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Psychomaniac
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Discussion Starter #1
I'm going to build a mad scientist's lab around my Dr. Shivers for this years haunt. I need a good backdrop to hold one of those lightning plates and assorted dials, lights and switches. My plan was to make a frame out of 2x4 lumber with trestle style legs. I was then going to hang thin plywood on the frame and cover it in thin sheet metal. It'll probably be at least 8x8' if not wider.

I was curious what everyone though of that plan and hear any suggestions or alternatives.

Thanks!
 

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Sounds simple and do-able. (Simple always works)

With an open back, wiring and lighting will be simplified.

If it is only a backdrop and the trestle-legs will only be on the back-side, make sure that the entire assembly is either weighted or tied down to secure it. Single sided structures tend to fall down, go 'boom'.

If it is going to be a 2 or 3 sided room, just bolting the sections together would make it sturdy.

For moving, storage and ease I'd make each section 8'x4', using 2x4 (or even 2x2) and a single sheet of plywood. Then lag-bolt the sections together and skin with the sheet-metal. Makes it easier all around.

If your sheetmetal is in 4'x8' sections, go ahead and skin it to the modules.

Post pics on your progress.
 

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Psychomaniac
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Discussion Starter #4
It's going to be one sided and a single piece so I have to make sure it's stable. It'll be close to the wall so the base won't be very broad but it should be enough. It'll be in a location where no one can touch it. The back will be open so installing everything and wiring should be easy.

A 4x8' panel would probably be enough. I have to decide if I want it to go all the way to the floor or just leave the space open. Going to the floor would be a bit more realistic but also heavier. I'd like to make sure I could link it to other similar structures in the future for other haunted house layouts. I think for storage I'll just remove the leg bottom crosspieces and then it's essentially flat.

UnOrthodOx, imagine one of those big free standing whiteboards.

I'll be sure to post pictures. If anyone else has comments or ideas please post them!
 

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To keep it lightweight, since it is only a backdrop for a scene and won't be touched, I'd scrap using real metal. I would suggest a frame of 1" x 2"s and foil covered rigid foam glued to it. You can get Celotex at most home improvement stores. It is usually 1/2" thick foam, with a metalic looking silver mylar attached to the face. It will be in the insulation and/or HVAC areas. It is lightweight and has a convincing metal look to it. It does dent easily, but it will keep your costs and weight down. I used it once for a mad scientist "super computer" (cheesy 50's feel to it as intended).

Eric
 

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I was always envious of the laboratory props on this site:

Frankenstein Laboratory Props

But, at $2,500 for the Jacobs Ladder prop and about $1,400 for the other panels, I will definitely stick to building my own.

I was able to get all sorts of vintages dials, domed lights, toggle switches, meters, ceramic insulators and more really cheap on ebay. I am building mine on a 4 X 8 sheet of plywood with 1 x 2's on the back to make up for the depth of some components. Instead of metal sheeting, I decided to use black latex with areas of iron paint from Sophisticated Finishes. I am using SF's rust antiquing solution to oxidize the iron paint for that aged metal, rusty appearance. Still trying to decide on whether to add some flicker circuits to some of the lights, I think it would look cooler!

Joe
 

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Psychomaniac
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623 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Wow! Those are some nice props. Expensive but they look to be worth it. The overall look is incredible. I'm planning on building a Jacobs Ladder but I doubt I'll have time to do one for 2009. I feel a lot of inspiration from some of the details on that site however!

The latex and paint solution will probably look great. I'm going to get a 4x8' piece of sheet metal in the near future and leave it outside for a few weeks while I build the frame.
 

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I was always envious of the laboratory props on this site:

Frankenstein Laboratory Props

But, at $2,500 for the Jacobs Ladder prop and about $1,400 for the other panels, I will definitely stick to building my own.

I was able to get all sorts of vintages dials, domed lights, toggle switches, meters, ceramic insulators and more really cheap on ebay. I am building mine on a 4 X 8 sheet of plywood with 1 x 2's on the back to make up for the depth of some components. Instead of metal sheeting, I decided to use black latex with areas of iron paint from Sophisticated Finishes. I am using SF's rust antiquing solution to oxidize the iron paint for that aged metal, rusty appearance. Still trying to decide on whether to add some flicker circuits to some of the lights, I think it would look cooler!

