Digital Sound board

Digital Sound Board. A nice digital sound board using CF storage — the electech EM3018B. right now i use banks of cd players for sound effects at halloween but this might be a better way to go…

Axworthy ghost status

Axworthy ghost status. Making good progress on this. I have a small motor — an appliance fan motor. May be too fast and too low torque but am going to try it. I’ve got my drive wheel — an old lawnmower wheel to mount on the motor. I’ve got my carriage wheels — wheelbarrow wheels. I’ve got my carriage line — 100 lb test fishing line. Doing a lot of parts prep and assembly this week, I hope to have a limping system this weekend. See my halloween blog for links to axworthy ghosts if you don’t know what i am talking about.

Halloween Preps

Halloween Preps. After much deliberation I’ve settled on my projects for this year. I am a) going to beef up my lightning primarily by switching to blue photo floodlights as discussed on my halloween blog. B) I am going to try my hand at a small axworthy ghost project, drawing inspiration from some of the more extreme setups out there. I’ve tracked down a motor and am going to start laying out all the gear i need this weekend. c) i am going to build a small flying lantern setup. i’ve also gotten my cheap mirror ball motor for this and am going to start getting the rest of the gear this weekend.

There are some minor other things I want to do but these are the longer leadtime items. I’ll try to post pictures as I make progress.

Halloween!

Halloween!

Wow we had a great night. I’d estimate that we had 250-300 kids visiting — we gave away a LOT of candy. All of L’s friends and their families came, as did J’s friends and families. And we had neighbors, and some coworkers, and whoever else happened to stop by. A fun night.

Highlights:

The flamelights we had in our upstairs windows really looked great.

People always love skeletons.

The glowing red eyes peeking out from dark corners and bushes really fascinated some of the young kids. Very inexpensive.

The fog as always was great. And we had super weather — scattered clouds, breezy, a beautiful full moon.

Lowlights:

Just one. As the party was breaking up, someone accidentally grabbed J’s trick or treat bag and left with it. All the candy he had worked hard to collect was gone. A serious downer at the end of the evening. We have plenty of candy left over, so he won’t go short on candy, but it is not the same as the candy he collected, which had stories and memories of the night associated with it.

Halloween Status All systems go.

Halloween Status

All systems go. Both foggers working — yard and doghouse. Pirate, Heartbeat, Greeting, Thunder and Lightning, and Doghouse soundsystems all operation. Giant Ghosts working. Lightning operational. Gobo spotlight operational. All skeletons in place. Skeleton eyes lit. All indoor lights working.

Going to be a great night if the weather holds…

Northwest News 10/4 Well September

Northwest News 10/4

Well September certainly turned out to be a somber month. Even though we were not directly touched by the events of the month, we like all Americans have had a rough emotional month. We fervently hope October brings more positive happenings.

October is a big month for us. Schools are humming along — L seems to be most busy with AP calculus and AP chemistry, j likes Latin perhaps the best (is this my child?). L’s volleyball season is gathering steam; they are 5-1 in league play and have a big couple of weeks ahead. C and I are busy with the minutiae of household and family life. Work is going fine; we continue to find some interesting companies in which to invest despite the economic doldrums.

But what really keeps us busy is Halloween preparations. We have a great neighborhood for trick or treating — flat, reasonably dense for the ‘burbs, a lot of kids in the area. We’ve gotten in the habit of inviting our kid’s friends over and their families. And we’ve gotten in the habit of doing some, er, modest decorating. We?ve become known as the family with ?that Halloween house? and it is a great reputation to have ? all the kids in the neighborhood love to visit us.

This year I started planning our Halloween displays in about March. I started buying key gear in April/May. In late August I started deploying gear.

First out was the fog system. We have a water-based fog system that can blanket our yard, the neighbors on either side, and the street with all the fog you would ever want. If we run it full blast, in 5 minutes you can?t even see our house. Fog is great stuff, creates a wonderful aura and a chill in the air. I?ve had that system deployed and working for about 3 weeks now. I?ve also learned more about the pros and cons of the various fog systems available, if anyone wants a primer.

Next out is the sound system. I have 6 separate sound systems deployed with Bose weatherproof speakers. In past years I have used wireless speakers but they have a lot of interference and battery problems so this year I just ran speaker cable everywhere. We have four speakers playing a thunder soundtrack, a set of speakers at either driveway entrance playing moody welcome songs and scripts, a scary growling soundtrack up by our door, a creepy heartbeat and dripping sound off in a corner of the yard, and some mood music indoors. The right sound track makes a huge difference in setting the mood.

I am currently deploying all the lighting. I use a theatrical control system called DMX512 to control all the lighting. My PC runs the DMX control software and I have DMX cables run out to all the lights around the yard. I have a bank of strobes and incandescents which are synched to the thunder soundtrack to give a lightning effect ? very cool! I have a number of spotlights shining on props and doors for other effects. I also have a small fog machine up near our door that we use to surprise people, also controlled by the DMX system. Lighting is really the final key element to creating a suspenseful atmosphere. Oh yes I also use the x10 system to control some of the house lighting ? it is a far inferior system to DMX but a lot cheaper. Fine for controlling indoor lighting and small outdoor lights that don?t have to be synced with any soundtracks.

This month I will be deploying all the props ? we have a huge number of skeletons and a lot of loose bones ? all purchasable very cheaply from anatomical supply houses. We have a haunted doghouse, a sea serpent, cast silhouettes of the seven deadly sins, much pirate paraphernalia, gargoyles, lots of fake rats and bats, and a lot of window decorations and small lights. Oh and I replace all our outdoor lightbulbs with flickering candle bulbs, that alone adds a nice touch. One thing we stay away from is gore ? we don?t have any bloody body parts or anything like that. I would rate our house PG or PG-13 ? scary because of sudden sounds or lights, but nothing grotesque.

It is a lot of fun although a lot of work for just one night! There are a million projects I want to undertake for next year ? some sensors which drive lights automatically based on the presence of a guest, a thing called a vortex cannon which blows fog around, some floating lantern effects, etc. There is a huge community of folks on the internet who trade information all year long on haunted house ideas.

If any of you are ever out this way we?d love to have you by for Halloween. It is a lot of fun. And we?ll think of all of you this Halloween.