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Discussion Starter #1
While more normal people are thinking about turkey, I'm pondering ways a ghost train can travel across my yard and cross the street fronting my house. Ever since J-Man suggested that someone include a surprise out-of-the-dark train light and horn on a haunted trail walk, I've wanted to do it myself. However, I have a mostly open yard and couldn't hide a moving train light mechanism. I can do sound, moving air, even a train crossing signal at the street...but I'm not sure how to do the train headlight. Maybe a moving spotlight in the tree that would move a beam across the ground and street? Hollusion projection? A stationary light near the street that only comes on for an instant? Forget about a light all together? There's something primal about the sound of a moving train and its horn--I think it would make a great prop. IF I can figure out how to do it in a way that makes people believe. At least a little. Suggestions?
 

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Someone, and I’m pretty sure on this forum, had a trail walk and did just this. The train was great. I can kind of picture some of it and think there was a sloped road people walked up. I have no idea if I ever saved any photos of it or links to it but will try to help out doing a search on here and on my old computer files. I thought it was great and am positive there were a number of photos along with how he was setting it up. I thought it was very cool and probably why I remember it. I also probably commented on the thread.
 

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It's about the element of surprise more than anything....I've seen 2 versions, both in dark rides...Trimper's haunted house has the blinking rail road sign with train sounds and when you get close to the end of the tunnel the light comes on with a train horn....They just have the front of a train painted on a wall with a working light...Knoebel's haunted house doesn't have a train but a rig...Well, a refridgerator shelf grill and a couple lights/air horn...It makes me jump every time because it's dark and next thing you know there's lights blaring with an air horn blast....Both places don't have anything extravagant.....Not sure how you'd do it in an open area since they rely mostly on darkness to hide the horn/light/s....You'd at least need some kind of blind spot they walk around to catch them off guard....ZR

Trimper's Haunted House 5:09 mark


Knoebel's Haunted House 2:46 mark

 

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Discussion Starter #4
Yeah, I don't think I can make it work as a shock attraction, but I think maybe I can still make it something ghostly. I can have the sounds. I can have the railroad crossing lights and bells and even moving guard arms (?) on either side of the street. I think I could hide some high-powered blowers with their noise covered by the train sounds. Let people's imaginations do the rest. sigh Seemed more doable last night after a few glasses of wine.
 

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at the risk of being a killjoy, are you talking about a public street fronting your house? if so, think twice about setting up something that would cross the street, and be very careful if you decide to do it. it could potentially violate local laws, or at the very least expose you to civil liability if any accidents were to happen.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
at the risk of being a killjoy, are you talking about a public street fronting your house? if so, think twice about setting up something that would cross the street, and be very careful if you decide to do it. it could potentially violate local laws, or at the very least expose you to civil liability if any accidents were to happen.
I can do it in a way that it wouldn't be an issue, but your warning is well taken. One way--since it's a ghost train--would be to have old "broken" crossing arms so that the part that would cross the street would be pointing down toward the curb instead or missing altogether.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I did a train horn this year with a DMX X/Y axis moving LED light. It was attached to moving platform and when extended the light turned toward the audience to form the illusion of the train heading toward them.
Any chance you have video of that...particularly a close-up of your rig?
 

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Any chance you have video of that...particularly a close-up of your rig?
It is put away. I hooked an air horn to a 5 gallon compressor aux tank with a 2 way solenoid. This was off to the side with a 1/4 air line going to it. I had it on a pneumatic linear slide with a stroke of 4 feet. The DMX light turned on and when it reached the end it rotated toward the audience. People jumped out of the way because it was so straight the turning through them off.
 

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What about something like a zip line? If you could manage a couple of pipe posts, one on either side of the road/yard. With a spool to re-wind the light back after it goes across & out. You'd have to figure out a ratchet & pawl system maybe?. That after it rewound it could be released & the light "zip" across by gravity. Of course a servo could be rigged to do that (release). A simple pulley would take care of the light carrier. If you didn't have the height to do different height poles. Then a simple weighted "pull" line would be a simple solution. Remember auto head lights run on 12 volts DC. 12 volt AC/DC transformers are cheap on ebay or amazon & don't require very heavy wire to carry it.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
What about something like a zip line? If you could manage a couple of pipe posts, one on either side of the road/yard. With a spool to re-wind the light back after it goes across & out. You'd have to figure out a ratchet & pawl system maybe?. That after it rewound it could be released & the light "zip" across by gravity. Of course a servo could be rigged to do that (release). A simple pulley would take care of the light carrier. If you didn't have the height to do different height poles. Then a simple weighted "pull" line would be a simple solution. Remember auto head lights run on 12 volts DC. 12 volt AC/DC transformers are cheap on ebay or amazon & don't require very heavy wire to carry it.
Thanks for the suggestion. That could work without me needing to run the light across the road. I could just run to the curb. I was also considering just having a high-mounted hooded light that would pivot a light beam across the ground--people would see the spotlight beam move across the ground but not the light itself. I also want to have the railroad crossing signals. And--to give the impression of something moving across the yard--I was thinking of draping Halloween lights down from something and causing those lights to swing in rapid sequence in a line across the yard. I could do that with fans or with motor arms synchronized with a Light-o-Rama controller. Unfortunately, the overall idea has planted itself in my brain and refuses to go away. Ironically, after this year's display, I had decided to go small-scale.
 

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Talking of the crossing signal & things moving. Puts me in mind of the crossing signal in "Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind". That was pretty scary when it just started dinging & rapidly moving. Could certainly scare the bejabbers out of anybody standing close LOL
 

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There's something primal about the sound of a moving train and its horn--I think it would make a great prop.
When you are close to the train, you feel the vibrations on the ground. And I think that is what really gives it the feeling of a great force. If it were being done in a haunted house, the audience might be inside the train station, as the train passes by in the window or an open doorway. So, in that situation, it would be easy to add something to vibrate the floor. But, I don't think that is your own situation.

Tha sub-sonic audio rumble is another component that transmits the power of the train. Many years ago I think there were some special speakers that theaters would use for things like thunder. I can't recall the name of them. It might have been called a bass cannon. I imagine anyone who specializes in audio work would know of something equivalent. Note that I don't think that simply feeding a standard audio track into this device would do the trick. The theatrical ones I recall really were inaudible. You could only feel the vibrations. I imagine the click-clack would provide a percussive feel. so, a separate track may be needed to feed the sub-woofer, with something like a base drum hit.

I am speculating about some of the above. But, I would suggest incorporating a sub-woofer for those who are near to the display.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Talking of the crossing signal & things moving. Puts me in mind of the crossing signal in "Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind". That was pretty scary when it just started dinging & rapidly moving. Could certainly scare the bejabbers out of anybody standing close LOL
I was thinking of the same scene. (It's one of my favorite movies.) It probably wouldn't be too hard to make a bucking pole using a pneumatic cylinder at the base. It could be a stripped down version of the hinged base on Creepy Crate prop.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
To give the illusion of ghost train motion, I was thinking of hanging strings of Halloween orange lights down from saplings or other objects roughly lined up across the yard. Then, as the train sound got louder, several leaf blowers would be turned on in series to make the hanging lights start swinging in order from one end of the yard to the other. As the sound faded away, the lights would stop swinging from one end to the other. I thought that setup might be too expensive, but then I saw a couple sub-$20 leaf blowers on Amazon. I bought this Sun Joe to use as a test ($17), and it's easily powerful enough to scattered some light strings.
727159
 
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