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Make: Special Issue

HALLOWEEN

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SPECIAL ISSUE

HALLOWEEN

MONSTER MAKEUP
10
CYBERPUNK SPIKES

HAUNTED
HOUSE
HOW-TOS
CREEPY
COSTUMES
FRIGHTENING
FOOD
AND BOO!

CAPTIVATING
COSPLAY
CREATIONS

31
TERRIFIC TECH
PROJECTS FOR
ALL SKILL
LEVELS!

16
HARD-SHELL MOLDS
40
FLYING CRANK GHOST

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ADAM SAVAGES MOLD-MAKING TUTORIAL


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Special Halloween Issue 2016

6/28/16 7:34 AM

Turn fantasy into reality

GEAR UP AND LOAD OUT


300 pages of costume-making awesomeness.
What will you create?

Coming August 2016 to fine booksellers and


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6/27/16 5:30 PM

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6/26/16 6:54 PM

CONTENTS
Make: Halloween 2016

Brandon Steen

High-Tech Halloween

makershed.com

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6/26/16 6:48 PM

FEATURES
Fantastic Creations 04
Scary and sweet builds from
makers like you.

Playing the Part 06

Die-hard fans bring their favorite


characters to life with cosplay.

COSTUMES
AND MAKEUP

Max and Courtneys Guide


to Monster Makeup 10

Theres a good chance you have all the


monster-making ingredients you need
lying around your kitchen.

Cyberpunk Spikes 16

3D print these soft, flexible spikes


and light them up with full-color
programmable LEDs.

Headless Marie Antoinette 20

Create the illusion of holding your own


decapitated head.

Chainmail 22

Make yourself a shirt fit for a knight.

Calling All Salty Sea Dogs 26


Your four-legged first mate will look
shipshape in this piratical costume.

Demon Horns 29

Learn how to make flexible horns for


Halloween costumes or cosplay.

They Live! 30

Modify store-bought masks to create


unique costumes.

Transformers Soundwave
Costume 32

Make a classic 1980s Decepticon from


cardboard boxes and duct tape.
Jason Forman, Robyn Twomey, Timmy Kucynda

Brandon Steen

10

Burlesque Bouquet 34
Pile on the fruit for a Carmen
Miranda-style headdress.

DIY Stilts 36

Rise above the crowds with your


own custom pair of stilts.

26
Howtoons: Jetpack 39

Build a costume from 2L soda bottles


that holds your Halloween loot.

SKILL BUILDER

Hard-Shell Molds 40

75
Plug and Play Arduino Relays 78
Control 8 high-power AC lights
andappliances with a single
microcontroller.

Arduino-Controlled
Halloween Props 80

With this method you can cast just about


any costume prop, no matter how big.

Use Arduino to control hacked


store-bought decorations.

HAUNTED HOUSE
EFFECTS

Motion-Sensor Prop Controller 82


Automatically activate your effects as
people pass by.

This eerie, animatronic specter is


de rigueur for any serious haunter.

Use hidden sensors to covertly trigger


your props.

Flying Crank Ghost 48

Infrared Remote Controls 83

Trash Can Trauma 52

Automatic Scare Camera 84

Boom Stick 56

Pressure Plate Switch 85

Scare the wits out of visitors with an


air-powered surprise.
This pneumatic noisemaker goes pow!

Caged Creature 62

Build a mad monkey that jumps at


your guests.

Inflate the Kraken! 65

Weld plastic to make giant air-filled


tentacles.

The Peppers Ghost Illusion 66

Use this classic special effects technique


for creating transparent ghostly images.

Hot Glue Web Gun 70

Make a spider web shooter thatll quickly


transform your home into a haunted house.

Easy Halloween Bristlebots 73


Make creepy-crawly props using old
electric toothbrushes.

Grave Situation 74

Make these realistic tombstones


from styrofoam.

Ultimate Fog Chiller 75

Mod a fog machine to add extra atmosphere


to your haunted house.

Dark-Detecting LED Throwies 76


Easy, glowing lights that turn on after
dark automatically!

ON THE COVER:
Help your jack-o-lantern get expressive with Arduino-powered animated LED eyes. Follow Michal
Janysts build at mjanyst.weebly.com/arduino-pumpkin-eyes.html. Photographed by Hep Svadja.

Capture the perfect terror-filled moment


on camera.
Make a simple pressure plate to
control special effects.

FOOD AND DECOR

Sweet Bleeding Heart 88


Bake a bloody thorax cake that
oozes with every bite.

Cylon Jack-o-Lantern 90

Use a Larson Scanner to give your


pumpkin a techno twist.

Party Piata 92

Create a creepy, personalized piata


thats easy to make and fun to break.

Meat Head 94

Craving some cranium?


Youve come to the right place.

Gourd Lanterns 95

Drill patterns into hard-shell gourds


and let the light in.

Mad Monster
Candy Snatch Game 96

Put the fun in collecting fun-sized candy!


Make: Halloween 2016. Make: (ISSN 1556-2336) is published
bimonthly by Maker Media, Inc. in the months of January, March,
May, July, September, and November. Maker Media is located
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6/26/16 6:48 PM

{ BY SOPHIA SMITH }

Fantastic
Creations

Sweet and scary builds from makers like you


With Halloween fast approaching,
theres a lot to prepare for. There
are treats to take, tricks to make,
parties to throw, and monsters to
grow! It's time to devise your vision,
but if youve dropped dead with
indecision, check out these expert
makers for some creepy or
cute creation inspiration.

Spike the Demon,


by Adafruit
engineer Phillip
Burgess, combines
an animated LED
matrix for the
mask, glowing EL
wire for the wings,
a Wave Shield
voice changer,
and more for a
chillingly spooky
effect. A single
Arduino powers it
all. Photo: Andy
of Dragonscales
Photography

makershed.com

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6/26/16 3:44 PM

Mike Warren
blasts off with
this rocket
backpack
costume to
complete the
illusion, he
hid his legs in
the rockets
exhaust. See
how he did it at
instructables.
com/id/rocketcostume/
Photo: Lenny
Ho

This life-size,
foam-sculpted
nesting doll
by Kristina
and Jason
Tollefson for
their daughter
Mollie Moe
stays true to
form, with the
wearer acting
as the nested
doll. Photo
courtesy of
Target Portrait
Studios

Rachel Koukal
(makecation
on Twitter and
Instagram)
bought an ice
cream hat
online and was
inspired to
complete this
sweet look with
polyurethane
foam and
DIY wooden
platform shoes.
Photo: Joshua
Kirsch

Brains in jars
are creepy
and when the
brain belongs
to none other
than the
despicable
Time Lord
Morbius, its
quite terrifying
indeed. See
more of Mike
Murrays work
at thegeekpub.
com Photo and
build: Mike
Murray

HSIP_004-5_HHroundup_F1.indd 5

Mikaela Tandy
threads fiber
optic wires
through fairy
wings to add
some lightup magic to
her fantasy
fairy costume.
Photo: Audrey
Love

Ghosts and
ghouls are cool,
but nothing
strikes fear into
the heart quite
like the evil
Empire. Colby
Powell built
this 23-foot-tall
illuminated
Death Star and
hoisted it onto
his California
home with a
70-foot crane.
Photo: Mike
Senese

makezine.com

6/26/16 3:50 PM

Playing
the
Part
Die-hard fans bring their favorite
characters to life with the power
of cosplay { BY SOPHIA SMITH AND CRAIG COUDEN }
Father and
daughter form the
perfect Predator
duo, complete
with the iconic
clicking sound
effects. She even
had a trophy in
tow in the form
of a decapitated
Barney head.

Hep Svadja

Engineering elaborate
replica costumes and
props can be a yearround obsession for
fans of superheroes,
sci-fi, anime, and more.
Combining a passionate
community and
incredible ingenuity,
cosplay is coming
out of the convention
halls and hitting the
mainstream. Here are
some of the amazing
cosplayers weve seen
this year.

makershed.com

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6/26/16 12:08 PM

These Halo
cosplayers
used Pepakura
resources on
405th.com to
create their
characters,
complete with
subtle details
like embedded
LEDs. Find
them on
Instagram as
meerkatprops
and willaltingermain.
Dressed as
Nui from Kill
La Kill, Zerggie
Cosplay shows
off her amazing
hairdressing
skills using
little more than
expanding foam
and chicken
wire.
Who you
gonna call?
The Bay Area
Ghostbusters,
of course!
You can spot
them on Bay
Area freeways
in their white
1989 Buick
hearse. If
youre looking
to join their
ranks, you
can start out
on gbfans.
com, and
follow them on
Instagram as
bayareagb.

This life-size
BB-8 was
strutting its
cardboard,
papier-mch
stuff across the
Silicon Valley
Comic Con
expo floor.

Cybernetic
ninja Raiden
from the Metal
Gear Solid
series is ready
to defend the
Javits Center
at New York
Comic Con.

Pinguino Kolb

Sailor Jedi
uses the force
to fight evil by
moonlight.

Loki strikes
such a powerful
pose, youd
never know
this armor was
constructed
from foam, clay,
and Christmas
decorations.

makezine.com

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Jason Forman
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6/26/16 11:37 AM

COSTUMES
& MAKEUP

max and courtneys guide to

monster makeup
DICK SMITHS EDIBLE HORROR

Makeup pioneer Dick Smith, who created


Linda Blairs ghastly transformation in The
Exorcist, did something quite remarkable
back in 1965. At the invitation of Famous
Monsters of Filmland magazine, he put
out a small magazine for children called
Dick Smiths Do-It-Yourself Monster MakeUp Handbook. It included step-by-step
instructions on how to create a variety of
creatures such as vampires, ghouls, and
even an Ed Big Daddy Roth-inspired
beast that would look right at home
straddling a souped-up muscle car.
Keeping his target audience in mind,
Smith designed his projects to be as easy
as possible. Ingredients were simple
cotton balls, creme makeup, a few special

10

items such as crepe hair, and a surprising


amount of food. Smith had used common
kitchen items in his makeup for years,
doubling Karo corn syrup for blood and
grinding bread crumbs into liquid latex
for added texture. He later experimented
with unflavored gelatin, using it to create
some ghastly stabbings in the 1977 film
The Sentinel.
A few years ago, we purchased the
1985 edition of Smiths book and decided
to undertake an experiment: we would
re-create every makeup project offered
in the book. Further, once these projects
were complete, we would make a short
movie based around the makeup. We
used these projects as the basis for our
blog, Max and Courtney Make Monsters

(makemonsters.blogspot.com). Weve
found Smiths book to be a surprisingly
sophisticated guide to special effects
makeup, given its target audience.
When we did the projects, we modified
them slightly Courtney had worked on
films and had access to more sophisticated
makeup techniques and supplies than
Smith recommended. We also simplified
the steps. We highly recommend getting a
copy of Smiths original book, if possible,
as it offers alternative techniques, and
a depth of explanation thats beyond the
scope of this article.

MAKEUP ESSENTIALS

Its easy to get overwhelmed in a theatrical


makeup shop. There are myriad makeup

Photography by Jason Forman; makeup by Aurora Bergere

Go to your kitchen and take a look around. Theres a good possibility you have
the ingredients you need to make a monster. { BY COURTNEY MAULT AND MAX SPARBER }

makershed.com

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6/26/16 11:58 AM

Photography by Jason Forman; makeup by Aurora Bergere

Monster Makeup

NOTE: When applying makeup to


someone else, always make sure
to communicate each step of the
process to them and make sure
theyre comfortable. Tell them to
let you know if they need to move,
stretch, sneeze, or cough that way
you can get out of their way with any
makeup utensils you may be using
near their face.
tools to choose from spatulas, brushes,
sponges, sprays, adhesives and lets
not forget the makeup itself, a spectrum
of powders, cremes, pencils, waxes,
and putties. All of this is so much fun,
but its important to start with only a few
essentials and become comfortable with
them before moving on to more makeup
and tools.
Start with only a couple of basic creme
makeup colors specific to your first project
(traditional lanolin-based cremes are
called greasepaint). We purchased small
compacts of individual colors we thought
would work well for a vampire, such as
white and black. We also wanted to do a
zombie, so we purchased green and gray/
blue colors. (Costume stores often carry
wheels of preselected makeup colors,
with amusing names such as monster
stack or injury stack.)
Additionally, a colorless powder is a
necessity for setting creme makeup. Ben
Nye makes a nice Neutral Set Colorless
Face Powder, but baby powder works just
as well. There are sprays that will set
makeup, too; we prefer powder because
its easier to control.
Regular beauty makeup works well
for monster makeup, too. For example,
a $1 blue eyeliner pencil can be used to
draw veins on someones face for zombie
makeup. Again, many of the supplies
may already be in your home. Part of the
fun in these projects comes from using
common household items in decidedly

unconventional ways. Normal sponge


makeup wedges, cotton makeup puffs, a
large blush brush, a small pair of scissors,
a pencil sharpener, Q-tips, and cotton
balls are useful and cheap additions to any
makeup kit. (Drugstore.com often offers
terrific deals on these supplies.)
Companies such as Ben Nye, Cinema
Secrets, Kryolan, Mehron, and Steins all
have extensive stage makeup lines. Some
people prefer one brand to another, or
specific products from different brands.
Its easy to mix and match. Many online
retailers sell these brands; we suggest
fun-shop.com. Cinema Secrets has a
terrific injury stack; when used with a
stipple sponge, these are perfect colors
for trauma makeup.
Other businesses make their own
makeup products. We found liquid latex
for making molds of bites and wounds
at fxwarehouse.info; they have a large
selection and helpful descriptions of their
products online.
Spirit gum (and spirit gum remover) are
necessary for makeups involving adhering
additions to the skin, such as crepe hair
or latex pieces. Small and medium-sized
sable paintbrushes aid in more detailed
creme makeup application, and can also
be found at craft or art supply stores.

PLANNING YOUR MAKEUP

Always plan your makeup strategy


before you begin the application. A good
place to start is to think about how your

makeup such as a bruise or cut may


have occurred. When we worked on the
independent film Risen, Courtney helped
create the makeup for a zombie uprising
and Max appeared as one of the horde of
undead. Max suggested that his makeup
should look as though his chin had
been torn off. This was a realistic injury,
inasmuch as injuries caused by shambling
corpses can be realistic. Theres not a
compelling reason a zombie would, say,
just carve an X in its victims forehead and
stumble away, but one can well imagine
the monster raking its teeth down a
victims face.
This way of strategizing makes the
makeup process even more fun. The
more specific the situation, the more
enjoyable it will be for the makeup artist
to be intricate and unique. If youre going
for realistic effects, try to find reference
pictures so you know what your injuries
should look like. Maybe your uncle has
a nasty cut on his hand from working
on the car ask if you can look at it, or
even photograph it for reference in
your makeup!

BRING ON THE MONSTERS

The following makeup projects show


how to create basic, classic monsters,
and are full of ideas to customize your
own monster. Specific character
makeup kits are available from major
brands, such as Ben Nye, Mehron, and
Cinema Secrets.

makezine.com

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11

6/26/16 11:53 AM

COSTUMES
& MAKEUP

he vampire is the first creature in Dick


Smiths Do-It-Yourself Monster MakeUp Handbook, and well start with this
monster for the same reason Smith did:
because its a relatively simple makeup job,
requiring very little in the way of supplies.
That being said, the techniques of applying
makeup to create a vampire are among
the most essential in character makeup,
requiring a careful sense of shading.

1. GREASE YOUR HAIR BACK if you have

hair. If you dont, you can wear a rubber wig


bought for a few dollars at a makeup store.
Add some thin blue lines for the effect of
pronounced veins.

12

2. GIVE YOUR FACE A BASE COAT OF


GREASEPAINT. Start with white, but add

a little bit of another color to make the


results unearthly. Gray will do for this, but
you might decide to go with green, which,
believe it or not, was the actual color
of Bla Lugosis makeup in the original
Dracula. Dab your face with the white
greasepaint, and then add dabs of the
second color, blending them together with
your fingers until your face, neck, and ears
are completely covered.

3. USE YOUR SECOND COLOR, GRAY OR


GREEN, TO ADD SHADOWS. You want to

darken your temples and under your

Vampire teeth available at most costume


shops
Black eyebrow pencil
Stage blood

cheekbones the intention here is to


give a hollow, cadaverous look. Blend
the shadows in with a brush or with your
fingertips.

4. SHADOW YOUR EYES to give them a

sunken, skull-like look. Begin with black


greasepaint on your upper and lower lids,
keeping it very dark around the hollows of
your eyes. Blend more the farther away
you get from the eyes, and stop where the
hollows of your eye sockets end.
Then set the greasepaint. Pat a pale or

Photography by Jason Forman; makeup by Aurora Bergere

The Vampire

MATERIALS

White, black, and gray greasepaint

makershed.com

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Monster Makeup

NOTES: You can buy prosthetic latex


pieces to build up the forehead, like
the sort seen in Buffy the Vampire
Slayer. Feel free to use these, but
put them on beforehand with rubber
cement, and use makeup to blend
the edges so the prosthetic seems
a natural part of your forehead.
Additionally, you can make your own
vampire teeth out of dental wax
Dick Smith offers a complete guide
to making your own special effects
teeth in his book.
neutral powder onto your face and neck.
Clean off the excess with a cotton ball or
powder puff. This will set the greasepaint,
so that you dont need to worry about it
smearing, coming off on your clothes
(although always use caution with makeup
and clothes), or sweating off.

5. THICKEN YOUR EYEBROWS. Use your


eyebrow pencil to add very small lines,
which should look like additional hairs,
along the top of your natural eyebrow.
Make it as thick as you think looks
terrifying, and as shaggy as you like.
Additionally, traditional vampire makeup
tends toward wickedly arched brows.

Photography by Jason Forman; makeup by Aurora Bergere

6. BLACKEN LIPS AND NOSTRILS. Use your


eyebrow pencil to enlarge your nostrils
by blackening in and around your nostril
openings, and blacken your inner lips
with a hard, sharp line. If you have black
lipstick, you might also consider giving
your vampire black lips.
7. NOW ADD THE VAMPIRE TEETH and a
trickle of stage blood (or, if youre feeling
especially gruesome, slather your face
with stage blood), and dress appropriately.
Vampires used to dress in Victorian
evening clothes. Nowadays they tend to
wear a lot of black leather and latex, so a
local fetish shop might be able to help you
with your costuming needs.
makezine.com

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6/26/16 11:59 AM

COSTUMES
& MAKEUP

raditionally just a pale, ambling


creature dressed in rags, the modern
zombie tends to display ghastly
injuries. You can create reusable injuries
large and small using liquid latex (see
makezine.com/projects/halloweenwounds), but it's easy to create simple yet
horrific gashes out of cotton and liquid
latex, which well describe here.

1. PICK A ZOMBIE COLOR. In Night of the Living


Dead, the beasties were gray-colored.
In Dawn of the Dead, however, they were
green, and one notorious zombie from
Return of the Living Dead was bright yellow
all actual colors of decomposition.

14

Purple and black greasepaint

2. ADD CUTS, GASHES, AND BITES. If you

want your zombie to display any evidence


of violence, now is the time. To add cuts
and gashes with cotton and liquid latex, all
you do is tear the cotton into strips or small
clumps and place it on your subject. Cover
it with liquid latex (in a pinch, you can use
Karo syrup, although youll have to blowdry it before you can add makeup), and
mold it like clay. If you want to make a bite
mark, apply the gashes in small amounts
to create a ring. Now build up the ring on
the outside, smoothing it down toward
the outside skin. You should wind up with
the uncomfortable illusion that the skin
hasnt had makeup added to it, but, instead,

Cotton
Liquid latex
Copious amounts of stage blood
Blue, red, or black makeup pencil

the center of the ring has been pulled (or


chewed) out. Use the same technique to
make gashes simply make the ring long
and narrow, rather than round.

3. ADD YOUR BASE COAT OF GREASEPAINT.


Go ahead and cover the wound. Well
make it look more horrifying in a moment.
As with the vampire, dab dots of the
greasepaint onto the face, neck, ears, etc.,
until youve covered all exposed skin.

Photography by Jason Forman; makeup by Aurora Bergere

The zombie

MATERIALS

Gray, yellow, or green greasepaint

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Monster Makeup

TIPS: You can buy liquid that will turn

your teeth yellow. If you add this, or


add crooked false teeth, your zombie
will have a particularly decayed look.
Cut a ping-pong ball in half, punch
eyeholes, glue it onto the zombies eyes
with liquid latex, and paint on
tiny pupils, and youll have a weirdly
bug-eyed zombie, like the ones in the
1964 movie I Eat Your Skin.
4. SHADE THE ZOMBIE. Use black
greasepaint to highlight the hollows of
the face and the eyes, to give your zombie
a skull-like appearance but be subtle
with it. Blend the shadows very well.
Cover the lips with your base color
the face should seem drained of color
as a result (in fact, if you can find it, a
white or blue lipstick will be especially
effective here).
5. ADD DETAILS. You can use a blue or

Photography by Jason Forman; makeup by Aurora Bergere

black makeup pencil to draw veins on


the side of the forehead blue will look
sickly, while black will look like the blood
has been poisoned. Use the black pencil
to draw small lines radiating out from
around the lips, like the lines you would
find on a very old person; if you like, you
can also deepen the laugh lines around
the mouth. If you have a red makeup
pencil, circling the eyes with it will give
the zombie a rheumy, sickly look, but be
very careful red makeup can irritate
the eye and lead to infection.

6. COLOR IN THE INJURY, AND SET THE


MAKEUP. Darken the interior of the injury

with purple or black greasepaint to make


it look especially hollow. If you have an
injury stack, take care to make the
injury look bruised and mangled. If not,
just slather it with copious quantities of
fake blood. Before you add blood, though,
apply powder to set the makeup.
Now dress in ragged clothes, mess
up your hair, and practice staggering
and moaning!

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COSTUMES
& MAKEUP
Materials

CyBerpunk
spikes

NeoPixel RGB
LED strip, 60 per
meter, individually
addressable Adafruit
Industries part #1138,
adafruit.com
NinjaFlex flexible 3D
printing filament, Snow
White Adafruit #1691
Adafruit Gemma
microcontroller
Adafruit #1222
Slide switch, SPDT, 0.1"
pin spacing Adafruit
#805

3D print these soft, flexible spikes and light


them up with full-color programmable LEDs

Battery, LiPo, 500mAh


Adafruit #1578

{ BY BECKY STERN AND PHILLIP BURGESS }

Rare earth magnets (6)


Adafruit #9

Battery extension
cable, JST male-female
Adafruit #1131

Safety pins or needle


and thread
Silicone adhesive
Permatex 66B
Heat-shrink tubing
Tape, nonconductive

Tools

3D printer, fusedfilament type


Computer running
Arduino IDE software
free download from
arduino.cc/en/main/
software
Solder, rosin core,
60/40
Scissors
Wire cutters / strippers

16

Andrew Tingle

Soldering iron

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MAKE YOUR OWN FLEXIBLE, SPIKY, GLOWING


ACCESSORY, USING NEOPIXEL LED STRIP
lights diffused by NinjaFlex flexible 3D printing
filament! Magnets let you attach the spikes
to anything in your wardrobe. The soft flexible
enclosure holds Gemma, the tiny microcontroller
that animates the LEDs, and a rechargeable
lithium polymer battery.
We designed 2 styles of spike strip one with
regular round spikes and one crystal-inspired
statement piece (Figure A ). Whichever you
choose, itll get you noticed!

Andrew Tingle

1. 3D PRINT THE SPIKES AND ENCLOSURE

Download whichever spikes you like from


thingiverse.com/thing:262494 and print them
in NinjaFlex filament at 225F with a nonheated
build plate (Figure B ). For more tips on working
with NinjaFlex, check out the guide by the Ruiz
Brothers at learn.adafruit.com/3d-printingwith-ninjaflex.
Also download and print the 2 pieces of
the flexible enclosure for the Gemma microcontroller and battery, from thingiverse.com/
thing:262522. Since its printed in NinjaFlex, the
enclosure is soft and flexible, yet firm enough
to protect your components (Figure C ). The
enclosure shape includes tabs for pinning or
sewing to your garment.

