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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm posting this here instead of the how to section for two reasons. The first is that it's not an illustrated how to, and therefore incomplete in my mind, and the second more important reason, is that I have yet to hear that this has been duplicated by others, and thus the correct method. Follow these instructions at your own risk. Credit for this goes to a Scott Renfield from another list.

Here's the hack I posted pre-Halloween for the 12"
Spirit ball, but I would guess that the basic concept
would work for the larger one as well:

As requested, here’s how I hacked the 12” Spirit ball:
Overview: This will allow you to control the mouth
mechanism by using a color organ and audio source of
your choosing.
Materials needed: 3 volt DC power supply (buy one new
and cut the plug off, or use one from an old
calculator or something. Thrift stores usually have
them for about a buck.)
Single channel color organ. This is a device that
controls the signal strength of standard AC power
based on the signal strength of an audio signal that
you supply to the device. Mine was a $13 kit.
Powered computer speaker. I buy them at yard sales and
thrift stores for about $3.
Boom box with headphone output, or CD player with

Tools needed: Small Phillips screwdriver, needle nose
pliers, soldering iron, electrical tape, masking tape,
glue (perhaps).

Step 1 - Hacking The Beast:
1. First, unplug it; you don’t want it energized while
you’re working on it, inasmuch as the mechanism is
plastic and you don’t want to damage it inadvertently.
Remove the small black screw on the underside of the
base; its approximate location is under one of the
lights that illuminates the face. Place it where you
won't lose it. The ball should then rotate easily for
removal. Put it somewhere it won't get damaged.

2. The black fabric is secured in two ways: it’s
tacked to the base via hot glue or some other
glutinous material, and there is a plastic cable tie
cinched around the lower part of the creature. Gently
pull on the fabric to release it from the base,
gradually working your way around. The face LED
lights go through slits in the fabric; gently slip it
off over them without enlarging the slits. Cutting the
cable tie is contraindicated: DON’T DO IT. It’s
possible to do all you need to do without removing the
tie, and cutting it could add much additional time to
buttoning it back up.

3. Next is partial removal of the creature in order to
access the motor that controls the mouth. If you roll
back the edge of the fabric that covers the base of
the creature, you’ll see a series of metal staples
that attach it to the inner mechanism. Remove these
with a pair of needle-nosed pliers. They may be a
little difficult to remove since they sink into the
skin of the creature, but be patient; you’re almost
there. It’s doubtful that you’ll be able to reuse the
staples, but I would hang on to them until you're sure
you don't need them. I haven’t reattached the
creature skin in mine yet, but I’ll probably just
secure it with glue or something.

4. Removal of the creature skin should be done gently,
since there are wires that attach to the mouth motor
and the eyes. Slip it off evenly and look inside the
head. There is a wire harness that leads to the mouth
and the eyes; mine had two orange wires that go to the
mouth. These are soldered in place, along with a
couple of capacitors. (The mouth motor appears to be
not so much a motor as an electromagnet; energize it
and the mouth opens, de-energize it and it closes.)

NOTE: I also cut one of the speaker wires to
deactivate the internal sound/speaker, since I planned
to use an external speaker for audio. If you want to
use the internal speaker for your audio, you’ll need
to feed an additional wire pair into the unit from
your audio source and attached it to that speaker’s

5. I plugged it back in, activated it and used a volt
meter to see what size AC-DC converter (wall wart) to
use to power the motor. I measured about 2.9 volts DC
to the mouth. After unplugging it, I de-soldered the
orange wires from the motor. This was probably a
mistake, as I found when I went to solder the wires
from my wall wart directly to the motor. There isn’t
a whole lot of room inside the head, and it was a pain
to get the soldering iron in there, hold the wire in
place and apply solder all at the same time. The next
step documents a preferred method.

6. I recommend that you trace the motor wires back to
a convenient place and cut them. Wrap electrical tape
around the cut ends of the wires that lead to the
circuit board. Thread the wire from your wall wart (3
volts DC) through the hole in the bottom of the base
(there’s already one there; no drilling necessary) and
route the wire along the same path as the existing
wire harness. This will ensure that your wire is long
enough and also that it won’t get caught in the
mechanical parts of the mechanism when it’s activated.
Also tie a knot in the wire where it passes through
the base (inside) as a strain relief so that pulling
on it won’t pull on the wires attached to the motor.
Do this BEFORE soldering.

7. Attach your wall wart wires to the orange wires
leading to the mouth motor (it doesn’t matter which
wire) by twisting them together in pairs, applying
solder, and wrapping them with electrical tape,
keeping the two wires separate. Solder, not just
twist and tape; you don’t want to have to take this
apart to fix it at 7 o’clock on Halloween night. You
may want to test before soldering, just to make sure
that everything is working properly. Plug in the wall
wart; the mouth should open, unplug and it should

8. Next, recheck your wire routing and tape it down to
keep it from becoming tangled in the mechanism.

9. Test it again one more time. Simple, eh?

Step 2 – Controlling The Beast
This part is relatively simple. You’ll be using audio
from a CD or similar source (via a color organ) to
turn the power on and off to the wall wart, thus
opening and closing the mouth. I use a boom box with
a headphone output, rather than just a portable CD
player, because my color organ requires a high input
signal to trigger. Here are a couple of different
scenarios to use it.

One Spirit ball, single voice, no music
1. Stereo track, same voice on both tracks. Feed one
channel to the color organ, one to your sound system.

One Spirit ball, single voice with music
1. Stereo track, music and voice on one track, voice
only on other track. Feed voice-only track to the
color organ to trigger it, music/voice track to your
sound system.

Two Spirit balls, 2 voices, no music
1. Stereo track, one voice on each track. Split each
track with an audio adapter to be able to feed each
track to its own color organ and its own sound system.
If you want music, you’ll probably need to supply it
via a separate sound system.

One caveat; driving a boom box at full volume is
probably going to distort the audio. Depending on
your color organ, you may need to turn down the boom
box audio and use another amplifier between it and the
color organ to provide it with sufficient signal

Once you’ve got it working, just reassemble it. Make
sure that all your wiring is out of the way of the
mechanical elements, and reattach the creature skin,
either with the staples you removed, or a light layer
of adhesive. I recommend against a permanent glue
such as Superglue or Gorilla glue in case you need to
work on the internal elements again. I haven’t done
this step yet, so let me know if you have a
particularly effective solution. Carefully feed the
LED lights through the slits in the fabric, and tack
it back down. Reattach the globe and put the screw in
to secure it. Congratulations; you've done it!
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