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I looked into this for my Zombie fence shaker and concluded that if you want to move something heavy and move it fast, pneumatics are the way to go. I resisted becasue everything else I have is electronic, but kept coming back to pneumatics. I have my compressor set up around the side of the house (with haunt in the front) and a 50 foot hose. You can' even hear it. YMMV.
That's pretty much it in a nutshell. If you want fast movement and the load has some weight and/or resistance to it, pneumatic is the choice hands down.
 

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Discussion Starter #22
Thanks everyone for the replies!
While some may find the pneumatic info useful.
This Thread is Titled "Alternative to Pneumatics"
Intended to generate thoughts on something other than compressed air systems.
Maybe there is no good alternative for moving heavy items fast.... that's ok!
We get all little kids and I don't have pop out scares so I don't need pneumatics.
If you are running a "Haunted House" for older kids then it would be different!
 

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Acknowledging that pneumatic props have their place, it's certainly not on this thread. Krusty started this thread out with a perfectly reasonable question: what can you use if you don't want to use pneumatic devices, but still want some varied motion in your haunt? Defending pneumatics or trying to make them seem more reasonable doesn't serve the thread. In fact, it seems to challenge Krusty's desire for something else. I understand his position. I can't do pneumatics because the cost is just too high compared to a wiper motor and a bit of tinkering. So, I was interested in what everyone might suggest that didn't require an air compressor and a budget beyond my capability.

Here's one of the options I've already found online, and I think it's a pretty good one. If it was set up to work with a remote or trigger, I think it could even give a possible jump-up shock that pneumatics do so well.


What I would love to see is not so much what I could do if I only got into pneumatics, but rather a bunch of ideas from folks who have thought outside the monster in a box to create props with a bit of shock value using other devices such as wiper motors, or even gravity fed scares. And yes, a monster in a box is a great way to use a wiper motor and a remote activation to create a great jump-scare. So, who's up for the challenge of giving Krusty what he asked for? I for one will be thrilled to see those posts.

That said, Krusty, you posted that you're not that interested in jump-scares, but in moving large objects quickly. One approach that might work for a large scale creature that you want to put into motion is to animate limbs independent of each other. If you use multiple motors to move just one part of a larger creature or prop, you might find that the unique motion of each motor moving at a different speed can create what you're hoping to achieve. It's similar to a cauldron creep. You don't try to animate everything with just one motor. The stirring is done with one motor. The head motion is done with another The overall effect is pretty great considering how simple it is. Look at whatever your big prop is and see if by animating smaller parts of it independently you can achieve some rapid motion that trying to animate the entire prop with one motor is incapable of doing.

We're using that approach with a witch that is trying to shove a monster back into her cauldron. The monster rises and falls using a wiper motor and the motion is relatively quick. The witch's head uses a slower motor that turns the head both side to side and up and down. She has another friend by the cauldron who is raising and lowering a rat and whose head also turns. All in all, there are four motors set to run everything, and because they're all working at varied speeds, it should give a more organic feel to the set, as motions won't all repeat at the same time.

Also, our large monster is made of fabric that is painted to look like something far more substantial. That might be another option for you. Make the creature huge, but make it lightweight. Carve away everything but the outer shell, or create it using fabric, and see if you can animate it that way with a motor that no longer has as much to lift. I hope some of that helps, but as mentioned above, I really hope others chime in with suggestions that I've yet to consider. This group is really ingenious that way.
 

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Discussion Starter #24
Acknowledging that pneumatic props have their place, it's certainly not on this thread. Krusty started this thread out with a perfectly reasonable question: what can you use if you don't want to use pneumatic devices, but still want some varied motion in your haunt? Defending pneumatics or trying to make them seem more reasonable doesn't serve the thread. In fact, it seems to challenge Krusty's desire for something else. I understand his position. I can't do pneumatics because the cost is just too high compared to a wiper motor and a bit of tinkering. So, I was interested in what everyone might suggest that didn't require an air compressor and a budget beyond my capability.

Here's one of the options I've already found online, and I think it's a pretty good one. If it was set up to work with a remote or trigger, I think it could even give a possible jump-up shock that pneumatics do so well.


What I would love to see is not so much what I could do if I only got into pneumatics, but rather a bunch of ideas from folks who have thought outside the monster in a box to create props with a bit of shock value using other devices such as wiper motors, or even gravity fed scares. And yes, a monster in a box is a great way to use a wiper motor and a remote activation to create a great jump-scare. So, who's up for the challenge of giving Krusty what he asked for? I for one will be thrilled to see those posts.

That said, Krusty, you posted that you're not that interested in jump-scares, but in moving large objects quickly. One approach that might work for a large scale creature that you want to put into motion is to animate limbs independent of each other. If you use multiple motors to move just one part of a larger creature or prop, you might find that the unique motion of each motor moving at a different speed can create what you're hoping to achieve. It's similar to a cauldron creep. You don't try to animate everything with just one motor. The stirring is done with one motor. The head motion is done with another The overall effect is pretty great considering how simple it is. Look at whatever your big prop is and see if by animating smaller parts of it independently you can achieve some rapid motion that trying to animate the entire prop with one motor is incapable of doing.

We're using that approach with a witch that is trying to shove a monster back into her cauldron. The monster rises and falls using a wiper motor and the motion is relatively quick. The witch's head uses a slower motor that turns the head both side to side and up and down. She has another friend by the cauldron who is raising and lowering a rat and whose head also turns. All in all, there are four motors set to run everything, and because they're all working at varied speeds, it should give a more organic feel to the set, as motions won't all repeat at the same time.

