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Discussion Starter #1
My big project for this year is going to be a flying crank ghost. I've looked at pretty much every video I can find, I've read about a dozen tutorials (starting with Phantasmechanics), and I've got a basic plan in place. I've got a Monster Guts wiper motor and speed controller to power it, so torque and weight won't be a problem. I'm planning to have my ghost in the front window, and I don't have a good way to non-destructively mount the rig and black drapes to the ceiling. Most of the tutorials I've seen focus on the rig itself, and not on mounting it, especially in a way that is easily moved and broken down for storage. The current plan is to build a "cage" like this one:


A question for those of you who have built FCGs--do you have any advice for me at this stage, whether in the design of the cage, common mistakes to avoid, tips on getting the best movement, or anything else? I'm hoping for some wisdom that will save me time and trouble during the build.

A bit of info on the ghost--She'll have a foam manikin head, tulle draping, and I'm considering cheesecloth for hair. I'm open to suggestions for the hair. I want it to be clear that she has hair, and I'm thinking that the cheesecloth might look just different enough from the tulle to accomplish that. I've never used tulle though, so I really don't know. I'm open for other ideas. She will eventually have LED eyes--does green or blue go best with the bluish tint from a glow-in-the-dark ghost? I'm not doing red--I want her to be creepy, not menacing. I'm also planning to use the zombie hand stakes I got from Spirit last year for her hands--with a coat of fluorescent spray paint, I think they'll look pretty good.

She doesn't have a name yet. I was originally going to call her "Christine," but then I discovered that the Ghost Builders site uses that name for their ghost, so it doesn't seem quite right to use it for mine. Also--and this is really the more important reason--we bought this house a few years ago, and one of the previous owners was an older lady named Christine. Everyone on the street knew her. So I thought it would be in poor taste to name the ghost Christine. I'm leaning toward "Sarah," but it's still TBD.

Thanks in advance for the advice and suggestions.

EEH
 

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One issue that comes up is make sure the rig is shaped in the correct direction. One popular website showed a pic of the rig in a "Y" shape but it should actually look like a crossbow or even a T shape.
The rig and curtains could probably be hung from hooks installed in the ceiling. My rig is tied to the frame with jute and has held up for 10+ years. I didn't need all the pulleys they say is needed and just adjusted it to my liking.
As for the eyes....I used red for years but then changed to blue and she is much more spooky now!
 

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Keeper of Spider Hill
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We have a really wide front window and I also made a PVC cage to house my ghost. It is very sturdy and also make attaching the black material much easier. I made mine more of a V shape as it did not need to be that deep. Worked perfectly.

image.jpg
 

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Rutherford Manor Haunt
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Here is a pic of our FCG from 2011, this photo was a test run. I originally had her in tulle as well, but I found it did not glow as nicely as the cheese cloth, even after adding the Rit Whitener; so you may want to test that to see which glow you prefer. Also, have some whitener in a spray bottle and spritz her again just before Halloween. Ours does not have hands, we used lead fishing weights to properly weight her for smooth action.

I wonder if you could use packaged spider webs for hair? It may make a kind of aura around her head? Probably a pain to work with, but might look creepy?

 

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I built a T shaped frame too. Front/top of the "T" bar is up close to the window and a few inches wider. Then I have legs that come down from there. Everything is built from 2X4's. Then all the 2X4 painted flat black. You can't see the 2X4's from outside at all.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
One issue that comes up is make sure the rig is shaped in the correct direction. One popular website showed a pic of the rig in a "Y" shape but it should actually look like a crossbow or even a T shape.
Yeah, I wondered about that design. I don't really see the benefit of the Y-shape.

The rig and curtains could probably be hung from hooks installed in the ceiling.
Not doubting that it could be done, but SWMBO doesn't want hooks or holes in the ceiling.

I didn't need all the pulleys they say is needed and just adjusted it to my liking.
Did you use any pulleys? Or just eye bolts?

Thanks for the tips!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Take a look at the Flying Lever Ghost that Bruzilla came up with. This is how I built mine because it's a lot simpler to mount. You might be able to figure out a way to attach it to your curtain rod supports.

http://www.halloweenforum.com/tutorials-and-step-by-step/105274-building-flying-lever-ghost.html
That's a neat design, and it looks pretty compact. I might try that next year for one of the upstairs windows. I have a bunch of small motors that would be perfect for it. Thanks for the tip!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
We have a really wide front window and I also made a PVC cage to house my ghost. It is very sturdy and also make attaching the black material much easier. I made mine more of a V shape as it did not need to be that deep. Worked perfectly.

I like how it completely covers the window. It looks like you built the rig as a separate unit and then attached it to the frame. Did you consider just mounting the hardware directly to the frame? I was thinking about doing that, and attaching my pulleys to the PVC crossbar with hose clamps so I could move them to vary the movement of the ghost.

That's 3/4" PVC, isn't it?

Thanks for sharing yours!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Here is a pic of our FCG from 2011, this photo was a test run. I originally had her in tulle as well, but I found it did not glow as nicely as the cheese cloth, even after adding the Rit Whitener; so you may want to test that to see which glow you prefer.
I haven't heard that before--I'll keep an eye on it and run some tests before draping the real thing.

