View Full Version : So i have a technical question

Kevin Dells
12-09-2007, 05:01 PM
Were thinking of building some new schenes this season and one of the things i dreamed up requires us to have a heavy object drop down a few feet above peoples heads and stop.

We were thinking of using a very heavy pneumatic arm to raise and lower this prop. My question is a very rookie question, as we do not have anybody at our haunt that has had any knowledge of PLC's, one shots, or boo boxes of any nature.
Can somebody simply explain these things and how they actually work in simple terms.

Were looking to learn the basics so when we visit TW we know what we need.
Any good products that stand out or websites that may explain this whole part of haunt building better.

All help is greatly appreciated.


12-09-2007, 05:22 PM
Perhaps this will help: Fundamentals of Pneumatics (http://www.nfpa.com/Education/Edu_LearningOpps_SelfPacedFundamentalsPneumatic.as p)

That website contains general info on and the basics of Pneumatics in video format (or so I'm told).

Jim Warfield
12-10-2007, 08:22 AM
Design it like a big teeter-toter, counter weights equalising out the whole thing so a very small, weak motor, winch or pnuematic could very easily do the job of moving it and making it return.
building things to be moving above customer's heads is scary, make sure it's built very well and provide some safety cables to catch big parts if they happen to vibrate loose, they could very well turn out to be a lifesaver!
But if somebody does get their brains knocked out and squished like hot jello on the floor...well you know enough Not to clean That up! Adds to the display!

12-10-2007, 03:52 PM
Hey, if you want some help send me an email at kpolley@palenightproductions.com and I can help you out. I've been doing pneumatics and controls for a long time. I'm sure I could lend a hand. I will echo Jim's thoughts, though. Hanging heavy things over the customers is a scary proposition. I'd be sure to make the safety features in triplicate and WAY oversize any parts you might use to support the weight of the object. Always better to be safe than sorry.

Jim Warfield
12-10-2007, 05:40 PM
Or make extra money renting out pointy steel hats to the customers when they pass through this area.
just trying to help.

12-11-2007, 09:51 AM
and I think you should tell everyone exactly what you have in mind. This will let everyone give you specific recommendations without having to guess what you're trying to do.

The second and more important thing is someone will probably be able to come up with the same effect that doesn't involve dropping a large heavy object onto your customers. That looks good in movies, but remember - they spend millions on special effects. That object probably weighs all of about three pounds, if it's even there.

My line of thought on this is that something dropping from above will probably be scary enough by itself. You probably don't need a 500-pound animatronic flailing all over the place as it comes down. Save it for another part of your haunt.

Jim Warfield
12-11-2007, 12:53 PM
I once had a couple who would come through my house every week!
Usually just the two of them, all winter long!?
I would be pressed to come up with "new" things to keep them entertained.
One time I took my usual short-cut to get ahead of them through the bathroom, I ripped off a piece of (fresh) toilet paper and hung it above their heads on a steel hook that had always been there.
Some real luck was with me because that piece of toilet paper was hung perfectly and gently drug across her hair when she happened to walk underneath of it!

She screamed like someone had just cut off an appendage with a dull knife (in a sawing motion)

Another time I scared both of them by arranging it that they bump into one another in a dark room. They entered the room seperately they tip-toed around as I was making noises in that room (in which they thought it was physically impossible for me to be in) Each of them assumed those noises were being made by the other one instead of me, so as they quietly bumped into each other as those sounds were coming from 20 feet away.....

I don't know? I really get a large-charge out of scaring people without being aggressive at all or without spending more to scare them than just 99cents.
It's like being a chef, except I add ingrediants and only lightly "stir", they do the rest.

12-11-2007, 05:35 PM
Jim, it is amazing how the little things can be the scariest. I have had people tell me they were really freaked out by short lenths of fishing line I had hung from the ceiling. Feeling something barely touch you in the dark can be scarier than someone actually grabbing you.

This is what I am thinking with Kevin wanting to have something heavy moving over his customers' heads. I think less is more.

Kevin Dells
12-11-2007, 06:36 PM
Shawn not to sound like a jerk but im not giving anything away, i will e-mail people who can help me out but im not letting any cats out of any bags.

