the tell-tale heart… pumpkin

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Halloween is a great time for some nerdy fun. Last week I got this awesome open source hardware pulse sensor for Arduino. Then I realized pumpkin hacking was coming up at my hackerspace, NYC Resistor. I remembered some creepy Edgar Allen Poe stories about a heart beating under floorboards, so I figured I could combine the pulse sensor with pumpkin hacking for a creepy combo.

After getting the pulse sensor working (they have all the Arduino and even Processing code written for you) I found a cartoonish picture of the anatomy of a heart that I could copy onto the pumpkin.

I printed out the picture, cut it out, and selected a pumpkin it would fit on. I taped it to the pumpkin and traced around it, then removed the picture and filled in the lines freehand as best I could.

Then I used an exacto knife and some old dull linoleum carving tools Shelby had (good call Shelby – genius!) to carve off some pumpkin layers to allow light through.

I tested it with my red blinking bike light and it looks pretty great, but was impossible tog get a good picture or video of. I found a piece of an RGB LED strip I’m going to use to make it blink from my actual heart rate, then have an automatic mode were it beats when I’m not attached to it.

I rarely have time for fun random projects that don’t have something to do with work these days, so this was a welcome distraction. I highly recommend hacking your own pumpkin – there are still a few days left before Halloween!

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