided tour to using the PICAXE microcontroller for randomized servo motions, reading sensors, and creating eerie animations.

In “Build the Peek-a-Boo Ghost,” Kevin Goodwin shows how to make this cute animatronic desktop decoration using only a couple of servo motors, an inexpensive microcontroller, and a handful of readily available parts. Jamie Cunningham reveals the secrets behind the ever popular “Monster in a Box,” showing how the Propeller microprocessor is well suited to driving relays, stepper motors, and sound effects all at once.

Jake Morrison takes you “Behind the Boo With Scare for a Cure” and shows us the tech it takes to put on a consistent, professional level haunt night after night. Don Powell provides the long awaited guide to building “Ruby's Flame” — an extremely realistic safe flame effect using a modified PC power supply, high brightness LEDs, surplus cooling fans, and a bit of silk. Shannon Chappell shows you “The Inner Workings of the Rock Golem” and tells you what it takes to make a monster, while Graham Best describes how classic animation techniques pioneered by Walt Disney and Hanna-Barbera can be put to use with microcontrollers and LED lights. 

Maurice Cedeno tells the tale of his “Crypt Creature” — a prop that displays an amazing amount of animation from just a few relays and a single drive motor, while Marvin Niebuhr uses his “Trio de los Muertos” prop to show how just a couple of motors and a bit of psychology can create the perception of purposeful motion.

And that's not all! We've included a Halloween event calendar to keep you in the know about spooktacular events year round; “Haunting 101: The Basics of Boo” to help you get started applying your electronics know-how to Halloween projects; and even a guest editorial from  industry icon Leonard Pickel. It's all here ... from the Nuts to the Volts!

So, to recap, no we are not becoming a Halloween magazine. It's still us behind the spooky mask! We're simply expanding to embrace a new hobby field that has the same interests and needs we do; namely, using electronics to make cool things. We really hope that you get a charge out of this month's issue. We spent a lot of time and put in extra effort to lure in new writers, find amazing stories, document cool projects, and showcase some new advertisers. This year, you really have no excuse for not making it the best Halloween ever! Truth is we've been extra busy little monsters and have even held back a few surprises for next month. Hint: A much-missed column is about to make a triumphant return and a popular project is coming back bigger, better, and stronger than ever!

We hope you have as much fun reading this month's magazine as we had making it, and would love to hear your comments. Feel free to contact me directly at VernGraner@NutsVolts.com.

For now, get out there and get started making this the most electrifying Halloween ever!

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