2. PREPARE THE NEOPIXEL STRIP

Prepare the input end of your NeoPixel strip by


tinning the pads with solder. The strip wont work
if you solder wires to the wrong end, so be sure
the arrows on the PCB point away from the end
youre wiring.
Solder 3 stranded wires, about 8" long, to the
tinned pads of the NeoPixel strip. To prevent the
solder joints from being too cramped, solder the
center pads wire on the reverse side of the PCB
as shown: 2 on top, one on bottom (Figure D ).
Wrap 3 rare-earth magnets in tape to prevent

Becky Stern

Cyberpunk Spikes

short circuits (Figure E ), and slide them into the


NeoPixel strip sheathing on the underside of the
PCB (Figure F ). Our spike strip is 16 pixels long,
and we used 3 magnets evenly spaced (one at
each end and one in the center).
Prepare a protected work surface in an area
with good ventilation.
Use Permatex 66B silicone adhesive to affix
the 3D-printed spikes to the NeoPixel strip
(Figure G ). Apply adhesive to both the strips
silicone sheathing and the NinjaFlex strip of
spikes, using a toothpick to spread it around if
necessary (Figure H ).
Squish a bit of silicone adhesive into the ends
of the NeoPixel strip sheathing to provide water
resistance and strain relief (Figure I ). Allow
adhesive to dry overnight.

3. ASSEMBLE THE CIRCUIT

Route your NeoPixel strips wires through the


hole at the top of the enclosure (Figure J , on the
following page), and solder them up to Gemma
as follows: NeoPixel GND to Gemma GND;
NeoPixel + to Gemma Vout; and NeoPixel signal
to Gemma D1 (Figure K ).
Seat Gemma into the round outline inside the
enclosure, with the USB port facing its opening
at the bottom end of the enclosure (Figure L ).
Use a JST extension and slide switch to
make this tiny adapter (Figure M ). Solder the
connections as shown, and insulate with heatshrink tubing.

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COSTUMES
& MAKEUP

The slide switch fits into the opening in the


enclosure (Figure N ). Now you can easily power
up your circuit while still making it easy to
disconnect the battery for recharging.
Connect the battery, fit everything neatly in the
enclosure (Figure O ), and press on the lid.

connected. Normally this would be a pin


number, but we previously declared the
symbol PIN to refer to it by name here.
A value indicating the type of NeoPixels that
are connected. (You can leave this off; its
mainly needed for older NeoPixels.)

4. LOAD THE CODE

DEFINING COLORS AND BRIGHTNESS

Download the NeoPixel library from github.com/


adafruit/Adafruit_NeoPixel. Rename the folder
(containing the Adafruit_NeoPixel.h and .cpp files)
to Adafruit_NeoPixel (with the underscore and
everything), and place it alongside your other
Arduino libraries, typically in your [home folder]/
Documents/Arduino/Libraries folder.
Now open the strandtest.ino sketch from the
Examples sub-folder, and upload it to the
Gemma using the Arduino IDE.
Did that sound like gibberish to you?
Its easy if its your first time, just
read the Introducing Gemma and
NeoPixel guides at learn.adafruit.
com before you start.
The code is well commented to
guide you through each part of the
sketch and what it does. Lets have
a look:

DECLARING AN OBJECT

All NeoPixel sketches begin by including the


header file:
#include <Adafruit_NeoPixel.h>
The next line of code assigns a number to
the symbol PIN for later reference. (This isnt
necessary, it just makes it easier if you want
to change the microcontroller pin where the
NeoPixels are connected without digging
deeper into the code.) Your strip is connected to
Gemmas pin 1:

The next block of code lets you define favorite


colors, which the NeoPixel will call upon later:
// Here is where you can put in your
favorite colors that will appear!
// Just add new {nnn, nnn, nnn}, lines.
They will be picked out randomly
//
R G B
uint8_t myColors[][3] = {{232, 100, 255},
// purple
{200, 200, 20},
// yellow
{30, 200, 200},
// blue
};
There are 2 ways to set the color of any pixel. The
first is:
strip.setPixelColor(n, red, green, blue);
The first argument n in this example is
the pixel number along the strip, starting from
0 closest to the Arduino. If you have a strip of
30 pixels, theyre numbered 0 through 29. Its a
computer thing. (Youll see various places in the
code using a for loop, passing the loop counter
variable as the pixel number to this function, to
set the values of multiple pixels.)
The next 3 arguments are the pixel color,
expressed as numerical brightness levels for
red, green, and blue, where 0 is dimmest (off)
and 255 is maximum brightness.
An alternate syntax has just 2 arguments:

#define PIN 1
The next line declares a NeoPixel object:
N

Adafruit_NeoPixel strip = Adafruit_


NeoPixel(16, PIN, NEO_GRB + NEO_KHZ800);
Well refer to this by name later to control
the strip of pixels. There are 3 parameters or
arguments in parentheses:
The number of sequential NeoPixels in the
strip, in our case 16. (Yours might be longer.)
The pin to which the NeoPixel strip is

O
18

strip.setPixelColor(n, color);
Here, color is a 32-bit type that merges the red,
green, and blue values into a single number. This
is sometimes easier or faster for programs to
work with; youll see the strandtest code uses
both syntaxes in different places.
You can also convert separate red, green, and
blue values into a single 32-bit type for later use:
uint32_t magenta = strip.Color(255, 0, 255);

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Cyberpunk Spikes

IMPORTANT:

setPixelColor() does not


have an immediate effect on the LEDs. To
push the color data to the strip, call show():
strip.show();
This updates the whole strip at once, and
despite the extra step is actually a good thing.
If every call to setPixelColor() had an
immediate effect, animation would appear
jumpy rather than buttery smooth.

Then later you can just pass magenta as an


argument to setPixelColor rather than the
separate red, green, and blue numbers each time.
The overall brightness of all the LEDs can be
adjusted using setBrightness(). This takes a
single argument, a number in the range 0 (off) to
255 (max brightness). For example, to set a strip
to brightness, use:

NOTE: Since you sealed up


the LED strip with adhesive,
this accessory is fairly
water-resistant. But turn it
off and remove the battery if
you get stuck in a torrential
downpour!

strip.setBrightness(64);

ANIMATED EFFECTS

In the strandtest example, loop() doesnt set


any pixel colors on its own it calls other
functions that create animated effects. So ignore
it for now and look ahead, inside the individual
functions, to see how the strip is controlled.
Youll see code blocks with parameters you
can tweak to:
change the rate of twinkling
change the number of pixels to light at
one time
transition colors gradually through the
whole spectrum
display rainbow colors, static or animated
flash or fade random pixels.

5. WEAR IT!

You can stitch or pin the 3D-printed enclosure


to your garment wherever youd like, using the
mounting tabs (Figure P ). For permanent use,
stitch a pocket for this enclosure inside your
garment and route the wires inside.
Use a fluffy bun-maker hair accessory and tuck
the enclosure under it to wear these spikes
around your head (Figure Q )!
Epaulets, two styles (Figures R and S ).
Around the collar (see page 16).
Cyber dragon, anyone? Try the crystal-inspired
spikes (Figure A , page 17).
How will you wear it? Wed love to see
your variations!

See more photos, and share your spike


builds and costume ideas at makezine.
com/projects/cyberpunk-spikes. This
tutorial originally appeared on the
Adafruit Learning System at learn.
adafruit.com/cyberpunk-spikes.

makezine.com

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COSTUMES
& MAKEUP

Headless
Marie
Antoinette
Create the illusion of holding your own decapitated head
{ BY NICOLE MAGNE }

Plaster of Paris
Sealer and mold release agent for plaster
mold.
Urethane liquid flexible foam or blue sheet
foam insulation I cast the costume bust with
FlexFoam-iT X liquid foam (purchased from
smooth-on.com). You can use also use blue
foam insulation from the hardware store and
carve it with a hot wire.
Acrylic paints
Wooden dowels or other piping
Backpack
Fabric
Oversized dress
Long gloves
Cotton stuffing
Wire
Sewing machine

1. SCULPT THE BUST WITH CLAY

I decided to make the bust first, and to


create the rest of the costume around it.
A hunk of clay and several hours were
spent sculpting a creepy, skinny torso with
super-fake-looking boobs.

2. TURN THE BUST INTO FOAM

Next, I poured a 2-part plaster mold over


the clay bust. Once the mold was removed, I
coated the interior with a sealer and release
agent, and poured in liquid urethane foam.
Once the foam cured, I removed the plaster
and was rewarded with a Nerf-like copy of
20

the bust. (Instead of sculpting and casting,


you can also carve the bust directly into
plain blue sheet insulation foam.) Use
acrylic paints to add a dead skin effect,
because aerosols wont set.

3. RAISE THE BUST

With my boyfriend Andys help, I welded


a rig to hold the bust above my head. But
I suggest using wooden dowels, as they
are lighter and cheaper. We used copper
pipes because we already had them, and
because welding is fun.
Measure the dowels to start at the
lower back and extend to just above the
head. If its too high, it will ruin the illusion
because the arms will look too long the
key to this costume is proportion. We then
put a stabilizer at the top notice mine is
slightly too low. I drilled a couple of holes in
the foam, inserted the pipes, and poured in
leftover foam for sturdiness.
I used backpack straps to hold my rig
in place. I cut everything off the backpack
except for the straps and the back panel.
Then I attached long, narrow pockets down
the length of the backpack for the pipes

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Nicole Magne

Sculpting clay

veryone knows Halloween is a great


opportunity to scare the crap out of
your friends and look good doing it.
My costume idea was inspired by Sofia
Coppolas Marie Antoinette movie that
came out in 2006. I found a bunch of great
headless costumes online that used the
basic technique I wanted. Being a fan of
zombie flicks, I took this inspiration to the
next level, aiming for gory realism. I really
enjoyed making this costume; it took about
3 weekends and cost about $70.

Andrew Bart

MATERIALS

to fit into. We salvaged straps with clips


from the backpack and used them across
the chest to pull the rig tight and vertical.
Without that strapping, the whole rig
would be completely unstable. I suggest
adding a strap across the stomach as well.

4. DRESS UP MARIE

Nicole Magne

Andrew Bart

Headless Marie Antoinette

My friend Temperance McDonald helped


me with the sewing. I lucked out and got
the main dress at the thrift store for $3. I
put on the backpack and bust, and then we
put the dress over it. We now knew where
to cut out holes for my head and arms.
Next, we made the top skirt out of
a large scrap of fabric for $15 this
created the illusion of the waist (really
my neck). Its basically a cape, with a hole
through the right side for my arm, which
connects through to the lower half of the
right sleeve. With my left arm hidden
underneath the top skirt, and my right
hand in plain view in a bloodied glove,
I was free to use both hands whenever I
needed to.
The left arm was a fake a wire
skeleton wrapped in cotton batting, stuffed
into a long glove sewn closed to the end of
the sleeve. It was completely posable and
was tacked into place once the costume
was on. The shoulders and arm were
stuffed with cotton to fill them out. Makeup,
hair, and blood-red paint helped to finish
the effect.
Although this costume may appear
uncomfortable, I had excellent mobility. I
could move my head, dance around, get
into cars (headfirst), and have a great time.
Variations on this costume could include
The Corpse Bride in a wedding outfit or
Lumberjack Who Cut Off His Head with a
Chainsaw. Keep in mind that the shorter
you are, the better this illusion will work
Im 5'8", so the entire costume was over 6'
high for me.

makezine.com

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COSTUMES
& MAKEUP

DIY Chainmail
Make yourself a shirt fit for a knight
{ WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY JASON POEL SMITH }

hainmail (or mail or maille)is a type


of armor made from metal rings that
are joined together in a pattern to
form a protective mesh.Historically this
kind of armor was used to protect soldiers
on the battlefield from slashing and
stabbing injuries caused by swords, axes,
spears, and such. This kind of protective
gear is still usedby some butchers and
shark divers.
In addition to being able to protect the

22

wearer from sharp objects, mail is also


useful for protecting against high voltage
electricity. Many people who work with
high-voltage devices (such as Tesla coils)
also use chainmail as a wearable Faraday
cage. The metal is very conductive, so it is
able to safelyredirect electricity around
their bodies.
In this project, Ill give you a basic
introduction to the art of making chainmail
in its various forms.

MATERIALS:

Wire, 14-18 gauge steel, about 900 yds

TOOLS:

Bolt cutters and needlenose pliers (2 pair)


Wood dowel, " or ", and leather gloves
Drill (optional)

WHAT YOU'LL NEED

The only material you need to make basic


chainmail is metal wire. The kind of wire
that you need depends on the specific
application. Chainmail armor is typically
made from steel wire with a thickness
between 18 gauge and 14 gauge. A shirt
of chainmail will require about mile
(0.8km) of wire! You can buy large spools
of wire at any store that sells fencing
supplies. If youre making jewelry,

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Chainmail

1a

1b

1c

2a

2b

2c

youll want to get thinner wire that has


a non-reactive coating. You can find
appropriate wire in a variety of colors at
most craft stores.
Youll also need some basic tools. You
need a dowel to wrap the wire around. You
need wire cutters or bolt cutters to cut
out the individual rings. Then to bend the
wires into their final shape, youll need 2
pairs of needlenose pliers.

1. WINDING THE RINGS

The rings are made by wrapping the wire


around a cylinder to create long springs.
The springs are then cut into individual
rings. So the first thing you need to do is
select a rod to wrap the wire around. A
wooden dowel usually works fine. The
diameter of the rod depends on the size
of the rings you want to use. Chainmail
armor is typically made with 16 gauge
wire with rings that are about " in
diameter. Keep in mind that the finished
rings will be a little bigger than the rod
because they will spring back after being
bent into shape.
Once you have the rod, you just need to
wrap the wire around it. There are several
things you can do to make this easier.
First, I highly recommend that you wear
gloves. Most chainmail projects require
a lot of rings and your hands will get sore
and blistered after a while.
Second, drill a hole through the rod
thats the same diameter as your wire.
Then insert one end of the wire through
the hole to hold it in place as you are

winding. You can wind rings a lot faster


if you only have to hold onto one end of
the wire.
To hold the rod steady, you can make
a winding stand. You can see a simple
example in this Instructable by Matthew
Beckler: instructables.com/id/Ye-Olde-

Chain-Maille-Rings. It takes far less effort


to turn the rod if you have it supported and
stabilized on a stand.
Lastly, you can use a motor to turn the
rod for you. If youre using a rod that is
" in diameter or smaller, you can insert
the end directly into a drill. This makes
the process much faster and easier. Then
all you have to do is guide the wire as it is
wound up into a coil.

2. CUTTING THE RINGS

Now that you have a long coil of wire,


you need to cut it into individual
springs. If youre using steel wire, youll
probably need to use bolt cutters. I dont
recommend using a high-speed cutting
tool unless you have a strong vacuum set
up with it. Most steel wire is galvanized
to prevent rust, and high speed cutters
can throw zinc dust into the air that is
bad to breathe.
For softer wires such as copper, gold,
or silver, you can use simple handheld
wire cutters.

3. JOINING THE RINGS

There are 3 main ways that the rings can


be joined together. They can be butted,
riveted, or welded.
When making butted rings, the coils
are cut in a straight line. This produces
simple rings with ends that are slightly
offset from each other. These rings can
easily be bent open with pliers to connect
them to other rings and then bent back
to close them. This is called butted mail

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COSTUMES
& MAKEUP

3a

3b

4a

because the ends of the rings are just


butted up against each other. This is by far
the fastest and easiest method, so its the
method thats most commonly used.
To make riveted rings, the rings are
cut so that the 2 ends overlap. They are
then hammered flat. A hole is punched
in the overlapping section. Then a
small piece of wire is inserted into the
hole and hammered so that the ends
flatten and lock it in place. This method
produces very strong rings but is
extremely time-intensive.
Welded rings are cut the same as a
butted ring. But after closing the ring, the
ends are welded together. This is usually
done with a high-current electric welder
such as a pulse arc welder. This makes
rings with superior strength and it is much
faster than making riveted rings, but it
requires you to purchase special welding
equipment. You can find a few examples at
theringlord.com.

24

4. THE EUROPEAN WEAVE

Now that you have your rings, you need to


link them together in a pattern. The most
common pattern for chainmail armor is
called the European weave. (However
it was also commonly used outside of
Europe.) In this style, the rings are laid
out in 2 sets of parallel rows that intersect
each other at a slight angle. Each ring is
angled relative to the other rings that it is
attached to. This creates a rippled surface.
The most basic version of this pattern is
the European 4 in 1, so called because
each ring is linked to 4 other rings in the
opposite orientation. To assemble the
rings, take 4 closed rings and connect
them all with a fifth ring. Then lay them
on the table so that the 4 rings are all
in the same orientation (opposite of the
center ring). Then lay another 2 closed
rings beside them in the same orientation
as the first 4. Then use another ring to
link these to the 2 end rings as shown in

Figure 4b . You can continue this pattern


in both directions until you have a sheet
of chainmail. You can then shape it into
whatever you want.
There are several other variations
of this pattern. European 6 in 1 is the
same as 4 in 1 except that each ring
is linked to 6 other rings instead of just
4. Kings mail is the same as 4 in 1
except that each ring in the pattern is
replaced with 2 rings.

5. THE JAPANESE WEAVE

In the Japanese weave one set of rings


lays flat and they are connected by a
second set of rings that are perpendicular
to the first set. In Japanese 4 in 1 the
connecting rings are set at 90 angles
to each other. In Japanese 6 in 1 the
connecting rings are set at 60 angles. In
some cases these connecting rings are
made smaller in order to make the armor
more dense.

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Chainmail

4b

4c

4d

5a

5b

5c

This style of chainmail is generally less


dense and protective than European
chainmail, because it was rarely used
as the primary armor. More often, it was
used to hold together heavier armor such
as metal plates.

6. MAKE A SUIT OF CHAINMAIL ARMOR

To make a shirt of chainmail, start


by making a strip of chainmail that is
several inches wide and long enough to
comfortably go around your chest at the
widest point. The lines that are created
by the ripple pattern should be oriented
vertically. This makes the shirt more
flexible and helps keep the rings from
deforming under the weight of the shirt.
Connect the ends of the strap into a loop.
Then make 2 other strips that will
connect to the first as shoulder straps.
Again, the ridges of the chainmail should
be oriented vertically. Connect these
straps in the locations that correspond to
the middle of the shoulder.
Add rings to the bottom of the first strap
and continue the pattern down until the
bottom hangs several inches below your
belt when worn. Add rings to the top to
give the desired neck and arm holes.
To make sleeves, start by extending
the pattern of the arm straps out to each
side. Once the sleeves extend several
inches past the side of the shirt, add

rings to connect the bottom edges into


a tube. Keep in mind that you want the
sleeves to be fairly baggy in order to get
the shirt on and off. Lastly connect the
inner edge of the sleeve to the side to
close off the armpits. Its a good idea to
try on the shirt periodically to see if it
needs any adjustments.
To make pants, use the same basic

procedure. Make a strip that fits around


the widest part of your hips. Continue the
pattern up to your waist where you can
tie it with a rope belt. Then continue the
pattern down to a few inches past where
your pants normally split into separate
legs. Then make 2 separate tubes for your
legs and join them together at the top.
Youre ready for the battlefield.

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COSTUMES
& MAKEUP

Calling all salty


sea dogs
Your matey will look shipshape in this piratical costume

Robyn Twomey

{ BY ANDREA DeHART }

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Robyn Twomey

Salty Sea Dog Costume

1. CUT OUT AND SEW THE SHIRT

1a. To begin, cut all the fabric pieces out,


using the patterns at makezine.com/go/
pirate-dog.
1b. Fold the cuffs lengthwise with the
wrong sides together, and pin to the right
side of the sleeves. Slightly stretch the
cuffs to match the notches on the sleeves,
and sew.
Repeat for neckband.
1c. Press the seam allowances toward
the body.
1d. Attach the sleeves to the bodice,
matching notches around the armholes.
1e. Sew the sleeves closed beginning at the

Andrea DeHart

ve never owned a store-bought


costume. I was one of those kids lucky
enough to have a super crafty mom
who would jump on her sewing machine
and whip up anything from a place mat to
a prom dress without hesitation. When
Halloween came around each year,
she would fulfill our wildest fantasies
no matter what the request. I loved my
homemade costumes, and no other kid in
school had a custom costume like mine.
Following in my moms footsteps, I too
enjoy the thrill of the challenge. So when
I was asked to design a canine costume, I
said, Aye, Capn!
If youre looking to turn your dog pal
into a swashbuckling seafarer with style,
set your sights on this project. Moderate
sewing skills are required, but the
supplies will only set you back a couple of
doubloons. Although the outfit was created
for a pug, you can easily alter the pattern
pieces to fit most small dogs.
Pirate accoutrements complete the
costume; included in the pattern are a
functional pirate hat and belt. Dont forget
to pick up a miniature fake parrot for the
shoulder (or train yours if you have a real
one). Other pirate pizzazz to plunder: a
small toy sword, a pouch filled with gold
coins, an eye patch, a treasure chest, a
large bone, and some gold hoop earrings.
Mass-market costumes can walk
the plank!

1b

Materials
ADD EXTRA YARDAGE FOR A LARGER DOG:
yd 60"-wide, red and white striped, stretch
knit fabric for shirt
yd 45"-wide, red, rib knit fabric for
neckband and shirt sleeve cuffs
yd 45"-wide, medium-weight, black satin
fabric for pants
6" length of " red hook-and-loop fastener
tape aka velcro tape
10" length of " black hook-and-loop
fastener tape

1b

3" gold buttons (2)


9"12" piece of 2mm white foam sheet or
pre-cut, white, adhesive foam skull and
crossbones, patch or sticker, 2" or smaller
12"18" piece of 3mm black foam sheet

1d

1d

1e

1e

/3 yd 6" flat gold braid trim


1yd " clear elastic
Small fake parrot
Craft glue, hole punch, common sewing
supplies
Patterns Download the free PDF from
makezine.com/go/pirate-dog

GENERAL ASSEMBLY GUIDELINES:

All seam allowances are " unless


otherwise noted. See pattern pieces for
notes on making size adjustments.

1f

cuff, along the underarm, and continuing


across the front chest.
Finish the bottom edge of the shirt by
pressing under " and topstitching.
1f. On the right center chest seam,
turn under 1" and baste closed. Pin the
appropriate length of loop tape fastener on
the side of the shirt that faces inward. Sew
around all 4 sides of fastener.
On the left side of the center chest seam,
sew the matching length of hook tape on

the side of the shirt that faces outward.


1g. Attach the parrot to the shoulder by
using a whipstitch around the birds legs.
(Some fake parrots come with a wire
extending from the legs that can also be
used to secure the bird to the shirt.)

2. SEW THE PANTS

2a. Run a basting stitch 1" and another


" from the bottom of the leg opening
between the notches.

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2b

2c

2b. Pull the basting stitches to gather the


pants, matching notches on the band.
With the right sides together, pin and
sew the 2 pieces together. Remove the
basting stitches.
2c. Turn under " on the raw edge of
the band pieces, and press. Fold band
lengthwise and baste in place.
On the outside of the pants, topstitch
the top of the band.
2d. Finish the bottom edge of the pants
and back opening by pressing under "
and topstitching.
2e. Turn under 1" on the rear side of the
pant leg inner seam and baste closed.
Pin the appropriate length of loop tape
fastener to the inside of this fold. Sew
around all 4 sides of the fastener.
On the opposite side of the pant leg
inner seam, sew the matching length of
hook tape to the front.
2f. Sew a gold button on the outer side of
each pant leg band, centered.
With right sides together, sew the
shirt to the pants at the waist with a "
seam allowance.
Press the seams open.

28

2e

3c

2f

4a

ADD ALTERNATE ACCESSORIES:


Feel free to add extra props
to the belt, such as a dangling
pouch of gold coins or a small
toy sword. Also consider a
feather, pirate flag, treasure
chest, eye patch, bandana,
hook, or wooden leg.
3. MAKE THE HAT

3a. From the pattern, cut the hat shape


from the 3mm black foam sheet, then
center the skull detail and secure with
craft glue.
3b. Close the hat by overlapping the side
flaps in the back, and glue.
Glue the gold trim close to the edge at
the top of the hat.
3c. Punch 4 holes at the bottom of the hat,
matching the dots on the pattern.
Thread clear elastic through the holes
as shown, to create the Y-shaped strap.
Secure the open ends of the elastic to the
strap, 3" from the bottom of the hat, by
folding under " and hand-stitching with
thread in an X formation.

4. MAKE THE BELT

Robyn Twomey

2a

Andrea DeHart

COSTUMES
& MAKEUP

buckle. Center the skull detail and secure


with glue.
4b. Measure the dogs waist, around the
seam where the shirt and pants meet, and
add 4". You may need to cut 2 strips of the
3mm foam sheet to get the desired length
(they can meet underneath the middle of
the buckle).
Once cut, center the buckle in the
middle of the belt, and glue.
4c. Cut two 2" strips of loop tape and
position them horizontally on the top side
of one end of the belt.
Cut two 2" strips of hook tape and
position them vertically on the bottom side
of the opposite end of the belt.
Glue all pieces in place. Your piratical
pooch costume is ready to wear!