Also, have some whitener in a spray bottle and spritz her again just before Halloween.
Great idea! Thanks!

I wonder if you could use packaged spider webs for hair? It may make a kind of aura around her head? Probably a pain to work with, but might look creepy?
That's a neat idea--never thought of that. Even if they didn't have the bluing agent on them, a few sprays from the spray bottle might produce an interesting effect.

Thanks for the ideas!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I built a T shaped frame too. Front/top of the "T" bar is up close to the window and a few inches wider. Then I have legs that come down from there. Everything is built from 2X4's. Then all the 2X4 painted flat black. You can't see the 2X4's from outside at all.
So your rig has uprights at the three ends of the T? It's basically triangular? I imagine the 2x4s would make it sturdy, too.

Thanks for sharing!
 

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Keeper of Spider Hill
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We have a really wide front window and I also made a PVC cage to house my ghost. It is very sturdy and also make attaching the black material much easier. I made mine more of a V shape as it did not need to be that deep. Worked perfectly.

I like how it completely covers the window. It looks like you built the rig as a separate unit and then attached it to the frame. Did you consider just mounting the hardware directly to the frame? I was thinking about doing that, and attaching my pulleys to the PVC crossbar with hose clamps so I could move them to vary the movement of the ghost.

That's 3/4" PVC, isn't it?

Thanks for sharing yours!
Howdy,

I actually bought that rig and ghost from another vendor. Yes, I hung my rig from the PVC. Your idea of combining the rig/frame is a good one. I am actually wanting to build an all PVC FCG rig for myself. Our PVC mounted wiper motor mount would be perfect for such an application. That is what I am planning on using. I used 1 inch PVC on mine and it was plenty strong enough.

PVC MNT3.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I actually bought that rig and ghost from another vendor. Yes, I hung my rig from the PVC. Your idea of combining the rig/frame is a good one. I am actually wanting to build an all PVC FCG rig for myself. Our PVC mounted wiper motor mount would be perfect for such an application. That is what I am planning on using. I used 1 inch PVC on mine and it was plenty strong enough.
Looking at those U-bolts makes me wonder about designing a system in which the pulleys for the hands were moved in and out by a small motor. It wouldn't be hard--you'd just need a track on top of the PVC, a wheel to run in the track, and attach the pulley onto the axle of the wheel. One small motor could easily drive both hands, or you could use two with slightly different speeds. And you wouldn't need much movement--a few inches either way would be enough to create the illusion of random movement. ARGH! I need more time to experiment!
 

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Yeah, I wondered about that design. I don't really see the benefit of the Y-shape.


Not doubting that it could be done, but SWMBO doesn't want hooks or holes in the ceiling.


Did you use any pulleys? Or just eye bolts?

Thanks for the tips!
I only have a pulley for the head...the hands are on eyebolts. At first the string would wear out and break but a friend gave me some type of military rope,it's like a black shoelace but is strong and has held up to the friction on the eyebolts.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I only have a pulley for the head...the hands are on eyebolts. At first the string would wear out and break but a friend gave me some type of military rope,it's like a black shoelace but is strong and has held up to the friction on the eyebolts.
Sounds like paracord. I never thought of using something so heavy (at least in comparison to fishing line), but I bet it would hold up for a long time. It's not visible in blacklight?
 

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Correct. The upright at the base of "T" has a 2 foot piece of 2X4 attached at the bottom to give it some stability. I used screws to put it together for easy assembly.

I use little pulleys for the head and arms. I tried eye bolts but they would eat through the fishing line. Ace hardware sells little pulleys pretty cheap.
Crank Ghost Frame.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #17
One last question before I make my supply run--what do you all use for the black material around the FCG? Please keep in mind that I know exactly nothing about fabric, so don't be afraid to explain like I'm five. Thanks!
 

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Yeah, I wondered about that design. I don't really see the benefit of the Y-shape.


Did you use any pulleys? Or just eye bolts?
I think using a Y shaped frame adds more depth to the FCG and creates more of the illusion that it is coming forward instead of just flapping up and down. I used something between a Y and a T, that way the arm movements are a little different, of course you could also just use different lengths of string.

Personally, I found the pulleys to be a pain in the butt. It is far easier to replace the string if it wears than to mess with the pulleys.
 

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I placed the frosted plastic halves from a small knee-high hosiery "egg" over the red LED eyes of my FCG. I never liked the pinpoint look of the LEDs and this gave a nice diffusion and a larger softer glowing eye.

As for naming your FCG, I'd go with a very old-fashioned name.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I think using a Y shaped frame adds more depth to the FCG and creates more of the illusion that it is coming forward instead of just flapping up and down. I used something between a Y and a T, that way the arm movements are a little different, of course you could also just use different lengths of string.
I can see that, but don't you get some depth with the T also? The head is usually set back 16-18" from the end, isn't it? I guess I wonder if the effect is significant enough to warrant the bit of added complexity. That's also why I'm thinking about skipping the pulleys--it's one more point of failure. Of course, if the pulleys make the movement smoother, they might be worth it.
 
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