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By Brett Griffin, Architechtronics

This story starts when my twisted sister-in-law Renee decided this was the year to create a haunted garage for Halloween.  Her kids were done with trick-or-treating and after steadily accumulating Halloween decorations and a solid reputation as one of the ‘spookiest’ houses in the neighborhood, Renee and her husband Scott decided they needed to step it up a notch.  I have long wanted to do an automated holiday, and happened to have about $5000 of Control4 Gear, so we decided…why stop at a notch?  We combined forces to make an Automated Haunted Halloween Garage.  Enter the rest of the family, and it was SCARY just how much fun we had…

My wife and business partner Jennifer is an artist who shares her sister’s twisted enthusiasm for Halloween.  She was quickly on board and all over the Internet to find Halloween ideas, contribute visual elements, and locate the perfect sound effects. Scott is a skilled craftsman and was able to whip out the guillotines, coffins, rattling monster in a box, etc as quickly as the ladies came up with a new idea.  From a drawing we brainstormed with the family over dinner one chilly October evening—the master plan for the haunted garage was born.  Soon, the whole family was involved.  The kids, nieces, nephew and grandma (!) all jumped in to make do-it-yourself tombstones for the graveyard, jail bars, monster crates…you know, typical family fun.

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The result?  On Halloween evening, young Halloweeners who believe they are brave enough to enter will surely think twice as they see the previous trick-or-treaters screaming their way out.  As they push open the door to enter, a sensor triggers the sound of an old squeaking door and a haunted version of “Ring Around the Rosies” welcomes them into the darkness.  Hannibal Lector is there to greet them with a warm smile (…behind the face mask of course!).  Ignoring warnings to turn back, they will enter the next chamber to see a coffin rattling as if someone is inside – which there is.  Distracted as a mummy jumps out, they will trigger the strobe light on the chainsaw cage.  Cue the nephew with the bloody chainsaw and hockey mask.  Could it get any better?

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Of course!  In the next chamber, they will be startled by the three-headed dog chained to a large crate.  Scary yes, but as they step closer things get even scarier as a motion sensor triggers the monster.  A red light illuminates the frightening interior as the crate cover starts slamming as it tries to get out.  Don’t worry kids, leave that chamber and run to safety through a tight corridor.  Wait a minute, why is everything shaking in here?!  Yes, two butt kicker modules help make a dark, narrow, spider-lined space a little creepier by shaking the floors and walls the whole way!

Thank goodness. The final chamber.  Sadly, their journey ends by interrupting the execution of a young lady…my niece.  As they enter, they hear a recording of a priest reciting “Our Father”.  As she’s pleading for mercy, the lights suddenly go out.  Darkness and a brief moment of silence before the sound of the guillotine cuts through the air followed by a head thumping to the floor…and they feel a spray of warm blood (okay, water) on them.  As they grab the door handle to leave, they’ll find what is left from the previous visitor trying to escape – a bloody hand instead of a doorknob. Now that is what we call a Happy Halloween!

Brett owns and operates Architechtronics (www.425tech.com), a  Control4 Dealer serving the Greater Seattle Area.   The following products were used to create the automated garage: HC-300 v1.8, Media Controller, 8 Zone Amp, Outlet Dimmer Module, 15amp Relay Switch, 2 Motion sensors, a momentary contact switch, 4 speakers, WRT54G with DD-WRT, But Kicker Amplifier with 2 Butt Kicker LFE Transducers.