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Disclaimer: I’m an engineer, not a pro film maker. Be advised.


My goal... haunted house level effects for the front door, again! If you didn't see the "Scary Door" from 2013, go see it now!


I wanted to create the sense of stifling... to overwhelm the visitor with light and rumbling sound. I figured red light would give the most horror feel with the matched sounds.


I used a Raspberry Pi B+Raspberry Pi B+, not on purpose, but I am glad I did. The B+ has more IO, which I took advantage of. In fact, I used almost every single free IO on the board! I will admit, four of the pins I intended as additional outputs and effects, but never did use them. Technically, as many light as can be afforded could be used on those additional outputs with external relays.


Let's break it down...


Here were my requirements of the Scary Porch

  • Slowly brighten a series of red lights
  • Dim the porch light in opposite the red lights
  • Start a slow creepy sound at the start of the approach
  • When the visitor reaches the door, switch sounds to a more shocking track
  • When the visitor leaves, cut the sound, dim the lights as they leave
  • Have a big button for resetting the whole system at any point



Project by sections


- Lights

All the light I used are AC... So, if you build this yourself, be safe.

I bought an innocuous porch light from home depot... which still sells incandescent bulbs. I was shock, but happy I didn't have to amazon prime them to me. This is connected to a Sunrom 1298 AC dimmer circuit.

I did amazon prime some "sunlite" red flood lights. Six of them to be exact. the overwhelming effect of the light is really only present directly under the lights. These are connected to another Sunrom 1298 AC dimmer board. Don't worry, the dimmer board can handle 12A of 120VAC... so, no issue. But, touch the Sunrom boards and die...

Personally, I found that more scary than the entire project.


- Sensors for approach

Like in the Scary Door project last year, I used an Enforcer Retro-Reflective Sensor.. In fact, I used four. I figures like approximating a curve, I could approximate the visitors approach. Four sensor points I thought would be good enough.


- sound

The sound was probably the most difficult part. I had to mix two tracks that would accomplish ambient creepy and a total shock. So, I sampled a lot of different sources for this. I played everything on a stereo that I found in the garbage a long time ago. It seems to have worked out well.


- Relay output (Not used)

I actually put in four additional outputs for either more lights or effects, but I never used them. However, I was planning on creating a sense of people/things behind the visitor using cutouts in front of additional lights... perhaps for next year.


The difficulties

- Mounting the system and long camera cable


- Fire/Death

When working with AC and circuits that use AC, you never know what may happen.


Pics and system

Scaryporch pi bplus.jpg

Smack dab on a boardganizer, I placed the Pi B+ and the Sunrom dimmer circuits close to the edge. I had to drape the AC lines down the side. I took the GPIO on the Pi and spread the leads liberally around the breadboard. Most going to the 16 digital lines of the dimmer boards. See the four in the middle? They were meant for the four extra outputs I never used.


full setup.jpg

This is the full setup from a distance. The sensors would typically be placed out of sight on a porch. For me, I didn't have that luxury. See the black squares on the left side? Those are the reflectors for the sensors placed on the other side.



The effect on, and the effect off. Could be redder... if you ask me.

Block Diagram and Design

scary porch block.JPG





This portion was fairly straight forward. Count up and down a 256bit number for the Sunrom dimmer circuits. Play sound with OMXPlayer call outs. And constantly look for the reset/EStop button push.




QuantityPriceVendorPart #Description
1$40$40element1468X0156Raspberry Pi model B+
1$16.40$16.40element1488W3963BUD Boardganizer
1$7.35$7.35element1456T0249BREADBOARD, SOLDERLESS, 400 TIE POINTS
1$49.95$49.95element1444W3511BUDGET PACK, RASPBERRY PI (Mostly unused, only for parts)
1$5.45$5.45element1488W3962Bud Wire Kit
2$7.95$15.90Sunrom1289Sunrom 1289
2$4.95$9.90HomeDepotAC power strip


Other uses of the system

- Lighting and sound displays.

- Parties... play fun songs with colorful lights.


If I had more time and money

- I wanted to add a vibrating mat that vistors would stand on in front of the door. The idea is to give them a jolt they would feel through their shoes matched with the sound.