4a. Glue gold trim around the edge of the

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Salty Sea Dog Costume and Demon Horns

Demon Horns
T

hese horns are easy to modify to fit


the shape and size of your costume
character. You can also modify their
texture to make them as realistic or as
fantastical as you need. Heres how to
carve them from flexible foam, then
texture them with a liquid-latex technique
that looks great.

1. MAKE A PAPER PATTERN

Draw a horn shape on paper and cut it out.

2. TRACE ONTO FOAM AND CUT OUT

Trace your horn pattern onto the foam with


a marker and cut it out with scissors or
a box cutter knife. If your foam is too thin
to use as a single layer, cut out duplicate
horn shapes and glue them together.

3. GLUE FOAM LAYERS TOGETHER

Glue the 2 layers with hot glue, liquid latex,


or contact cement, and let dry.

4. DRAW GUIDELINES

Now draw the shape of the base of the


horn onto the bottom of the foam.

Make flexible horns from


foam and paper towels
any size for Halloween
costumes or cosplay
MATERIALS:

Paper, 8.5"11"
Polyurethane foam, flexible, 1'1' aka
upholstery foam.
Hot glue

5. REFINE SHAPE WITH SCISSORS

Using scissors or a box cutter, slowly trim


off small pieces of foam to shape the horn.
Dont worry about making it perfectly
smooth. Match your second horn to the
first to be sure theyre the same shape.

6. FINAL TRIMMING

Cut out a shallow trench on the base of


each horn. It should be deep enough to fit
the headband into, so that the horn will sit

{ BY BREANNA COOKE }

flush against your head. If youd like your


horns to tilt backward, trim the base of the
horn at an angle.

7. COVER THE FOAM HORNS

Tear strips of paper towel long enough to


wrap around the horns. Starting at the tip
of the horn, brush a layer of liquid latex
onto the foam, apply the paper towel, then
brush on another layer of latex to coat the
paper towel. Repeat, working your way
down to the base of the horn.
To create ridges on the horns, roll the
edge of the paper towel before applying it.

8. ADD PAINT

When the latex is dry it might still be tacky;


just dust it with baby powder.
The horns can be painted with regular
acrylic paints. Start with a light-colored
base coat, then build up darker colors. To
achieve the rough gradient effect shown
here, use a dry-brushing technique: put a
bit of paint on your brush and let it become
slightly dry as you apply it to the horn.

9. GLUE HORNS TO HEADBAND

Fill the trench with hot glue or contact


cement, then push the headband into place.

GOING FURTHER

Modify these horns for any costume!


Attach them to a helmet or headpiece. To
make the headband more comfortable,
wrap it with fabric or ribbon. And for added
security, especially for a performance,
glue small hair combs to the base of the
horns and/or sides of the headband.

Liquid latex or mask latex Available at


costume, theatre, or mold-making
supply stores.
Breanna Cooke

Paper towels (10) or tissue paper


Plastic headband
Acrylic paints from a craft store. I used
black, tan, and white.

TOOLS:

Marker

Scissors, small
Box cutter knife
Hot glue gun
Paint brushes: medium (2), small (1)

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COSTUMES
& MAKEUP

They Live!
Modify store-bought masks to create unique costumes
{ BY KIERSTEN ESSENPREIS }

f youre like me and my friends,


Halloween is all about trying to outdo
the previous years costume. A few years
back we decided to re-create the aliens
from John Carpenters 80s cult classic,
They Live.And we did it all for under $15!
Although this project is fairly simple, it
does help to have (or know someone with)
an artistic background or skills in painting.

1. Sculpt and graft 2 maSKS

The first step is to create the bottom layer


the pulpy, muscle texture that will later
be painted reddish-pink.

Simply add a little water to your papiermch, and spread an even layer on your
white mask. Cover the whole forehead and
cheek area, then add texture by using a
toothpick or popsicle stick to simply draw
loose vertical lines down the material
while its still wet.
Allow to dry a few hours. It will turn
colors, from dark gray to light gray.
Next, its time to elongate the jaw. Take
your skull mask and cut the jawline out.
Make sure to include the gum area, teeth
and entire chin area. We used a Dremel,
but you can use scissors or a sharp blade.

Be careful, some plastic doesnt cut easily!


Once the papier-mch on the white
mask is dry, you can begin to cut its jawline
as well. Dont worry about it being perfect,
you can smooth it out later.
Next, take the skull mask, place it in
front of and in line with the white mask,
and hot-glue it together.
Now take your Paperclay and fill in any
holes that may be showing. This material
is easy to smooth, so be sure to cover the
entire gap between the adjoined masks.
Now comes the fun part! Take more
of your Paperclay and begin to sculpt the
structure of the mask. You may want to
start along the jawline and work your way
up to the cheeks and eye sockets.
Be sure to create some depth on the
cheekbones and brows. You want it to
resemble a skull.
Also try to create a few angled and
vertical strips starting from the top of the
brow and going to the top of the mask. This
will make it appear that the pulpy muscle
texture is breaking through the skin.

2. Paint

Once the Paperclay is dry (a few hours or


overnight), spray the whole mask with a
white primer. This will give you a blank
canvas thats easier to paint.
Once thats all dry, take out your acrylics
and brushes. Begin with the red muscle
areas. Alternate between pinks, browns,
and reds to create a more realistic look.
You can add highlights to the raised

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Mask Modification

MATERIALS

Plastic Halloween eyeglasses


Basic plain white mask
Basic skull mask
Block of Paperclay
Papier-mch We used CelluClay but you
can also make your own.
Silver spray paint
Gloss varnish or spray
Acrylic paints
Spray primer

TOOLS

Dremel tool or sharp knife


Hot glue gun
Paint brushes

areas simply by using a thin brush and


white paint. The same goes for the valley
areas, but use a dark brown or black paint.
Once thats dry, mix up a blueish-teal
color and paint the skin.
The teeth should already be white, but I
liked to age mine by creating a yellowishbrown wash (just add a bit of water to your
paint) and cover the entire jaw area. Also
be sure to add some dark spots between
the teeth to make them extra gross!

3. Make the alien eyes

Now for the eyes. We found some cheap,


bug-eyed glasses at a Halloween party
store and popped out the lenses. Next we
took a Dremel (but you can use a knife)
and cut a star-like pattern in each lens.
This would allow more visibility, and its
consistent with most of the actual movie
aliens. Paint the lenses silver and let dry.
Take your hot glue gun and apply the
lenses to the eye sockets. If there are any
holes or glue showing, just apply a thin
layer of black acrylic and let dry.

Now for the easiest step yet! Apply a very


thin layer of gloss medium. This will make
the mask really come to life.
Allow to dry for a few hours and youre
all set! Add any type of wig and clothing
(keeping in mind that most of the aliens
from the movie are wealthy people,
politicians, or law enforcement) and youre
good to go.
OBEY. CONSUME. STAY ASLEEP.

Kiersten Essenpreis

4. finishing touches

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COSTUMES
& MAKEUP

Transformers!
Soundwave Costume
{ BY CHARLES MANGIN }

Make a classic 1980s Decepticon from cardboard boxes and duct tape
Cardboard

Duct tape Useful for adding colored trim.


Self-adhesive shelf liner Available in a
surprising number of solid colors and
textures online.

TOOLS

Scissors or craft knife

32

or Halloween 2014, my son, Ben (then


5), and I built his costume together. In
previous years, he had worn the usual
toddler fare store-bought monkey,
dragon, and Buzz Lightyear costumes
but this time he had found inspiration
atMaker Faire North Carolina, in the
form ofa costumed exhibitor dressed as
Soundwave, the Decepticon from the first
generation of Transformers toys.
While we were there, Ben mostly fixated
on the working MAME video game setup

in Soundwaves chest, where the pop-out


microcassette tape deck would be on the
toy. But when we got home he started
asking if he could dress up like that blue
robot for Halloween. Yes!

1. PLANNING AND GATHERING


MATERIALS

After giving Ben a crash course on


Transformers: Generation 1, we looked
online and found plenty of reference
material for the original toy, other peoples

Charles Mangin

MATERIALS

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Charles Mangin

Transformers Costume

costumes, and even 3D models. So I


started to gather materials. Being a boxy
robot from the 80s, and not one of the
ambling heaps of scrap metal of the more
recent Michael Bay incarnations (not that
Im bitter), Soundwave could be composed
mainly of cardboard.
For his hands, Ben would wear a pair
ofpadded bike gloves he already had. A
few other details, like the Decepticon logo,
would be purchased online. For the bulk of
the costumes blue, white, and red colors,
rather than paint, we used self-adhesive
shelf liner. Shelf liner even comes in a
metallic faux stainless steel, which served
perfectly for some of the more robotic
details. Of course, no project would be
complete without duct tape, which also
comes in a variety of colors.
We started with a basic shape for
the chest and shoulders that I cut out
freehand, quickly realizing it was much
too big. To get a better sense of the scale,
I took some photos of Ben with his arms
out and used a photo editor to overlay
measurements. This made sketching the
costumes pieces much easier, and kept
everything to the proper scale.

2. ROUGH DRAFT

The next pieces to come together were the


lower arms. My process for these, which I
applied to all of the arm and leg parts, was
to fold a rough version of the part around
Ben, marking on the cardboard where I
thought it needed to cut and fold.
After modifying my rough part, cutting
and taping until it fit, I took it apart and
used it as a template for the final pieces.
Ben helped me trace the outline onto 2
new pieces of cardboard, and even made
some of the cuts (with help). The left side
was a mirror of the right, which meant

simply flipping the template piece over. We


proceeded this way for the arms and legs,
building chunky Soundwave feet around
Bens rain boots, so we knew they would fit
and be easy to get on and off.

3. ALL THE PIECES COME TOGETHER

When it came to Soundwaves head, I used


the inside of Bens bike helmet as a guide.
It wasnt a perfect fit, but the helmet didnt
squirm when I tried to take measurements.
After several fittings, adjustments and
redesigns, the head fit comfortably and
allowed an unobstructed view.

4. COVER IT ALL IN SHELF PAPER

Through all these phases, the cardboard


pieces were held together with blue
painters tape, which has just enough
adhesive to keep things from falling apart,
but can still be repositioned (unlike duct
tape or glue). And in the end, I wasnt
worried about a rough appearance, with
bits of cardboard and blue tape, scribbled
with my measurements and crossed-out
cut lines. They were all covered up and
smoothed over by the shelf liner.
Between the shelf liners adhesive
and the strategic application of duct
tape, the costume was sturdy enough to
survive several showings, including Bens
preschool Halloween costume parade. Im
not sure how popular I am with the other
dads after that day, since a good number
of Bens classmates suddenly wanted to
make cardboard robots, too.
For the actual trick-or-treating, I added
a few details that would show up best once
the sun went down. Some chunky 8mm
LEDs, connected very simply to coin cell
batteries and pushed through holes in the
costume, were the finishing touches that
brought Soundwave to life.
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COSTUMES
& MAKEUP

Burlesque
Bouquet
Pile on the fruit for a
Carmen Miranda-style headdress

Beth Perkins

{ BY ANGIE PONTANI }

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Carmen Miranda-Style Headdress

1. SEW THE HEADDRESS TIE

Cut your fabric 12" wide and 50" long.


Fold in half lengthwise, then sew the open
edges together with a strong, tight stitch
(by hand or machine). Now youve got a 6"wide belt with openings at both ends (like
a flat fabric tube). Stitch one of the open
ends with a tight stitch.

Invert your material (turn it inside out,


which is actually right side in), and turn
in the one remaining open side, as if you
were doing a hem. Secure with straight
pins, and stitch closed. Warm iron flat.

2. MAKE TIE SLITS AND THREAD HEAD TIE

Using your X-Acto knife, make two 3"


slices in your basket, one on either side
of where it will sit on your head, at least
2" in from the outer edges, and at least 3"
away from each other. Thread your fabric
through your new slits. Start underneath
your basket, pull up through the top, lay
it flat across the center, then pull down
through the other side.

Angie Pontani

ve always had an affinity for over-thetop embellishments gold fleck paint


on a mirror, glitter-encrusted twigs in
an oversized floral arrangement. I think
my Italian-American, East Coast heritage
has something to do with this affliction.
For years, I didnt know where to direct
my desire to bedazzle everything in sight,
until one Halloween when my creative
parents dressed me as the grape cluster
from a Fruit of the Loom commercial.
Completing the spectacle of foam balls
spray-painted green and sewn to a
unitard was a headdress made from a
glittering twisted twig, adorned with a
rhinestone-embellished grape leaf. My
parents strapped it to my head, and my life
officially began.
I became a headdress maniac, and as
all headdress maniacs must do, I became
obsessed with the mother of us all, Carmen
Miranda. Best known for her fruit-basket
head arrangements, she literally rocked
hundreds of towering cornucopias filled
with everything from fruit to butterflies to
silk ribbons and glittering stars. If it could
be dreamed, it could be worn, and this
concept moved me to no end.
When I started my burlesque troupe,
the World Famous Pontani Sisters, in
1999, it was a no-brainer that one of our
first acts would be a mambo a tribute
to Carmen and to my Italian heritage.
Hence, Mambo Italiano was born. For this I
created three towering fruit headdresses,
covered in rhinestones, silk flowers, and
glittering baskets, measuring 1 feet
high. The act has toured a dozen times,
performing everywhere from New York to
Los Angeles.
I find headdresses the ultimate
expression in costuming. Whether its
feathers, baskets, or simple hair combs,
they allow you to turn a fabulous costume
into a truly sensational creation.

3. HOT-GLUE THE FABRIC

With your hot glue gun, seal the openings


to the fabric, and seal the fabric to the
basket. Dont worry if the glue drips
through the openings just make sure it
doesnt burn your fingers!
Remember like hair mousse and
rouge, less is more when it comes to hot
glue guns. A small amount will give you a
fabulous bond and look much neater.

4. LINE THE BASKET WITH FELT

Lining the basket helps secure the


head tie and also makes the fruit
bond better. Cut your felt to the size of
the interior diameter of your basket,
then apply hot glue to the felt before
laying it in the basket. Mount your
headdress on a styrofoam head until
it cools. You can use T-pins or extra
long straight pins to secure it.

5. ADD THE FRUIT AND GARNISH

Experiment with layering your fruit in


the basket. I prefer bananas down low
and in front, but its a personal choice.
When you have the first layer in an order
you like, note where the fruit touches
the basket. Hot glue clean lines onto the
fruit before placing them on the basket.
Hold them firmly in place until the glue
dries. Then build upon the bottom layer
of fruit by gluing more fruit on top of
it. Use the flowers and leaves to fill in
any open spots. Allow the headdress to
cool, feel for any loose fruits or flowers,
and secure with more hot glue.

Materials

Straw basket For this beginner model, I


prefer a plate-like basket with low sides, with
an approximately 9" diameter.
Spandex blend fabric (1 yard) This is used
to tie the basket to your head, and its stretch
enables you to feel secure. After you become
more comfortable, you can use almost any
type of fabric. I prefer silk crepe.
Styrofoam head found at wig and wellstocked beauty supply shops
T-pins or extra-long straight pins
Assorted plastic fruit (12 pieces) often found
at craft stores and floral shops
Assorted fake flowers with leaves (612)
Felt (1 yard) Any color, since it wont show
Hot glue gun
X-Acto knife and scissors
Iron
Needle and thread to match fabric

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COSTUMES
& MAKEUP

DIY

STILTS

Rise above with your own custom pair of stilts { BY MOLLY GRABER AND CHRIS MERRICK }

1. MEASURE AND CUT WOOD PIECES

1a. Determine how tall the stilts will be.

This will be the length measurement

36

for the pegs, labeled as piece A in the


assembly diagram (Diagram 1 ).
1b. Measure from the bottom of your shoe
to just below your knee and add 6". This
is the length measurement for the shin
supports (piece B).
1c. Using a measuring square, cut 2 pieces
of 1"1" wood to the length of A and
2 pieces to the length of B. Each stilt
needs an extra 7" piece of the 1"1"
wood for the foot platform (piece D).
1d. Cut the 2 support trapezoids (piece C)
to size and shape from the " plywood.
Sand all the edges.
1e. For the footplate (piece E), trace the
outline of your shoes on " plywood
and leave at least "" extra space
outside of the shoe on all sides. The
width should be at least 5" across at
the middle of the footplate. Cut out both
footplates and sand all the edges. Dont

round off the footplate where it will rest


against your shin support; this section
(the outer edge of each foot) needs to
follow a flat, straight line (Figure A ).

2. FOOTPLATE POSITION

Find your balance by balancing on a


dowel. Stand up straight with your feet
shoulder-width apart, line up your toes,
and find your most comfortable balancing
point by rolling the dowel back and forth
underneath your feet while looking
ahead. When you find the balancing point,
have someone mark the outside of your
shoes where the shoes intersect the
dowel (Figure B ). Set the shoes on the
footplates and mark each plate to match
each shoe (Figure A ).

3. DRILL THE WOOD PIECES

3a. For each stilt, you need to drill pieces

Freda Rowley/burningman.com

ave you ever dreamed of being really


tall? Walking on stilts is a fun and
adventurous sport, and they can
really spice up a Halloween costume.
But where are you going to get a decently
priced pair of stilts to get started with?
With these instructions, you can
affordably add as much height as you
want. You just need some simple tools
or a friend who can help!
Building your own stilts ensures that
theyre made just for your body, and when
youre done youve learned another crafty
skill. Then all you need is someone to help
you learn to walk tall and also how to
fall. Its a blast and we highly recommend
it. Stilt walking can be as easy as it looks.

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DIY Stilts
A, B, C, and D. Piece A will overlap
piece B by 6". Piece C is the next layer,
followed by piece D. Two bolts go
through each of these sets, as shown
in Diagram 1. Use caution when drilling
the holes: all pieces should be square
on top where the footplate will attach.

DIAGRAM 1

E
B

TIP: Label your pieces so that you can always


line them up exactly as you drilled them.
C

The footplate follows a straight


line against your shin support.

3b. Drill holes in B, as shown in Diagram 1,

with a " bit (Figure

).

B
Find your balancing point,
then mark where the
shoes intersect the dowel.

3c. Line up A to overlap B by 6", including

the drilled holes (Figure D ). On a flat


surface, clamp the 2 pieces together.
Drill through A using the holes already
drilled in B as a guide (Figure E ).
3d. Using a T square, line up A with C
(Figure F ). Clamp together and use the
holes already drilled in A to guide you as
you drill the holes in C.
3e. Line up D with C and use a T square for
the top edge. Clamp and use C to guide
you as you drill the hole in D (Figure G ).

Materials

Pair of shoes

Lumber 1"1" See Step 1 for lengths.


Find a straight piece of Douglas fir, ash, or
poplar, without bows or knots.
" plywood cabinet grade, enough for both
footplates and C pieces
" carriage bolts: 2" (4), 4" (2), and 5"
(2)
" nylon insert nuts (8)
Wood screws: 1" (18), " (4)

heads of the 5" and 4" carriage bolts


on the outside of the assembly (Figure
H ). If the pieces fit and form a flat rest
for your footplate, take them apart and
reassemble them, gluing each joint
as you go. (If not, carefully cut or sand
them flat and square.) Holding the head
of the bolt with pliers, tighten the nuts
with an 8" wrench so the bolts sink into
the wood. Pre-drill and screw 2 wood
screws through C, attaching it to D.
4b. Pay attention to how the footplate will
attach (Figure I ), lining up your marks
with the centerline of A and B. Arrange
the pieces for each stilt so that B is on
the outside of the shin. Pre-drill and
attach the footplate to D and A with
wood screws (Figure J , following page).

Recycled mountain bike tire

Wood glue
12" zip ties (4)
Foam padding
Strapping material 1"2" wide, about 6'
total length Seat belt strapping and nylon
webbing work well.

E
Drill through A using the holes
in B as a guide.

F
Using a T square, line up
A with C.

Velcro as wide as your strapping.


D-rings (4) as wide as your strapping
Thread
4" ABS pipe, 14" long

TOOLS

Cordless screwdriver
Drill and bits: " and 1"
8" socket wrench
Channel-lock pliers or Vise-Grips

G
Use C to guide you as you drill
the hole in D.

H
Practice with the carriage
bolts on the outside.

Reciprocating saw or handsaw


Sandpaper

WARNING:

Measuring square aka T square

5. PREPARE AND ATTACH SHIN GUARDS

Jigsaw

using a reciprocating saw or handsaw.


Then cut out a 3"-wide vertical section
from each, using a jigsaw (Figure K ,
following page).
5b. Clamp the ABS pipe in a vise, heat the
middle section with a propane torch,
and using a glove, gently bend the ABS

Propane torch

5a. Cut two 6" lengths of your ABS pipe

D
Line up A to overlap B by 6".

Flat washers (8) for carriage bolts

4. ASSEMBLE THE WOOD PIECES

4a. Practice assembling the stilt, with the

C
Drill holes in piece B with a
" bit.

When working
with power
tools, always
take safety
precautions.
Safety glasses
are recommended.

Safety glasses and heat glove


Vise
Clamp
Sewing machine
Dowel such as 1" PVC pipe or a broomstick
Table saw (optional)
Router (optional)

I
Each footplate sits on the peg so
that the shin support is on the
outside of the shin.

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6/26/16 1:38 PM

COSTUMES
& MAKEUP
to flare out to the shape of your shin.
Once you think the ABS is bent out
enough to fit around your shin with foam
padding set inside, let it cool, then hold
the ABS and the foam to your shin to
make sure they fit (Figure L ). You may
have to heat and bend it again so that it
fits well.
5c. Drill a " hole 1" from the top of B. Use
that hole to guide you in drilling your
first hole in the ABS shin plate. Then
thread the top hole of B and the ABS
with a 2" carriage bolt (this time with
the head facing inward toward your
shin), but dont tighten it.
Swing the front of the shin plate
toward A so that it shows 1" past B
(Figure M ). Now drill the bottom hole
through A and the shin plate. Thread
these holes with a 2" carriage bolt.
Tighten both bolts. Trim excess ABS and
bolt material with a reciprocating saw.

J
Pre-drill and attach the footplate with wood screws.

K
Cut out a 3"-wide vertical section of each ABS piece.

6. SEW STRAPS AND ATTACH FOAM


6a. The strap wraps around the back

of your calf to the front, through the


D-ring, and attaches back to itself with
velcro (Figure N ). Sew the strap to the
D-ring, and sew the velcro to the strap.
6b. Pre-drill holes, then use " wood
screws to attach the straps to B, on the
upper end adjacent to the shin plate with
the D-ring facing forward.
6c. Cut two 7"15" pieces of foam padding.
Glue the foam onto your shin plates so
that it wraps around the outside and
back of your calf. Sew fabric around the
foam for comfort, if you like.

L
Fit the ABS and the foam to your shin.

M
Swing the front of the shin plate toward piece A so
that it shows 1" past piece B.

7. ATTACH SHOES AND FOOTINGS

7a. Arrange each shoe on each footplate

so the mark on the outside of the shoe


lines up with the line on your footplate
and with the centerline of A and B.
Stand on your stilts with your shoes on
to find the right shoe placement before
attaching them (Figure O ).
7b. Loosen laces and remove shoe liners.
Pre-drill and screw each shoe onto a
footplate with at least 2 wood screws
per shoe.
7c. Use zip ties to attach the bike tire
footings to the bottom of the stilts
(Figure P ).
Youre done. Now go walk tall!
38

N
Attach straps.

O
Test the balance before attaching the shoes.

P
Peg footing from a bike tire.

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writTen by WarRen Simons

HOWTOONS

JET PACK!

DIY Stilts and Soda Bottle Jet Pack

It was late october


when the shortwave
Radio lit up like a
Jack o' lantern.

It wasn't a surprise, though.


There were whispers in schoOl
that something big was
hapPening on October 31st...

I was working on a TopSecret Project, And


almost didn't hear the
gravelLy voice echoing
throughout the lab...

We have
an urgent
misSion for
orange Star...
--krRshH--

Orange star...

Am I getTing
through--

--KrRshH--Do you
--crackle--Copy...

This is cel
--er--this is
orange star.
I hear you
loud and
clear.

Orange star...
--KrRshH-Do you read
me...Over...

Something that would


afFect alL of us...
Orange Star! whew!
It's a relief to hear
your voice!
I reAlize that
it's short notice,
but the super secret
science council
neEds your help!

HalLoweEn is only a few


days away, and we think
one of Dr. Maniacle's
super-mean robots is
going to try and steal
alL of the candy from
the city!

We neEd a speEdster--someone who can realLy fly-to colLect as much candy as posSible!
CAN YOU
DO IT,

You've
got the right
girl for the job,
comMisSioner.
I'm
on it!

