A quick Halloween Cylon Pumpkin using an Arduino and a few LEDs

Back in 2006 the new Battlestar Galactica series was going strong (and was still rather good). So it was almost inevitable (in hindsight) that someone would make a Cylon pumpkin for Halloween. That pumpkin was featured in a Halloween copy of Make magazine I bought and then held on to for the next five years. Finally, five years later, I have made my own Cylon pumpkin:


The original used a 555 timer, 4017 counter, several capacitors, transistors etc. Which would mean a fair bit of soldering.

Seeing as I had an Arduino lying around and an Arduino can control six LEDs with PWM (pulse width modulation) in code this was something I could whip up quickly with a small child running around. So the first job was breaking out the breadboard, resistors, LEDs and Arduino to test the circuit out and write some code:

Arduino Larson scanner


That went pretty well and I then surprised myself by managing to solder the LEDs etc to make a simple “shield” for the Arduino. The LEDs were on a strip so they could be attached easily to the inside of the pumpkin.

Larson scanner soldered up and ready for pumpkin

Later in the week I carved the pumpkin:

Carving cylon pumpkin

Sadly though I didn’t take out enough of the flesh, so a couple of days later it “melted” and I had to throw it out. Luckily I’d been leaving it to dry out and so hadn’t installed the Arduino.

So I acquired another pumpkin and started again:

Extracting the pumpkin contents

This time I really made sure I removed as much flesh as I could (which contains a surprising amount of water) and it didn’t go squishy.

Finished mk 2 cylon pumpkin

I made sure I placed the Arduino inside a plastic tub to keep it off the inside of the pumpkin. Some bamboo skewers were used to hold the eyes/LEDs in place and stop the lid falling down:

Inside of cylon pumpkin

I also made a small hole at the rear of the pumpkin to feed the power supply for the Arduino in:

Back of cylon pumpkin

I’ve put the code and Fritzing diagram on github for anyone who wants to do something similar.

One thought on “A quick Halloween Cylon Pumpkin using an Arduino and a few LEDs

  1. Hello,
    I have been looking at any examples of Arduino PWM code for Cylon / Knightrider type effects, and yours is by far the best. Nice clean code, you obviously know what you are doing. Great job
    thanks from Pedro

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