Joe
wow thanks for that link those are amazing props ,prices a little too high for me but all the ideas in there wow , i'l make sure to use a few ideas when we re do our mad lab as the next time we'll do it will be bigger , it as been a big hit a halloween at our place .
 

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Ubzest
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1,249 Posts
I was thinking of getting a bunch of frisbies and painting them silver grey and cutiing a hole in the middle of each one and slide them all on a broom stick or dowel. and using that for some electrifing apprastis' in my lab. do ya get the picture?
 

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Hauntless
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I just tried making plywood look like rusty metal and I think it turned out pretty good. Here's a picture of my partially completed tank:



I took very dark gray monster mud and rolled it on thick with a paint roller. The roller left great texture that looked like old rusted metal. Plus it covered up the texture of the plywood.

I dry-brushed it silver, then added some more accent details of mm that was tinted a rust color. Then, I started drybrushing (in sections going down) raw sienna colors. Then did a paint wash (in sections) some of that same color. Then hit it in parts with black. Then paint washed whole thing in black to unite the colors. Finally, I airbrushed in rivets.
 

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Psychomaniac
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623 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
I think this is going to turn out pretty good. I just talked to a friend that manages a sheet metal shop up the street. He has a sheet of old rusty thin steel sheet metal and I can have. He's going to cut it to size and can even punch out the rectangular holes I need for the plasma elements.

I have some surplus industrial equipment that I grabbed a few months ago. There are a bunch of cool looking lights (red and green) along with some panel meters and switches. I also got a old school style junction box that's all rusty and looks awesome...



Last but not least, I got three or four industrial basket light fixtures. I'm going to install these on conduit over the whole scene with clear bulbs installed on a dimmer so they'll just barely glow.

Lots of work ahead!
 

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Terra that looks real good , looks like old rusted metal to me , you did a great job on that .

if you want something to look like insulator and electric things for cheap use the toilet plungers , we used lots of them in our lab props diffrent sizes , looks great painted , as for dials go to surplus store that collect car part or electrical parts and look for them thats where i got mine for like 1$ each ,





 

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Psychomaniac
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623 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
That looks great Witch! I remember you talking about the plungers last year but I'd forgotten. Two questions for you if you don't mind... where did you get those screw in plasma bulbs? Also, what do you think of Spazm? We were thinking of getting him for this year but I'm worried that he's too small and not all that realistic looking.

Thanks!
 

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That looks great Witch! I remember you talking about the plungers last year but I'd forgotten. Two questions for you if you don't mind... where did you get those screw in plasma bulbs? Also, what do you think of Spazm? We were thinking of getting him for this year but I'm worried that he's too small and not all that realistic looking.

Thanks!
i got the bulbs in ebay , they are sold as a night light but you can unscrew the bulbs :) this is like the ones i bought but i got mine cheaper then those Plasma Bulb Night Light Gift by Kikkerland New - eBay (item 370188916360 end time Aug-14-09 11:08:21 PDT) their is another one but those do not unscrew.

i got a good deal on spazms so thats why i got him , and him standing alone is not that impresive thats why we decided to use him on a platform getting shocked , the red lights are pluged into a lightning box so when he was activated by sensor he started to growl and shake the lights would flicker so on that platform he also looks less small , he seemed to be a big hit with the crowd .

other good things to use is bubble light (those old xmas bulbs ) when they get warm enough they start to bubble , and if you can get you hands on el wires that also gives a neat effect , a friend got me one and made me a el wire with a small flashing switch and i have made a lightning bolt shape with a metal wire between frankenstein 2 insulators over his head so the yellow el wire would flash in between it was a nice touch ....
 

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opentrackracer , here is a video of the el wire flashing


and here is a video of the small frankie with the bubble lights , you'll see them better at the end of the video and you get to see the plasma bublb effect too .
 
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