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Motion-sensor Rustling Leaves For Your Halloween Haunt

How to Build this Spooky Effect For Your Yard Haunt!

It’s Halloween, and your big bright orange pumpkin sack is full of luscious candy. You decide to hit that one last house on the left in hopes of finding something really good. As you walk up to the porch, you feel something is not right; it’s just too quiet here. Then fear takes hold as you start hearing the rustling of leaves nearby. You turn around – Nobody is there!

How can you make leaves rustle and move without being there? If you love tinkering with electronics components, the trick is quite simple. In this article I will show you how. This idea can scare the pants off people, but not frighten your bank account at the same time. Before we can begin to frighten unsuspecting folks on Halloween, you will need to pick up a few things.

Here’s what you will need. All items I picked up at my local Radio Shack or on Ebay. Though I had a lot of these scrap components, buying them all new will cost less than $50 – many will come in packs of 5 or 10:

A Passive Infrared Sensor (PIR) 01-pir
(4)  6mm Mini Vibration Motor for Phones, PDA’s and Pagers 02-mini-vibration
Enclosed 3 “AA” Battery Holder 03-battery-holder
Any 5 Volt Coil Relay 04-coil-relay
1 K Resistor 05-1k-resistor
NPN Transistor (2N2222) 06-2n2222a_met
1N4001 Diode 07-1N4001-diode

Get Your Soldering Fired Up!

To begin this project, you will solder the red (+5V) wire from the battery holder to the pin that represents +V on the PIR. This will be your 4.5V intake to the sensor.

leaves-rustling-diagramThe black wire of the battery holder will be soldered to the Pin that represents ground – or GND. This will power the sensor once turned on. The pin that says “Signal” is your output signal that says an object is there! This signal turns on when an object is close.

Next, run a wire from the signal to the transistor. The transistor will have 3 prongs on it. One will be wired for your input or the “Signal”. The other prong will be sent to ground or connected to the black wire on the battery holder. The final wire off the transistor will go to “Coil” side of your relay. The other half of the relay side coil will finally be wired back to the GND or Black wire of your battery box.

The drawing shows the basic hook up to make the IR sensor stand alone. When choosing the vibration motors, you must find out what power source is required. Most vibration motors will require about 1.2V, so depending on how many motors you have hooked up, will determine what battery or batteries you will need.

Setting Up Your “Rustling Leaves” Effect

Autumn-leavesOnce everything is connected up, you should be able to turn the power on and the IR motion sensor will detect your movement up close to it. If you want to aim the sensor or cover just one area you can place it in the bottom of a tin can.

Drill a hole in the bottom of the can, run the wires through and use double sided tape to secure the PIR sensor at the bottom of the can. Now you can aim any direction and the sensor won’t trip off from any side motions.

When placing the noise-making vibration motors, it’s best to keep these hidden so they do not get stepped on or damaged. When building this concept, the motors were placed within a group of leaves just off of the porch. The tin can and PIR sensor was hidden away inside the mailbox.

When unsuspecting trick-or-treaters came to the front porch, the sensor picked up the motion right at the stairway. A pile of leaves would begin to shake just off the porch, giving both kids and parents a sudden fright!

So, this Halloween enjoy a unique invention and trick to give a quick spook to all the neighbors. Remember, next time you hear the leaves suddenly rustle again, you’ll think twice that there’s nothing there!

Click the drawing on the right on how to hook it up.

About Caroyln Miller

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  1. What a nice and simple circuit!

    I was hoping you could post a full sized version of your schematic, if you wouldn’t mind.

    Thanks so much!

  2. mm

    Oops, I thought the thumbnail schematic linked to the full-scale image. I just did that, so now you can see it!


  3. I am really bad with electronics….and this is just what I was looking for? Do you think I can go to anyone to get this made for me? Even you?

  4. Jessica, I’d suggest starting out a bit smaller if you’re new to electronics. Please be careful. If you’re buying, buy from a reputable shop or an independent crafter who has verifiable reviews.

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