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Pneumatic Actuator

2026 Views 10 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Scruffywolf
I just saw a automated coffin on YouTube, where the guy made the lid fly open with the help of a motion detector. What I found interesting was he made a couple of pneumatic actuators out of standard ole screen door closer's. by taping the ends hooking up some tubing and running air to them. Has anyone done this or have a link showing how to make one, I looked around (sorta) on YouTube but really didn't find anything. I would like to try another little project if I can figure out how it was made.
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I can tell you that the info is out there. I myself was going to make some but the risk of injury to myself or visitors is just to great with screen door or pvc diy air Pistons. That being said, pm sent.
I used a screen door closer last year and was disappointed!! I started with PVC and that also failed miserably, I see that your in the states, you can find real pneumatic cylinders cheaply down there and I could suggest automation direct or even eBay for not much more than a screen door actuator. With that being said, you need to remove the damper screw and thread in a air line fitting (needs to be tapped) into a screen door actuator and it might work for you. I suggest reading the pneumatic primer that can be found on this site and keep the pressure low, the screen door closer's are not meant to be used this way and can become..."unstable"

Take that for what it is and I hold no accountability for the info given.
A proper pneumatic cylinder is the way to go with any air controlled prop. As Icepick said, the risk is too great. I've found many great sources for pneumatic cylinders of all shapes and sizes (although i'm in Canada) from Ebay to Princess Auto (the equivalent of Harbor Freight in the U.S.). They can be relatively cheap depending on what you're looking for.....most props only require smaller cylinders with a short throw to them. I run my coffin with 2 cylinders (1 for the lid and the second to lift my skeleton) and run the whole setup on no more than 120 psi.
Ditto what the others are saying. Do yourself a big favor and use a real pneumatic cylinder. There's always tons to choose from on ebay at really low prices, probably cheaper than you can make. Homemade cylinders can be dangerous and door closers have an internal spring that requires WAY more air pressure to overcome than would otherwise be needed with a real pneumatic cylinder.
Like others have said, can't iterate enough that you just need to get some pneumatic cylinders and steer clear of the home made stuff.

I had picked up some brand new, dual action SMC 12" pneumatic cylinders on ebay for like $15'ish each. There are several listings for cylinders. If you haven't worked with them before, you'll be amazed at how much energy a few PSI can generate. When building my first prop 2 years ago, I had accidentally triggered the prop and the scissor action lever popped up and nearly smacked me in the face. I'm pretty sure I'd still be picking up my teeth if it would've hit me.
I have screen door closers on a scissor and trash can trauma. I haven't had any issues with them and I use real pneumatic cylinders for everything new I build. J-Man hit the nail on the head with why you should use the correct cylinder....they use less pressure. This is an issue when you run multiple air props and your compressor constantly needs to recycle.
The other advantage beyond liability is a purpose built cylinder can use standard fittings and connections. I can't tell you how nice the quick disconnect fittings are on these things. Being able to just swap out a cylinder for another and being able to know the mount/hose is the same is a real bonus.

As your inventory grows having standards really help with efficiency of build/setup/repair and storage.
Wow, wasn't expecting this much feedback this quick. Having a background in the service industry I never even thought about blowing a cylinder up, MY BAD. (guess that would kinda be bad depending on where you were standing) Point taken, like a hammer to the head don't cut corners.
See that's what makes this place so great, people can say hey stupid don't do that. Without saying hey stupid don't do that.

Thanks again ALL for the feedback,
Safety aside, all the parts you need will be more expensive than just buying an actual cylinder. There was a Facebook meme going around that said something like "Why buy a $12 prop when you can build it yourself for $67?"
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I should mention that, more than anything, this forum (above all else) is and should be dedicated to the BEST advice and promoting SAFETY at all times. I nor anyone else in this forum should EVER advocate short-cuts or EASY work arounds. PLEASE! always use the item that is specified for the prop or project. The idea is to have a safe and fun halloween always and to NEVER put yourself, friends and family or especially Trick or Treaters at any undue risk.

Ok...i'll get off my soapbox now......thanks....'Scruff
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