Use A PAIR OF 2-liter botTles to create a

JET PACK!

A Paper towel rolL makes a great spacer.


make concave
cuts to match
botTle surface.

Cut two slits at the


top and botTom of
botTles. Weave a belt
through for straps.

glue
spacers,
conNecting
botTles.

mAKE EXHAUST PIPES!


cut out botToms
of paper cups,
and glue to the
botTle botToms.
Cut the tops of the botTles
almost ofF, except for 1" in
the back to act as a hinge.

use tape as
a latch.

No way
robots are
threatening
my city!
CREATE FLAMES
BY SHREdDING
STRIPS OF RED
AND YElLOW
PAPER!

Tonight, I'm
going to colLect
the most candy in
the entire
neighborhoOd!

FIlL BOtTLES
WITH
CANDY!

Celine's ready
for HalLoweEn...
are you?!

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6/26/16 1:43 PM

SKILL
BUILDER

Hard-Shell

Molds
The science behind the art of prop making
{ WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY ADAM SAVAGE }

ilicone block molds are fine for


making casts of small objects. But
for larger items, like this 3-foot-long
multi-piece prop gun (Figure A ), youd
need hundreds of dollars worth of silicone
to make a block mold.
An excellent and inexpensive solution is
to use a thin layer (or blanket) of silicone
thats keyed to a hard-shell or mother
mold. Its a multi-step process, but it
yields great results for the cost-conscious
moldmaker. It also makes much lighter
molds, which are easier to move around.
With this type of moldmaking, youre
basically sculpting the 2 sides of your mold,
taking into account the forces involved in
the pouring and casting of the part. It takes
a while, but if you get good at hard-shell
moldmaking, you can cast just about
anything, no matter how big.

40

GETTING STARTED

Youll need liquid silicone rubber, waterbased clay, stone plaster, and a few other
materials and tools. Before doing anything
else, take a permanent marker and draw
a parting line down the exact middle of
the original part, marking 2 symmetrical
halves. This is the line youll sculpt
everything to even with simple objects
like this, every mold maker I know does it,
and you should too.

1. PRE-FILL ANY VOIDS

Before you make the mold itself, you need


to make your original model mold-worthy.
To prep it, youll need to pre-fill up any
small or difficult-to-access voids in the
model, such as the hole in the bottom
of our prop gun body, which you can see
circled in Figure B . This is a void on the
model that has threads to join to another

part of the model.


I knew that if I poured that void in 2
parts and from the side, Id end up with
air bubbles galore. So I pre-filled it with a
plug made of blue silicone. The plug should
stick to the blanket of silicone that I pour
later, and become a nice part of the mold.
Prior to pouring the silicone, youll need to
clean the plugs thoroughly with mineral
spirits to make sure that theyll stick.

2. MAKE A FOAMCORE TABLE

Next, well make a table out of foamcore


board on which to sculpt the first half of
the mold. Use a piece of foamcore thats
large enough to extend at least 8"10"
beyond the borders of the part. (A common
mistake people make with these molds is
not giving themselves enough surface area
to work on.)
Place the model on its side with the

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Hard-Shell Molds

parting line parallel with the foamcore


and trace around it with a pencil, as close
to the model as possible. Cut the model
shape out of the foamcore and discard.
Secure the model on a sturdy work
table (oil-based clay is great for this step),
making sure the parting line is as level
as possible.
Now, we need to position the foamcore
so that it sits about " below the centerline
of the model (Figure B). (Why? Because
well be creating a clay dam on top to use
as a reservoir for the silicone, and that
" allows for the thickness of the clay
to come right to the middle parting line.)
Heres how to position the foamcore:
Measure from the parting line to the
table. Lets say its 2".
Subtract " for your clay dam, which
gives us 1".
Subtract the thickness of the foamcore
(3/16"), which takes us to 19/16".
Cut a few dozen little strips of foamcore
3"4" long to this exact height, in our
case 1 9/16".
Place the model on the table, and spread
the upright strips around it evenly,
covering an area the size of the cut-out
foamcore piece.
Use hot glue to adhere the upright
chunks to your work table and to the
large foamcore piece, which should be
placed on top of them to create a nice
solid foamcore table.

3. MAKE A FUNNEL FOR POURING THE


CASTING RESIN

Now you need to decide where the top of


your mold will be, into which youll pour
the casting resin. It should be located
at the perimeter of the model where it
comes to a steep point, so bubbles will
surface and pop in a small area. Because
youll be pouring into this part, its a good
idea to add a piece to your foamcore table
that gives you a nice clean surface for
pouring the resin into the mold.
And youll need a vent nearby to give the
air youre displacing with the casting resin
somewhere to go (other than back through
the hole youre pouring from). This helps
eliminate bubbles, and makes pouring
the mold a cleaner, less splash-prone

Materials

Water-based pottery clay

Casting resin
Foamcore board
Plastic hemispheres, " from plastics supply stores
Mineral spirits
Vaseline or mold release
Stone plaster
Spun hemp
Silicone rubber for moldmaking
Aluminized tape

Silicone rubber thickener optional


Silicone rubber accelerator optional
Silicone sealant, blue
Model piece the original that you want to cast

Tools

Clay sculpting tools wire loop, carver, etc.


Hot glue gun
Marker

Paintbrushes
Pencil
Putty knife or screwdrivers
Rags
Rolling pin
Squirt bottle
X-Acto knife
Air compressor and blow gun optional

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SKILL
BUILDER

process. In Figure C (previous page), you


can see the funnel-shaped pouring gate
and next to it a smaller vent.

4. MAKE THE CLAY DAM

Since you want the clay to be a uniform


thickness, a rolling pin is ideal for the
job. I use water-based clay, the kind used
for pottery, because oil-based clay and
silicone dont always get along. Flatten the
clay with your hands, and when its a little
more than " thick, place the clay pieces
between 2 rails (wood will do) that are
exactly " high, positioned perpendicular
to the rolling pin and close enough
together that theyre underneath its rolling
surface. Roll the clay to a " thickness
use a squirt bottle of water to keep it from
getting sticky.
Figure D shows the clay dam, mostly
laid out onto the foam board. It goes on in
pieces, which you can join together with
your fingers. Use a clay tool to bring the
clay dam right up to the model. The line
where the clay meets the model should be
very smooth, perpendicular, and have no
gaps. The cleaner this area is, the easier it

42

will be to get good castings.


After finessing the clay dam, clean all
clay residue off the model with a damp
brush (otherwise it will be cast in when
you pour your silicone!).

5. MAKE THE BARRIER KEY


AND BORDER

Use a wire-loop clay tool to make the


first of the barrier keys (or more
accurately, registration topography)
that will hold the 2 halves of this mold
perfectly aligned (Figure D, inset). Keys
for molds come in many shapes and sizes,
but for large molds, a key that runs all
the way around the part helps prevent the
resin from leaking out. I usually carve a
bit deeper than a half-circles depth with
the wire loop, then clean the edges with a
wet soft paintbrush.
Figure E shows the completed barrier
key the trench around the part and
also a raised clay border (made using the
rolling pin method described in Step 4)
built up all the way around the part, with
spacing of about 3". This provides enough
space between the border and the model

to add some plastic hemispherical keys


to help the mold halves align (register)
properly; well discuss this in Step 9.
The clay bump you see in the middle is
built around the pre-filled silicone plug
I pointed out before. This clay plug will
leave a void when I pour the first silicone
blanket. That way, when I remove the clay
plug and pour the second silicone blanket,
the void will lead my silicone right to that
pre-filled plug.
Also note the clay plug in the gun barrel.
Unlike the other plug, I didnt pre-fill this
shallow barrel with silicone. I didnt need
to because its large, easy to get bubbles
out of, and has no threading. But the
completed first blanket will have a trough
that leads the silicone right into the barrel.

6. POUR THE FIRST BLANKET

The first layer of silicone is the most


important one, because its what grabs
all the detail from your model. To avoid
bubbles, pour slowly from one location
and from high up, letting the silicone drift
slowly into the detail on the model
(Figure F ). You can use accelerator in

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Hard-Shell Molds

the silicone (or use more kicker) to make


it kick faster, but that will make for a
weaker mold. If you need only 1 or 2
castings, its OK to use an accelerator (they
can speed up the setting time from 10
hours to 3), but if you want to make dozens
of castings, be patient.
With the first thin layer covering the
model, blow compressed air over the
part (dont get too close) to eliminate any
bubbles (Figure G , page 41).
When the first layer is just past the tacky
stage, brush on another layer of silicone,
making sure its of uniform thickness
all over the model (Figure H ). For this
application, you can add thixotropic agents
to increase the silicones viscosity (but not
on the first layer, as these agents make
it difficult to get the silicone into all the
nooks and crannies for high detail).

7. APPLY SILICONE KEYS

Once the second layer is applied for the


first blanket of silicone, and while that
layer is still wet and tacky, start applying
the silicone keys (Figure I ). These will
help the silicone stay adhered to the
inside of the hard plaster mold. While the
advantage of this method is that it uses
less silicone, the disadvantage is that the
thin silicone layer lacks structure and
must be married to the plaster mold so it
doesnt collapse.
I made these keys from an old silicone
mold by cutting small wedges about 1"
long by about a pinky width (make sure the
silicone for the keys and the mold are the
same brand it helps them stick better).
For this mold, I set keys in the wet
silicone about every 3". As every mold is
different, you have to imagine your mold
upright and think through the weak spots,
where it will buckle, and place the keys
accordingly.
Figure I shows the mold with the keys in
place the silicone is poured for the first
half, and its setting up nicely. The silicone
doesnt go all the way to the border on
the left, but thats OK well be cutting
dovetail keys around the perimeter.

8. CUT THE DOVETAIL KEYS

After the silicone has cured, trim the edge

of the blanket to get a smooth line, and


discard the trimmed pieces. Use a sharp
X-Acto knife to cut dovetail-shaped keys
around the perimeter, gingerly lifting
up the edge of the blanket and slicing
upward so you dont cut into the clay below
(Figure J ). This serrated edge will help
the silicone blanket register to the mother
mold. My blanket here is a wee bit thin
at the outer edge. I could probably have
trimmed it closer, like about an inch away
from the model.
Figure K shows the finished blanket.
Ive probably used the minimum number
of dovetail keys necessary to keep the
blanket stable in the mother mold, but you
should err on the side of caution and add
more than you think the mold might need.
Too many keys just makes the mold more
stable, but too few and youve wasted a lot
of work.

9. ADD HEMISPHERICAL KEYS

Ive left space around the edges of the


silicone so I can place hemispherical
keys (Figure L ). These will register the
2 halves of the mother mold together.
Im using injection-molded " plastic
hemispheres, available at any plastics
supply store, placed lightly on the clay
every 5" or so, just inside the border.
Brush a small amount of vaseline or
other mold release onto the hemispherical
keys to help remove them from the first
half of the plaster mother mold.

10. PLASTER OVER THE SILICONE

After the first blanket of silicone comes


the stone-plaster mother mold. The
plaster will go on in a couple of layers.
The first layer is a thin coat for detail
apply it slowly to avoid creating bubbles.
The second is supported by a hemp
strengthener.
Figure M shows the first layer of
plaster applied over the blanket, the clay,
and the keys. Its fairly thick and will take
somewhere around an hour to set.
Stone plaster is much stronger than
regular plaster. You can get away with
using less, which keeps your mold
lightweight, but its still brittle like regular
plaster. So the next step is to reinforce

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SKILL
BUILDER
it with some spun hemp, available from
moldmaking supply stores. The hemp
works much like fiberglass, supplying
a matrix that increases the plasters
flexibility and makes it shatter-resistant.
Add a layer of hemp, then apply the
second and final layer of plaster. Dont
wait more than a day between plaster
coats, or else the second layer might not
stick well to the first. Also note that the
first layer of set-up plaster will suck water
from the new layer, making it set faster
than the first.
Once the second layer is set, turn the
whole thing over and gently pull off the clay
dam, keeping the model inside the mold
(Figure N , page 42).
Take a moment to study what youve
done. Isnt it pretty? The various mold keys
are all visible now (well, all but the silicone
keys): the hemispherical keys in the outer
ring of plaster, the dovetail keys where the
silicone meets the plaster, and the barrier
key around the model itself.

remove any clay residue. Apply mold


release (or a thin layer of vaseline) to the
silicone so that the next layer wont stick
to it. Make sure you cover it all, or else
youll ruin your mold. Silicone loves to
stick to itself.
Apply 2 layers of silicone exactly as you
did in Step 6. As before, use very little
accelerator in the first layer, but you can
use more, or a higher mix of the kicker, in
the second. Remember, the goal is to get a
" blanket all around the part.
As with the first blanket, place the
silicone key wedges along the center of
the model before the second layer of
silicone hardens. Cut the dovetail keys
from the second layer, gingerly lifting up
the edge to avoid cutting into the layer
below (Figure O , previous page).
Now its time to lay on the plaster for
the other half of the mother mold. Youre
almost there!

11. MAKE THE SECOND SILICONE


BLANKET

To prep for the second plaster, apply mold


release to the first plaster half. Again, a
thin layer of petroleum jelly works great
(Figure P ). Cover the inside of all the
hemispherical key indentations because,
again, if they dont release, all your work is
down the toilet.
Using aluminized tape, available in
the plumbing or heating section of any

Before applying a layer of silicone to the


other side of the model, youll have to
clean it and prepare it well but
be careful not to mess with it too much,
as you want as tight a registration
as possible.
Use a brush and soft damp cloth to

44

12. MAKE THE SECOND HALF OF THE


HARD-SHELL MOLD

hardware store, build a simple mold dam


to contain the wet plaster and give it a nice
crisp edge that matches the clay dam from
the first blanket (Figure Q ).
Slowly drip the plaster onto the second
blanket of silicone (Figure R ). Again,
this first layer is for detail, and the fewer
bubbles it has, the better it will hold.
Use your hand to spread the plaster
over the blanket, making sure it covers
everything, especially the silicone wedge
keys along the center.
But be careful around the edge of the
blanket, where the dovetail keys are! This
edge may want to lift up, and you dont
want to get any plaster under it between
the 2 layers of silicone. Better to drip the
plaster gingerly around the edge. This
is an important point to remember, and
the more familiar you are with this whole
process, the less likely you are to forget a
key step and end up wasting your hardearned time.
Figure S shows the first layer of
plaster. Note how well the aluminized tape
dam holds it in. Also note how clean the
workspace around the mold is. This type
of moldmaking is very detail intensive,
and attention to cleanliness during the
molding process will quite simply yield a
better product.
Allow the second layer of stone plaster
(with hemp below it) to dry in all its glory.
Once its dry, all you have to do is pull off

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Hard-Shell Molds

more prop making:

the tape and gently pry the halves apart.


Since plaster is brittle, care must be taken
not to over-torque the mold, lest it crack.
Use 2 screwdrivers or sturdy putty
knives, one leapfrogged in front of the
other, to proceed down the seam. As you
go, listen for the telltale sound of the
halves letting go of each other.
Go slowly! You dont want a cracked
mother mold before youve even started
casting. Making your way down a full side
of the mold halves should be sufficient for
a proper separation. After a time, youll
hear a sucking sound and see that the 2
halves have popped apart.
The 2 silicone blankets should be
somewhat stuck together now, but simply
grabbing one of them and pulling it off the
other should do the trick (if youve properly
applied the mold release). Then pull out
the model to reveal your finished mold.
Figure T shows our completed mold.
Everything worked perfectly. Note
the lack of air bubbles in the positive
hemispherical keys on the bottom half.
These should register the 2 halves of the
mother mold beautifully. And they did.
Figure U shows a completed assembly
of a resin casting from this mold. To
reduce air bubbles on a large part like
this, you can first pour some resin in each
half and let it cure, then assemble the 2
halves and pour a final resin middle to get
the completed casting.
With proper cycling (letting the silicone
cool down between castings resin
casting releases heat, and heat kills
molds), this mold should easily yield 20
or more castings before deteriorating.
Because the blanket is thin and the plaster
sucks heat out during the resins curing
process, it could even yield 50 castings.

EASIEST SILICONE CASTING MOLDS

Simple top-pour
silicone block
molds are a quick
and easy way to
make a whole
bunch of the
same thing. Get
started here!
makezine.com/
go/siliconecasting-molds

underpoured block Molds

TWO-PART, UNDERPOURED BLOCK


MOLDS ARE VERSATILE and beginnerfriendly. Theyre great for small, detailed
objects such as jewelry, game pieces,
masks, picture frames, and figurines. I
learned this technique by apprenticing
under some of the great moldmaking
masters in the special effects
industry, and this article reveals their
unpublished tricks. I hope they dont
get mad.

WHY A TWO-PART,
UNDERPOURED MOLD?

Two-part molds can handle more


shapes than one-piece molds, which
work only for simple, completely convex
objects. And underpoured molds
minimize problems with bubbles in
the resin.

Underpouring means that you pour


the resin into a main intake vent (or
sprue) that curves around to fill the
mold up from below, rather than simply
pouring into the top. Meanwhile, smaller
vents on top allow the displaced air to
escape. As you pour, resin splashing
down forms bubbles which can stay in
the main cavity and ruin the surface of
the casting. These bubbles also tend to
collect in fine-detail areas, where they
are the most difficult to deal with.
The advantage of underpouring is
that it generates fewer bubbles, and lets
them rise up into the vents where they
wont cause trouble. Top-pour molds
are often acceptable, but pouring from
underneath is generally worth the extra
silicone required.

For the full how-to visit makezine.com/projects/primer-moldmaking.

HOT WIRE FOAM CUTTER

Make this easy


hot-wire cutter,
and reuse
leftover expanded
polystyrene (EPS)
foam to create
treasures from
trash.
makezine.com/
projects/5-minutefoam-factory

KITCHEN FLOOR VACUUM FORMER

Use this ultracheap, homebrew


rig to make durable
3D plastic parts
from plastic. Works
with your home
vacuum cleaner!
makezine.com/
projects/kitchenfloor-vacuumformer

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HAUNTED
HOUSE

Flying Crank Ghost


This classic animatronic prop is de rigueur for any serious haunter
{ WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY EDWIN WISE }

his ghost prop was pioneered by Doug


Ferguson of Phantasmechanics,
who made it public domain in 1997. It
uses a slow motor and a simple system of
pulleys to create an eerie, ghostly motion
that literally stops cars in front of homes.
Open source and cheap to make, its
become a haunting classic.

1. PLAN YOUR CRANK MECHANISM

The frame consists of 5 lengths of angle

48

aluminum. The long (48") crosspiece at


the right of the diagram spans the arms
of the ghost. The two 36" lengths of angle
extending back from the crosspiece are the
main supports of the frame. Their spacing
depends on the width of your motor. The
other two 9" crosspieces are used to
mount the frame in its final environment;
I tend to hang my ghost from the ceiling
using the holes in the ends of these
pieces. A hole in the center of the middle

crosspiece provides the mounting point for


the head of the ghost.
The crank is a separate 9" piece of
aluminum angle that drives the ghost.
Its length determines how far the ghost
moves. I drill several holes in my crank
so I can adjust the ghosts motion to suit
whatever location Im hanging it in.
The torque rating of your motor divided
by the length of the crank, less friction,
gives the weight allowance for your ghost.

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Flying Crank Ghost

A typical inexpensive motor will allow


you a 2- or 3-pound ghost. If you want
a fancier, heavier prop, youll need to
counterweight it at the head connection.
A system of pulleys lets you dangle a
weight off to one side of the prop to reduce
the effective weight of your ghost.
Measure the spacing of the mounting
holes on your motor. Also measure its
shaft diameter. You may also want to
brainstorm where youll place your ghost
and how big it can be. Use these values to
determine the size and hole placement on
your metal parts. Draw up a detailed plan,
based on the diagrams shown here.

CRANK AND FRAME DESIGN

2. FASTEN THE CRANK ARM TO


THE MOTOR

OPTIONAL COUNTERWEIGHT FOR HEAVIER GHOSTS

Cut and drill the crank arm. Using an


appropriately sized U-bolt, fasten the
crank to the motors shaft. Put the flat
of the crank against the flat of the shaft.
Tighten firmly.
The crank should sit on the end of the
shaft, and stick out at a right angle from
it. Be sure the crank is level so it doesnt
strike the framework. I drill my U-bolt
holes large, to provide some slop during
assembly. Once the bolts are tight, the
slop shouldnt matter much (in this lowstrain environment).
An alternate mounting scheme uses a
shaft arbor or shaft extender. This part
slips over the motors shaft and locks in
place with a setscrew. The crank then
bolts onto the end of the arbor.

Hand pulley

36"
9"

48"

This project uses enough electricity to


kill you. Please be careful. Electricity
can be fun and safe if kept inside its
insulating containers.

Head pulley
9"

MATERIALS

U-bolt

FOR THE GHOST-MOTION PLATFORM


Aluminum angle, ", 15' total length I used
"-thick angle for the central struts and 1"thick angle for the crosspieces.

Hand pulley

Motor

AC gearmotor, 115V, 47rpm aka Dayton


motor, such as the 3M096 from Grainger
(grainger.com), or perhaps a rotisserie motor.
Find 4 bolts that will thread into your motor
or pass through its mounting holes.
Extension cord
Junction box for your power switch

Weight
1

Head

Wall switch (110V) and switch plate


Wire nuts
U-bolt with 3" center hole to match the
shaft on your motor
Eye bolts (3)
S-hooks (3)
Pulleys (3)
Quick-links (3)
Strong cord
Miscellaneous bolts and nuts to fasten the
frame together
Pivot assembly consisting of:
Bolt, ", about 3" long, with nuts (2) and
washers (2)
Metal spacers (1 or more) depending on bolt
length
Fender washer, really large

FOR THE GHOST


Light, gauzy fabric Cheesecloth is good. You
can also find nylon mesh at the fabric store.
Chiffon, organza, or other fabrics might be
too heavy.
Strong cord, dark or clear fishing line
8" styrofoam ball
White plastic mask
Stiff wire You can use 5" steel welding wire
or, if youre desperate, wire coat hangers.
Expanding insulation foam
Vinyl gloves (optional) for hands
The usual collection of pliers, wire cutters,
screwdrivers, crescent wrenches, and
zip ties

4. ASSEMBLE THE CRANK PIVOT

Drill 3 equally spaced holes around


the giant washer. Smooth the edges

9"

Motor

3. ASSEMBLE THE MOTOR INTO


THE FRAMEWORK

Measure, cut, and drill the 5 framework


pieces. Fit the motor into the main support
pieces and place the 9" end crosspiece
into place. Loosely screw the motors 4
bolts into place.
Loosely fit the 9" center and 48" end
crosspieces into place. Fasten them
gently with 4 short bolts. With the entire
framework fitted loosely together, tighten
all the screws and bolts. Make sure the
crank doesnt hit anything!

CAUTION!

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HAUNTED
HOUSE
of the holes so they wont fray your
cord. Assemble the pivot on the end
of the crank. Either the washer at the
tip of the bolt, or the entire bolt itself,
must turn freely on the crank, or the
cords will tangle. Add washers, use
lock nuts, and/or grease liberally
until friction is at a minimum.
The crank assembly is the heart of
the ghost mechanism. Be sure it works
smoothly, and has been tightened
thoroughly, before moving on.

5. ASSEMBLE THE PULLEYS

The ghost is suspended from 3 pulleys,


by cords that pass through the pulleys
and tie to the crank pivot washer. Fasten
your eyebolts and pulleys together using
S-hooks, crimping the hooks with pliers.
Then, using 2 nuts per eye bolt, fasten one
pulley assembly at each tip of the long
crosspiece, and a third pulley assembly in
the center of the middle crosspiece.

6. HOOK UP THE ELECTRICAL SYSTEM

Cut off the socket end of the extension


cord and discard. Split and strip the ends
that are still attached to the plug.
Set the junction box next to the motor
on the framework. Run the motors leads
into the box, as well as the stripped ends of
your power cord.
Connect the return wire of the power
cord (the wire attached to the wide blade
of the polarized plug, for American plugs)
to one of the motor wires, by twisting them
together and securing them with a wire
nut. Screw the power cords hot wire to
one side of the light switch, and the second
motor wire to the other side of the switch.
Screw the switch to the junction box,
mount the switch plate to the switch,
and zip-tie the entire assembly to the
framework. Loosely zip-tie the power
cord to the framework if needed, taking
care that the cord wont rub against a
sharp edge or tangle in the mechanism
during operation.