- The sounds can get annoying after a while... randomizing the tracks would be a good idea.

- More lights, of course.

- Better sound.


Happy Halloween 2014!!!



See more news at:

RUFS 2.0 Tower Diagram

For construction of model pictured above, 2 banks of 10 towers


Parts and Pieces (What to buy)

Support Frame

(5) 10' - 2" PVC pipe - See It!
(1) 10' - 3" PVC pipe - See It!
(4) 2" PVC 90° elbow - See It!
(8) 2" PVC tee - See It!
(4) 3" to 2" PVC tee - See It!
(4) 3" PVC endcaps - See It!

Note: All PVC pipe and fittings are Schedule 40 - cellular PVC


(10) 10' - 2" x 3" PVC downspouts - See It!
(1) 10' PVC extruded gutter 4" - See It!
(4) PVC gutter end caps (make sure to get 2 left and 2 right) - See It!
(2) 1" threaded to 3/4" barbed adapter - See It!
(2) 3/4" PVC female threaded connectors - See It!

Water Supply/Return

(1) 10' - 1"ID potable water tubing - See It!
(3) 1" threaded to 3/4" barbed adapter - See It!
(1) 1" barbed tee - See It!
(5) 3/4" PEX 90° elbow - barbed - See It!
(1) 3/4" PEX tee - barbed - See It!
(1) 1" to 3/4" PEX reducer - barbed - See It!
(2) 10 pack PEX crimp rings - See It!
(1) 25' - 3/4" PEX - See It!
(20) adjustable 0-10GPH drip emitters - See It!
(1) 14 gallon soft plastic bucket - See It!

Build Instructions

Support Frame

The support frame is constructed from standard Schedule 40 PVC in 2" and 3" OD(outer diameter). The frame was constructed from this material for is modular properties (easy to fit together) and the ease of use for sizing (easy to cut straight with basic tools). This does not preclude the use of other structural material such as wood, plastic and metal as the frame is structural and does not carry water.

Tool note:

  • PVC pipe for this project is best cut using a mitre saw. These are readily available as an inexpensive hand tool or an electric/power tool. A mitre saw provides good 90° cuts that help add to the stability of the frame.
  • PVC is glue using a two part glue system. Instructions on PVC glue can be found here.

Support Frame Overview

Support Frame Overview(Figure 1)The support frame is (2) main leg components joined by the (2) "top bar" components and (2) "cross supports".The length of the "top bar" and "cross supports" dictate the capacity of the towers your system will support.There are two additional leg extensions made from the 3" PVC that can provide addition support against the elements when used outside. These can be omitted for indoor use.At 4' we are supporting (10) grow towers spaced at 4.5" on center apart.

Support Frame Construction Steps

Part 1: Support Frame - Main Leg

The core to the frame structure are (2) identically constructed leg units.We glued our individual leg components together for stability but did not glue them to the cross pieces for ease of disassembly when the unit is moved indoors.The majority of the legs are 2" PVC with the exception of pieces #4 and #8 which are 3".Support Main Frame - Legs(Figure 2)

Main Leg Cut List
  1. From a 10' section of 2" PVC
    1. Cut (2) sections at 32" - (these are Part #1 - first set)
    2. Cut (2) sections at 28" - (these are Part #3 - first set)
  2. From a 10' section of 2" PVC
    1. Cut (2) sections at 32" - (these are Part #1 - second set)
    2. Cut (2) sections at 28" - (these are Part #3 - second set)
  3. From a 10' section of 2" PVC
    1. Cut (2) sections at 24" - (these are Part #2 - first & second set)
    2. Cut (4) sections at 3" - (these are Part #7 - first & second set)
    3. Reserve remaining 60" for cross pieces
  4. From the 10' section of 3" PVC
    1. Cut (2) sections at 24" - (these are Part #4 - first & second set)
Main Leg Assembly Instructions

Part #5 and Part #6 are 2" 90° PVC tee's. You will need (8) in all to complete both legs. Part #8 is a 3" to 2" 90° PVC tee. You will need (4) in all to complete both legs.Dry fit the following:

