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Hack-O-Lantern Tool Reviews

Hack-O-Lantern Tool Reviews

Hey everyone! This year is my first time getting into the Halloween spirit. Growing up in Australia, I never got to experience the joys of pumpkin carving, trick or treating, or dressing up in my most horrible garb. So, to learn about this hallowed day, the Tinkering team and I embarked on a journey to hack together some jack-o-lanterns using a few tools and technologies that we have in the Tinkering Studio and at home. Ryoko, Steph and I are excited to share what we’ve learnt from our tinkering sessions on Hack-O-Lanterns.

If you’d like to share your pumpkin hacking experiments, use the hashtag #HackOLantern to show us what you try (and check out what others are doing too).


A jack-o-lantern with a LEGO motor in side and googly eyes moves around on a table

LEGO Windup Motor

"I wanted to quickly mechanize my pumpkin but didn't want to get into circuits. This LEGO windup motor worked perfectly for me! It was great for creating the crawling motion with the LEGO axle and technic pieces! Choose a very small pumpkin and carve the inside as much as possible to make it light (the motor power may not be enough to carry the entire weight of the pumpkin.) Also, after you've finished playing, remove the LEGO pieces before the pumpkin molds!" —Ryoko


A person holds a pumpkin with a jack-o-lantern laser-etched into the top

Laser Cutter

"I don’t know if laser cutter manufacturers had pumpkins in mind when they made their machines but it works great and it’s fun! I used the laser cutter to add some very accurate flair to my pumpkin. I think there is a lot more room to explore the combination of laser cutting and pumpkin carving. I can see it being useful for laying out accurate carving lines and I want to try painting in the laser etched components next." —Michael


A ghost shadow inside of a pumpkin is illuminated by three different colored lights


"I was curious about experimenting with light and shadow, and with using the pumpkin itself as a projection surface. I cut out a viewing area, and then added a little ghost made out of card stock. I liked the effect of using colorful flashlights with the white pumpkin!" —Steph


An eggbot robot draws patterns on a rotating pumpkin


"I always thought the bot was designed specifically for eggs! But when I discovered that the Eggbot isn't just for eggs, I was eager to try it out with other spherical objects like light bulbs and golf balls. But who would have thought it could also plot on mini pumpkins!? It's incredible! You can download cool design templates on the Evil Mad Scientist wiki page. If you want to add a little more computing, you can code your own drawings on TurtleArt!" —Ryoko


A pumpkin with holes pricked into it with a fork is illuminated from within by a flashlight


"The simple fork was invaluable when I needed to create repetitive dots. It was a great tool to help me visually connect elements of my carving, without having to do much carving!" —Michael


a pumpkin scoop next to a pumpkin being hollowed out

Ice Cream Scoop

"The shape and sturdiness of the ice cream scoop made it SO much more effective for scooping out pumpkin innards than a normal spoon! It made hollowing the pumpkin quick and easy, so I could get right into carving." —Steph


A pumpkin with decorative copper tape and LEDs

Vinyl Cutter + Circuits

"I looked at my pumpkin closely and learned that there are 10 ridges running from top to bottom. Then, I explored designing my own simple pattern for copper tape in TurtleArt. I love how the copper looks on the pumpkin. To complete the circuit, I printed another 10 stripe design and adhered it to the bottom of the pumpkin. My choice of LEDs could be better next time, but soldering on the pumpkin felt like such a classic tinkering experience!" —Ryoko


A person carves a pumpkin with an exacto knife

Exacto Knife

"I found an exacto knife to be a great tool for making really precise cuts and to carve delicate elements, like eyeballs."—Steph


A counter-sinking burr next to a pumpkin

Countersinking Burr

I used a countersinking burr to thin out my pumpkin walls from the inside. I found this to be a great hack for any pumpkin that’s going to be illuminated. It allowed me to highlight different parts of my pumpkin by creating brighter spots." —Michael


A pumpkin with light up LED eyes


"Simple circuits were a quick way to add a bit of light and personality to my jack-o-lantern. I used three 10mm blinking LEDs, a battery, and a switch to create this simple circuit. The 10mm LEDs fit perfectly in the countersunk holes that I drilled behind the eyes. A tinkerer's way to create light while avoiding fire!" —Michael