7. ATTACH PULLEY CORDS TO


THE PIVOT

For each of the 3 pulleys, tie one end of the


cord to the center pivot and run the other
end through the pulley. Tie a loop into the
6
50

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Flying Crank Ghost

end of the cord on the far side of the pulley.


Make sure each cord is long enough that
the loop doesnt enter the pulley when
the crank is pointing away from the pulley
(when the cord is at its shortest).
Finally, fasten a quick-link to the loop in
each cord.

8. MAKE YOUR GHOST

Cut a length of wire to fit through your


foam ball, and bend a small loop in one
end. Poke the head wire through the foam
ball. Create a shoulder wire with a deep
loop in the center and little loops at the
ends. Then bend a crimp in the head wire
at the bottom of the ball, so the ball is
trapped between the loop and the crimp.
For optional hands, bend 2 lengths of
wire to make fingers that fit inside the
vinyl gloves. Other hand options include
cardboard cutouts, or using masking or
duct tape to build up wire fingers. Your
goal is to make the hands as light as
possible, keeping in mind your weight
limits. You really dont want to add
counterweights to the hands.
Cut out 2 upper arm wires and 2
forearm wires, making loops in the ends
and fastening all the wires together. You
are making a marionette of a ghost with a
wire skeleton. Fasten the hands onto the
ends of the arms, and fasten the arms to
the shoulders.
Using expanding foam, glue the mask
to the ball.
Poke the foams nozzle/tube into each
finger and give them a little squirt. (The
hands shown in Figure 9 have way too
much foam in them!) You may want to
make several sets of hands (perhaps a few
without wires) to get a feel for how much
to use. The foam expands a lot as it sets.

9. MOUNT THE GHOST

Figure 9 shows the completed ghost


marionette. Note the shading on the
mask, crudely applied with a rattle-can
of black paint; the cheesecloth will soften
these lines in the final ghost. I decided I
didnt like these hands and cut them off
after this picture.
Drape your cheesecloth over, around,
and through your marionette, making a
ghostly visage. You can take the minimalist

NOTE:

Polyurethane foam uses moisture


to help it harden. If you moisten the
insides of the gloves slightly, it may
help the foam set faster.
approach that I tend to use, or take more
care in your draping, outlining the face in
a hood of fabric, and making the sleeves
dangle artfully around the hands. You can
even create a complete gown for the ghost
(again, taking care with your weight limit).
Connect the head and hands to the
quick-links, then light up the ghost with a
UV black light. If your fabric doesnt shine
enough, soak it in laundry brightener or
bluing agent. These are UV-reactive and
do wonders for your glow.
Another optional addition would be LED
lights in the eye sockets of the mask (see
Dark-Detecting LED Throwies, page 76).
Set them deep into the foam ball and glue
some additional fabric to the inside of the
eyeholes to diffuse the light.
The photo on page 48 shows my ghost in
a minimalist shroud, illuminated by black
light, as it steps through its motion cycle.
Spooky!
9

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HAUNTED
HOUSE

Trash
Can
Trauma
Scare the wits out of visitors with this pneumatic fright prop
{ WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY WILLIAM GURSTELLE }

heres no better way to scare up


some excitement than to incorporate
animated props into your haunted
house. Adding movement to props isnt
difficult or expensive, but it does require
learning a few new skills.
One popular animated prop is called
Trash Can Trauma, attributed to Long
Island, N.Y., appliance dealer Carl Chetta.
TCT uses compressed air to extend a
cylinder-mounted fright prop out of a
nondescript-looking trash can when
unsuspecting victims draw near. Done

52

well, TCT always surprises.


Trash Can Trauma is an electropneumatic prop. This may sound
technically daunting. It merely means
that energy is used to manipulate and
position objects, and the signals that tell
the prop when to operate are transmitted
electrically. In this case, the energy
transfer medium is compressed air.

CHOOSE YOUR MATERIALS


Trash Can

Choose carefully; if the can is too short,

it wont conceal the pneumatic cylinder


and fright prop when the cover is on. I
used a 32gal galvanized can because it
was inexpensive and big enough to work
in easily. It also makes a terrific clanging
sound when it activates.

Pneumatic Cylinder

You have some latitude in choosing your


cylinder. The bore (diameter) determines
the force with which the cylinder extends
and retracts for a given air pressure.
The stroke is simply the length of the

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Trash Can Trauma

MATERIALS

Trash can I used a 32gal galvanized one.


Pneumatic cylinder, nose-mounting, with
nose mounting bracket I used a 11" bore
(diameter), 12" stroke, double-acting,nosemounting cylinder, but there are many
choices. See below.
Solenoid control valve body-ported
" polyurethane air tubing about 5'. You can
use nylon or polyethylene tubing, but dont use
vinyl tubing; its not made for high pressure.
Push-to-connect fittings (4)
Speed control muffler fittings (2)
Trigger switch
Scary-looking fright prop
" plywood and miscellaneous scraps of
lumber to support the cylinder at the desired
angle inside the trash can
Wire nuts
Machine screws, #81" (4) with washers
and nuts
Male industrial-style quick connect for
air hose
Hinge

TOOLS

Scissors
Wrench set or adjustable wrench
Air compressor with hose
Power drill with 2" hole saw
File

cylinder rod extension. Depending on your


concept, a shorter or longer extension
may be appropriate.
Air cylinders may be single-acting or
double-acting. Single-acting cylinders use
air pressure to extend the piston, and a
spring to retract the cylinder when the
air pressure is removed. A double-acting
cylinder uses air pressure in one direction
to extend, and air pressure in the opposite
direction to retract. While this may seem
more complicated than a single-acting
cylinder, in practice its probably easier
to use. Double-acting cylinders are a bit
less expensive and allow you more control
options to make your prop more lifelike.
Youll need to mount your cylinder to a
framework hidden inside the trash can.
Nose-mounted cylinders use a nut to
secure the cylinder onto a bracket that
can be simply mounted on a wooden
framework (Figure A ).
Bottom-mounting and pivot-mounting
cylinders are also available. All types work
equally well, but each requires a different

mounting design.
Vendors such as Grainger (grainger.
com) and McMaster-Carr (mcmaster.
com) carry an extensive inventory of
cylinders and other pneumatic parts.
A new 1"-diameter cylinder with a
12" extension costs around $40. Also,
inexpensive air cylinders may be available
from industrial surplus vendors or online
at places such as eBay.
Alternatively, Evilusions (evilusions.
com) and other vendors sell prepackaged
pneumatic kits that provide good advice
and everything you need, short of the
trash can.

Solenoid control valve,


body-ported

The solenoid valve controls air entering


and leaving the cylinder. When voltage
is applied to the electrical contacts on
the solenoid (Figure B ), air is directed
through the body of the valve into one end
of the cylinder. The air pushes on one side
of the piston inside, extending it. The air
trapped in the opposite end of the cylinder
exhausts through the muffled exhaust
port on the valve body. When the voltage is
removed, the solenoid valve moves to its
rest position, directing the air to the other
end of the cylinder and retracting the
piston (Figure C ).
There are many types of solenoid
valves. The type I used is called a
2-position, 5-way, 4-port valve. Thats a
mouthful, but its the type most commonly
used to make pneumatic cylinders extend
and retract.
Solenoid valves are designed to operate
on either 12V DC or 120V AC power. A 120V
AC valve can plug directly into the wall, but
12V DC systems are safer and therefore
preferred. A small wall transformer may
be used to provide the 12V DC power
(Figure D ).
Solenoid valve ports come in different
sizes to accommodate different volumes
of air. For most haunting applications, "
NPT ports provide adequate capacity.

Push-to-connect fittings

Push-to-connect (PTC) tube fittings


are easy to use. Simply insert the
polyurethane or nylon tubing into the

B
Double-acting cylinder
Extend
Retract

Exhaust

Exhaust

Power
supply
Switch

To air
supply

collet, and twist. Voil! You have a highintegrity, airtight fitting.


Youll need 2 PTC fittings sized to
connect the " tubing to the solenoid valve
body, and 2 PTC fittings to attach the "
tubing to the air cylinder. Those fittings
may be ", or a different size, depending
on the materials youve purchased.

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HAUNTED
HOUSE
Determine the size of the threaded holes
in your components prior to purchasing
the push-to-connect fittings (Figure E ,
previous page).

Speed control muffler fittings

A speed control fitting limits the amount


of air exiting the cylinder. This allows you
to control how fast the piston extends or
retracts. The muffler section quiets the
escape of the air, making the prop more
realistic. Use fittings sized to fit in the
exit ports of your solenoid valve, typically
", but check your solenoid before
purchasing the speed control valves.

Trigger

I used a commercially made mat


switch to trigger the movement of
the cylinder. When a person steps
on the mat, it closes the circuit and
energizes the solenoid. This in turn
sends compressed air into the cylinder
and activates the props motion.
Alternative triggers could be a handheld
pushbutton or an infrared sensor.

Scary-looking fright prop

This can range from a simple painted


styrofoam head with a fright wig, up to a
professionally rendered latex sculpture.
Styrofoam heads are available at beauty
supply stores and are quite inexpensive.
Online suppliers of fright props carry
extensive inventories of detailed latex
heads and torsos.

MOUNT YOUR PNEUMATICS AND


FRIGHT PROP

1. Drill a 2"-diameter hole in the side


of your trash can near the bottom,
and file to remove burrs. This hole
accommodates the electrical wiring and
the main air line from the compressor, so
make the edges nice and smooth.

2. Mount the air cylinder to a simple


support made of dimensional lumber.
Note that when the cylinder actuates, it
does so with quite a bit of energy, so use
a wide, heavy base (" plywood works
well), and bolt the base to the bottom of
the trash can using the machine screws.

54

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Trash Can Trauma

3. Mount the solenoid valve to the wooden


support as shown. Most solenoid bodies
have mounting holes. Simply screw or bolt
the solenoid to the support, but be sure
to leave yourself enough working room to
easily attach the air hoses as described in
subsequent steps.
4. Cut two 12" lengths of air tubing and
affix the push-to-connect pneumatic
fittings at each end. Before attaching
these fittings, be certain theyre
appropriately sized for the holes on the air
cylinder and the solenoid. Attach the air
tubes between the solenoid valve outlets
and the air cylinder.
5. Insert 2 speed control pneumatic
mufflers into the exhaust ports of the
solenoid valve. The mufflers control the
rate at which air exits the cylinder, thereby
providing control over the speed of the
cylinders extension and retraction.
Next, insert a male industrial-style
quick connect into the common port on the
solenoid. This is where youll connect the
main air line from the air compressor.
6. Attach your fright prop to the end of the
piston. The best method depends on the
prop you use. Typically, the piston will have
pipe threads cut into the end. This allows
you to insert a female threaded pipe into
the interior of the prop, and screw that
onto the piston. Irrespective of how you
attach the prop to the piston, be certain its
securely attached.
Finally, attach the trash can lid to the

ELECTRICAL DIAGRAM
12V DC/120V AC
transformer
Solenoid
valve

Switch or pushbutton
7

Exhaust

trash can with a hinge, to keep it from


flying off.

CONNECT THE ELECTRICAL SYSTEM


7. This is easy. Use wire nuts to connect
the trigger switch, 12V DC transformer
output, and solenoid valve electrical
contacts, as shown in the electrical
wiring diagram. This is a simple series
connection of the components. When
the triggering event occurs, the solenoid
energizes and actuates the pneumatics
(see Figure C ).

FIRE IT UP!

8. Attach an air source to the common port


on the solenoid valve. The air pressure
setting that you need will depend on
the speed and volume requirements of
your prop. In general, use the lowest
air pressure that provides satisfactory
performance. The lower the pressure, the
safer and the longer your cylinder will last.

Set your compressor to 40psi for a start.


Then plug in the 12V transformer.
Now just conceal the trigger and wait for
an unsuspecting victim. Happy haunting!

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6/26/16 4:33 PM

HAUNTED
HOUSE

MATERIALS

3"-DIAMETER PVC PARTS:


Pipe, 18"24" long
Tee fitting with female pipe thread (FPT) stem
Repair coupling

Boom
Stick
This pneumatic noisemaker
goes pow! {{ BY EDWIN WISE }

FPT to slip adapter


Male pipe thread (MPT) to slip adapter
End cap
2"-DIAMETER PVC PARTS:
15" long pipe
FPT to slip adapter
MPT to slip adapter
Insert coupling ProPlumber model #153807, available
at Lowes as item #PPFC200.
PVC REDUCING BUSHINGS:
3" to 2" slip (2)
2" to 1" slip
1" slip to 1" FPT
1" slip to " FPT
1" PVC pipe, 2" long
PVC reducing tee fitting, 1"1"1"
1" repair coupling, Schedule 80 PVC must fit inside 2
insert coupling
PVC primer and medium-thickness glue
Irrigation valve, 24V solenoid with 1" MPT ends A cheap
one ($10) is fine.
24V power supply Look in the irrigation aisle next to the
valves.
2" O-rings, 3/16" thick (4)
1" O-rings, " thick (4)
On-off switch, SPS
Fender washers, 1" with 5/16" hole (2)
Neoprene washer, 1" with 5/16" hole
5/16" washers (2)
5/16" bolt, 2" long
5/16" lock nut with nylon insert
Brass pipe adapter, " MPT to " FPT
Quick-release pneumatic coupling, " MPT
Silicone caulk
Lithium grease
Teflon pipe tape

tools

Plumbers epoxy putty (optional)


Air compressor that can produce 4060psi An air tool
compressor is best.
Tape measure
Hacksaw or pipe cutter
Adjustable wrenches at least 2
Vise capable of clamping the flange of 3" bushing
Gloves and goggles
Sandpaper: coarse and medium grits
Electric drill with grinding stone bit
Popsicle stick
File (optional)

56

Garry McLeod

Drill press or lathe

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Boom Stick

Sam Murphy

Garry McLeod

The super-loud Boom Stick is a PVC air


cannon that delivers maximum bang for
the buck. It assaults the startle reflex of
any nearby victim, adding an instant rush
of physical terror to haunted houses, art
pieces, pranks, and performances.
I work in haunted houses during the
Halloween season, as an actor, guide,
technician, makeup artist, and effects
creator. Some of my effects instill fear
through foreshadowing or complex
storylines, but the most effective way to
scare people is often just a simple,
brute-force startle.
The air cannon is a great and safe
device for such scares. In its simplest
form, it consists of an air reservoir,
a quick-exhaust valve (QEV), and
sometimes a resonating chamber.
Haunted house suppliers and specialeffects houses sell commercial models
with large-gauge QEVs, but these cost
hundreds of dollars. Home projects
that rely on a standard air compressor
typically use smaller, cheaper water
valves from washing machines or
sprinklers, but for me, these designs have
yielded only a disappointing poof-hiss.
Inspired by the PVC-based designs of
spud gun enthusiasts (but leaving out
the potato), Ive found a better approach:
a two-stage, chamber-sealing, quickexhaust, piston-valve air cannon that
you can build out of common plumbing
components for about $100. I call it the
Boom Stick.

BUILDING BOOM

The Boom Stick creates a pressurized volume


of air and releases it very quickly, generating a loud shockwave.
Piston

Reservoir

Boomvalve
assembly

Piston check valve


with air-limiting
holes

Air intake

Piston
carrier

To trigger switch

Manifold

Exhaust
valve

HOW IT WORKS
1. The piston rests in
the piston carrier, and
the entire system is at
ambient air pressure.
Small holes in the piston
allow limited airflow
through from behind; a
rubber washer inside
the piston acts as a
check valve, passing air
in only one direction and
increasing efficiency.
2. When air flows in
behind the piston faster
than it leaks out of the
holes, pressure builds
up in the manifold.

3. Pressure behind the


piston pushes it into the
boom valve tube, sealing
the pathway between the
air supply and reservoir.
4. Pressurized air
slowly fills the reservoir
through the holes in
the piston. The cannon
is loaded once the
pressures between
manifold and reservoir
balance.
5. To fire the cannon,
a small exhaust valve
opens and releases air
pressure behind the
piston, drawing the
piston back into the
manifold. As soon as
the piston clears the
boom valve tube, the
pressurized contents
of the reservoir
release into the
atmosphere with
an impressive
bang.

NOTE: All PVC pipe


and fittings should be
NSF-rated Schedule
40, unless otherwise
specified. Try your local
home improvement or
plumbing supply store. If
you cant find the exact
parts indicated, you can
improvise endlessly in the
plumbing aisle, or else try
Grainger (grainger.com) or
MSC (mscdirect.com).
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Damien Scogin

DECOMPRESSION THERAPY

57

6/26/16 2:02 PM

HAUNTED
HOUSE
!

CAUTION: DANGEROUS PROJECT

At normal temperatures, standard Schedule


40 PVC has a working pressure of around
150psi, but heat, sunlight, solvents,
scratches, and time make the material lose
strength, and even at the 4060psi used for
this project, it will eventually fail. When it

does, it will break into fragments that will be


thrown with great force by the compressed
air. Always operate your Boom Stick inside
a solidly built plywood box or wall, so that
shrapnel cannot reach anyones tender flesh.
ABS plastic does not shrapnel like PVC,
but the common type used for DWV (drain/
waste/vent) applications is not pressure1. MODIFY THE PVC FITTINGS

1a. Take two 3" to 2" bushings and grind


out the ridge inside them with a drill using
a grinding stone bit, so that the 2" pipes
can slide firmly through.
1b. Sand down both sleeves of the 2"
insert coupling so they slide easily into
2" pipes. This will be your moving piston
body.
You can bolt the part between 2 fender
washers, chuck it into a drill press, and
sand it carefully on both sides to keep it
from flying off.
1c. Cut the pipe pieces down to size:
For the reservoir, cut an 18"24" length
of 3" pipe.
For the boom valve and piston carrier
tubes, cut 2 lengths of 2" pipe, one 6 and
the other 8.
For the air fittings, cut a 2" stub of 1"
pipe.

1a

1d. Cut the 1" Schedule 80 repair coupling


into a 1" section and a 1" section. There
may be " or so of scrap left over.
1e. Cut the sanded insert coupling into 3
pieces by trimming a " ring off one end
and chopping enough of a sleeve off the
other end to leave a 11/16" stub.
1b

NOTE: Dont let the PVC get hot or it


will melt and deform. Use light pressure
and moisten it occasionally to keep it
cool. Start with coarse-grit sandpaper
and finish with medium-grit.

58

1f. File or sand the ends of the pipes


smooth. File or sand a bevel on one side
of the " coupling ring and the boom valve
(2"6") pipe. These bevels will correct
minor alignment errors during operation.

2. ASSEMBLE THE PISTON

2a. Drill four " or smaller holes in one


fender washer, just outside the radius
of the regular 5/16" washers that will be

rated, so it is not recommended. Foam-core


PVC or ABS is even more lightweight and
must be avoided at all costs.
Pressure-rated ABS such as Duraplus from
Ipex is the perfect material for this project,
but it costs 10 times as much as Schedule
40 PVC. Copper and other metal pipes are
similarly expensive.

mounted over them. Drill four " holes in


the other fender washer, also outside the
radius of the smaller washers.
2b. Run the bolt through, in order: a small
washer, the neoprene washer, the smalldrilled fender washer, the 1" Schedule
80 PVC segment, the large-holed fender
washer, another small washer, and the
lock nut. Tighten the lock nut just enough
to hold the assembly firm, but not so much
so that the neoprene distorts.
2c. Fit two 2" O-rings onto each end of the
main piece of the sanded insert coupling.
Then test-assemble the entire piston.
Using the other 2 pieces of the insert
coupling and two 1" O-rings, enclose
the 1 Schedule 80 PVC segment and the
piston valve assembly as shown.
2d. Use PVC glue or epoxy to glue
the piston together. First, glue the "
Schedule 80 segment into the " ring, on
the side opposite the bevel. Place a small
O-ring as a spacer on the segment, and
glue this subassembly into the body of the
insert coupler.
2e. Glue the piston valve halfway into
the assembly, with the neoprene washer
facing in. Then glue the remaining insert
coupler piece around the outside half, with
another small O-ring spacer in between.
Reinforce the connections with epoxy.

3. FIT THE O-RINGS

The large O-rings are bumpers that


protect the PVC during operation. The
small O-rings form the pistons seal
inside the piston carrier and boom valve
cylinders. The long end of the piston must

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Boom Stick

11"

"

1e

NOTE: The measurements in Step 1e


need not be exact, but look at the photos
for Steps 2c2e to see how this piece is
used.

2a

2b

2c

NOTE: The neoprene washer limits airflow, which lets pressure


push the piston forward into position. When the pressure balance
reverses, it seals the piston as it travels back in order to put all the
air into the boom.

2e

3c

NOTE: Pipe fittings are tapered, which makes it harder to get the
parts to fit together nicely when theyre cut. Use epoxy putty or gel
to reinforce the construction as needed.

mate with the 2"8" pipe, and the short


end with the 2"6" pipe.
The goal is for the piston to be able to
fit into the pipe and form a seal via the
O-rings. These can be tricky to get right.
With the PVC parts I bought, the perfectsized small O-ring would be 5/32" thick.
But I only found them available in "
and 3/16" sizes, so I used the " size and
pushed them out with a layer of silicone
caulk underneath.
3a. You flowed glue onto the small O-rings
in previous steps. This isnt good for them,
so once the glue dries, cut or pry them off

and discard. Replace with the remaining 2


small O-rings.
3b. Glue the large O-ring bumper pairs
together with silicone caulk. This keeps
them from jumping off. (You can also try
one thicker O-ring on each side.)
3c. Out of a popsicle stick, make a small
tool that fits a groove " deep and "
wide. Fill the piston grooves with silicone
caulk, then use your popsicle-stick tool to
remove all but the thin layer that it cant
reach. This will help the small O-rings
make a seal.

NOTE: You may need to seat and adjust the small O-rings several times before the O-ring
seals and the piston slides. Even with everything fitting and well greased, the difference
between success and jamming or leaking is subtle.
3c

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4b. For the piston carrier, PVC-weld the
other modified bushing into the 3" male
adapter. Let the glue dry, and then test-fit
the 8" piston carrier pipe into the bushing.
4c. Slide the long end of the piston into
the carrier pipe and screw the piston
carrier male adapter into the boom valve
assembly female adapter.
4d. Adjust the 2 pipes in their bushings
until the piston (without its O-rings) travels
freely between carrier pipe and boom
valve assembly. The small O-rings should
tuck inside both tubes when the piston is
extended, and you can see a gap between
the piston and the valve pipe when the
piston is retracted. Proper alignment
is key. Mark the position of the 2 tubes,
remove them (and the piston) from the
bushings, and then weld the tubes back
into place at the marks.

4a

4b

4c

4. ASSEMBLE THE BOOM VALVE AND


PISTON CARRIER

4a. For the boom valve assembly, use PVC


glue to weld one of the slide-throughmodified 3" to 2" bushings into one end
of the 3" tee fitting, and the 3" female
adapter into the opposite end. Weld the
unmodified 3" to 2" bushing into the 3"
repair coupling. Wait for the glue to dry,
and then dry-fit each end of the 2"6" pipe
into the 2 bushings, with the beveled end
in the tee assembly.
4d

4e. Mark the positions of everything.


Then remove the piston, unscrew the 2
assemblies, and glue in the tubes. Apply
primer and glue only to the 2" pipes inside
the marks and not the bushings, or else
youll foul the ends of the pipes.
4f. Weld the unmodified bushing and
repair coupling assembly to the other
end of the valve pipe, and the 2" male
adapter to the free end of the carrier pipe.
Alignment isnt so important with these.

5. ASSEMBLE THE RESERVOIR AND


MANIFOLD

Unlike the valve/piston system, the


reservoir and manifold are low-precision
designs that will tolerate variation.
5a. For the reservoir, weld the 3" end cap
onto one end of the 3"18"24" pipe, and
weld the other end into the repair coupling
on the boom valve assembly.
5b. For the manifold, weld the short piece
of 1" pipe into one side of the 1" tee
fitting and weld its other end into the 2 to
1" reducing bushing. Weld the 2" female
adapter to the bushing.

4f

5c. Screw the inlet port of the 1" irrigation


5a
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Boom Stick

valve into the 1" slip to 1" female


threaded bushing, using Teflon tape to seal
the threads. The flow arrows should point
away from the bushing. Tighten firmly.
This is the exhaust valve.
5d. Weld the exhaust valve subassembly
into the other side of the manifold tee
fitting, orienting the wiring connections as
desired. For the trigger, connect the on-off
switch to either of the 2 wires.
5e. Weld the 1" slip to " female threaded
bushing to the center port of the tee fitting.
Wrap teflon tape around the brass adapter
and thread it into the bushing, and then
teflon-tape the quick-release coupling into
the adapter. This is the air intake.