This is my original idea, it has not been used before this i assure you and i would rather not see it in 20 haunts come 2009. I did run the idea past a good group of haunters that are close personal freinds and they thought it was the greatest idea they had heard in a long time.

Jim i have every intention to build the holding tower very strong! Iv'e been a carpenter all my life and this project i will go overkill on and then even call in some extra help with steel supports.

The prop will not flail, it will just descend down, no arms contorting or anything like that just up and down on a ram.

We will also be adding a FEW back up cables just in case.
All i needed to know was for one up and down motion which unit would i use to operate the pnuematic arm.

Jim we also gave a lot of thought to the counterweighting idea as well, this is a top rate haunt i work for in NC, the last thing i want to do is build anything unsafe and harm patrons, i do like the pointy hat idea though!

Not that im trying to keep my great idea, we just have a haunt in town that seems to have the same thing we do every year,imagine that! I would rather figure it out on my own before giving the competiotion another one of our sets.

And Spookywoods Tony that was not directed at you man, somebodyelse completley so please don't think that. Our shows are totally different and that kicks butt for our clientel !!

12-11-2007, 07:17 PM
Kevin, I think more info on the mechanics involved (without you having to say what it will actually be doing) might make it easier for others to make suggestions. That additional info helps. Does the object have to be heavy? Can you design it differently so that it is lighter in weight? Every little bit would make the whole project a little easier and a little safer.

As far as pneumatics, how long will the travel be, and will it just be going in one direction (up and down), or will there be some side or angular movements at the same time as well?

As long as the weight is within reason, I definitely see it as do-able. It would just be an upside-down pop-up animation, with the ceiling as a base. You might also be able to work it from the side as well, depending on whether any of the sides will be hidden from view of the hauntees. Bracing and supports would be inportant, of course, and especially the attachment point at the celiling or nearest wall. Also remember that the welds on the mounts from the cylinder to the base and from the cylinder to the mechanism would have to be above par. There are a variety of ready made straps out there that would take care of the safety. I just saw some at a desert off-road race. They use them between the axles and the frame to keep the axle from dropping down too far and the weight of the axle and tires/wheels from pulling the suspension apart when the vehicle gets airborne during a jump. They are flexing around under the truck thousands of times during a race without binding or wearing out, so that shouldn't be a problem for your prop.

By the way: Do you have a way to safely lift and hold the prop while you are working on it? I'm assuming it's indoors, so you will also have to consider whether you can get a forklift or other high lift inside. If you have to borrow or rent something, keep in mind that you might need it longer than you think to get everything working right.

Hope this helps.

12-11-2007, 08:04 PM
Hi Kevin,

Eddie is like family, I can take it. LOL

If you need help, we can assist you. Really I promise not to steal your idea. I would rather be upfront so we don't have the same stuff.

Just let me know,

12-11-2007, 08:15 PM
Unless you have specific Haunts in your area that might use your idea and somehow hurt your business I take exception to you not sharing your idea. Everyone on this site is always sharing thier ideas and plans. We will all do better if we share our good ideas and experiences. You and I do not share customers, haunts are regional at best and when one of us succeeds it helps us all. I understand wanting to protect your proprietary ideas, however to come to this site and ask for help and then refuse to share seems somewhat out of balance.

This is my gut reaction, if the folks on this site don;t agree with me, then I will apologize upfront.

12-11-2007, 08:30 PM
I can see your point Greg, that is why I offered to help and I'm in the same market as Kevin. In fact, we are not only competition with Woods of Terror, but I consider the owners close friends. Now If I could only get Eddie to go snowboarding more we would spend more time together! LOL

The way I look at it is if we communicate with each other we can only help each other. I also would like to be different than Woods of Teror, just like when Eddie and I both were on a haunt tour in Texas in 2006 and seen the rocking Pirate Ship. We both loved the idea and wanted to build it. Eddie told me he was going to build it in 2007, so I decided to build our Castel Facade instead if he would stay away from doing big fire effects that we also seen on the same tour. As promised I did not build the pirate ship and I built a 35ft tall fire tower in my corn field. So far we both are sticking to the plan, and I will continue to offer my help to any haunter if asked no matter how close by they are.

Again it goes back to if you want this industry to be first of all SAFE, and continue to grow we must assist each other for the good of the industry.