This was one of my favorite parts of the haunted house. This little girl was initially hesitant to come into to look at the haunted house. But after she got over her hesitation she made a couple dozen trips through the display. Over and over, looking at everything. I remember times as a little kid I was awed by some place I had been, and I hope I did that for someone.
Outside to attract attention we use a laser light show to draw all over the house. The juice Xiphos had in the fog machine was long lasting which was not our original intent, but there was so much fog in the garage it began wafting outside and into the path of the lasers. I tried using a second fog machine to better define the lasers but there was too much of a breeze. Still, between the lasers and the sign out front we got the signal across for people to come and have a look at our setup.
The Alchemist's Desk is a set piece that I think turned out really well. It employs my large crystal ball; a classic astrologer, occult philosopher and alchemist. The book is a custom piece I picked up at Ren Faire that has tick whole made paper pages. I used a Gothic font and printed some text mixed with old medical wood cuts. The text is actually the first couple pages from George Orwell's 1984. The desk was found this summer on the curb during Hippe Christmas. The original owners were happy to have us come and cart it away. A growler sits to the left of the book. The label says "100% Pure Transylvanian Blood, extra virgin first cold press." Above the desk is my largest LED bulb. I'm not sure what it is really good for but it works great for steampunk and haunted houses. On the wall are several "famous doctors" including Jarvis Pym (Vincent Price), Dr. Frankenstein (Gene Wilder), and Dr. Frankenfurter (Tim Curry).
This is one of the set pieces I like the most as I think it turned out the best. We had a couple people dressed as Hogwarts students and I told them they would be right at home at that desk. Those who were into their character very much agreed.
The center piece of the lab is the monster on a gurney, above which hangs the Sonic Transducer (Rocky Horror reference). It is made out of some of Xiphos' truss system. Some 6 gauge wire used for a welder runs between the Sonic Transducer and the Quantum Drum, along with some air hose, extension cords and speaker cable. It looks like whatever the Sonic Transducer does requires a lot of power. I initially was just going to hang the truss from the ceiling straight down but once I saw what it looked like angled decided that looked much cooler. A couple boards between the truss cross supports in the garage attic space keep the truss at the angle. Xiphos assembled a bunch of random parts together I screwed onto the end of the truss setup. Sadly the truss started pulling apart and sagged by Halloween so it isn't as centered as it started.
Around the monster are several microphone stands that probe the monster. We had the stands and I decided to put them to use. A cart full of "tool" is just to the left of the monster's head. I filled it full of kitchen knives, and a small pruning chainsaw.
For the experiment I used a really awful shelve Xiphos and I constructed at Rodney House. It was never very good, and finally moved out of the house to be disassembled. Held up on either side I used this as the base for The Experiment. I have assembled a large collection of plastic jars. They are mostly painted vitamin jars assembled by Zach and myself from years of popping pills. In addition there are a bunch of glass jars. Zach uses these for pickling and we have a fairly large collection of jars for this purpose. We have plenty of bottles. Most from alcohol, others just colored glass jars. Lastly there are some large jugs. These are for brewing.
Last year Xiphos and I painted up several pill bottles and made labels for them. They turned out well but were not really on display. The extra bottles I added this year were just painted black as I didn't get around to decorating them.
The primary thing this display did was bubble. For this I picked up an 8-port aquarium air manifold. I drove this with my air compressor. The dropped the regulator down to almost nothing. The manifold has individual valves and with that I was able to slowly bubble 6 bottles. I had 8 ports, but only had enough tubing for 6 bottles. It required that I attach the air hose to something in order to keep it submerged. I used metal coat hangers, small lengths of metal pipe, and anything else I could find. Worked out well. The only problem was my air compressor doesn't like to run. After it warms up it has a hard time accumulating high pressure and often stalls. So I had to manually switch it on and off. Once I forgot to switch it off, and the power draw between the stalling compressor and the heater on the fog machine tripped the breaker. Next year the compressor will have to be on its own circuit.
Several of the glass jars contain random items I found in the refrigerator. Some shredded beats, hard boiled eggs, bad greens and random leftovers. Looked good just sitting around because the items could have been anything and didn't look appetizing. Our refrigerator often contains items that look to be science projects anyway, and they fit right in.
The electric chair consisted of a dummy (lost and found clothing stuffed with leaves) I outfitted with a electric cap. It was made out of a clamp light reflector, a couple long bolts, some washers, wingnuts and 10 gauge wire. It is too heavy for my setup as the head of the dummy has nothing to support it. Next year I will have to improve that. I might look into getting foam dummy heads which will take the weight better. I used cardboard spray painted silver as shackles. It isn't terribly convincing but functional. Illuminating the setup I used two strobe lights. One strobe is an actual xenon strobe, but not very bright. The other is an LED based strobe. The flash duration is too long to make a good strobe light for stopping motion, but for flashing illumination it works quite well. The two flashes out of sync with one another, and one brighter worked well at giving an electrical feel to the setup.
For the third year in a row we put on a haunted house for the trick-or-treaters to walk through. And this year was by far the best yet.
Work actually began at the start of the month. The house flushed out the garage to give me the floor space needed for the setup. Then slowly I added to the collection. The theme was the same as last year: mad scientist laboratory. The center piece was a monster on a gurney under some large apparatus hanging from the ceiling. A tower of random electrical equipment culminated with large cables that then ran to the apparatus. Microphone stands held various interments that concentrated on the monster laying on the gurney. A high voltage traveling arc (Jacob's Ladder) sat on the opposite side of the monster.
In front of the monster was a run of truss from which I hung my dodecapus light fixture and various color and fancy bulbs. Above that was a geyser fog machine with remote control. It is always good for jump scares.
Because I had the prep time I split the lab into two sections. On the opposite side of the walking path I setup two displays. The alchemist's desk and the bottle collection. The alchemist's desk was setup with a crystal ball, large book with print, mortar and pedestal, and candles. The bottle collection I built up with every bottle I could get my hands on. The upper shelves contained a collection of mostly empty bottles. The lower portion contained several glass bottles with colored water. I used my air compressor and an aquarium distribution block to bubble several of the bottles.
The last section was right when you walked in. As in years past I put a dummy in a chair with a strobe light on it. This year I improved the setup by making a helmet and some shackles. Under the electric chair I used a red light to illuminate the stairwell and hung some chain.
Outside we put up a sign that told kids to come to the garage and put out the laser light show to draw all over the house.
Xiphos and Zach helped me run the setup. Xiphos manned the lab and I would guide people to the garage. My question was "Do you like science?" to which the answer was usually "yes". Then I would follow up with "Do you like mad science?"
We had at least twice the number of visitors as in years past and went through two large bags of candy with all the kids that went through. Everyone seemed to love it though. Several of our neighbors came though and it was a good way to get to meet them. One of the kids around 3 years old must have walked through the setup a couple dozen times. Overall I think it was quite successful.