6. FINAL ASSEMBLY

6a. Allow 24 hours for all the PVC solvents


and glues to cure. Remember, patience is
a virtue.
6b. Lather up the piston and all the
O-rings with lithium grease. Insert the
piston into the piston carrier with its valve
aiming toward the reservoir.
6c. Screw the piston carrier back into the
boom valve assembly. This connection
does not need to be airtight, but the carrier
pipe and valve pipe must be aligned.
6d. Wrap several layers of teflon tape
around the 2" male adapter on the piston
carrier, and screw it into the air manifold.
Youre done!

BOOM STICK OPERATION

1. Attach an unpressurized air hose to the


quick-release fitting on the air intake.
2. Attach the 24V power supply to the
exhaust valve and trigger switch.
3. Test the exhaust valve to make sure
it works.
4. Put the entire system in a sturdy box or
solid wall, or at least behind a blast shield.
5. Pressurize the manifold to about 40psi.
The piston should snap into the valve tube

and the reservoir should fill with a hiss. If


the piston doesnt fit into the valve tube,
the small O-rings may be too tight (pushed
too far out). If the air leaks around the
O-rings, theyre not pushed out far enough
(see Step 3). If the tubes are misaligned,
you may have to rebuild the piston carrier.
6. Activate the trigger switch for about
half a second. The pipe behind the piston
will lose pressure and the piston will slam
back into the carrier pipe, exhausting the
reservoir.
7. Jump for joy at the loud bang!
8. Repeat.

5e

FIXES

The hard part in this design is getting the


O-rings to seal firmly without jamming the
pistons motion. If you just cant get them
to seal, never fear; add a second irrigation
valve to the air inlet, and only let air in just
before you want to set off the device. The
effect wont be as clean, but youll lose
less air during operation.
The piston carrier is modular for a
reason: you can remove it easily and
experiment with different piston designs
(of which there are many), and you can
replace the piston if it breaks. Also, if you
glue the piston carrier into place with bad
alignment to the valve tube, you only have
to throw away a few inexpensive pieces to
try again.
To keep stuff from falling into the Boom
Stick, cover all openings in its box with
hardware cloth.

RESONATING CHAMBERS
AND CONFETTI

Once you get your Boom Stick working,


create a resonating chamber by gluing a
3" male adapter onto some 3" pipe, and
screwing it into the cleanout port on the
boom valves tee fitting. Try constricting
the exhaust, putting a 3"2" or even
smaller bushing into the base of this
chamber. Try long ones and short ones.
Stuff confetti into the chamber and make
a mess of your workshop. But never, ever
launch anything directly at anyone!

ACTION VIDEO! See Wises Boom Stick in action at makezine.com/go/boomstick. But


note that the giant boom sound is mostly lost. Microphones can only do so much.

6d

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HAUNTED
HOUSE

Build a pneumatically activated mad beast thatll


rattle your visitors with blasts of breath

1. BUILD THE CAGE FRAME

Assemble a cage. Mine is 24" wide, 27"


tall, and 35" deep. I used wood held
together with biscuits and glue. I could
have used screws, but I sure do love using
my biscuit joiner.

Joe Szuecs

CAGED
CREATURE

his pneumatically actuated, caged


yeti was part of the 2005 Occidental
Haunted House, the brainchild of
Dale Dougherty, founder of Make:. A big
pneumatic cylinder makes the monkey
puppet (or enraged creature of your
choice) appear as though its trying to
break out of the cage. Hidden air lines also
give onlookers a burst of compressed air
in the face as they try to peer into the cage.

{ BY ERIC J. WILHELM }
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MATERIALS

Wood to make a cage about 24"27"35"


Wood screws or biscuits
Wood glue if using biscuits
Scrap dowels and/or rebar for cage bars
Plywood pieces, about 24"35" (2)
Black spray paint
Pneumatic cylinder and switch See Step 3
for details.
Lumber, 24 a few feet
Hinge for wood
Bicycle inner tubes
Air line tubing

Thick, malleable wire


Stuffed yeti A monkey or chimp will work. Or
substitute your own scary creature.
Black cloth
Screwdriver or biscuit joiner
Drill
Electric staple gun

2. MAKE THE BARS, CEILING,


AND FLOOR

After drilling holes through the wood,


drop in scrap dowels and rebar to make
the bars. Cut pieces of plywood to make a
ceiling and floor for the cage.

3. INSTALL A PNEUMATIC CYLINDER


AND SWITCH

Eric J. Wilhelm

Joe Szuecs

Haunted Creature in a Cage

I installed the pneumatics first to test the


whole thing out, and then removed them
to paint.
The 6" throw, 3" diameter, doubleacting pneumatic cylinder was a backup
from another project that actually
needed such a thing. The valve is a
4-way, 2-position, lever-operated control
valve (McMaster-Carr part #4493K34,
mcmaster.com). Both items are kind
of pricey, but mine were originally
purchased for a consulting project and
have been reused in a number of other
projects. The 4-way, 2-position valve is
pretty neat. When you switch the position,
it vents one side of the cylinder and
pressurizes the other.
For compressed air, I used a portable
compressor.

4. PAINT THE CAGE

Spray the cage with black paint and


reinstall the pneumatics.
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HAUNTED
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5. INSTALL THE PUPPET MOUNT

Screw the hinge to the cage floor where


your yeti will stand (I used a 24 footing
for strength). Cut a 24 upright, screw it
to the hinge, and tie it with inner tubes to
the piston. I put this 24 into the puppet
like a hand.

6. HIDE THE AIR LINES

Just under the puppet, drill 2 holes and


feed 2 airlines through the 24 upright. I
connected these air lines to the vent port
on the valve. In this configuration, there
should be a burst of air as the cylinder
extends or retracts. As the upright moves
the puppet forward and back, the attached
air lines will sweep out in an arc and blow
on people of all heights looking into the
cage. Yeti breath!

7. WIRE UP THE MONKEY

I used some thick but malleable wire to


hold the puppets arms out.

8. COVER WITH BLACK CLOTH

Cover the cylinder, the 24, and the hinge


with black cloth. I used one of my favorite
tools, an electric staple gun, to help out on
this step.

9. TURN THE LIGHTS DOWN AND


SCARE SOME KIDS

Red LED eyes would be a good addition


(see Dark-Detecting LED Throwies, page
76), but I ran out of time.
I know this is terrible, but I feel
that my Halloween creations are only
successful if a few of the neighborhood
kids come out crying. Two Jacobs
ladders, creepy low lighting, this caged
yeti, and everything else in the haunted
house seemed to do just the trick.

64

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Hep Svadja

Haunted Creature in a Cage and Giant Air-Filled Tentacles

Inflate
the
Kraken!
Weld plastic to make giant air-filled tentacles
{ BY CALEB KRAFT }

Jenny Ching, Anthony Lam

hy go with those cute store-bought


inflatable yard ornaments when you
can make your own, much more
interesting ones?
You can design your inflatablesto be
anything that is fat and mostly cylindrical.
I found that tentacles were an absolutely
perfect fit for this project.
These fun, giant inflatable tentacles
can be used indoors or outside. They
arent as durable or colorful as their
store-bought counterparts but they make
up for it in style!
The main skill youll need to make this
project is plastic welding. In this case,
well do this by dragging a hot soldering
iron over a sheet of wax paper placed
on top of 2 sheets of plastic. The heat
from the soldering iron welds the 2
pieces together, allowing you to create an
airtight cavity.
It takes practice to get the timing
just right. If you move too quickly, the
sheets dont get a proper weld. Move

MATERIALS:

Plastic sheeting (1 mil or 2 mil)


Wax paper
Soldering iron
Box fan
Marker, duct tape, and scissors

too slowly and you melt right through


everything. Youll need to try a few times
on some scrap to get the hang of it. Much
of this will depend on the thickness of
your plastic, which is measured in mils
(thousandths of an inch). The thickest Ive
used is 6 mil. The tentacles shown here
are a fairly thin 1 mil.

plastic sheeting and drag a hot soldering


iron over it (Figure A ).

1. LAY OUT PLASTIC

5. ADD DECORATION

2. DRAW PATTERN

6. TAPE TO A FAN

Lay 2 sheets of plastic sheeting on top


of each other. Alternatively, if you have a
large sheet you can simply double it over
like I have here. Some tape in the corners
can help keep things aligned.

I used a giant Sharpie to draw out the


shape I wanted to create. Having a pattern
to look at isnt absolutely necessary but it
helped me considerably.

3. WELD THE LAYERS

Place a sheet of wax paper on top of your

4. CUT OFF THE EXCESS

Snip off everything outside the boundaries


of your weld line. I welded about " inside
my drawn shape so that I could remove the
Sharpie outline when I trimmed.

My tentacles needed suckers! I simply


drew them right on with a marker (Figure
B ), but you could take this even further by
creating suckers individually and attaching
them to the plastic.

Simple duct tape around a box fan will


hold the tentacle in place, allowing for it
to be inflated (Figure C ). Dont worry if
your tentacle cant stand up under its own
weight, you can always lay it on its side.
Now make more!

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HAUNTED
HOUSE

The Peppers Ghost Illusion


Conjure ghostly visitors from thin air with this classic trick of reflection
{ WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY JASON POEL SMITH }

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The Peppers Ghost Illusion

TOP VIEW

MAIN BACKGROUND

GHOST ROOM

TO AUDIENCE
A

AUDIENCE VIEW

eppers ghost is a special effects


technique for creating transparent
ghostly images. It works by reflecting
the image of a ghost off a sheet of glass or
transparent plastic. This effect has been
a staple of theaters and haunted houses
since John Pepper popularized it in the
1800s.In this project, Ill show you how you
can incorporate this technique into your
Halloween setup.

1. HOW THE ILLUSION WORKS

The main background and any live


characters are positioned directly in front

of the audience. The ghost is located


in a room off to the side, where it is not
in direct view. The ghost room can be
painted black, or it can be built as a mirror
image of the main background. A sheet
of plexiglass is positioned in front of the
audience and set at a 45 angle to both the
audience and the ghost (Figure A ). At this
angle the background remains clearly
visible but the glass also partially reflects
an image of the ghost. To the audience, it
appears as though there is a transparent
ghost in the scene directly in front of
them (Figure B ).

The Peppers ghost technique


is an easy way to insert a
ghost into your pictures and
videos without using any
software. All you need is a
small piece of clear plastic
such as plexiglass.

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HAUNTED
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2. CREATE A GHOST IN YOUR PICTURES


AND VIDEOS

The Peppers ghost technique is an easy


way to insert a ghost into your pictures and
videos without using any software. All you
need is a small piece of clear plastic such
as plexiglass.
Set up your camera in front of the
desired background. Position your ghost
to one side of the camera (Figure C ). The
ghost can be a person in a costume, an
image on a computer monitor, or just a
picture. Hold up the plexiglass in front of
the lens at a 45 angle to both the camera
and the ghost. The camera will see a faint

68

reflection of the ghost (Figure E ).


You may also get reflections of other
objects around your ghost. To avoid this,
you can either set up your ghost in front
of a black backdrop (Figure D ) or put the
ghost in a dark room and use a flashlight
or lamp to light up just the ghost .

3. CREATE A GHOST IN A WINDOW

Creating a Peppers ghost illusion for a


live audience is a little more difficult. All
the components need to be scaled up
and more carefully controlled. You also
have to hide the ghost from all possible
viewing angles.

Creating a ghost in a window is a good


way to restrict the field of view and give
you a little more control. First you need
a large sheet of plexiglass (preferably at
least half the size of your window). Next
you need to set up a table underneath the
window. Then use books or cardboard
boxes to make a surface that is level to
the window sill. Prop up your sheet of
plexiglass in the corner of the window at a
45 angle (Figure F ). You may wish to also
use a clamp of some kind to help secure
it in place. Then position your ghost figure
to the side of the window just out of view
(Figure G ).
You need the room to be dark so
that the edges of the plexiglass wont
be visible. As a result, you will need
to illuminate the ghost with a lamp or
flashlight. Because the room is dark, you
probably wont need a black backdrop for
the ghost as long as you are careful to
illuminate only the ghost.
The result is a transparent ghostly
figure in the window that stares at people
as they walk by your house (Figure H ).

4. CREATE A GHOST IN A DOORWAY

Creating a ghost in a doorway is basically


the same as the previous examples.
However, the opening is much larger, so
youll need a larger sheet of plexiglass.
I recommend getting the largest sheet

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The Peppers Ghost Illusion

available at your hardware store. This is


usually a 4'8' (48"96") sheet.
Position the ghost next to the door. Then
prop up the plexiglass in the doorframe
at a 45 angle to both the doorway and
the ghost. Make the room dark and
illuminate the ghost with a flashlight or
lamp. This setup is the most impressive
because you can display a full-sized
ghost. Unfortunately, it is also the most
expensive. A 4'8' sheet of plexiglass can
cost several hundred dollars.

VIDEO ONLINE: makezine.com/projects/diyhacks-how-tos-the-peppers-ghost-illusion

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HAUNTED
HOUSE

Hot Glue
Web Gun
Make a spider web shooter
thatll surely spread the creeps
{ WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY EDWIN WISE }

MATERIALS

Permanent marker
Teflon tape
Zip cable ties
Pipe fitting, " MIP (compression, with
insert) to " OD male (tube)
Valve, " OD female to " OD male
Quick-release pneumatic fitting, industrial
(not automotive) with " OD female end
" soft copper tube sold in the plumbing
department for refrigerator ice-makers. They
sell it for water, but were using it for air.

TOOLS

Hot glue gun the bigger and hotter, the


better. Avoid low-temp guns; should be 80
watts minimum we used 100 watts.
Air compressor with a decent-sized tank
Tube-cutting tool makes trimming the copper
air line fast, easy, and clean
Adjustable wrenches (2) aka crescent
wrenches
Spring tube-bending device to help contort
the copper air line without getting it too kinky
Leather gloves

70

alloween is a time to cast off the


gleam of the new and put on the
musty mantle of the old, the creepy,
the decrepit. Nothing says unused and
uncared-for like cobwebs, that dusty
detritus of spiders gone by.
But how do you create cobwebs for your
party, to turn your sparkling living room
into a gloomy crypt? Short of training
spiders to do your bidding, you must turn
to artificial means. You can find clumps
of polyester cobweb in bags around every
corner when the Halloween season
strikes, and if you spread it thin enough,
you can create an acceptable effect. But

we can do better.
The traditional cobweb spinner uses
a small fan blade, a little tin of goop, and
a powerful hand drill to blow filaments
of glue onto your scenery. This creates a
detailed web, but the device is prone to
clogging, and the resulting web is delicate,
unlikely to withstand the rigors of weather
or the attention of your guests.
For a bright, durable, and visible web,
we turn instead to the venerable hot glue
gun, a staple in every home craft drawer.
Using compressed air, you can blow
thin filaments of hot glue into delicate
tapestries of webbing.

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Hot Glue Web Gun

1. SHAPE AND TRIM THE AIR LINE

The first step is to bend your copper air


line into a convoluted shape. The output
of the line must be next to the glue nozzle,
and slightly (1" or so) behind the nozzle tip,
otherwise hot glue will clog it.
There are 3 ways to run the air line on
the glue gun: 1) take apart the gun and
run the copper line inside, from a hole
in the bottom of the handle to a hole just
under the nozzle; 2) run the line straight
up to a 90 angle connector at the top of
the handle, then straight forward to the
nozzle, bending it so it comes out beside or
below the nozzle; 3) run the line through
a roller coaster of curves, up along the
handle, across the body, then under the
body of the gun (where it will be attached)
and around to the nozzle. This is the
approach shown here.
However you route the air, you will
operate the web gun with the air coming
out below the glue, not to the side or
above it. The glue drips down into the
airstream and is blasted into fine threads,
cooling as it goes, until it strikes (and
sticks to) your target.
Since the copper line cant bend very
sharply without kinking, use the spring
tool to bend it, as shown here. The corners
end up being large, giving a retro look to
the system. But some sharper bends can
be created with the assistance of the hole
in the handle of your crescent wrench.
Mark the air line where youll trim it:
just beyond the bottom of the handle, and
where it stops behind the glue nozzle.
Then trim the air line.

NOTE: Removing the spring bending


tool from a sharp corner in the tube is
difficult. I ended up unscrewing the
spring twisting it to make it expand
and then inching it off the tight bends.
2. ROUTE THE AIR LINE

For a permanent web gun, you can route


the air inside the body of the gun, or attach
it to the outside with hose clamps. I use
the gun as a web shooter just briefly each
year, so I attach the air tube with zip ties,

! CAUTION: Be aware that hot glue is hot enough to hurt you. Unless you dont love
the skin on your fingers, wear leather gloves while operating the web gun. Dont fire this
stuff toward anything alive or delicate. A well-placed web will come off most surfaces,
but if you get careless and too close, the glue can damage plastic items, meld into cloth,
and generally wreak havoc. Test in a discreet corner before going wild with it. Dont web
across open flames.
If you use this webbing in a public haunt, research which hot glue stick is not
flammable. Remember, safety first.

which I can cut when Im done.


Wrap teflon tape around the (male)
threads on both fittings and screw
them into the valve. Tighten with 2
wrenches: snug, not stressed. Pull out
the compression fitting insert and cap as
shown on the following page (top left).
Use the triangular deburring
attachment on your pipe cutter, or a rasp
or other smoothing tool, to clean up the

receiving end of the copper air line (top


right). Slide the compression cap onto
the copper line, and press the insert into
the line. Its shown partly inserted here
(middle left); stuff it all the way in.
Now screw the compression cap onto
the previous assembly, completing the
air pathway. Make sure the valve is easy
to control with your off hand while youre
holding the gun in your dominant hand.

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Tighten the compression fitting very well;
this is a point of weakness in the assembly.
A wimpily tightened fitting will slide right
off the copper air line.

3. ASSEMBLE THE WEB GUN

The positioning of the pieces is shown at


middle right, with the air coming out below
the glue nozzle and the air line running
down the handle. There are no zip ties
holding the copper line to the handle in this
particular web gun, because the squeeze
trigger cleverly slips into the handle during
operation. Instead, the air line is stabilized
by the hand holding the glue gun. My right
hand holds the gun and squeezes the
trigger, while my left controls the air flow
with the valve.

4. SHOOT WEBS!

First, let the glue gun heat up and turn on


your compressor to let it charge its tank.
Attach the compressors air line to the
gun. Turn on the air to about 30psi.
Load a glue stick and point it at your
target, standing 10 feet or more away.
With one hand, turn on the air at the web
gun, and with the other, slowly squeeze
a thin trickle of glue. Wave the gun
around gently, wafting webs into complex
tangles. If the web plasters itself flat
against your target, stand farther away or
use less air. If the web falls to the ground,
reverse this correction.

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Hot Glue Web Gun and Bristlebots

Easy Halloween

Bristlebots

{ BY ANDREW SALOMONE }

Make creepy-crawly props using old electric toothbrushes

Andrew Salomone

alloween is a good time to invest in


a new toothbrush, but before you
throw out that old electric toothbrush,
why not use it to give your Halloween
decorations a little life by turning them into
super lo-fi bristlebots?
All you really have to do is fit an electric
toothbrush into a Halloween decoration
so that the bristles of the toothbrush
make contact with the floor, which will
cause it to move around in strange and
mysterious ways!
The size and weight of the decoration
will determine how well the electric
toothbrush motor is able to move it, and
the angle at which the bristles make
contact with the ground will determine
the direction it moves. You may want to
use additional brushes so that it moves
more smoothly, like I did with this severed
hand decoration.
I used some old Oral-B Pulsar
toothbrushes for this project. The
batteries can be replaced but the brushes
cant, so I decided that making them into
bristlebots was better than throwing them

away. Other electric toothbrushes should


work just as well and are a much cheaper
alternative to store-bought animatronic
decorations for your DIY Halloween decor
this year!

1. FIND A HALLOWEEN DECORATION

Make sure your toothbrush will fit inside


the decoration, and that the decoration is
light enough for the toothbrush motor to
move it around (Figures A and B ).

2. CUT HOLES FOR THE BRISTLES

The bristles of the brush(es) have to make


contact with the floor or the ground in
order for the decoration to move. Cut holes
in the decoration for the brush bristles to
fit through (Figures C and D ).

3. PLACE THE TOOTHBRUSH INSIDE

Fit the electric toothbrush into the


decoration. You may have to finesse it a little
bit to get the bristles to make good contact
with the surface once the toothbrush is
turned on (Figures E and F ). Experiment
with bristle angles, and have fun!

MATERIALS:

Halloween decoration Big enough for the


toothbrush to fit in, but light enough for the
toothbrushs DC motor to move it. Plenty
of plastic and foam Halloween decorations
will work.
Electric toothbrush I used old Oral B Pulsar
toothbrushes. Other types should work just
as well.
Nail brush (optional) Use additional brushes
for smoother movement. Nail brushes are
cheap, light, and easy to add.
Duct tape, glue, etc. to hold the electric
toothbrush in place.

TOOLS:

Utility knife

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MATERIALS

Dow blue insulation styrofoam, 1"2" thick


Wood putty
Latex exterior paint heavy, cheap, and thick
Acrylic paints
Dry sand
PVC pipe, 1" diameter, 2' total length
Liquid Nails construction adhesive

TOOLS:

Dremel tool with router attachment, multipurpose cutting bit, and sanding drum bit
Hacksaw
Uni-ball Gel Impact pen for drawing on foam
Caulking gun for Liquid Nails glue
Paper mask and safety goggles
Wood file and fine sandpaper
Putty knife

grave
situation
Dont resort to grave-robbing make realistic tombstones

{ BY CORY DERENBURGER }

easily from styrofoam

Visit a cemetery (or Google Images), then


transfer your favorite design to paper.

letters (easy) or outside your lines for


raised letters (harder).
After you cut the outlines, slowly
carve out the rest of the area using the
large cylindrical drum sander bit. (Your
router attachment may need to undergo
modification; learn how at makezine.com/
projects/styrofoam-tombstones.)

2. CUT OUT THE SHAPE

5. ADD PVC SUPPORTS

eres how to make your own


lightweight, sculptured, professionallooking masterpieces guaranteed to
add a creepy touch to your haunted house.

1. DESIGN YOUR TOMBSTONE

Tape your pattern to the foam and trace it


by punching small holes along the lines.
Remove pattern and connect dots with the
pen. Cut out with the hacksaw, then clean
up edges with the file and sandpaper.

3. DRAW PATTERNS ONTO FOAM

Print out stencils for any text or flourishes


you wish to add to your tombstone. Punch
to trace as before. Before you carve, make
notes on how deep you want each area.

4. CARVE THE DESIGN

With your goggles and mask on, use your


Dremels multipurpose bit and router
attachment to slowly cut the outlines.
Start with the deepest parts (" is plenty
deep). Cut inside your lines for depressed
74

For a backing, cut an identical tombstone


shape from the foam. Cut two 1' lengths
of PVC pipe. Use the sander bit to cut 2
channels 1' long, 1" wide, and " deep, in
both tombstone and backing, as shown.
Glue the pipes in, then glue the backing on.
Now you can easily stand your tombstone
on wood dowels driven into the ground.

6. PAINT AND SPRINKLE SAND

Sand the tombstone lightly and patch any


holes, seams, or uneven areas with wood
putty. Then use a spray gun, airbrush, or
paintbrush to apply a couple of thick coats
of latex exterior paint as a base. While this
dries, sprinkle sand all over to give it a
stone texture. Then use acrylic paints for
detailing. Admire your work and enjoy!

Cory Derenburger

NOTE: Do not use spray paint it will eat


the styrofoam!
For more tips and step-by-step photos, visit
the project page at makezine.com/projects/
styrofoam-tombstones.

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Timmy Kucynda

Styrofoam Tombstone and Fog Chiller

Ultimate
Fog
Chiller
Mod a fog machine to add extra atmosphere to your
haunted house { BY ADAM TOURKOW }

hilled fog creates an appealingly


eerie blanket on the ground. Most
homemade fog chillers use a drink
cooler and PVC tubing, but that design
doesnt keep the fog in the holding area
long enough to chill it properly. Our fog
chiller is very easy to build and does a
great job of cooling the fog we won the
HauntCon Chill-Off in 2004!

1. CUT 2 HOLES IN THE TRASH CAN,

sized so that the dryer hose fits snugly into


them. The exit hole goes at the bottom,

and the hole for the fogger nozzle goes


about 2" higher on the opposite side.

2. THE ALUMINUM DRYER HOSE comes in


6' pieces, so attach the 3 sections together
using water-resistant duct tape.