  1. Fit 3" pipe Part #4 into (2) Part #8 90° tee with 2" opening on the top - See It!
  2. Fit small 2" pipe Part #7 into top of Part #8 90° tee - See It!
  3. Fit 2" 90° tee Part #6 into Part #7 with the opening of the tee at 90° - See It!
  4. Fit 2" pipe Part #3 into Part #6 90° tee - See It!
  5. Fit 2" 90° tee Part #5 into Part #3 with the opening of the tee at 90° facing towards other side of leg - See It!
  6. Fit 2" pipe Part #1 into Part #5 90° tee - See It!
  7. Fit 2" pipe Part #2 into the (2) Part #5 90° tee adding support to the leg - See It!
Part 2: Support Frame - Support Top

The top support dictates the size of the grow system and the number of towers the system can support.Our current plan includes a 4' length of 2" PVC with towers spaced at 4.5" on center. The spacing can be modified to support larger growing areas by increasing spacing between the centers of the towers.Additional you can decrease the length of pipe to support a smaller number of grow towers.The support top structure are (2) identically constructed units.Support Frame - Top(Figure 3)

Support Top Cut List
  1. From a 10' section of 2" PVC
    1. Cut (2) sections at 48" - (these are Part #1 - first & second set)
Support Top Assembly Instructions

Dry fit the following:

  1. Fit 2" pipe Part #1 into (2) Part #2 90° elbow - See It!
Part 3: Support Frame - Support Bottom

Like the top support, the bottom cross dictates system size, the piece must be the same width as the support frame top.Our current plan includes a 4' length.The support bottom piece are (2) identically 4' sections.Also included in the bottom of the frame are (2) optional extension legs that are good when the unit is set up outside to provide additional support against wind.Support Frame - Bottom(Figure 4)

Support Bottom Cut List
  1. From a 10' section of 2" PVC
    1. Cut (2) sections at 48" - (these are Part #1 - first & second set)
  2. From the remaining section of 3" PVC
    1. Cut (4) sections at 12" - (these are Part #2)
Support Top Bottom Instructions

Dry fit the following:

  1. Fit 2" pipe Part #1 into the Part #6 90° tee of the main leg component - See It!
    1. Note:You man need an additional person to help hold up the legs when installing bottom cross pieces
  2. Optional: Fit 3" pipe Part #2 into the Part #9 90° tee of the main leg component - See It!
  3. Optional: Install cap Part #3 into the 3" pipe Part #2

A note about gluing

At this point you can decide if you want to use glue to assemble the leg or leave it "pressure fit" for later dissasembly.Additionally you can use "set screws" to affix the pipes to joints. Because of the wet nature of the project we recommend stainless steel screws for this type of application.
For our implementation we glued the individual main legs in Step #1. We glued the 90° elbows on the top support from Step #2.
We pressure fit the remaining pieces of the support frame for portability.


The towers provide the grow area for the plants in this system.Or current design supports a very high density of plants by spacing the 3" vertical grow towers 4.5" apart on center (distance from center of tower to neighboring tower), providing approximately 1.5" between towers.The current 4' length supports (10) towers with (8) slots per tower. With two sides we get (160) plants for our entire system.There are some limitations to this high density and vertical grow systems to the types of plant you can grow. We are continuing to test the limits of what we can grow and will share our successes and failures in our What to Grow sections of this wiki and user forum.
Towers/Return - Overview(Figure 5)

Towers/Return Overview

The towers are 2" x 3" PVC modified downspouts. The downspouts are generally available in 10' sections.The availability of 10' sections dictated the 5' height of our design.The water returns are 4" PVC rain gutters. Also available in 10' sections. They are cut and capped on the ends with gutter caps. Make sure you pick up both left and right versions of the end caps as they are different.

Towers/Return Construction Steps

Part 1: Towers
Towers Cut List
  1. From a 10' sections of 2" x 3" PVC downspouts
    1. Cut (10) sections in half at 60"
Tower Shaping Instructions

We constructed a wood template tool to help form the plant pockets (See It!).

