As I sit wandering and browsing the infinite universe of the internet looking for ideas for this years' haunt I found some easy to follow DIY instructions for animated skeletons. Being how I just adore The Nightmare Before Christmas I have decided to go with that theme and create some animatronic characters to sing and move in my Halloween / Christmas animated light show. My goal is to create several of the characters in life size scale along with a few of the movie props as well. This blog will be a documentation of this journey to reality.

Monday, January 31, 2011


I took a breather today from sorting all the goodies I picked up yesterday and in doing so I came across a solution to what might have been a very expensive short cut.  Scary Terry is a circuit board designed to pick up audio and turn it into a signal to drive a servo motor.  They are tunable and built ones run about 40 bucks.  There are a couple of draw backs to using these versus actually programming the entire sequence.  First, and this is the biggie, you can only control one servo.  Also, you need multiple channel audio recordings because you have to pull only the vocal to input into the board.  It can't differentiate between vocals and music.  The great thing  about it is I won't have to program the vocals.  So what is this great and magical solution you might ask?  The schematics and parts list to make one myself.  I checked Mouser and Digi Key and I can pick up the parts and board for less than $20.  Now to buy, trade, and sell on CL so I can order one and try it out.  Oh yeah EBay too lots of stuff to list on EBay...................

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Micro Controller

Well, the micro controller showed up today.  I wish the instructions were a bit clearer with pictures since if I fry this it's 20 bucks down the tube.  At least when I get this ball a rolling I will post simple pics so that others that didn't go to MIT can understand how to hook up this puppy.  Oh, and this will control 8 servos.  That's 8 little motors each doing a separate task and it's less than 1" x 1".  SWEET!
UPDATE:  I ordered the wrong one that's why it was so perplexing to me LOL new one will be here tomorrow then the fun begins.
I am learning as I go and have found since I already use DMX with my lighting to just  build DMX servo controllers.  PCBs are on the way.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Pumpkins How To:

 Materials:                                                                        Tools:
Punch Balloons from Dollar store                                      Scissors
Wallpaper paste                                                               Marker
Toilet paper                                                                      Blender
Masking Tape                                                                  Paint
Paper Towel cardboard tube                                            Paint Brush
Brown Paper
Jute string/twine
Monster Mud

1. Inflate balloon and secure it to a bowl with tape
2. Tears newspaper and brown paper into strips
3. Start to cover entire exposed balloon with brown paper dipped in paste
4. Alternate layers between newspaper and brown paper until there are 3 layers of brown.  Be sure to criss cross the strips to form a stronger shell. Allow to dry thoroughly. Remove from bowl/base.  Pop balloon.  Cut a piece of cardboard and secure to bottom.  Add brown paper layer to secure.  Allow to dry.
5. Cut a section on paper towel tube and tape to top on pumpkin for stalk.  Grab a section of newspaper and twist into vine shape and tape to hold shape.    Take the vine and secure inside of the stalk and cover with a layer of brown paper.  Next, cut a piece of twine and wrap around vine and secure with tape.
6. Draw on face - cut out.
7. Mix toilet paper and paste in blender until a clay like texture is created.
8. Form paper clay into ridges, lines, bumps, and blend in the stalk.
9.Add a finally layer of newspaper over entire pumpkin.
10. Coat inside and out with Monster Mud twice. (tinted with orange)

 11. Paint to preference.
12. Add LED eyes

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cleaning the garage.

Almost finished.  Yaaaaa!  Came across a bunch more to trade like: 2 person tent, sleeping bags, camp stove, lantern, 3 nice boogie boards by body glove, t-ball bat, new cork dart board with nice darts, Sony receiver, and a few other misc items.  I will post yet another updated want/trade list tonight so keep an eye out.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Totally scored today!

I met this nice gentleman named Tom, who is closing down his forklift repair shop.  I spent an hour and half drooling over all the goodies I saw.  He sent me home with 3 new electric dishwasher motors and a bunch of small air cylinders and a solenoid manifold.  I am to go back on Monday and load up his truck.  While I was there I found a tent canopy frame like at flea markets.  He also has a bunch more of the manifolds, tons of air lines, motion detectors, wire out the gazoo, air filters and pressure regulators, pvc pipe, window motors, and soooooooo much more.  I am cleaning my garage this weekend to fit it all in.

I also picked up some great electronics from Jessica today.  I salvaged a computer power supply misc comp parts and a couple of small motors from an old cd player.  She gave me more I just haven't started tearing it apart. 

Brandon has offered to bring me all the pallets I could need. (for making coffins)

Last night I went to Tim's and picked up a drill press and a ton of misc. hardware and even a few Christmas items.

I just want to take this opportunity and thank everyone who is helping with this project!

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I have gotten a great response and at this rate may be able to start building this weekend!

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Now for Jack I have been lucky enough to have already found complete step by step instructions : Jack  So I will be following this as a guideline but also keep in mind he will be animated.  I stumbled across this exceptional example of an armature that I think I will use as a guide for Jack as I want him to be the most animated character.  I also found this example of animatronic hands that I will try and use.  This design will allow many motions and poses and should give him a life-like appearance.  I will start gathering supplies and see what I can get off of craigslist. Will post again when I am ready to start!

I have purchased the majority of things I need and I will start assembly this weekend.