MATERIALS:

Trash can, 20gal or bigger


Aluminum dryer duct, about 18' total length
Lots of dry ice or water ice
Duct tape, water-resistant
Drill with 4" hole saw, or utility knife

TIP: A powerful fogger can cover more


area by using a cardboard box with a
hole for the output tube and a slit at
the bottom for the fog to come out in
a wider pattern.

3. FROM THE INSIDE OF THE CAN, feed one


end of the tubing out of the lower (exit)
hole, and coil the rest of the hose around
the inside of the can. Once you get to the
top, feed the tube back down and out the
upper (fogger nozzle) hole.

4. THATS IT FOR CONSTRUCTION! Now,

just fill the trash can with ice, attach the


fogger, and let er rip.

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Dark-Detecting LED Throwies

Easy-build, little glowing lights that automatically switch on after dark! { BY NICK NORMAL }
Phototransistor, infrared
Transistor, 2N3904 NPN
Perf board, small
LED, red jumbo, super-bright
Resistor, 100k, W
Moldable thermoplastic pellets such as
ShapeLock, Friendly Plastic, or InstaMorph.
Theyre all the same stuff: polycaprolactone
plastic.
Coin cell battery, CR2032
Battery holder, CR2032
Magnet

uch like automatic outdoor and


garden lights, the Dark-Detecting
LED Throwie circuit switches on an
LED when ambient light levels dip below
a certain threshold. The big difference is
the number of components: just five a
battery, phototransistor, resistor, LED,
and transistor.
In this circuit (Figure A ), the transistor
and LED are effectively switched off
when photons (particles of light) hit the
phototransistor. When few or no photons
hit the phototransistor, current freely
passes through the transistors collectoremitter junction, lighting up the LED.

1. SOLDER THE COMPONENTS

Begin with a standard through-hole circuit


board design. We found that a small,
round perf board comfortably contains
76

all the components and fits a CR2032


battery holder perfectly. It also allows you
to cleverly connect to the battery holder
without any additional wiring.
Use a pair of helping hands to hold the
PCB in place while you insert each of the
components (Figure B ) and solder them
together using the schematic (Figure A) as
your guide.
After soldering, trim the excess leads,
except the outermost lead from the
resistor (connected to the transistors
collector) and the negative leads from
the phototransistor and LED. Bend these
remaining leads through the nearest
mounting hole (the larger holes) on the
PCB (Figure C ).

2. ADD THE BATTERY

Place the PCB on top of the battery

Hep Svadja

MATERIALS:

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Dark-Detecting LED Throwies

R1
100K
2N3904

3V

Phototransistor
A

Red LED

WARNING

Most consumer brands of


thermoplastic pellets are safe to
handle, but under no circumstance
should you ingest them! I used a
metal cup for my experiment, and
just to be safe I now reserve that
cup for projects in my workshop.

holder. The leads from the PCB and


the battery holders connectors should
match up just enough for you to patiently
solder them together (Figure D ), with
positive connected to the resistor lead
and negative to the leads from the LED
and phototransistor.
With everything soldered together, trim
any excess leads and insert a CR2032
battery in the holder and voila, you have a
Dark-Detecting LED circuit!

3. PREPARE THE THERMOPLASTIC

Now for some fun! I wasnt satisfied with


the circuit simply living on a PCB, and
wanted to encase it in something. Ive
been looking for an excuse to work with
thermoplastic pellets, which turn soft
and pliable in hot water and harden when
cool. This was the perfect opportunity to
experiment with the material.

All you do is pour boiling water over


the pellets (ideally in a glass or metal
container with a handle) and let them
turn transparent, which takes around
15 seconds.

4. ENCASE THE CIRCUIT

When the pellets become clear, scoop


them out with a spoon. They will
immediately bond together and form
a putty-like substance. Hot water will
sometimes find its way into an air pocket,
but otherwise the material is safe to mold
with your hands.
For mine, I dolloped this onto the
PCB, and then began to shape it with
my fingers. Leave the phototransistor
exposed, so to see light during the day.
When the material completely dries it
will harden and become mostly opaque
white (Figure E ).

5. ADD THE MAGNET

Finally, super-glue a magnet to the


battery holder. Now toss your new DarkDetecting LED Throwie at something
metallic. It will stick there, wait all day and
then light up at night!

GOING FURTHER

The Dark-Detecting LED is a fun, simple


circuit that's great for jack-o'-lanterns or
costumes, but can easily be upgraded to
the next level.
One obvious challenge: How to operate
this circuit using a white or blue LED?
These typically have a higher forward
voltage than red LEDs, and will require
some different components to activate the
circuit. Or try connecting the circuit to a
small solar panel and rechargeable power
supply, so the batteries juice up during the
day! Experiment and have fun.
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Plug & Play Arduino Relays

Hep Svadja

HAUNTED
HOUSE

Control 8 high-power AC lights andappliances with a single microcontroller { BY CHRISTOPHER J. ALDEN }

hen we built The Great Houdini


Escape Room in San Franciscos
Palace of the Fine Arts (makezine.
com/go/great-houdini), we tackled many
challenges. All the lighting and props
were built from scratch, using 5,000 feet
of wire and 5,000 lines of code running on
8 Arduino Mega microcontrollers. Those
Arduinos connect to hundreds of inputs
and outputs, including nearly 50 devices
that require high voltage greater than
the 5V an Arduino can pump out.
Low-voltage systems are safe (think
batteries) but high-voltage systems are
dangerous (think wall sockets), so we
manage the interaction between the two
using relays. A low-voltage signal from
an Arduino triggers a relay, which in
turn switches a high-voltage connection
on or off. Arduino is fun because wires
can be swapped at will without risk of
electrocution and we wanted the same
flexibility with our high-voltage elements.
So we created the Plug & Play Arduino
Relay Box. We put the relays in a junction
box and mounted an electrical box on top
with regular wall outlets. Data wires exit
the box for safe connection to an Arduino.

78

Now any time we need to add, change,


or remove any high-voltage device with a
plug on the end be it a light, a fan, or a
blender theres no tricky high-voltage
wiring needed. Just plug and play.

CAUTION: This project involves


high-voltage wiring. Follow instructions
closely and get expert help if you need it.
!

1. PREP THE ELECTRICAL BOXES

Remove 4 knockouts from the outlet box,


then mark the holes onto the junction box.
Drill holes in the junction box for the "
connectors (a step bit works great).

2. JOIN THE BOXES

Attach the boxes using the connectors


and nipples. (Keep the spacers toward the
outside.) Attach the 24 to the back of the
outlet box with 2 wood screws. This makes
the boxes more stable.

3. PREP FOR RELAY BOARD

Drill out the relay boards mounting holes


to 9/64", then place it in the center of the

junction box and mark the 4 holes. Drill


5/32" holes and install the plastic standoffs.

4. INSTALL POWER AND GROUND

Install a ground wire to connect the 2


boxes, leaving some extra length in the
outlet box. Install the male plug on the
power cord: black wire to the darkercolored screw, white wire to the silver
screw, green wire to green screw. Then
install the power cord in the outlet box,
using the included connector.

5. PREP THE OUTLETS

Break off the tab connecting the 2 darkercolored terminal screws on all the outlets
(in our case, its a brass tone).
Cut 4 blue and 4 red wires 10" long, and
crimp a fork terminal on one end. Attach a
blue wire to each top dark screw, and a red
to each bottom dark screw as shown.
Cut 3 white wires 3" long, strip both
ends, and connect to the silver screws.

6. CONNECT THE OUTLETS

In the outlet box, connect all the grounds


(boxes, power cord, and outlets). Connect
the power cords neutral wire (white) to the

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Plug and Play Arduino Relays

7. INSTALL OUTLETS AND COVER PLATE

Mark the top of the plate blue, and the


bottom red. Now you can clearly see which
wire controls which receptacle.

8. CONNECT THE RELAY BOARD

Connect the 2 long black wires to the


high-voltage terminal blocks on the relay
board. Use the short black wires to make
sure one terminal of each block has power.
Then connect the blue and red wires to the
open terminal on each block. The relays
are numbered 18, so you can easily write
the corresponding numbers on the outlets.

9. MOUNT THE RELAY BOARD

Fasten the relay board to the standoffs


with 6-32 screws and push any extra wire
up into the outlet box. Remove a knockout
in the junction box and insert a protective
bushing. Youll route your low-voltage
control wires (out to your Arduino) through
here. A cable clamp provides strain relief.

10. WIRE THE ARDUINO CONNECTIONS

Cut a Cat-5 cable to reach from your


Arduino to the Plug & Play Box. Cut equal
lengths of hookup wire, red and black.
Strip 3" of the Cat-5 shell on both ends,
then strip " off the ends of the 8 wires
within. Also strip " off the hookup wires.
Screw the 8 Cat-5 wires into the 8 green
terminals at the bottom left of the relay
board. Screw the hookup wires to the 2
terminals at bottom right: black to (GND)
and red to (VCC).

11. CONNECT YOUR ARDUINO

Run the Cat-5 and hookup wires out


through the bushing, and connect them
all to the 212 terminal block in the same
order you used on the relay board. We use
a terminal block because Cat-5 wires are
too thin to fit well in Arduino pin headers
plus it allows for useful modularization.
Use more hookup wire to connect the
Arduinos 5V power pin to the terminal

MATERIALS

Christopher J. Alden

outlets. Feed the red and blue wires from


each outlet into the junction box.
Cut 2 black wires 10" long and 6 wires
2" long. Connect 2 long wires to the power
cords black wire using a wire nut, and
feed these into the junction box as well.

Arduino microcontroller board


8-channel relay board, optically isolated We
use a silent, $24 solid state relay, Amazon
#B00R5OA8I8
Electrical junction box, 6"8"4"
Electrical outlet box, 4-gang, 2" deep aka
masonry box

Electrical outlets (4)


Outlet cover, 4-gang
Box spacing connectors, 2" (2)
Conduit nipples, 2" by 1" long (2)
Protective bushing, " for electrical box
knockouts

Cable clamp for electrical boxes


Electrical cord, 1418 gauge with ground
male end only, with cord connector
Wood block, 24, 6"7" long
Plastic standoffs, female-female, #6-32
thread, 1"2" long (4)
Machine screws, #6-32 " (8)
Solid-core wire, 1618 gauge insulated, in 4
colors We used red, blue, white, and black.
Crimp-on fork terminals, 1618 gauge (8)

Bare copper wire, 1618 gauge for ground


connections
Hookup wire, 2022 gauge, red and black or
substitute red/white bell wire
Cat-5 cable
Screw terminal block, 212

TOOLS:

Screwdrivers: slotted, Phillips #2


Needlenose pliers
Drill and bits: 764", " step bit
Thread tap, 6-32

Marker
Wire strippers
Utility knife

blocks red wire, and Arduino ground to


the black wire. Now connect any Arduino
pin of your choice to any slot on the
terminal block, depending on which outlet
you want to control with which pin.

PLUG AND PLAY!

Your Arduino can now control high-voltage


power outlets. Download the sample
code MAKER_8_Relay_Sketch.ino from
makezine.com/go/plug-play-arduinorelay. It will test the setup, turning all 8
relays on and off, one at a time. Now just
connect your haunt props, holiday lights,
or anything else with a plug!

11

See complete step-by-step photos at


makezine.com/go/plug-play-arduino-relay
and check out The Great Houdini Escape
Room at makezine.com/go/great-houdini.
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Arduino-Controlled
Halloween
Props
Its easy to hack battery-operated props to choreograph your haunt
A
{ BY JASON POEL SMITH }

Animated Halloween props Look for props


with a Try Me button.
Arduino microcontroller board

Transistors, NPN switching One for each


prop; see Step 4.
Resistors, 1k One for each prop.
Hookup wire
Solderless breadboard and jumper wires

TOOLS:

Multimeter and soldering iron


Small screwdrivers
Markers

nimated Halloween props are a lot of


fun. But the props that you buy at the
store have some major limitations.
One problem is that each prop is
activated by its own sensor, so it is difficult
to get them to work together in unison. If
the props are out of sync, the overall effect
isnt as scary.
Another problem is that the built-in
motion sensors arent very effective.
Most props are activated by a light sensor
that detects the change in light when
someone walks by. In order for them to
work, they need light to be shining on
them; they wont work at all in the dark.
They can also be falsely triggered if the
lighting in the room changes.
So I worked out a system that lets you
control all your animated Halloween props
with a single microcontroller (such as
an Arduino). This lets you choreograph
exactly how and when each prop will turn
on and off. It also lets you use external
sensors that you can customize for your
unique setup.

1. FIND HALLOWEEN PROPS WITH


A TRY ME BUTTON

There are many different kinds of


animated Halloween props and they can
all be hacked in one way or another. But
80

for this project, Im going to focus on


battery-powered Halloween props that
have a Try Me button. These props will
have a button somewhere on the package
that lets you activate the programmed
animation, so you can see the prop in
action before you buy it.
Hacking this Try Me button will let you
activate the prop remotely. By connecting
to the terminals of this switch, you can
control the prop with an external circuit
such as an Arduino.

2. DISASSEMBLE THE BUTTON

You can usually pry open the plastic


housing with a small screwdriver. If it is
snapped together, just depress each of the
tabs and it will pop open. If its glued, you
may need to crack open the glue seam.
Inside youll find a small switch with 2 or
4 exposed terminals.

3. IDENTIFY THE TERMINALS OF


THE SWITCH

Use a multimeter to measure the voltage


between the 2 sides of the switch.
The measured values will be different
depending on the design of the prop. The
only thing you need to be concerned with
is the relative polarity. You need to know
which terminal is more positive and which

Jason Poel Smith

MATERIALS:

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Arduino-Controlled Halloween Props

SAFETY WARNING:

This procedure is only intended for


battery-powered props. I do not
recommend disassembling switches
for AC-powered props. That can be very
dangerous if not handled properly.
terminal is more negative.
To keep track of which is which, I use
colored markers to mark the positive
terminal red and the negative one black.

Jason Poel Smith

4. TEST THE TERMINALS WITH


A RESISTOR

There are two types of On switches you


might find on a Halloween prop. The first
type is a low-current signal switch. These
just send a small signal to the control
chip on the prop. The second type is a
high-current power switch. This switch
connects the prop directly to the battery
pack and has to handle all the power
thats required by the prop. You need to
know which type of switch it is, so that
you can use an appropriate transistor to
activate the prop.
To test which type of switch you have,
take a 1 kilohm (1k) resistor and touch its
2 leads to the 2 terminals of the switch. (If
there isnt a large enough exposed surface,
you can disconnect the switch at the base
of the prop and touch the leads of the
resistor to the terminals of the prop itself.)
If the animation activates, then its a
low-current switch and youll be able to
use a low-current transistor to activate
the prop. If it doesnt activate, then its
probably a high-current switch and you
should use a power transistor rated for
at least 1 amp (1A) to activate it.

5. MAKE AN EXTERNAL
TRANSISTOR SWITCH

You can use a transistor to simulate the


button being pressed. First, select an

appropriate NPN transistor. Using your


breadboard and jumper wires, connect
the collector pin of the transistor to the
positive terminal of the switch and connect
the emitter pin of the transistor to the
negative terminal of the switch. When
you apply a positive voltage (relative to
the emitter pin) to the base pin of the
transistor, the 2 terminals of the switch
will be effectively connected and the prop
will be triggered to play its animation. A
1k resistor added to the base pin of the
transistor helps to protect it from excessive
current that could potentially damage it.

6. CONNECT YOUR TRANSISTOR


SWITCH TO THE ARDUINO

Now you need to connect your transistor


switch to your microcontroller. Connect
the emitter pin to a ground (GND) pin
on the Arduino. Then connect one of
the Arduinos digital pins to the 1k
resistor thats connected to the base pin
of the transistor.
Whenever the Arduinos digital pin is
set to a HIGH output, the transistor will
activate the prop.

MOTION SENSORS: see page 82


PRESSURE PLATES: see page 85
PROXIMITY SENSORS: see my how-to
at makezine.com/projects/use-a-diyproximity-sensor-to-automate-yourhaunted-house

9. RUN THE SAMPLE ARDUINO CODE

Repeat the previous steps to add


additional props. You can control as many
props as there are digital output pins on
your microcontroller.

To test your props, download the sample


Arduino program from the project page
at makezine.com/projects/arduinocontrolled-halloween-props. Open it in the
Arduino programming environment (IDE)
and have a look at what its doing. First the
setup() function assigns specific output
pins to your props, and an input pin to
your sensor. Then the loop() reads your
sensor pin and switches all outputs to
HIGH using the digitalWrite() function.
After a 10-second delay(), it switches
them all LOW again. And so forth.
Go ahead and customize all this to
choreograph your own routine. Then
upload the code to your Arduino.

8. ADD EXTERNAL SENSORS

10. ENJOY!

7. ADD ADDITIONAL PROPS

ow you can add your own external


N
sensors to activate the system. Here are a
few examples:

ow all you have to do is set up the props


N
in your haunted house and enjoy the fun of
scaring your guests.
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6/27/16 9:30 AM

HAUNTED
HOUSE
MATERIALS:

PIR motion sensor, 3V9V DC Look for one


that has 3 pins: GND, VCC, and OUT.
Arduino Uno microcontroller board
Jumper wires, male to female (optional)
Motion sensor designed to work with AC
devices such as motion-activated security
lights
Extension cords, 3-prong (2)
Insulated twist-on connectors (4) wire nuts
Tape or pipe (optional)

TOOLS:

Soldering iron

Motion-Sensor
Prop
Controller
Activate your props, AC or DC, by automatically detecting when
someone is nearby { BY JASON POEL SMITH }

to control motors. Activate sound effects.


Even make a motion-sensitive camera.
The only limit is your imagination.

1. INTERFACE A MOTION SENSOR


WITH A MICROCONTROLLER

If you want to control AC devices with a


motion sensor, it may be easiest to skip the
Arduino and just modify a motion detector
that already works with AC devices, such
as motion-activated security lights. You
will need two 3-prong extension cords and
4 insulated twist-on connectors.
First, separate the motion sensor
by cutting the wires at the connectors.
Remove the motion sensor assembly.
On one extension cord, cut and remove
the male plug; do the same with the female
plug on the other. Open the housing to
expose a few inches of wire. Separate
each of their internal wires and strip 1" of
insulation off the ends. Connect the wires
to the motion sensor as shown in Figure 2
using insulated twist-on wire connectors.
For safety, enclose all connections in an
insulated plastic housing.
Now you have an AC outlet activated
by a motion sensor. The motion sensor
should be able to power appliances that
are rated as high as the original lights.
Anything that you plug into your motion
sensing outlet will turn on when someone
enters the room: sound systems, power
tools, solenoids, lamps anything!

There are a number of PIR motion sensor


modules that run on 3V9V DC that you
can easily interface with a microcontroller.
Look for one that has 3 pins: GND, VCC,
and OUT. The GND pin connects to the
GND pin on your microcontroller. The
VCC pin can connect to a +5V pin, +3.3V
pin, or a digital output pin set to HIGH.
The OUT pin connects to an input pin on
the microcontroller.
For an Arduino, you can use jumper
wires or plug the sensor directly into the
board: sensor OUT to pin 12 on the board,
VCC to pin 13, and GND to GND. Pin 13 is
set to output mode and outputs a HIGH
signal. Pin 12 is set to input mode.
You can read the signal from the motion
sensor with the digitalRead() function.
Then you can use the digitalWrite()
function to output a signal to activate your
special effects.
With your motion sensor module
connected to the microcontroller, you can
activate any number of electrical devices
(see page 80). Use a relay shield to turn
electronics on and off. Add a motor shield
82

2. MAKE A MOTION-ACTIVATED
AC OUTLET

For more tips on modifying and using


motion sensors, go to makezine.com/go/
motion-sensor-trigger

Jason Poel Smith

nstead of having a moving Halloween


prop or special effect that constantly
repeats, maximize the surprise by
adding a motion sensor that only activates
your effects when someone comes near.

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Jason Poel Smith

Motion-Sensor Prop Controller and Infrared Remote Controls

MATERIALS:

Arduino microcontroller board


Infrared receiver module, 38kHz
Infrared LED
555 timer chip
Resistors: 1k (1) and 22 (1)
Capacitor, 0.02F or two 0.01F capacitors
Batteries, AA (4)
Battery holder, 4xAA with leads or connector
Solderless breadboard and jumper wires
Perf board
Heat-shrink tubing

TOOLS:

Infrared
Remote
Controls
Send invisible commands to your props using Arduino

Soldering iron
Dremel cutting tool (optional)

{ BY JASON POEL SMITH }

hen you want to control props and


effects remotely with Arduino, a good
option is to use an infrared remote
control. Heres how to put one together.

I trimmed off the excess board, and put


heat-shrink tubing on the LED to narrow
the beam and make it more directional.

1. RECEIVER CIRCUIT

Infrared signals can pass right through


many thin materials, so you can easily hide
the transmitter and receiver behind paper
or fabric and theyll still work. My favorite
trick is to put the transmitter inside a
glove, so the actor can just point at the
receiver to activate the effects it looks
like magic or telekinesis.

This infrared receiver module is easily


connected to an Arduino to detect the
signal from an infrared remote. Connect
the right lead to the Arduino 5V pin, the
center lead to a GND pin, and the left
lead to a digital I/O pin. The output of
the IR receiver is monitored using the
digitalRead() function. When the Arduino
registers an appropriate signal, it activates
your special effects.

2. IR REMOTE TRANSMITTER CIRCUIT

Almost any infrared remote can send


signals to the IR receiver, but I made my
own by hooking up an infrared LED to a
square wave signal generator based on
a 555 timer IC. Pins 4 and 8 on the chip
connect to the positive battery wire; pin 1
(ground) connects to the negative battery
wire. Be sure to use a 22 resistor thats
rated for at least watt, or it might
overheat. When the transmitter is turned
on, the infrared LED will begin to blink at a
frequency of about 36kHz.

4. CONCEAL THE INFRARED LED

1K

22

0.02F

5. COMMAND YOUR EFFECTS

Now you have infrared command of any


scare effect you can trigger with Arduino.
To command a servo like this one, visit
makezine.com/go/halloween-ir-remote.

4
3

3. CONSTRUCT THE IR REMOTE

Prototype the transmitter on a breadboard.


Once everything is working properly,
solder the components onto perf board.

makezine.com

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6/27/16 9:28 AM

HAUNTED
HOUSE
MATERIALS:

Digital camera
Connector plug for shutter switch terminal
(optional) if your camera has shutter switch
terminals
Momentary switch
Arduino microcontroller board
Diode

Automatic
Scare
Camera
Capture every terrified moment
{ BY JASON POEL SMITH }

1. CONNECTING TO CAMERAS WITH A


REMOTE SHUTTER SWITCH TERMINAL

For cameras with a built-in shutter switch


terminal, you just need a cable with a
matching connector plug. On mine, the
sleeve connects to ground, the center ring
activates the focus function, and the tip
activates the shutter. To focus and trigger
the shutter, you simply connect the ring
and tip to ground (the sleeve). You can do
this with either a mechanical button or an
electrical circuit.

2. CAMERAS WITHOUT A REMOTE


SHUTTER SWITCH TERMINAL

Without a built-in terminal, remote


triggering may still be possible with a
little surgery on your camera. Remove
your cameras outer housing and locate
the shutter switch. This typically has
one terminal that connects to ground to
activate the focus, and one to activate
the shutter. However, most cameras will
auto-focus when you activate the shutter.
If this is the case, you only need to make a
connection to the shutter terminal. Solder
one wire to the shutter terminal and one
84

wire to the ground terminal. Touch the two


together and the shutter should trigger.

3. TRIGGER WITH EXTERNAL SWITCH

The simplest way to actuate the shutter is


with a momentary switch. Remote triggers
are very common in normal photography,
but can also be cleverly repurposed for
automatic actuations using a pressure
plate (see following page) or a trip wire.
Try using the switch to trigger your scare
effect and your camera at the same time.

4. TRIGGER WITH A MICROCONTROLLER

The advanced way to automatically control


a camera is with a microcontroller such
as an Arduino. Youll need a small diode
and a jumper wire for this.
Insert the cathode of the diode (the side
with the stripe) into one of the digital pins
of the microcontroller. Then insert the
jumper wire into one of the GND pins on
the microcontroller. Now connect these
to the shutter switch cable. The jumper
wire should connect to the ground of the
camera. The diode should connect to the
shutter function on the camera.
When the microcontroller sends a
LOW signal to the digital pin, the camera
shutter should activate. But when a HIGH
signal is sent to the digital pin, the diode
becomes reverse biased and prevents the
electricity from flowing into the camera.
This protects the circuitry of the camera

from being damaged.


