Some fun or spooky Halloween automations with Home Assistant

It’s that spooky time of year again, but this time it can be extra spooky with the help of home automation.

Motion-activated jumpscare on TV

One classic spooky thing to do is have a TV do something scary when people walk by. This is easier than ever on any TV now that everyone has Raspberry Pi with HDMI output and z-wave (or other) motion sensors everywhere. Check this out:

Yeah so there’s a Raspberry Pi behind the TV running a simple program that monitors a MQTT topic for a trigger. Meanwhile the motion sensor triggers an automation in Home Assistant (running elsewhere in the house) that publishes the MQTT message that sets it off. There’s also a z-wave switch back there that turns on the strobe light. (You could alternatively have Home Assistant running on the same pi you have behind the TV if you wanted and avoid the MQTT thing and just trigger the program directly.)

The program on the pi is derived from infopanel so reuses some MQTT config stuff. You can make it simpler if you want. The key commands to run are:

  •  Scary jump: p = subprocess.call(['omxplayer','-o', 'hdmi', 'jumpscare.mp4'])
  • And then corny scene at way lower volume: p = subprocess.Popen(['omxplayer','-o', 'hdmi', '--vol', '-1200','--loop', 'halloween3.mp4'])

Subtle changing light colors

This isn’t actually spooky but it’s pretty neat for ambiance. It’s just two Hue bulbs that swap colors ever 2.5 minutes. I dunno, I think it’s sweet.

Keep the lights red

Philips Hue lights announced that they’d let you set the default color when they turn on but as of posting this it’s not out yet. So when I wanted red lights I was worried that someone might flip the switch ruining the ambiance. Thus I needed an automation to keep making them red all the time, just in case.

Topical infopanel messages

Here I configured the infopanel to have a nice witch and a pumpkin. The witch says things that are scary to medical professionals or to engineers (most of the people coming to the Halloween party). I guess most of these are pretty obscure but I thought it was hilarious. Customize to your audience.

Infopanel config:

 

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