Does this sound like a scene straight from a horror movie? It quite possibly does, but it could also be a reality for your Halloween display. Having the ability to control a prop that can directly interact with your guests can
provide many exciting scare opportunities.
This month, we are going to explore the use of a
wireless radio controller to communicate with a remote
controlled vehicle. This setup cannot only be used as a
Halloween prop, but could provide locomotion for a variety
of different characters where direct interaction with guests
This project has been on my to-do list for quite some
time. Others have used a remote control car to deliver a
scare, but I wanted to put my own twist to it. My haunt
already utilizes several spider scares including a lunging
spitting spider, as well as one that attacks from its
overhead perch atop my front porch. Being able to deploy
one more at just the right time that could actually chase my
intended scare victims would be epic!
Some of you already have experience working with R/C
vehicles and may have many of the components necessary
to put this type of project together. This was my first foray
into this field, so I had to come up with all the pieces to put
the puzzle together.
There is a wide variety of controllers available, but I
chose to go with a fairly simple model. It did all that was
required for this application so I didn’t feel there was any
reason to go with a more complicated and expensive
device. The model I chose was the four-channel Tactic
TTX410 system from ServoCity (see Resources). It comes
with a receiver and is priced under $80. It was the perfect
fit for me.
Since I was starting from scratch on this build, I could
choose a platform that would be just right. I found what I
was looking for in one of the new robot chassis also put
out by ServoCity. When I saw the robot kits, I was
convinced that I could find one which would satisfy all of
my requirements. They offered large platforms that would
accept the Actobotics components I wanted to add, and
the supplied motors and tires gave them great performance
over a variety of terrain.
If having a large spider chase you down the street
wasn’t enough, I also wanted to be able to raise its head.
In order to accomplish this, I needed to have something
that was both controllable and provided the necessary
torque to lift the head of the spider. Although a servo
would give me the control I wanted, it lacked the necessary
torque to lift the spider I had planned on using for this
project. This led me to the decision to go with a linear
servo — something I have wanted to try since first
I also wanted to add moving pincers to its mouth. Once
again, I found just what I needed from ServoCity as they
have several different models of grippers to choose from
that would be perfect for my needs. These use a standard
servo and can also be activated using the wireless
The big night is finally here and all your preparations are
complete. A light fog smelling of decay drifts through the dimly
lit neighborhood as a group of boisterous teenagers descends
upon your haunt. Suddenly, out of the darkness charges a
creature from their worst nightmares! A huge, hissing spider
emerges from its hiding place to attack, sending them
screaming and running in fear!
By Steve Koci
Run Away! It’s ParkerBot!
SERVO 09.2015 69