The Monster Shooting Range is an interactive Halloween exhibit that I build for one night a year... with multiple monsters that come alive and can only be killed with laser tag guns.

I have been building Halloween installations full of robotic monsters for over a decade, but recently I had the idea to make the experience more interactive and visceral by hacking a kids laser tag game to make the monsters killable.

I reverse engineered the Wow Wee Light Strike infrared "laser tag" target sensor signal and hooked the sensors up to a BeagleBone microcontroller. This allows me to detect when the kids "shoot" the monster so I can activate monsters and the deactivate them when shot.

I also discovered that Halloween props for sale in retail all had "Try-Me" buttons that acted as toggles; they both turned the monster on and also off. This meant that I could control them with a single line connected to a relay. I also run A/C for lighting, D/C for motors and the whole thing is wired with stranded CAT6 cable which fits perfectly into breadboard or header sockets when tinned.

The system runs in Python on a BeagleBone Black which is an awesome little $45 board that provides a full Linux environment with dozens of available GPIO and is reconfigurable to run in many different modes. For my purposes I need as many GPIO as possible and currently have it configured to provide 64 usable I/O lines.

The monsters are set up in my garage in a labyrinth of black plastic sheeting so only one monster is visible at a time. The kids run through with guns in the dark, and each monster comes to life with lights, sounds and movement. The kids have to 'kill' the monster with their IR guns whereupon it stops moving and the next monster comes to life...

I built a very simple mechanism using a single motor, mending brackets and string to animate the inanimate props so that all the monsters move when activated. The whole mechanism including the motor only cost $15 so I was able to animate a lot of monsters...

The first year I had 7 monsters operating, including my giant Halloween Spider and The Mummy, and I am planning on adding at least three more for the next year. Watch this space!

  Click on the thumbnails below for video:
  Click to View
Monster Shooting Range
Full Walkthrough

  Click to View
Laser Tag Game
IR Sensor Test

  Click to View
Monster Animation
Mechanism Test

  Click to View
Wired up and Running!
MSR Technology