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]

28 thoughts on “Halloween Prop: The Ground-breaker

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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…

  6. 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.

  7. Awesome work! I think some of the people who said “it’s not scary” didn’t realize you were just showcasing the air cylinder setup and the pneumatic mech itself. I really like the fact that you used the PVC through the middle pieces for the neck so you could pop on whatever prop head you want or even switch it up from year to year to change the look of the prop. Thanks for the concise demonstration of your design!

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