The trick-or-treaters clamber up the steps of the next house on their evening route. The porch light is on, but no one comes to the door.

What's this? On a small table, a spooky-looking cardboard box sits next to a lamp. A sign on the lamp says "Touch Here for a Treat."

A small but brave goblin reaches out her hand, but before she can touch the lamp, an electronic disk lights up with a ghoulish orange smile, haunting notes play, and the box springs open as if to laugh at the foolish children.

But perhaps not as foolish as they seem ... for inside the box are spider rings and creepy crawlies for the taking. They each take a treat and move on in their quest to fill their Halloween bags.

This spooky laughing box comes to life thanks to a Circuit Playground Express, a servo motor, and a power source. The project is easy enough for kids to do themselves (with a little help cutting), and you can decorate it any way you choose.

The CPX's onboard light sensor is simple to program using MakeCode software to trigger the lights, music, and motion. If you want, you can add extra features like a mouth-opening mode or change up the eerie tunes. Keep reading to find out how!

Parts List -- Electronics

The Circuit Playground Express and a servo are the only electronic parts in this project, along with the things you need to make them run, like a USB cable and a battery pack. Depending on the size and weight of your cardboard box, you may be able to use a micro servo to lift the lid. But if your box is large or heavy, try the more powerful standard servo.

A Black woman's manicured hand holds a round microcontroller with lit up LEDs.
Circuit Playground Express is the next step towards a perfect introduction to electronics and programming. We've taken the original Circuit Playground Classic and...
Micro servo with three pin cable
Tiny little servo can rotate approximately 180 degrees (90 in each direction) and works just like the standard kinds you're used to but smaller. You can use any servo...
Standard hobby servo with three pin cable
This high-torque standard servo can rotate approximately 180 degrees (90 in each direction). You can use any servo code, hardware, or library to control these servos. Good for...
Group of Small Alligator Clip to Male Jumper Wires
When working with unusual non-header-friendly surfaces, these handy cables will be your best friends! No longer will you have long, cumbersome strands of alligator clips. These...
Angled shot of 3 x AA battery holder with on/off switch, JST, and belt clip.
This battery holder connects 3 AA batteries together in series for powering all kinds of projects. We spec'd these out because the box is compact, and 3 AA's add up to about...

Materials List -- Household and Crafts Supplies

Other supplies you will need include:

  • 1 oblong cardboard box with a lid -- an Adafruit box works well!
  • (optional) extra smaller box
  • extra scrap cardboard
  • (optional) craft stick
  • adhesive such as dots or strips, foam tape or hot glue
  • masking tape
  • (optional) peel-and-stick Velcro dots
  • (optional) peel-and-stick craft foam
  • crafts supplies and/or holiday decorations (eyeballs, plastic creepy crawlies, pipe cleaners, construction paper, etc.)

This guide was first published on Oct 08, 2019. It was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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