Projects: Misc. Props & Decorations - Page 1

Here are a selection of various props and decorations some more elaborate than others. I've also included a number of behind-the-scenes items that have really helped to improve the haunt.

Spookytown Pumpkin Diorama

I had seen this pumpkin graveyard diorama on the Michaels site and really wanted to make it as a centrepiece for the table. I ordered the "Forsaken Cemetery" and "Rest In Piece" along with additional tombstones, skull piles and pumpkins from lemax-spookytown.com. I got a large foam pumpkin from Michaels, taking advantage of a 40% off coupon. I cut out the front and then built up the inside with foam sheets, carved to make a hill for the cemetery to sit on. I pre-planned and installed the battery operated purple spot lights to light up the scene. The inside of the pumpkin was painted with acrylic paint as a night sky with spooky clouds. Once I was happy with the position of all the pieces everything was glued in place with hot glue. I then used Celuclay to model the ground and fill in the gaps. I wanted it to look like one scene rather than separate invidual pieces. The Celuclay was then painted to blend everything together. I'm really happy with how this turned out and might do another one next year. That's what they say about the Spooky Town line - once hooked you can't stop!

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Assorted Interior Decorations

This is really the first year we have decorated the inside of the house. We are hosting a kids party for our China travel group so we'll have 12 little 2 year old girls hopped up on sugar running around!! (Forget vampires and werewolves - now THAT's really scary!!!!) I've never decorated the inside of the house concentrating on the yard so I'm having to now do some decorating but it's hard not to make it tooo scary for the girls. Our daughter alternates between being freaked out by all Daddy's spooky stuff and fascinated by it.

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Motion Detector Hack & Digital Sound Board

I got an idea to use a motion sensing outdoor light to trigger a prop from the Super-Easy Monster-in-a-Box. I'll position the light/sensor on a post near the front walk and when activated it will turn on the power & sound for the animated werewolf. Below are shots of the motion sensor unit under construction. I modified it from what is shown here to add a female 3 prong outlet to another extension cord in place of the 2 prong screw-in adapter so the power bar for the sound board can plug into it.

Warning: This prop requires 120V AC line voltage. Line voltage can kill! Please be careful and make sure you know what you are doing and that everything is hooked up properly.

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I wanted to take my animated werewolf prop to the next level and thought sound would be a perfect compliment. I got a 60 sec. digital sound board from Boneyard Bargains and made up a sound file of animal growls and wolf howls. It took a bit of fiddling and great advice from Paul at Boneyards but I got it rigged up successfully.

For a power source I used a variable DC wallwart transformer. You have to test the output as they are rated with loads and the sound board draws such a small load that it would be easy to overpower it. The 7.5DC setting measured out at 9.8DC so I went with that. I recorded sounds to the chip no problem (I had to tweak the audio levels a bit to get a clean sample) and hooked it up to a small set of powered speakers. Everything (sound board, speakers and oscillating fan) is hooked into a power-bar that is controlled by the motion detector set to the 10-sec test mode. With this set-up, to get the sound board to trigger automatically when power is applied, I needed to install the jumper across the trigger pins for continuous playback. Once I did that everything worked great! I'm slowly getting the hang of all this electronic stuff! :)

I should note I found a good electronic surplus supplier in Mississauga - A1 Electronics. The place is a bit of a disaster, piles of stuff everywhere - you ask for something and the guy at the counter waves you in the general direction of an aisle where you have to search through mostly unlabelled boxes to find what you're looking for, if you can. LOL! Anyhow I got the variable DC transformer for only $6 which I thought was a good deal.

4 Channel Dimmer Power Box

I had really noticed that although I was happy with the overall lighting last year, the intensity of the lights was way too bright. Since working with all things electrical makes me nervous I enlisted the help of father to wire this up for me. Basically he wired 4 outlets to 4 dimmer switches creating 4 channels that can be indiviually dimmed to whatever I want. I anticipte this will give me far greater control over the lighting and make the haunt less day-glow and much more dark & spooky.

Warning: This prop requires 120V AC line voltage. Line voltage can kill! Please be careful and make sure you know what you are doing and that everything is hooked up properly.

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Garage Door Screen

In past years I have located all of the sound equipment inside the garage and left the door up just a bit. I'd cover the speakers with some draped fabric but I was never happy with how it looked. This year I built a simple frame with streched thin black fabric stapled to it. The frame was sized to fit in the garage door opening and the door will come down and rest on top of it. This way it will look more finished but hide the sound & lighting equipment behind it out of sight but still aloow the sound to pass through. A simple thing but I think it will go a long way to making the haunt look more polished.

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Fog Chiller

Below are pictures of my fog chiller made out of a, I believe, 48 Qt. Rubbermaid bid. I based it on the Got Fog? design and it worked OK last year. Below are some pics from 2006. I'll be altering it this year based on modifications posted to a Haunt Forum thread. I'll post photos as I go.

I have to say that although I like the idea of slow, thick, ground-hugging fog I think the problem is that here in Canada it's just to hard to chill the fog sufficiently below the ambient air temperature. It's normally pretty chilly by the end of October so it's harder for a fog chiller to realistically work. I also really like walking into a wall of pea-soup fog so if the chiller works, great but if not it's not a big deal.

UPDATE! I have to say that I was never very happy with the fog chiller in that it took a huge amount of ice to fill it (over $30 worth at least) and the ground fog produced was shall we say, lacking. So I've retired it. I removed the pipes and mesh and now use the bin to store my floodlights. I won a Mini Vortex Fog Chiller in a contest a few years back and have been VERY happy with the results. It takes only one bag of ice which lasts almost all night and the fog produced just oozes out and hugs the ground. Very cool. The first year I just draped some black fabric over it but have since made a more elaborate angel monument to cover it and keep it out of sight.

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