Here is the chair jumper. His "waist" is connected to the
chair seat. The pneumatic cylinder will push from the back and make
the ghoul lean forward (enough to topple the chair if it is not braced).
The body is essentially the same PVC body as shown from last year. The
arms and legs are pool noodles. The head is a wire mesh cage attached
to a PVC neck.
Here is a look at the back of the chair jumper. The pneumatic cylinder
is a 12" pop-up sprinkler head that I bought from Home Depot for
$10. I took the sprinkler apart and literally stuck a cork in the end
of the shaft that extends when the water is normally turned on. That
reduced the amount of air needed to begin pushing the shaft out. After
cutting the hole in the back of the chair, I had to add the masonite to
provide a little more solid panel for the cylinder to push against. I
secured the cylinder using a hose clamp on the back.
Notice the in-line pressure regulator ($4 from Harbor Freight Tools).
It isn't very sensitive, but it effectively reduced the air pressure from 90
psi to 30 psi.
The short, yellow hose is connected the air supply (more info about that in
the following pictures).
Here is a closer look at the pneumatic gear. This happens to be for
the tombstone jumper from last year. I used a standard screen door
closer (after drilling out the adjustment screw and inserting an air-hose
Let's start on the left-most side of the picture. (1) The black hose
is connected to my air compressor (which was kept behind the house with
about 100' of hose reaching around to the front yard). The black hose
is also connected to the 7 gallon air tank. (2) The air tank provides close,
quiet air for the prop, as standard air hoses can push that much air through
them quickly. I used a female "T" to connect both the air
input and output to the blue tank. (3) The solenoid controls the air
flow to the prop. It is electrically controlled (just like when your
clothes washer lets the water in). (4) The yellow hose carries the air
to the pressure regulator. (5) The pressure regulator cuts the
pressure down from 90 psi to 25 psi or so. (6) When the air is
supplied, the door closer will extend. When the solenoid shuts off,
the exhaust port will vent the air in the cylinder.
Here is the modified tombstone jumper, minus the costume and headstone.
You can see the wire cage I built for the head/mask. This is a simple
open-ended cylinder. I rounded the top but left the bottom open so the
head can nod a bit. You can see the pressure regulator dial at the
bottom of the door closer. All it needs now is a switched-air source
to control it.
The week before Halloween I told a coworker that I was disappointed with my fog
chiller that I built last year. I used it again this year with much
better results. I think the problem was the speed at which the fog was
passing through the entire assembly (it was going through too
quickly). I used a cardboard tube about 8'
long to slow the fog down a bit after it exited the chiller. The
result was pretty good fog that clung to the ground. Unfortunately,
the air outside cooled off very quickly and my chiller wasn't much colder
than the ambient air, reducing the effectiveness (the fog started rising
more as the temperature dropped).
Picture to the right was a test at the start of the evening.
is a shot of the driveway entrance. The only changes from this
viewpoint are the battery-powered sconces on the columns, the zombie rags
on the mailbox and fence, and the white plastic fencing spaced out along
the driveway in an attempt to keep the Trick-or-Treaters (TOTers) off of
the grass. The little fence didn't work so well as three separate
kids were so frightened they tried to escape through the yard. Next
year I'll build more of the wooden fence (see Halloween2002
for details) and line the driveway completely. It's more work, but I
don't want any of the TOTers or my props to be hurt.
is the same figure with an improved spinal support (PVC pipe attached to
seat of pants up to shoulders and head). I built a wire cage for the
mask to cover to keep everything in place a little better this year.
The little tombstones to the left are store-bought, but they add a little
more variety to the scene.
are my eldest children posing with the chair jumper. He is not yet
named, so send me your suggestions. He worked very well this year,
but I plan to glue the PVC frame together for next year. All of the
violent jumping started spinning the head to the side and twisting the
I am with my favorite prop, the coffin jumper. He is all manual, but
he still gets the most screams and shrieks. It was about 5 pm and
the kids were getting ready to go Trick-or-Treating and they took a few
pictures while I finished setting up.
are Tessa, neighbor Kevin, and Keegan posing with The Brain. This
year he picked up a new hand and a PVC skeleton complete with a wire head
neighbor Kevin goofing off with a prop that needs a serious upgrade.
The light/sound is triggered by interrupted light, but I couldn't get
enough light on the prop due to its placement this year. Next year I
will probably change the trigger to be a motion sensor.
my baby, Elias! He is getting right into the Halloween spirit.
Lucky for us, we just got back from Walt Disney World where he was exposed
to some scary environments, so my haunt was not much of a shock for
him. He'll probably be like his big brother and sister and not be
afraid of Halloween decorations.
a view of the haunt from the top of the driveway. The TOTers would
travel the driveway and the front walk, taking them right through the
scary stuff. The little dude in black to the left is actually a fog
machine with a "face". He has a timer and emitted a bunch
of fog that night and only used half a tank of fog juice. The large
spider webs were leftovers from Paramount's Scarowinds 2002 that were
rescued from the garbage by a friend.
and Tessa posing in the graveyard. What wasn't caught on film was
the tombstone jumper behind the pointed tombstone. This year he was
upgraded to pneumatic power and given a red face and black, Darth Maul
clothes. The air tank is hidden by black fabric just to the left of
the tombstone. As the jumper dropped when the air was vented, his
PVC supports struck the air tank making a nice "clang" that I
hadn't expected. Next year this prop will be moved to a more
noticeable position (he was too close to the front door and most kids were
already looking for candy by the time they were close enough).