+- -+

(*) [CK] (*) [D0]

(*) [IO] (*) [D1]
+- -+

Please read the notes posted at the right *before* using the system.
If core memory fails, cycle power, reload system from tape and initialize instruction register with switches.
We are *not* responsible for your card decks. If they get dropped or knocked over you're out of luck.
(v) (^) (^) (v)
(/) (/)
(/) (/)

Thu, 24 Sep 2009
Toilet Terror

I built this for Halloween 2008. I don't have any good build instructions or photos but I will be pulling it out and setting it up for this year (2009) so I'll try to take some photos and give a better description.

In 2008 I had a broken toilet that had to be replaced. I decided that I just couldn't throw away the old toilet since it had so much potential. The idea that I came up with was to have a pair of legs sticking out of the toilet and rotating, as if the poor victim was being flushed down. I wasn't sure that I'd actually get the legs to spin so I was willing to settle for a static display if I had to.

My biggest worry was getting the right motor. It had to be powerful enough to spin the legs but slow enough to give the right effect. I hunted the thrift stores in the area every week. I finally came across a BBQ spit motor that was perfect for the job. It was slow, strong and had a quarter inch (approximately) socket at the end of the shaft.

The next task was to find a lazy Susan assembly. While I also wanted to find this at a thrift store, I broke down and bought a new one at the hardware store.

The rest, while sounding simple, was to cut a piece of plywood to cover the bowl, mount the motor on the underside of the plywood, mount the lazy Susan on the top side of the plywood, mount another piece of plywood on the top side of the lazy Susan, run a shaft through that board to engage the motor and then mount the legs on that. It was a pain in the butt. The legs are just a frame built with PVC (did I ever mention that I love PVC pipe). Added some foam to fill it out. Pair of old jeans and shoes.

I finally got it working and it looked pretty good. Unfortunaly, it only worked well the garage. Once I got it out into the yard, where the ground wasn't flat, I ran into some problems. The legs would wobble, causing the lazy Susan to bind, causing the shaft to pop out of the drive. I ended shoving some plywood under the toilet to get it more level. That did the trick but I was worried about it all evening. This year I'll have to spend some time to actually get good and level.

To top it off I put together a sound effects track with lots of gurgling, yelps, water running and toilet flushes. I loaded this on to a crapy old MP3 player, set it for repeat play and connected it to an old boom box. If you need a non-synchronized, continuous play, effects or sound track this is a great way to go.

It was completely unplanned but, this was just before the 2008 election, it was right around the time that "Joe the Plummer" became famous. So my story was that this was "Joe the Plummer". The most gratifying moment was when a man came up and started laughing wildly. He told me that he *was* a plummer and that's how some of his work days felt like.

posted at: 02:28 | path: /Projects/Halloween/ToiletTerror | permanent link to this entry

Power issues

Every Halloween I have the same problem. Power. I have no power outlets in the front yard. I've been running power from the garage with a 100ft power cord and then distributing is across the yard. I have to wind the cable up and around the front walkway so that visitors don't trip over it. A number of Halloween prop makers use pneumatics to run their props. That would be cool but it is just out of my price range for the moment.

I did pickup a yard stake power distribution unit last year so I'll have to try it out. Regardless, the front yard will be covered with electrical chords.

posted at: 01:45 | path: /Projects/Halloween/Display | permanent link to this entry