Halloween Forum banner
1 - 20 of 24 Posts

·
Psychomaniac
Joined
·
623 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I finally had time tonight to take a crack at the Gemmy Crystal Ball (er... Bola De Cristal) that's currently being sold at Ross for $20. This model has Dr. Shivers face and hair. It has prerecorded clips and a wireless microphone but no line in. My goal was to rectify that situation.

Fortune has smiled upon us since Gemmy uses the same basic chassis for a number of different props with separate feature sets. The RF receiver is a completely separate board which makes adding an audio-in jack very easy.

First, here's a look at the box for the Crystal Ball...



The first step is to remove the globe. There is a single screw on the bottom that you need to remove first. Once that's out simply rotate the globe counterclockwise to remove. With the globe out of the way you should see four screws with integrated fender washers holding down the bottom perimeter of the black fabric. Remove those four screws. You can now lift up the fabric. You can work the two LEDs through the slits in the fabric without having to remove them.

Now it's time to work on the head. Place the prop face down on a towel or blanket. Next locate the two strings which attach the back of the hair to the mask. Cut both strings and fold the hair up and out of the way. You now have to peel the mask of the plastic skull. I used a sharp knife to scrape as I went. This seemed to prevent most tears. There is a fair amount of adhesive and you have to get it all in order to peel back the sides of the mask. Once it's all free, peel back both sides and secure them so they're not in your way.

Looking at the back of the skull you'll see a circuit board. This is the RF receiver. You want to free the grey wire that comes from the top of the head and attaches to the bottom of the circuit board. In this picture, the wire has been unbundled and pulled up through one of the openings in the skull...



Here's a closer look through the openings in the skull at the board and grey wire...



Now you have a choice to make. Tap into the audio wire to have both audio line-in and the wireless microphone or cut the wire and just have audio line-in. I decided to cut the wire and remove the board. It's a fully self-contained receiver for the wireless microphone and I know I'll be able to use that for some other prop in the future. Removing the board is easy. Cut the grey (audio) and red/black (power) wires and remove the screw that holds the board in. You can then work the board down and out through the larger openings in the skull. You may have to loosen some of the screws holding the skull halves together for the crystal to clear. Tape off the ends of the power wire just to be safe. Here's a picture of the skull with the board removed and of the board itself...





Now for the wiring. The grey wire is a coaxial cable with a shield and insulated center conductor. If you're leaving the wireless microphone capability intact you have to be very careful when stripping the wire. You need to strip the outer jacket, peel back the insulation and then work out the center conductor from the braid. You'll then need to carefully strip the insulation of the center conductor too. If you've removed the RF board than stripping and separating the conductors is much easier. You'll need to extend the wire and I recommend using some sort of twisted wire to reduce the chance of interference from the other electronics in the prop. Solder on the new wire and heatshrink or tape up the connections. Route the wire inside the skull and out the bottom to where the rest of the wires converge. I went with an RCA jack but you can also install a 1/8" audio jack if that suits your needs better. I installed mine at the very rear on the side so it comes straight off the back of the base. Here's a picture of the installed RCA jack...



Now you just need to button everything back up. I used some double sided tape to secure the mask and didn't bother retying the strings for the hair. Feed the LEDs back through the slits in the fabric, tuck the metal ring back into the slots in the base and reinstall the four retaining screws. If you're going to use the globe screw it back on and reinstall the bottom screw.

That's pretty much it! You can now drive the prop with recorded dialog from an MP3 player. Here's the hacked Crystal Ball in action (foreshadowing the future maybe?)...

YouTube - Gemmy Crystal Ball audio line-in hack

If anyone has any questions please let me know!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14,297 Posts
Wow nice tutorial on this OpenTrackRacer. The pics are nice and clear also. I'm going to have to get my hubby to sit down with me in the next 60 days and see what we can do with one of the White Haired guys I picked up. Thanks so much for taking the time to put this together for us.

I just picked up a full-size Gemmy witch spirit ball at Ross. No mic on her however, but she has a great face. If she doesn't have a mic, which I think only the white haired guy did (there is also a full-size swami), I assume she still can be hacked to add an mp3 input since she has an audiio track. Or am I wrong?
 

·
Psychomaniac
Joined
·
623 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hmmmmm... I have a bad feeling that it won't be so simple with that type of crystal ball. I'm pretty sure that the basic mechanicals and structure are the same but the electronics will be a problem. The witch crystal ball may have a different mainboard without any provisions for audio input. If that's the case you're sunk. It's also possible that it has the same board as the Dr. Shivers ball. In that case you'd need to attach the wires and also add a switch to change to microphone input (since I'm sure it has a two way Off/Sensor switch instead of a three way Off/Sensor/Microphone switch). As near as I can tell, accessing the mainboard will require removing the entire mask as it appears to be mounted in the top of the head.

I can't think of any use for my haunt for the witch crystal ball so I won't be buying one. That means I won't be able to dig into one and see what the story is. Hopefully someone else will take the time and post their results.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Has anyone found the Dr. Shivers ball at any stores other than Ross? It appears we don't have any here in Massachusetts, or anywhere in New England for that matter, and I really want to try this out.
 

