I have been wanting to put *something* in the eyes of a cheap plastic skull for a few years now. As makers we see the potential in everything and every year at Halloween I see these plastic skulls that scream out for hacking. This last Halloween I noticed that Target was selling extra large skulls and thought, hmmm, probably can fit a 32mm square LED matrix in that eye socket. A quick trip over to the office supplies area, grab a ruler, come back and with a few measurements decide to give it a shot.
This was also for the AMT booth at East Bay Mini Maker Faire to have something interactive that people could play with via their phones. For that I needed a wifi server and for that it was time to try my hand at programming a ESP8266 board. I had picked up a NodeMCU module that is a good breakout for the ESP8266 and started to figure out how to use it. Right about then I found you could program it via the Arudino IDE and someone had posted some example web server code where people enter text and you can process it and do stuff.
Armed with this and a few MAX7219 LED matrix modules I jumped in. There was much flailing about programming wise. As a programmer I’m a good salesman. Finally after getting the code to sorta work I needed to cut open square windows for the LED matrixes. Matrixi?
I was lucky enough to find a tinted piece of 1/4″ acrylic in the scrap bin at AMT that would work. I figured out the spacing of where each matrix should go and laser cut out the holes to hold the LEDs in place. After that it was time for open up Mr. Skull. I cut an opening in the back of his head that would allow me to just put a hand inside. Putting in the acrylic with the LED modules attached, I then took a hot glue gun and without being able to see inside, started to squirt hot glue everywhere inside the head of Mr Skull in the hope that some of the glue would hold the acrylic with the LEDs in place. It just did.
Finding a music stand to put up Mr Skull was a nice surprise. Ever since then he’s been guarding the upstairs and waiting to see what people put in the text box of his website.
I hope to put say a Twitter feed and/or word clock into him at some point. Always upgrades to be done in projects.