Now that youre triggering scare props
and your scare camera with Arduino, you
can experiment with fine-tuning the timing
add a slight delay in your code between
the scare and the shutter until youre
capturing the moment of maximum fear.
Boo! Caught you.

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Hep Svadja, Jason Poel Smith

great touch for a haunted house is


a scare camera that snaps pictures
of people being terrified by your
automated special effects. Youll need two
parts a camera shutter cable andan
external circuit.

TOOLS:

Soldering iron

Jason Poel Smith

Nightmare Fear Factory

Jumper wires

Automatic "Scare" Camera and Pressure Plate Switch

MATERIALS:

Insulated copper wire


Large sheets of cardboard (3) roughly the
same size, at least 12" on the shortest side
Aluminum foil
Tape
Extension cord (optional)

TOOLS:

Wire stripper
Sharp knife

Pressure
Plate
Switch
When they step on it, they trigger the scare

{ BY JASON POEL SMITH }

hen youre running a haunted house,


you want most of the special effects
to be automated. But for this to be
effective, you need to get the timing right.
The best way to do this is to use sensors to
detect where your guests are.
Heres how to make a simple pressureplate switch that you can use to activate
special effects in a haunted house.

1. ATTACH THE FOIL

Center a piece of aluminum foil that is at


least as big as the cardboard on one of
the sheets. Wrap any overhangs around
the back. Tape one edge of the foil to the
cardboard, then stretch the foil tightly and
tape the opposite edge. Do this for all 4
sides of the foil, then repeat with a second
sheet of cardboard.

Hep Svadja, Jason Poel Smith

2. ATTACH THE WIRES

Strip 1" of insulation off of the end of


a wire, then lay it on the corner of the
first sheet of cardboard so the bare wire
touches the aluminum. Tape it to hold
it in contact with the foil. Repeat with
the second wire and second sheet of
cardboard. This isnt the most secure way
of attaching the wires, but it should hold
together for Halloween.

3. CUT THE SPACER

The third sheet of cardboard is a spacer

between the other 2 sheets. Make this by


cutting out the center of the third sheet of
cardboard, leaving a 1" cardboard border
on all sides.

4. ASSEMBLE THE PRESSURE


PLATE SWITCH

Lay down the first piece of cardboard,


foil-side up. Put the cardboard spacer on
top of it. Place the other foil-laden sheet
of cardboard on top of that, foil side facing
down. Lastly, secure the three layers
together with tape.

5. USE IT

When you press on the center of the


cardboard, the 2 foil sheets will make
contact and complete a circuit just like a
regular switch. Youll have to disguise the
pressure plate so that it isnt noticeable
the easiest way is to put it under a
lightweight rug, but use your imagination.
This pressure plate design works well
in most circumstances. You can make
it sturdier by using thin sheets of wood
instead of cardboard and thin sheet metal
instead of aluminum foil.
Use this to activate an Arduino, small
DC electronics, and AC appliances. Learn
how to hook up your pressure plate trigger
to all these devices at makezine.com/go/
pressure-trigger.

makezine.com

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CreativeMarket
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6/27/16 9:04 AM

FOOD
& DECOR

Sweet Bleeding Heart

Bake a bloody thorax cake that oozes with every bite { WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY BARBARA JO }
MATERIALS

8" round cakes (4) homemade or


store-bought
Jelly roll cake
Fruit sauces homemade or store-bought
Butter cream frosting
Fondant icing
White modeling chocolate
Paste food colors
Corn syrup
Acetate paper
Soft paintbrush
Plastic piping bag
Silver tray or any tray elegant enough to
serve a thorax on
88

make a bleeding heart cake for


our annual pumpkin carving party.
Sometimes the heart beats, sometimes
its anatomically correct, but it always
bleeds fresh, homemade raspberry sauce.
This year I decided to go the whole hog
and bake an entire thoracic cavity. Each
organ was a different kind of cake, and
secreted a different color of fluid when
cut open, using raspberry, strawberry,
mango, and blueberry sauces. The heart
bled pretty well, but the other fluids
werent so dramatic. On the bright side,
they were all delicious. Here's how to
construct one for your next party.

1. BAKE THE ORGANS (ER, CAKES)

Bake a different type of cake for each


organ. Here are the cake-sauce
combinations I used:
HEART: Orange cake with raspberry
sauce
LUNGS: Apple spice cake with strawberry
sauce
KIDNEYS: Orange cake with blueberry
sauce
STOMACH: Ginger cake with mango sauce
SMALL INTESTINE: Jellyroll with red
currant jelly
But dont add any of the sauces while
baking these will be added later.

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Bloody Thorax Cake

2. SHAPE THE ORGANS

Once these cakes are baked and cooled,


carve them into the shapes of the
appropriate organs (Figure A ). Grays
Anatomy (bartleby.com/107) makes a
very handy reference.

3. ADD THE GOOEY STUFF

Flip each organ over, hollow out a cavity in


the center, and frost the inside of the cavity
and the underside of the cake with butter
cream frosting. Then spoon in the fruit
sauces (Figure B ). Roll out some of the
fondant and seal the cavities with it. Flip
the organs back over (Figure C ).
Cover the organs with fondant icing.
(You could also use white modeling
chocolate, which tastes better and sticks
to itself better than fondant. But its more
difficult to work with on cakes like these,
which are relatively unstable due to the
hollows in the middle. Also, modeling
chocolate is difficult to paint with paste
food coloring, though it can be painted
easily with powdered food coloring
dissolved in cocoa butter.)

4. ASSEMBLE THE RIB CAGE

Put your cakes aside, and assemble the


white chocolate rib cage in which all the
organs will be placed. First I drew the
ribs on paper, which I placed underneath
the acetate to guide me. Then, temper
the white chocolate by zapping it very
briefly in the microwave, and pipe the ribs
and vertebrae onto acetate with a plastic
piping bag. Wait until firm (Figure D ).
Now dip each piece into a bowl of melted
white chocolate before assembling the rib
cage on a silver tray (Figure E ). Of course,
with all the organs on top of it, no one ever
actually sees that there is a complete
spinal column underneath all the cake,
but I say if youre going to make an edible,
anatomically correct chest cavity dessert
tray, you might as well do it right!

5. PLACE ORGANS (EXCEPT INTESTINE)


INTO THE RIB CAGE
Once the rib cage is dry, place all the
organs into the cage in their appropriate
places, again using Grays Anatomy as a
guide (See facing page).

6. ATTACH THE INTESTINE

Before attaching the intestine (Figure F ),


bend the jelly roll into appropriate curves
and cover it with fondant.
Move the cake to its final resting place,
and then place the intestine. It should trail
out of the rib cage, suggesting that the
person to whom the thorax had belonged
has been ripped apart, rather than
carefully dissected.

7. PAINT THE ORGANS

Im not really sure what colors kidneys and


stomachs are supposed to be, but drawing

on my vast experience watching people in


movies being disemboweled, I gave it my
best shot (Figure G ). Have fun with it.

8. ADD FINAL GORY TOUCHES

All thats left is to add the butter cream


frosting blood, so it doesnt look so
pristine.
I did little veins on the organs first with
a piping bag, and then put big globs of
gore on the ribs with a knife. A little spritz
of corn syrup to give it that all-important
oozing, wet look, and voil! Youre done
(Figure H )!
makezine.com

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6/26/16 6:04 PM

Windell Oskay and Lenore Edman

FOOD
& DECOR

The Cylon Jack-o-Lantern


Build the Larson Scanner and give your pumpkin an evil eye { BY WINDELL OSKAY AND LENORE EDMAN }
MATERIALS

LM555CN timer chip Jameco part #27423


CD4017BE counter chip Jameco 893611
Resistors: 330 (1), 47k (6), and 180k (1)
Jameco 690742, 691260, and 691403
Trimmer potentiometer, 500k aka trimpot,
Jameco 254044
Diodes, 1N914 (10) Jameco 655269
Transistors, 2N3904 (6) Jameco 38360
Capacitors: 0.22F (1) and 47F 16V (6)
Jameco 26972 and 1946244
LEDs, red (6) Jameco 333526
9V battery
9V battery snap connector Jameco 11280
Protoboard e.g., BGMicro part #ACS1053
or RadioShack #2760147 or 2760150
Soldering iron, solder, and hookup wire
Foam tape or velcro

90

len A. Larson (19372014) could


be considered an American hero.
He was the television producer
responsible for bringing such gems as
Battlestar Galactica and Knight Rider to
the small screen. He also displayed a
fondness for red lights that scan back
and forth, which featured prominently in
the aforementioned shows. The Larson
Scanner, named in his honor, is a circuit
that lights LEDs in a sequence like the
ones he used. Use it for your costume,
bike, R/C car, case mod, or as we did
the Cylon jack-o-lantern.
You can buy and assemble our Larson
Scanner kits with 10mm or 5mm LEDs
from shop.evilmadscientist.com, or just
solder our original Larson Scanner circuit

from scratch. Heres how it works.


Our circuit, diagrammed on the next
page, features 2 chips: a 555 timer and a
4017 decade counter. The 555 is a handy
building block for all manner of circuits.
(See Make:, Volume 10, page 62, The
Biggest Little Chip by Charles Platt.) Our
555 is configured as an oscillator that
outputs regularly spaced pulses at a rate
controlled by a trimpot. Its output signal is
connected to the input of the 4017 counter
chip. The counter chip has 10 outputs
(numbered 1 through 10), one of which
is on at any given time. If 10 LEDs were
driven by the chips outputs, you would see
them light up in sequence from 1 to 10 and
repeat as it receives a train of incoming
clock pulses.

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Windell Oskay and Lenore Edman

The Cylon Jack-o-Lantern

THE BACK-AND-FORTH ILLUSION

However, we want our LEDs to scan


back and forth, not move in one
direction repeatedly. We accomplish
this by folding the 10 outputs back
onto themselves so that if we had 10
LEDs, numbers 2 and 10 would be in
the same location. Rather than using
2 LEDs in each location, we use 1,
and so only 6 LEDs are needed. As
the counter counts from 1 to 6, the 6
LEDs light up in sequence. Then, as
the counter finishes counting from
7 to 10, the middle 4 LEDs light up
in the reverse sequence. This gives
the illusion of an LED that moves
continuously from one end to the other
and repeats. Since the middle 4 LEDs
will be lit up when either of 2 counter
outputs is on, we use simple diode OR
gates to allow this logical control.

500K
trimpot 0.22F

180K

OUT

8 7 6 5

9V +

16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9

LM555
CN

CD4017BE

1 2 3 4

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

1. Wire up the 555 chip and power pins of the 4017 chip.

Signal #2
Signal #5
Signal #3

Use 1N914
diodes (10)
16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9

Black stripe

CD4017BE
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Heres the 1N914 diode orientation.

Signal #4

SLOW YOUR ROLL, LEDS

The final detail, not to be neglected,


is that high-brightness LEDs were
not available as props for late 1970s
and early 1980s television shows.
Under logical control, LEDs blink
on and off with remarkable speed
and dont look a thing like the corny
incandescent effects were going
for. An incandescent bulb has a very
slow response when turned on or
off. To mimic this, we use a low-pass
transistor driver to slow down the
response of each LED.
The chips in this circuit are older
linear and CMOS devices that kick ass
because they are able to run directly
from a wide range of input power
supplies, in contrast to many of todays
semiconductors. It is convenient to
run this circuit from a 9V battery, but
you can build versions that run on
several AA cells or a 12V system. If
you do use another voltage to run this,
youll need to adjust the value of the
(330) LED load resistor.

The trimpot lets you change


the scanning frequency. Carefully
clip off either of the 2 end leads
before soldering.

Signal #1
Signal #6

2. Turn 10 outputs into 6 signals, using 4 diode OR gates.

LED
#1

Signal #1

9V

+
-

47K
LM555
CN

+
-

47F

330

B
47F

2N3904
+
-

Copy outlined part


5 times, with
Signal #2, LED #2
Signal #3, LED #3
Signal #4, LED #4
Signal #5, LED #5
Signal #6, LED #6

The negative side of the 47F


capacitor is marked.

Flat
3. Make 6 low-pass transistor LED drivers.

The LED orientation.

2N3904
C
B

4. Attach the battery


with foam tape or
velcro, and fire up
your Larson Scanner.

E B C

The 2N3904 transistor pinout.

makezine.com

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6/26/16 6:12 PM

Garry McLeod

FOOD
& DECOR

Party Piata

Create a festive, personalized piata thats easy to make and fun to break { BY BRIAN ANDERSON }
materials

Balloons

Newspaper
Masking tape
Flour and water
Mixing bowl and whisk
Cardboard tubes from paper towels etc.
White glue
Crepe paper
Scissors and utility knife
Cardboard
Wire hanger
Long-nose pliers

92

iatas add great excitement to any


party. But instead of settling for a
store-bought design (often made of
child-proof cardboard), consider making
your own custom piata. Piata-making
is part art and part engineering, so
its fun for the whole brain. Best of all,
the decorating process hides all your
mistakes.
This example shows the construction
of a spider piata, but the same
techniques can be used to create any
sort of piata you choose. The materials
are inexpensive, and the process is
challenging, fun, and easy. So take a

whack at making your own piata, and


it wont be long before everyone else is
taking a whack at it, too!

1. SHAPE THE SPIDERS BODY

The spiders abdomen is made from a 12"


party balloon. The front section of its body
(the prosoma) is flat and nearly round on
the sides. This shape is made by bending 2
long balloons into spirals and taping them
together (Figure A ).

2. WRAP THE BODY SECTIONS

Wrap the balloons in a layer of newspaper,


and tape it all down using masking tape.

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Party Piata

Cut off any excess newspaper to help


smooth out the shapes.

3. MAKE THE PAPIER-MCH PASTE

Using the mixing bowl and whisk, mix up


equal amounts of flour and water (start
with 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water) to
form a paste.

4. PAPIER-MCH THE BODY SECTIONS

Garry McLeod

Tear newspaper into 1"-wide strips, and


dip them one at a time into the paste.
Squeegee off excess paste by running
the strips between 2 fingers, then lay
the strips onto the newspaper-wrapped
balloons. Once a balloon is covered in a
layer of strips, let it dry, then apply 2 or 3
more layers of papier-mch, allowing
each one to dry in between.

5. ATTACH THE BODY SECTIONS

Attach the 2 body sections of the spider


with masking tape (Figure B ), then lay a
couple of layers of papier-mch strips
across the joint to cement the pieces
together. Let each layer dry before
applying the next one.

6. CREATE THE LEGS

The legs are made from empty paper


towel and toilet paper tubes (Figure C ).
Attach the leg segments using masking
tape, then wrap a few layers of papiermch strips around them to give them
strength. In this photo, the front of the
spiders body had to be propped up until
the legs had enough strength to support
its weight.

7. POP THE BALLOONS

Once the papier-mch sculpture is


finished, cut a small hole in each balloon
section to pop the balloons and remove
them. Cover the small holes with papiermch or even some masking tape.

Brian Anderson

8. ADD THE HOOK

Adding the hook is one of the most


important parts of making a piata,
because the hook has to bear the weight of
the filled piata. First cut a piece of hanger
wire or other stiff wire and, using longnose pliers, bend it around a small piece of
cardboard as shown in Figure D . Then cut

the piata open somewhere on its side and


insert the cardboard and wire. Then punch
the wire through the top and center of the
piata from the inside.
Once the wire is sticking out the top,
bend it into a hook using pliers. Then close
up the hole on the side of the piata using
papier-mch, or masking tape, since
youll cover it with decoration anyway.

NOTE: When inserting the cardboard


and wire, make sure its from the side
and not the top of the piata, as you
dont want to weaken the area from
which the piata will be hanging.

9. PAINT THE PIATA (OPTIONAL)

I spray-painted this piata before


decorating it, to get an idea of how the
colors would look when fully decorated,
but this step isnt necessary.

10. WEAKEN A THICK WALL

If your piata wall seems too thick, you can


weaken it by stabbing it repeatedly with a
small knife.

11. DECORATE!

Use your imagination when decorating! I


usually use crepe paper instead of paint
because it hides any flaws, and looks
festive when its fluffed up. Cut "-wide
fringe into a crepe paper streamer, then
use white glue to attach the crepe paper to
the piata.
I wanted to create a variety of textures
on the spider piata, so I used snipped
crepe paper on the legs with finer snips
at the joints (Figure E ), and unsnipped
crepe paper on the shell-like prosoma. To
create the hairy abdomen on the spider,
I applied spray-on adhesive and then
pressed on loose handfuls of shredded,
black gift-bag tissue paper.

12. FILL THE PIATA

Use scissors or a knife to cut a small door


in the top of the piata not too close to
your weight-bearing hook. Fill the piata
with candy and toys. Fold the door back
down and it will usually be hard to spot.

13. TAKE A SWING AT IT

Party time! Hang the piata and let the


whacking commence! For more piatamaking tips and examples, visit my
website pinataboy.com.

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FOOD
& DECOR

Meat
Head
Craving some cranium?
{ BY ANDY OAKLAND }

ve served a Meat Head at my


Halloween parties for at least the last
five years. It never fails to impress (and
distress!) my guests.

1. Start with a plastic skull. Wash it well, and


make sure its clean enough to eat off of.
Because thats what youre going to do.
2. Congeal some Jell-O in a big flat pan. Red
flavors are best (I used green one year when
Meat Head was a Vulcan). Use only half the
water the recipe calls for, to make the Jell-O
nice and rubbery. Cut the Jell-O into strips
and patches about " thick. Hold plastic
wrap against the skull and trace the more
irregular cranial shapes to create templates
for Jell-O patches. Layer the Jell-O across
the skull. This makes an interesting bottom
layer for your guests to discover.
3. Next, take strips of cold cuts and layer

them across the skull. I found a pound-anda-half was plenty. You dont want to use too
much, or else your guests wont eat their
way down to the Jell-O surprise! Ive made
a ham Meat Head, which gives a Freddy
Krueger complexion. Ive also used corned
beef, for the look of someone with their skin
peeled off, and turkey, for a nice zombie
appearance. Youll need to strategically
place toothpicks to prevent the cold cuts
from sliding off the head.

4. Add the eyes. My personal favorite

5. Finally, its time for the magnificent


midnight buffet! Remember to garnish Meat
Head. He looks ever so much better served
on a bed of lettuce, dont you think?
94

Sam Murphy

ingredient is pickled onions, for their


pleasing translucency. The yolks of boiled
eggs give a jaundiced look, with pupils
made from sliced olives. Cover the whole
assembly with plastic wrap, and store
in the fridge until party time. (Be sure to
warn housemates.)

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Deli Skull and Glowing Gourds

Gourd
Lanterns

Drill patterns into hard-shell


gourds and let the light in
{ BY DIANE GILLELAND }

ard-shell gourds, sometimes called


calabash gourds, are some of the
worlds first cultivated plants. They
are harvested from their vines in the fall
and then air-dried for several months.
When a gourd is fully dry inside and out, it
forms a woody shell that can be cut with
simple tools.
Cultures all over the world fashion
hard-shell gourds into vessels or musical
instruments. Here, weve turned them into
festive outdoor lanterns, using a drill to
create patterns for light to shine through.

1. CLEAN THE GOURD

Hard-shell gourds develop a coating of


dirt and mold as they dry out. You can buy
them already cleaned, but youll save a lot
of money by cleaning them yourself. Begin
by soaking the gourd in a bucket of water
for about 10 minutes. Turn it occasionally
to keep all sides wet. Then use a scrubbing
sponge to remove the grime. Allow the
gourd to air-dry.

2. CUT OFF THE BASE

Cover your work surface with paper. Use a


pencil to draw about a 6" circle around the
bottom of the gourd. When you cut out this
circle, it will give the gourd a flat, stable
base to sit on. Begin by using a paring
knife to poke a hole through the shell. Use
medium pressure and gently rock the
blade back and forth until it penetrates.
Insert a pumpkin-carving saw into this
cut and carefully saw along your line.

3. CLEAN OUT THE INSIDE

Remove the base of the gourd and dump


out all the loose seeds and dried pulp.
Gourds vary widely; some will have very
little material on the inner walls and

others will have a thick layer of flaky dried


pulp. If its thick, scrape it out with a large
spoon. Discard the pulp and seeds.

NOTE: Some people are allergic to gourd

dust; work outdoors and wear a surgical


mask if youre sensitive.
4. DRAW SOME GUIDELINES

Draw or trace your design on the gourd in


pencil. These lines will serve as cutting
guides and can be easily erased later.

5. DRILL OR CUT OUT YOUR DESIGN

You can use the pumpkin saw, but Ive


decided to use a drill here. With a drill, you
can build all kinds of patterns from holes
of various sizes. Position the drill bit so its
perpendicular to the gourds surface, and
drill straight into the gourd with medium
pressure. The drilled holes should be at

CAUTION: The drill bit can slide on the


curved surface and cause injury. Always
steady the gourd against your work surface,
and keep your hands far away from the bit.

least " apart to keep the surface of the


gourd from breaking. Vary your patterns
by switching to drill bits of different sizes.

6. CLEAN UP YOUR DESIGN

When youve finished drilling, clean your


pencil lines off the shell with an eraser.
Inspect the gourd from the inside. That
pulpy material on the walls sometimes
clogs up the drilled holes. Poke the holes
with a pencil or skewer to clear them.

7. FINISH YOUR GOURD

If desired, rub a little mineral oil into the


surface with a soft cloth. The oil will give
the gourd a subtle shine and help it resist
moisture. Alternatively, you can use a
polyurethane spray varnish for maximum
protection, but to my mind, it looks
rather unnatural.

8. LIGHT IT UP

First and foremost, never place a lit candle


inside a gourd lantern! The inside walls
are highly flammable. Instead, stuff a
string of tiny Christmas lights inside your
gourd lanterns they wont fall out or
use small LED lanterns.

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FOOD
& DECOR

Mad Monster

Candy
Snatch
Game

Put the fun in fun-sized


candy! { BY BOB KNETZGER }

EASY GAME: Reach into the


monsters mouth with the tweezers
try to get a candy without waking

the monster (touching the sides).


BZZZZT! Your turns over, pass the
tweezers to the next player. If youve
succeeded, eat your candy or add it to
your trick-or-treat bag! You can make
the game easier to win by simply
cutting larger holes for the mouth,
ears, and neck bolts.
SIMPLE STRATEGY: Add a die or
spinner labeled Mouth, Ear,
and Neck. On your turn, spin the
spinner and try to snatch a candy
from the opening indicated. If youre
successful, you can try again, but if
you miss you lose all your candies
put them back into the monsters
head and let the next player go! Will
you risk it or play it safe?

Candies

Cut and
bend
soda
bottle

Clip to tweezers
Clip to
foil

Super bright
red LEDs

Face label

Speaker
with cap
Wood screw

Sound
recording
module

Bottle cap
Foil tape on
ears, bolts,
and mouth
Doorstop
spring

NAME THAT CANDY: Player to your


right names which specific candy you
must try to lift. You may have to do
some extra careful digging with the
tweezers to win!

LED
driver

Knife switch
Wood base

Bob Knetzger

HOW TO PLAY

Jeffrey Braverman

eres a classic toy reimagined


for you to make just in time for
Halloween candy-giving and
party fun. Its the Mad Monster Candy
Snatch game, which combines the
nerve-wracking dexterity of the old
classic Operation game (BZZZZZT!)
with a fun monster headshaped
candy dispenser. Make those little
goblins earn their treats with this
tricky game!
The set is simple to make; you
can customize the play to be as easy
or difficult as you like. You can even
personalize it with your own voice,
choice sayings, and sound effects.
The see-through green monster
head is filled with fun-sized candies.
Do you dare to snatch a snack? Use
the forceps to carefully reach inside
its mouth. If you can maneuver out
a candy, youve won a treat! But
be careful if you touch the side
you lose! The monster wakes up
with crackling, shocking sound
effects and announces YOU MAKE
MONSTER MAD! YOU LOSE! as his
angry eyes flash red. No treat for you!

For full step-by-step instructions, templates, and graphics, visit makezine.com/projects/monster-candy-game.


96

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Make: Special Issue


HALLOWEEN

Are you a maker?

SPECIAL ISSUE

HALLOWEEN

MONSTER MAKEUP
10
CYBERPUNK SPIKES

HAUNTED
HOUSE
HOW-TOS
CREEPY
COSTUMES
FRIGHTENING
FOOD
AND BOO!

CAPTIVATING
COSPLAY
CREATIONS

31
TERRIFIC TECH
PROJECTS FOR
ALL SKILL
LEVELS!

16
HARD-SHELL MOLDS
40
FLYING CRANK GHOST

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Special Halloween Issue 2016

6/28/16 7:34 AM