Scanner prank

I had this old broken scanner for years. Even if it wasn’t broken, it required a SCSI card that wouldn’t fit in any computer made in the last ten years. But I liked the scanner ‘container’ and I’ll use the sheet of glass that was in it for something.

My first idea was to make a ‘useless machine’ out of the scanner (a machine that turns itself off – look it up). Maybe I’ll build one out of something else. Then I thought of making it into a prank, but I wanted it as simple as possible, with things I had laying around. I wanted something to move out at someone who opened the lid.

The hardest part was coming up with a pushing mechanism. When the lid is opened, it will pull anything attached to it, so I had to reverse the motion. And I didn’t want to make anything complicated. After dozens of tests, I ended up with a strip of cardboard bent just right. It curves around to the back of the scanner and then bends forward. Some electrical tape on the curved part helps it keep its shape. If the scanner isn’t opened too far, it slides back in place. This is actually the part I’m most proud of.

I added some ‘bells and whistles’ with some extra stuff I already had. I attached a push light to the lid and wired it to a magnetic reed switch (like my coffee cabinet) so the light would go on when the lid opened. I taped some red cellophane over the light for effect.

I had some extra light activated greeting card sound boxes, so I put a sound file on it from Highlander of the Kurgen (portrayed by the awesome Clancy Brown). I had to use a high lumen push light to get it to activate through the cellophane.

So, the only things I had to buy were a high lumen push light and a hairy spider.

But my plan had two major flaws:
1) Not many people will just open a scanner sitting on a table.
2) Any story I tell to get people to open the scanner will immediately make them suspicious (I’ve got a reputation).

Enter the kindly, gray-haired library specialist in the high school. She had no end of fun getting people to open the scanner. Sometimes, she would instruct people on the new equipment, as per her job description. When she was busy, she got several people by asking them to get a piece of paper she accidentally left in the scanner. One of my favorites is when she told people it was a scanner to make 3D scans of faces.

She lost count of how many people she got, but it’s easily over fifty. And some of those people were inspired to get other people. So the final count makes this a worthwhile project to me. Way to go, Bev.

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