A random, geeky blog


Halloween! Pt. 3

It is finally time for part 3 of my series on Halloween. This part will focus on the finishing touches of the display, namely the victim, the fog machines, and the pumpkins.

I’ll start with the victim. You may remember the web-wrapping body thing I showed earlier. There have been a few changes to it since then, namely completely ditching the idea of having the legs move with the body, and major changes to how the web is attached. We went to loop the web around the body and have it remain stationary, but it quickly caught on the body, and gave an amazing result. The body would spin about 1.5 times with the web stretching to match, then the tension became to great for the motor and it changed direction. I immediately decided to leave it that way because it looked so awesome, but I was halfway expecting the motor to break down after a few hours. Luckily, it didn’t and the display worked perfectly all week.

Here,‘s a video I took.


This video was actually picked up by hackaday.com, makezine.com, and probably many more. My photobucket account has generated at least 46,000 views in the last two days. Awesome.

Next up is the pumpkins. I decided to try to do the axe scene in The Shining this year, since I had plenty of time (or so I thought). I put in the blu ray of the movie, found the scene, then took a screenshot of it. Next, I opened the image in photoshop, converted it to greyscale, then maxxed out the contrast to produce a true black-and-white picture. I printed it out and taped it to the pumpkin, then started etching in a thin outline with my dremel. This took about two hours. When I finally finished, I went to get the carving tools, but they were nowhere to be found. I asked my father for his, and he couldn’t find them either. So I had to use whatever I could find. Armed with a screwdriver, a wood chisel, and a razorblade, I set at it. At about 5:00, I realized I was out of time, so rushed it to a stopping point. In hindsight, I should’ve taken a bit more time because I ended up punching all the way through in several places, which produced way too much light and made it much harder to recognize.

Here’s a photo of the result.

After that pumpkin, I had to do the fog chiller. I cut two holes in a 5 gallon bucket, then put a piece of PVC pipe running vertical from the bottom to the top, and another one at the bottom to let the fog out. I filled it up with ice, positioned the for machine correctly, and it was good to go. When I turned the machine on, it made a really awesome layer of ground fog, about 6 inches thick. By then, it was time for trick or treating to start, so I got out the candy bucket and starting handing it out. The house was a huge hit, with some people coming in cars just to trick or treat at our house. I did feel sorry for the neighbors though, because people became so distracted by my house that they skipped other houses. The whole night, I didn’t see one trick or treater go to the house next door, even though they were giving candy out.

At about 6:45, there was a large break, so I grabbed another pumpkin and made this.

That’s it for this year. I’ve got some pretty awesome plans for next year though, mainly building a motion-activated silly string gun to shoot the kids who get too close,and possibly a rebuild of the spider so it can stand up. I’m also considering building a civil war soldier with a cannon to shoot at the spider, though cost would be a big limitation for this. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Halloween! Pt. 2

Part two of my series on my halloween display will focus on Itsy, the giant spider. Itsy is an inflatable spider made out of black painters’ plastic which has been welded together. When inflated, it is 17 feet long and 47 feet wide. An old AC blower keeps it inflated.

Picture time.

We attached a rope while building Itsy to allow it to be hung from a tree.

The rope is looped over a fork in the tree about 25 feet high.

Part 3 is coming soon. Don’t miss it!

Halloween! Pt. 1

It’s finally time to put up halloween decorations! Yay! I’ve divided them into a three part series, so stick around for the rest.


Part 1: Background scene

Our display is all centered around the giant inflatable spider. Every year, we try to add two or three new items, and over the years, it’s gotten pretty awesome. This years additions were two new bodies and the rotisserie-thing for Tim. The bodies were originally going to be made using traditional methods (chicken wire, PVC pipe, canned foam, etc. until we found a whole bunch of those foam pool noodles for $0.45 each. It turs out that they can be cut really easily and they will take pretty much any shape needed. I split couple into 8 pieces longways to use as ribs, and the rest of the bodies are made of  whole noodles with little cut out tabs so they can fit into each other.For faces, I used props purchased last year at walgreens’ 75% off after halloween sale.

Okay, enough talk. On to the pictures.



Here’s the graveyard scene. All the tombstones are cheap styrofoam from walgreens (some of their halloween stuff is actually pretty great, especially at 75% off.), and there are various bones scattered about in it. You can also see the web on the bushes and all over our house.



This is one of the spider’s past victims. It’s made of fun noodles as described above, except I left out the ribs to give it a more dried out appearance.


Here is another of the spider’s past victims. This one consists of nothing more than a head and some strategically placed fabric.



Here’s yet another victim of Itsy. This one is made entirely of fun noodles with a Hillary Clinton mask attached to the top. I personally think the smile makes this one epic.



This is the big hanging ghoul thing that resides over the cemetery. I really have no idea how it makes sense with the rest of the decorations, but everyone seems to agree that it helps set the scene.



Poor Tim is being roasted until Itsy gets put up.



Here’s a photo of the entire display at the end of Part 1. Ignore the huge black mass in front of the tree

Web-wrapping body thing


Here is my current project. It’s a rotisserie-thing that will be used to create an effect of the giant spider wrapping the body. It consists of two wooden triangles with inset bearings, which a threaded rod goes through. Tim (the victim) is made of swimming pool noodles, some of that expanding foam, and a really freakish “hanging ghoul” thing from Walgreens a couple years ago. He has a pipe going through his body, which is held onto the threaded rod with some washers and lock nuts. The whole thing is rotated with an old rotisserie motor that didn’t fit our grill.

Click the image for a video of it in action.

Note that this is still a work in progress, so be sure to check back for updates.