Also, our large monster is made of fabric that is painted to look like something far more substantial. That might be another option for you. Make the creature huge, but make it lightweight. Carve away everything but the outer shell, or create it using fabric, and see if you can animate it that way with a motor that no longer has as much to lift. I hope some of that helps, but as mentioned above, I really hope others chime in with suggestions that I've yet to consider. This group is really ingenious that way.
Thanks for that.... I am sure others have some ideas and many more people look here for inspiration...

I have my door scare pretty much sorted now and with a wiper motor on high speed 12 volts he rocks fairly violently.
I did several things you talk about.... light weight chest frame and also not moving the arms. Rather have his hands on the door frame like he is wanting to break out....
Halloween Forum post and pictures

I didn't want a "Jump Scare" as mostly little kids in this neighbourhood..... But this guy bridges the gap between "boring" and "Pee your pants". He is inside the door and that takes the edge off..... but still catches your eye.
I learned last year that some kids have No fear..... It is Halloween after all.....
 

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If you are looking for continuous use these won't work. If you are looking for intermittent use, and a slow pace with heavy loads you can use dental chair lift motors. Many of these are designed to lift up to 350lbs. Every now and then they get tossed out with old chairs. Across Canada you can try Patterson Dental, Henry Schein, and Sinclair. There's a lot of smaller regional companies as well.
They're not great for startle scares but if you want to raise and lower a heavy levitating object, or move a heavy object out of a leaning toe pincher these might do the trick.
You can also ask them about x-ray processor motors for more light weight applications. A velopex machine will net you 2 motors, AirTechiques 1. Dentx processor motors require their controller to operate, I avoid these.
Hopefully this provides some alternatives for consideration.
 

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Acknowledging that pneumatic props have their place, it's certainly not on this thread. Krusty started this thread out with a perfectly reasonable question: what can you use if you don't want to use pneumatic devices, but still want some varied motion in your haunt? Defending pneumatics or trying to make them seem more reasonable doesn't serve the thread. In fact, it seems to challenge Krusty's desire for something else.
With all due respect, if you go back and read the original post, it was a double edge question. Krusty stated that he wanted to avoid the noise of a compressor and the noise of exhaust air from the valves. Both of these issues can be eliminated with the proper method. 🎃
 

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With all due respect, if you go back and read the original post, it was a double edge question. Krusty stated that he wanted to avoid the noise of a compressor and the noise of exhaust air from the valves. Both of these issues can be eliminated with the proper method. 🎃
Fair enough. I'm still interested in any suggestions for props that use motors. The buy in for pneumatic props is just too much for our budget. But wiper motors and other smaller motors are pretty reasonable. We're looking at things like a monster in a box as mild mannered jump scares. We do have a talking skeleton in a rocking chair that we wired to a button we control. He freaks out a few kids as he stops rocking and talks when they're coming up the stairs. It's not a 3 axle skull, but for $30 bucks he's not so bad.

We don't need for things to be fast, just a prop that can be easily triggered that might lend itself to a mild scare or otherworldly creepiness. Any other options that others think work along that line would be appreciated.
 

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I have around 30 pneumatic props in my yard. I have never been able to create a props movement with any other resource that isn't...

A. A very convincing jump scare
B. Repetitive movement
C. Very light props with no weight to them

I have used motors, linear actuators, servos, and other techniques. I have never been able to recreate something on the level of a pneumatic. Not saying these things don't have a place(I use these as well) but creating something pneumatic level is a tall order.

As for the air noise I never have an issue. I have 2 compressors one 30gal one 7gal. Both have check valves and feed the system together by linking them from the backyard to the east and west of my home. Exhaust mufflers on the solenoids or manifold blocks of my props reduce the sound to a minimum. I have audio on all my pneumatic's that reduce that minimum noise to none. Some of my props have 8 solenoids on a block. I probably have around 150 total solenoids going off during really busy times.
 

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Discussion Starter #29
I think I have watched just about every prop video on the internet..... I finally got to the end of the internet.....😀

So many pneumatic props are jerky and the movement is not at all life like!
Twitching and spasms might be the look some desire..... but it doesn’t impress me at all.

Now I know flow controls and air pressure regulators can adjust this down to more life like..... but then why not get rid of the pneumatics......

Again this thread was to discuss alternative to Pneumatic props!!!!!!!

Not convincing people that they are missing the party without pneumatics!

Rant over..... back to alternative to pneumatics!
 

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Krusty - I’m with ya bro. Never used pneumatics and have no interest. I want my props to have life-like movement to the point it makes you stop and stare and ask “How the hell did he do that?”. However, this can require a certain set of skills. Why don’t you give us an idea of what you would like to achieve (WITHOUT pneumatics) and use that as a starting point?
 

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Discussion Starter #31
Thanks JW. I posted 10 days ago that I had my door scare prop done using a wiper motor on fast. That was what I was looking for originally.... life like movement that could be a real person trying to get out....

Somehow it keeps coming back to some one posting tips for pneumatics rather than a new idea..,,

I might be done with all my props now.... till I get another idea...?
 

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Has anyone ever experimented with hydraulic systems?

Sure, hydraulic fluid is messy, but I wonder if you could use some of the electric hydro pumps that places like grainger sells, and use small lines like -3AN? I mean, they use hydro for heavy lifts..

Hydraulic systems also tend to be a little smoother than air in industrial settings, so maybe that could be an alternative.

The hinderance is the pumps, they aren’t cheap..


Example of a 12v system I found on YouTube



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