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The Halloween Top Hat Automaton

Make Magazine Halloween Issue

When asked to write and article for my favorite magazine -- MAKE, I jumped at the chance. Editor-in-chief Mark Frauenfelder asked me to document how I made my trick top hat for their first-ever special Halloween issue. The entire issue is dedicated to Halloween DIY projects.

The top hat contains a hidden mechanism that is attached to a bicycle brake cable and lever. The wearer runs the cable down one sleeve and discretely holds the lever in hand. A little yellow finger-puppet monster bursts out of the top of the hat anytime you squeeze the hidden brake lever.

UPDATE: I replaced the rubber finger puppet with a little wooden monster of my own design. The articulated arms move as a result of the monster's motion. The hand on the hat brim works particularly well, appearing to grab the rim of the hat as the monster emerges.

Not for sale at this time

Halloween Top Hat Automaton

  • Approximately 55 cm high, "One-size-fits-all"
  • Plywood, hardwoods, fabric, springs
  • Remote control lever-actuated wooden monster
  • Great at parties!
  • Featured in MAKE magazine special Halloween Issue, 2007

  • Halloween Top Hat Automaton
    © 2007/2010 Dug North

Link to sketch of halloween hat
Initial Sketch
Link to mechanism insie Halloween hat

Finished Hat
Halloween hat on the cover of MAKE magazine
Magazine Cover
Halloween hat with updated wooden monster
New Monster

Video of the Halloween hat automaton

Video goes here

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Dug North