  1. Divide the (20) towers in to (2) sets of (10).
    1. To improve grow space we offset/stagger the plant slots in the grow towers. - See It!
  2. Mark a horizontal line across the front of the first set of (10) towers every 6" starting 6" from the bottom for (8) lines.
    1. A speed square is helpful and getting a straight line across the down spout material.
  3. Mark a horizontal line across the front of the first set of (10) towers every 6" starting 9" from the bottom for (8) lines.
  4. Using a Oscillating Multifunction Power Tool with the straight cut bit, cut a 2" slice on the drawn lines.
  5. Using the Electric Heat Gun soften the plastic for a few seconds (approx. 15-30 seconds depending on wattage of your heat gun) 3" above and 3" below the cut. The PVC will start to pucker or sink and takes on the appearance of wet saggy paper.
  6. Use your wood template to slide into the softened PVC at the cut. Hold in place for approximately 30 seconds. - See It!
  7. Repeat for remaining slots in the tower.
  8. Drill a 3/16" hole on the top, back side of the tower to put the screw for the tower hanger. - See It!
Part 2: Water Return
Water Return Cut List
  1. From a 10' sections of 4" PVC gutters
    1. Cut (4) sections at 46"
Water Return Assembly Instructions
  1. Identify the right and left gutter end caps. - See It!
  2. Test fit end caps on the sections of gutter.
    1. We roughed up the gutter plastic with some 150 grit sandpaper where the caps overlap the gutter (about 5/8") for a better adhesion.
  3. Spread a liberal bead of silicone PVC adhesive on the inside overlapping edge of the end caps.
  4. Carefully fit the end cap on the gutter making sure glue contacts all around the gutter material.
    1. We used our finger to push excess adhesive around the edge of the gutter and cap to ensure good contact.
  5. Place a piece of masking tape or other easily removable tape on the cap till the recommended dry time.
  6. Repeat for other 3 sides and set aside till dry.

Water Supply/Return

We choose 3/4" PEX for the main water supply lines for it's potable water safety properties and the ease of installation because we had a PEX crimp installation tool. CPVC would also be an excellent choice if the crimp tool was not available, CPVC is also certified for potable water but requires glue and joint connectors for assembly.

Water Supply/Return Overview

The water supply is laid out so there is a single rise that forks at the center cross piece of the main leg. This design was implemented to reduce the overall height load on the water pump. Instead of (2) 6' rises reducing overall water flow, the rise is slightly more efficient to the pump.

Water Supply/Return Construction Steps

Water Supply/Return - Overview(Figure 6)

  1. Parts #1 - #6 are 3/4" PEX cut to mirror the main leg dimensions.
    1. These are best sized by taking the measurements of the legs.
  2. Crimp Part #1, Part #2 and Part #3 together with Part #7 - 3/4" barbed PEX tee.
    1. For crimping detail follow this tutorial.
  3. Crimp Part #3 and Part #4 together with Part #8 - 3/4" PEX 90° elbow.
  4. Crimp Part #4 and Part #5 together with Part #9 - 3/4" PEX 90° elbow.
  5. Crimp Part #2 and Part #6 together with Part #10 - 3/4" PEX 90° elbow.
  6. Drill holes in Part #5 and Part #6 for Part #11 - drip emitters.
    1. Starting at elbow end of Part #5/Part #6 - measure from end 4" and mark first hole at the bottom of the PEX pipe.
      1. It is helpful to draw a line along the bottom of the PEX pipe marking the bottom for the remaining marks.
    2. Measure 4.5" from first mark and make a second mark.
    3. Repeat every 4.5", the last mark should be 4" from the opposing leg from the elbow.
    4. Using 3/16 drill bit drill on the mark.
  7. Fit in the the drip emitters - Part #11
    1. The hole is slightly snug for the drip emitters to prevent unwanted dripping, soften the PEX briefly (30 sec.) with the heat gun, this will allow for easier insertion of the drip emitters into the PEX.

Water Supply/Return - Overview(Figure 7)



We broke the functionality of the controllers up into (2) separate components.


Role: Environmental controls for indoor operation.

Used to maintain light cycles based on schedule of on/off intervals and a thermostatically and/or schedule based control of a circulation fan.

