How To

How To: Building a Better Tea Light

Flickering candle tea lights are a staple of every home haunter’s inventory.  They’re perfect for dressing up any prop or scene because they’re realistic (if you squint) and because they won’t burn the house down.  Still, they can be a pain to operate.  Replacement batteries aren’t cheap, and it can take quite a bit of effort to turn the lights on and off every night.  Thankfully, we’ve found a solution to both problems!

In the Mr. Jingles garage we’ve started hard-wiring our tea lights.  This process takes a tea light, speaker wire, a resistor, a soldering gun, solder, and a spare transformer (aka “wall wart).  It also takes some electronics knowledge/skill.  If you’re not comfortable with a soldering gun, unfortunately this may be a project you want to avoid.

First, pop the top of the light off just like you would if you were changing the battery.  Then, remove the battery out and set it aside.  Take a length of speaker wire and solder it to the piece of metal the positive side of the battery was touching.  Then, take a second length of wire and prepare to solder it to the piece of metal the negative side of the battery was touching.

To reduce the voltage  from the transformer (aka “wall wart”) to a level that can be used by the LED, you’ll need to add in a resistor.  In our case we used a 560 ohms resistor to reduce power from 12 volts to three volts.  To figure out your exact numbers, use the LED Wizard Array calculator.

Then, drill a small hole in the side of the tea light, run the speaker wires through, and snap the top back on.  You’re half way there!  The final step is to solder the speaker wires to the transformer.  In our case we cut down a transformer from an old cell phone.  Be sure to solder the negative to the negative and the positive to the positive.

As you can see in the picture above, we also included some male/female connectors in our circuit so we could fit the wires to the light through a small hole in our coffin.  Now, we can flip one switch to turn the entire scene on and off.  It makes setting things up so easy!

Categories: 2012 Props, How To | Leave a comment

How to Stop a Fog Machine from Leaking

When it comes to creating fog for a basic yard haunt, the standard weapon of choice is the “Fog Machine” created by Gemmy.  Although the packaging may differ from store to store, this workhorse is known by its basic boxy design and it’s ability to create a large amount of fog for a very reasonable price. Each year, however, there is one running complaint about the Gemmy Fog Machine: the darn thing drips Fog Juice over the place. For years haunters have had to plan their layouts around this prop’s leaking.  This year, we are pleased to bring you the news that there is a solution.

WARNING: To fix the problem, you must remove the top cover of the machine and tinker with the insides. This totally voids the manufacturer warranty, and, if you don’t know what you’re doing, could result in someone getting hurt. So, if you decide to undertake these modifications, please note that you are doing so at your own risk.

OK, now that I’ve scared off the people who probably shouldn’t be playing with the guts of the machine anyway, let’s get down to business. The first step is to remove the cover.  As you may have noticed, the screws holding the cover on can’t be removed with your standard flat or phillips head screwdriver.  These are torx screws and you’ll need a torx bit to remove them.  Thankfully a set of torx bits in assorted sizes can be picked up at most auto parts stores.

Torx Bit and Screw

Now that you’ve got the cover off, locate the Fog Juice reservoir and the plastic tube leading out of it.  The ends of this tube, which are held on with tiny zip ties, are the points at which the machine leaks.  Remove the tube.  If you have an OLD style machine (without the remote control), be careful with the fluid level sensor wires on the side of the reservoir.  Odds are that you’ll be able to slide the tube off of its connections without much effort.  There may be some silicone residue that should be removed.

Inside "Old" Fog Machine

At this point, take a look at your tube.  There should be a small mesh filter jammed inside.  This filter protects the pump from any foreign sediment that may end up in the Fog Juice.  As a result, it also slows down the flow of Fog Juice into the heater.  For our machine, we chose to remove the filter to increase our output of fog.  We’ve got a large graveyard, and we need every bit of fog we can get.

Fog Machine Filter

Reattaching the tube is as simple as sliding it back into place and fastening it with a few zip ties.  For best results, put two zip ties on each end.  For older style machines, it may only be possible to get one tie on the reservoir end.  You want to get the zip ties as tight as possible, so, if you have a zip tie gun, use it.  Then, fill the reservoir up with Fog Juice and check for leaks.

New Zip Ties in Fog Machine

Next, put the top back on and replace all of the screws.  Then, just plug in the machine and fire it up.  In just a few minutes, you should be standing in the middle of a cloud of fog, totally leak free.

Cloud of Fog

Categories: Fog Machine, How To | 6 Comments

Back on Track, Building “Bob”

Work on the “How To” for building the Cauldron Creep is finally back on track!  Part #1 of the guide, how to build the armature, is complete, and now so is Part #2, how to make the head move.

Stay tuned for the addition of Part #3, how to stir the cauldron.

There are 90 days left until Halloween!  Is your Haunt ready?
Categories: 2011 Props, How To, Video | Leave a comment

Pillar Candles “How To” is Now Ready

Slowly but surely we’ve been working on posting the “How To”s for the props we created for last year’s Haunt.  As of this afternoon, the instructions for the Pillar Candles prop has been added.  Click on in to see how we created this simple, but effective, prop.

Categories: 2010 Props, How To | Leave a comment

Hot Burning Coals “How To” Now Up

The “How To” for the Hot Burning Coals prop has been added to the site!  Click HERE to check it out!

Categories: 2011 Props, How To | 2 Comments

Working on Cauldron Creep “How To”

Yes, we know, our “How To” pages have been sitting there with “Under Construction” notes for too long.  Real life just keeps getting in the way of preparing for Halloween!  Anyway, progress has been made on the Cauldron Creep page tonight.  Click on over to see how we built Bob’s basic skeleton.  Instructions on how to add movement to the prop should be added soon.

Categories: 2011 Props, How To | Leave a comment

How to Build A Seeping Smoke Cauldron

The first of our “How To” pages has just been posted.

Click on the link below to take a look.

How To:  Seeping Smoke Cauldron

Mr. Jingles

Click HERE to return to Mr. Jingles’ Halloween Haunts Main Page.

Categories: 2010 Props, How To, Video | Leave a comment

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