·
Ghouls Rule
Joined
·
2,651 Posts
exactly what I needed thanks alot I cant wait to try this

ps- is there a way to make the head not move just the face expressions?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
73 Posts
When you refer this prop being driven by MP3....does it start and stop with the with the playing of an mp3 or does it still need to be motion triggered?
 

·
Psychomaniac
Joined
·
623 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I would guess that they use one motor to drive the whole works so you'd have to disconnect the linkage and then secure the head in the vertical position. I don't think it would be much trouble to do. Now that I look at it, the head rocking is kinda of annoying. I guess I should have done something about that when I was in there!

It starts and stops with the audio (either through the wireless microphone or this hack).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
451 Posts
hey open track racer..do u know if by any chance this is the same set up as dr shivers and for the witch with the coulren..my mr shivers is messing up and i hear something rattleing inside and i was thinking i could take his head off and c whats rattleing and possibly fix it??
 

·
Psychomaniac
Joined
·
623 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
It's a totally different setup than Dr. Shivers. Just the rubber mask is the same. I would not expect any parts to be interchangeable.

Dr. Shivers will act up if his head isn't seated all the way. There are a bunch of tabs that are prone to breaking and that can make getting it on just right a pain.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14,297 Posts
OpenTrackRacer, I was looking over your hack and would I be correct that all you need to pick up would be an RCA jack, some wire, solder, and some electrical tape maybe (in addition to wire cutter/stripers and solder gun)? I think we'll take out the microphone connection like you did.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
122 Posts
Thanks very much for the "how to". I'm "heading" to Ross when I leave work. ....and btw, is it me, or does the pic on the box look like Leslie Nielsen????? lol !
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14,297 Posts
Thanks very much for the "how to". I'm "heading" to Ross when I leave work. ....and btw, is it me, or does the pic on the box look like Leslie Nielsen????? lol !

He first made his appearance around 8/13 in some Ross stores so you might have trouble finding him. I have been to one Ross store where I know they either put out at least another one or maybe someone returned one. The last time I was in Ross a week or so ago and saw spirit balls it was the witch one, but she doesn't have the mic set up that the white haired guy does. If you have a few Ross' in your area I'd try all of them if you really want him.

BTW I thought he looked like Merv Griffin but I can see the resemblance to Leslie. Actually in person he doesn't look that much like either.

Good luck on your hunt. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you!
 

·
Psychomaniac
Joined
·
623 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yep! My parts list:

Panel mount RCA jack
Two conductor wire
Solder
Heatshrink tubing

You can use electrical tape if you don't have heatshrink.

Good luck!

OpenTrackRacer, I was looking over your hack and would I be correct that all you need to pick up would be an RCA jack, some wire, solder, and some electrical tape maybe (in addition to wire cutter/stripers and solder gun)? I think we'll take out the microphone connection like you did.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14,297 Posts
Thanks OpenTrackRacer.

Fiend4Halloween, any luck picking up a white haired guy? I was in two ROSS today; one had none but the other one had a white haired guy and a spirit ball swami (no mic). You also might want to check Spirit Halloween stores in your search for one. The SH I was in today had a few 14 inch (full size) spirit balls on clearance, no white haired guys but you never know. Sorry I can't help you more. I see you are in Southern CA and not near me.

BTW the white haired guy's box at ROSS seems to be all in Spanish. Don't let that bother you. He speaks English if you want to use the original voice track he comes with and the instructions are in both English and Spanish.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14,297 Posts
Anyone looking for the Gemmy White Haired Guy Spirit Ball with Microphone in, check your ROSS stores again. I was in 3 stores in the San Jose, Ca area today (9/12/09) and saw 5 of them in the stores--so they are out there still ($19.99). Here's a link to my post about them.

BTW one of the white haired guys I bought actually is in a box with all English printing. All of the other ones were in Spanish, which as mentioned isn't a problem because the instructions are in both languages and the guy if you want to use his voice track as is is in English.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14,297 Posts
Neat tutorial and frakken cool Cylon!
I've been a Battlestar Galactica fan so also appreciated the new voice track.

I bought a few of these guys to hack next year and add bodies to (thinking maybe for a Ghouls Band; I'm still brainstorming about faces for them) and with some makeup, different do, and sunglass, I think one of them could be a Stevie Wonder-like singer; white haired guy does have that head tilt thing going on. In fact I could see him singing "Superstition" or maybe "Isn't She Lovely" with a vamp(iress) laying on top of a piano in her long evening dress. Stevie even did a song entitled "Evil" that might be appropriate for a Halloween nightclub act.

OpenTrackRacer, can you tell us how well these guys can sing??
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14,297 Posts
Thanks for the feedback. We're going to pick up a few RCA jacks probably this weekend and do surgery on one of my guys. My husband was looking over your tutorial and said, you know I might want to take one of these guys into our lab at work and hook him up through the computer, with synthesized speech and iChat (Mac video conferencing) and surprise some of the guys who come into the lab.... hehe...I knew there was some small kernel of kid in there!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
354 Posts
Thanks for the heads up, I was able to get my "Bola De Cristal" from Ross yesterday. Personally, I think that he looks like Uncle Fester with hair.

I'm likely going to gut it completely and use the ball for my Madame Leota, but I'm not 100% sure yet.
 
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
Top