A (Build) Night of Terror: How To Program A Talking Skull

In addition to our hack nights, Umbel hosts special build nights and workshops. Our October workshop centered around programming skulls to talk.

The events are hosted in Umbel Labs, our internal makerspace, where we prototype data-related software, hardware and visualization ideas for the next generation of Umbel products.  And while skulls are not  on our short term roadmap, helping all employees to be code-literate, and have fun while doing it, is important.

The workshops are open to any team member, and as a result they give a chance for those who have never coded before to work side-by-side with engineers and learn the basics of programming.

The cross functional nature also allows team members from across the organization to share things like design skills. In this case, an 8×8 LED matrix was added to make a pirate skull by one of the marketing team members.

Here are the details.

In order to make the skull’s jaw move and eyes light up, the skull is given a new brain, or rather an Arduino microcontroller. In layperson’s terms, the Arduino is a computer board that has both a chip that can run programs and a way to wire the chip to motors, LEDs, microphones and joysticks so that it can control them.

Send us a tweet if you decide to try this at home to @umbel. Wishing you a happy Halloween!