Halloween prop: the ground-breaker

[casafear1] has put out this video detailing how to build the “ground-breaker”, a zombie escaping from the grave. It is a simple frame for the arms and shoulders, with a couple pneumatic pistons to make it jerk as though it were pulling itself from the grave. He goes into a decent amount of detail explaining the physical construction, offering several tips to prolong the life of this prop. Unfortunately, he doesn’t enlighten us as to his control scheme. Is it manually controlled? Is it automated? Does it get activated by passers by or is it always going?

Last year, we posted most of the Halloween projects after Halloween. This year we would like to try to get you those ideas and inspiration far enough ahead of time to help you put them to use. Send us your favorite Halloween projects so we can get them published.

[via Makezine]


  1. nope says:

    That wont scare the children. Put a crying witch in your yard and even the grownups, the men at least, wont go anywhere near your lawn. I wouldn’t.

  2. Caleb Kraft says:

    Put a crying child in your yard… creepy crying child. I don’t know why it is so effective, but ghost/zombie kids scare everyone.

  3. Random says:

    Crying witch – everyone will turn off their flashlights and try to sneak by. Unless they don’t have cr0wned yet.

  4. steve says:

    Does anyone know where to buy pneumatic cylinders like the ones he used?

  5. aaron says:


    nice l4d reference lol

  6. c-noTe says:

    Children symbolize the epitome of innocence, so taking these symbols of innocence and using them to represent something corrupt or evil multiplies the overall effect and freaks people out even more, giving them the sensation that ‘something is deeply wrong’.

    Oh, and try not to let people into your exhibit carrying flashlights … or auto-shotties.

  7. BigD145 says:

    It moves so much it slid downhill? Instant land shark.

  8. Mr Costumes says:

    Wow that’s cool…now how much did that cost to assemble?

  9. EvilNCarnate says:

    This guy could do everyone a favor and be a little more detailed in what he is using and not use a horrible font to list the parts. He lists washers and bolts but then just lists “prop controller”. We know he is using 2 pneumatic cylinders but he doesnt mention that they are double acting, so if you purchased parts you would end up with the wrong stuff. Also a source for these parts would be nice.

    To me it looks like 2 double acting pneumatic cylinders which you would need a 4 way solenoid. This way each will be able to be controlled both up and down, pressurized and depressurized. Then of course a control mechanism, at the very least some 2 3-way toggles to control them, or get fancy and use some form of motion or infrared break sensor to set off a randomized actuation.

  10. EvilNCarnate says:

    that was a 4 way solenoid for each cylinder.

  11. Khordas says:

    I think this site might shed a little light on the control schemes. Lots of stuff out there on advanced haunted house design.


    Hope that helps a bit.


  12. id0 says:

    The prop controller is the PROP-1 by EFXTEK


    It was built as a group build for the Rocky Mountain Haunters Group


  13. HauntedWolf says:

    Casa Fear is a member of our local haunters group and we built these at one of our gatherings, so I hope I can help…

    He is using a PicaBoo controller. However the Prop-1 Controller available from http://www.efx-tek.com can also be used (it is on mine). Search their forums and you will find source code. I am using a VMusic2 to deal with the audio…The PicaBoo controller has built in sound support.

    The cylinders can be found on eBay (if you are lucky), http://www.monsterguts.com or http://www.frightprops.com. They are 2″ double acting cylinders. The solenoids we used are actually 5 way…1 in, 2 out, 2 exhaust. If using with a controller, these need to be 12VDC.

    The total cost of the prop came it at about $200…depends on final cost of cylinders. We found a killer deal on eBay for ours. Your mileage may vary.

    GREAT prop…you really need to see it in person to appreciate it.

    Hope this helps…I’ll monitor the thread and answer what I can….good luck!

  14. HauntedWolf says:

    I forgot to mention most of us will be using a pressure switch to trigger it…but any motion sensor should also work. EFX-Tek has a PIR (passive infra red) sensor that interfaces directly to the Prop-1 controller.

  15. HauntedWolf says:

    That should have been pressure mat, not switch.

  16. DarwinSurvivor says:

    I’ve used those exact pneumatics pieces in high school. He should have closed the vents a little to slow down the cylinders so it wasn’t quite a “jerky”.

  17. trollinator says:

    what a fag, i mean a flaming homosexual. that thing sucks major cock.

  18. walt says:

    looks pretty cool. wish there was more video of the finished product.

    what’s with all the haters?

  19. Matthew says:

    I’m not sure where to get small pneumatic cylinders like that on the cheep (try ebay?) but if you want a larger one, you can make it from a $6 pneumatic cylinder from a screen door closer. just take out the screw that you turn to make it close faster or slower, drill out the hole, tap it, and connect it to an air source. it will automatically return to a closed position when you release that air too…

  20. dbear says:

    How about a special link on Halloween hacks like the cellphone hacks link? Make it easier to find them.

  21. dbear says:

    I mean a permanent link.

  22. Steve says:


    Can you say where you buy your solenoids from? They seem to be the most expensive part.

  23. HauntedWolf says:

    There is a local supply house that we got a bulk price on…even so, they were still $22ish each. You can buy them from FrightProps or MonsterGuts…both are good vendors.

    Please don’t use door closers…they weren’t meant for this kind of thing. Better to buy the real thing especially since they are that much more. Better than accidentally hurting someone.

    The cylinders on the zombie were only 2″ throw…door closers are closer to 5″, not sure how well they would work.

  24. HauntedWolf says:

    Oops…I meant to say real cylinders are NOT much more than door closers.

  25. That is really cool! I have always wondered how these things were built. I bet this really scared the kids. It looks like you really put a lot of time into this. Great job!

  26. iamavatar says:

    Awesome I’ll have to try and put one of these together seems like a perfect addition to a home haunter

  27. Great post!! It’s more for scaring kids away than bringing them in. Then again, maybe that’s what Halloween is about. Take things to the extreme.

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