Arduino giant sparking magnet for mad scientist

Was running out of ideas for a Halloween costume, and fell back on the old standby "Mad Scientist". I mean, I have all the stuff already :slight_smile:

Actually I had the lab coat and magnet already. The idea was to hang out next to the line for the Insane Clown Posse when they had a concert in town, around the time of the whole "Miracles" meme. I built the giant magnet out of two layers of 2" styrofoam insulation panel from Home Depot. Did not have a hot wire foam cutter, so I made one by running about 20 amps through a piece of 28 gauge magnet wire.

So I wanted to use the magnet for the mad scientist costume this weekend, but thought it needed a little more pizazz. Also, some bracing across the ends so it wouldn't get crushed and broken. A piece of clear acrylic seemed like a good idea. Then, I realized that the acrylic could have more than just a structural function. I called up TechShop and reserved some laser time, and etched fractal lightning patterns on three panels.

I also cut some notches in the ends to fit a 100mA, five-chip blue LED (same as used on the MegaBrite). A little acrylic glue bonded the LEDs in place and they sidelit the fractal design extremely well.

Next, I cut slots and pockets in the foam, and mounted the panels and an Arduino Uno, ShiftBrite Shield, ShiftBar, battery pack, speakers, and audio amp.

The result is pretty fun, if a little unexplained why a magnet is throwing off sparks (how do they work?!). Well, magnets would be even cooler if they did, I think. Less useful maybe. Anyway, here's the video of the finished product. The audio feature was last minute, so I had to start using duct tape...the actual sound could be tweaked a bit too.

Mad but brilliant.

Love the creativity. Duct Tape is a Halloween REQUIREMENT :wink:


That's awesome! I love it!


I think it would make Dr. Narbonic proud!

BTW - if you haven't seen the web comic before, it is one of the better ones to have appeared on the net!

Happy Halloween!


What hardware are you using to play the sound effects?

mightyohm: Nothing, almost. Changed Timer0 to 60Hz and am using analogWrite to get a varying pulse width for something a bit more interesting than a simple hum.

I hate cutting foam, slightest twitch and you lose half your project.

macegr, that's awesome. I wish I thought of that for my costume:

There's a video of it in action on my blog.

I hope you don't mind, but I posted your magnet in my blog along with my costume (with proper credit of course).

Happy Halloween!! Evil Mad Scientists unite!

Well, either way, looks like Hack-a-day took my tip and posted your magnet. Just glad you got the recognition for your work!

Thats awesome!

Bill, it's lame they would headline my project off a tip for yours. I think your costume is better anyway. Thanks!

Nah, you and your magnet are much more headline worthy. I'm happy just being in the weekend links.

I was thinking about making a 'death ray' prop for next year using a laser pointer and diffraction lens, but the giant magnet seems much more catchy. Although I might have to add my own spin and make it with real sparks. ;D

Imaginative use. Well done.