Aside from historical flashbacks, Sauron never has a humanoid form in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Instead, he is represented by the Great Eye atop a tower. The Eye of Sauron seems to see all, which makes it more intimidating that a traditional antagonist. In the movies, the eye was created with good ol’ fashioned CGI. But Mike Christian managed to create a convincing replica in real life, and it made the perfect Halloween decoration for this year’s festivities.
Christian is quick to point out that his Eye of Sauron build was heavily influenced by Phillip Burgess’ fantastic Animated Snake Eyes Bonnet for Raspberry Pi tutorial on Adafruit. Fletcher’s project takes the idea of an animated eye, and scales it up dramatically. The eye itself is displayed on a Gakken World Eye, which is a specialty projector that shows graphics on a hemispherical screen. It’s a very cool and unusual display, and is perfect for representing an eye.
The eyeball graphic animation, which is a modified version of what Burgess used in his tutorial, is being sent over HDMI from a Raspberry Pi single-board computer. At night, the black frame is almost entirely invisible. The “fire” that connects the eyeball to the tower is made of several strands of LEDs on thin wires, which are controlled by an Arduino development board. Additional accent LEDs are controlled by a second Arduino. The LED wires are looped through a 3D-printed frame that surrounds the Gakken World Eye.
The “tower” surrounding the eye is constructed from corbels, which is a type of moulding accent available at hardware stores. The entire assembly was perched on top of a garden shed, which was lit by ominous red flood lights. The resulting effect is very impressive. You can’t see the frame of the Gakken World Eye at all, and so the Eye of Sauron seems to float suspended only by flickering flames. We can’t think of a better way to take advantage of the unique Gakken World Eye display on Halloween.