Hardware Components

(1) Arduino

(1) 2 Channel Relay Module Board and Shield For Arduino (source: eBay)

(1) Circulation Fan sized to your space

(1) 15 Meter - LED based - 12v Flexible 5050 5:1 Red/Blue (source: eBay)

(1) Waterproof DS18B20 Digital Temperature Sensor Probe for Arduino (source:eBay)


Role: Water circulation and quality control

Used to maintain watering cycles based on schedule of on/off intervals, water reservoir level maintenance, pH level maintenance and nutrient level maintenance.

Hardware Components

(1) Arduino

(2) 2 Channel Relay Module Board and Shield For Arduino

(1) Analog pH Meter Kit (source:

(1) Arduino Conductivity Sensor (source: eBay)

(1) Waterproof DS18B20 Digital Temperature Sensor Probe for Arduino (source:eBay)

(2) Side Mounted Water Level Control Float Switch Normal Closed (source:eBay)

(2) 12V DC Peristaltic Dosing Pump (source: Amazon)

(1) 1" Water Flow Meter Counter 1-60L/min (source: Amazon)

(1) 1/2" DC 12V Electric Solenoid Valve Water Inlet Flow Switch Normally Closed (source: eBay)

(1) 620 GPH Submersible Pump (source: Harbor Freight)

Arduino Resources (Sketches and Links):

DS18B20 Digital Temperature Sensor Probe - See attached document (OneWire.txt)

Arduino Conductivity Sensor - See attached document (EC_Sensor.txt)

Analog pH Meter - See attached document (ph_Meter.txt)


Management Interface

The management interface is an optional component that allows you to update the schedule and levels of the controller components. It additionally records the sensor data and corrective actions, both for immediate electronic notification and historical data analysis.

The Raspberry Pi communicates with the Arduino controllers via I2C on a simple communications bus.

Hardware Components

(1) Raspberry Pi

Software Setup

Raspberry Pi

Apache2 Web server

MySQL Database server



Thanks for checking out our project and please take a look at our full project website for additional developments.


My project wiki is:


It's that time of year; with spooks abound,

Don't make a noise, not even a sound,

As they'll find you, just you see

How creepy and scary; they can be...






The Scary Door

Cabe Atwell puts together an impressive feat that'll scare the pants off you.

You see this door has a window, but into what?

Why don't you ring the bell and find out for yourself? Or are you too scared...


Pumpkin Pi

Drew Fustini decides that a pumpkin with a tea light in it isn't enough,

there must be more control! and sound!

This pumpkin is simply frightening on the senses.



Make an Entrance

Matt Richardson of Make Magazine has put together a doorbell system,

but there's nothing stopping you from using the EnOcean sensor kit

to make sure the door has a creeky sound when opened or screams

when you push that doorbell!



Dance Dance Revolution

What's a Halloween party without some games to play ?

Do the monster mash to the beat with your Raspberry Pi

converted into an arcade machine.




Not a Bored Game

When dancing has tired you out, or perhaps you're finished riding the

sugar high from all of the treats; enjoy a relaxing board game instead!



The Drinkmotizer

Your party's in full swing but everyone's thirsty! Easy solution:

mix some drinks (or have them neat) - even though this project suggests alcoholic

beverages there's nothing stopping you from using

soft drinks and syrups instead if you're driving or equivalent.



Rocking Karaoke Machine

If dancing and boardgames don't take your interest, how about

singing your heart out to your favourite song(s) ?


Internet Radio Player

Carry your Halloween party along with background music!

With digital radio stations there's no end of choice and you

can use this project as a good standalone internet radio player.



Motion Screamer!

Pesky trick or treaters coming to your door?

Give them a scare with this motion sensitive screamer



Joke Machine

Need to pep up a dull moment? Has the party gone quiet ?

Cut a cheesy one liner(which can be a scary concept in itself)

with your Raspberry Pi



There is a new portable computer called Pi Vessel on Kickstarter. It's based on Raspberry.

This device is for people who don't want a lot of hassle to get up and running fast. It's great for watching TV and movies without a long setup time, downloading software, putting together a console, reading instructions, or fussing about with complex cables and gadgets. The Pi Vessel is simple, affordable, and kid proof.

Let's check it out! ... nicomputer

orgvmQ_ZonQ.jpgPi Vessel_side 2.jpgPi Vessel_back.jpg

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