Step 1: Materials
PVC comes in 10' lengths, so you will need one 10' piece of 1", 3/4", and 1/2" pipe. And you'll have some left over.
You'll need these PVC fittings:
1 - cross tee,
1 - regular tee,
1 - 1"x 1/2" reducing coupling
2 - ells,
1 - ell,
1 - 45
Also you will need:
-Small bag of 8" zip ties
-Small bag of 4" zip ties
-One foam 'pool play tube'
-One 18" x 36" piece of landscape cloth
-Four U-bolts, 1.5" wide x 2.5" long
-Two 6" pieces of 1/8" x 1" angle steel
-One 6" piece of 1/8" x 2" plate steel
-One 34" piece of 1/4" steel rod
-One double acting air cylinder, 1/2" bore, 2" stroke
-One four way solenoid
-Fittings and pipe for air cylinder and solenoid
-Styrofoam wig head
Clothing:(Buy at yard sales because you won't want to use your clothes)
-Pieces of plastic packing bubble sheets or foam carpet padding (to give shape to the legs)
-PVC glue (or screws)
-PVC pipe cutter (hightly recommended)
Step 2: Construction
Hint: When building a new prop, I test fit everything. Then when it all looks right, I drill small holes into the fittings and through the pipe, then insert a screw to hold it together. This gives lots of flexibility just in case something needs to be taken apart again. I have several props that only have screws holding them together and have worked well for several years.
Step 3: Hips
The 3/4" pieces are connected firmly together, and pivot inside the 1" spacers.
Step 4: Arms
Drill a hole in the 1" PVC, and run a zip tie through the PVC, then through the pool tube. Leave lots of slack, this lets the arms move.
Then connect the elbows together by drilling/poking a hole 1"- 2" from the ends, then inserting a zip tie to hold them together. Again, leave lots of slack.
Step 5: Bending Knees
Cut two 14" pieces of 3/4" PVC (upper legs), then cut a notch in the pipe about 2" long (see photos).
Cut two 17" pieces of 1/2" PVC (lower legs). Drill holes as shown in the photos, then using a zip tie, attach the upper and lower leg as shown.
This attachment lets the lower leg move freely backward, but keeps it from swinging forward.
If you haven't already done it, attach the upper leg to the pivot joint at the hip.
Cut two 6" pieces of 1/2" PVC and attach to the lower leg using an ell on one leg and a 45 on the other to act as feet.
Step 6: Lights, Camera, Flail
I welded the pieces shown in the drawings, but a welding shop can fabricate these brackets quickly and inexpensively - and their welding will look much better than mine!
The clevis brackets were purchased from my local hydraulic supply store. I walked in with my air cylinder and asked for parts that fit the cylinder. I have no idea what size they are. (Welding effectively erases any marks on the part. )
If you purchase your cylinder, don't forget to order the clevis parts... it saves lots of time!
Step 7: Air Powered Flailing
Depending on the size of the cylinder you have handy, the upper bracket can slide up and down several inches to accommodate the cylinder.
I had a small surplus air cylinder that I bought from C & H, but you can use whatever fits! (that's what I do!)
Adjust the brackets and move the legs up and down to test the movement of the cylinder. Once you're satisfied with the movement, tighten down the brackets.
The idea is to make the hips jump up a few inches, then jump back quickly. This will make the entire body flail about realistically (and disturbingly!)
The lower legs will move independently from each other, and the suspended body will rock about in a most unnerving manner....
You can go ahead and connect up the air cylinder to the solenoid and test the action to be sure the frame works the way its intended.
Be careful, the frame itself is very light, so even a small motion is very, very fast!
Step 8: Forming a Body
I attached a 34" piece of steel rod to the front of the upper bracket to make a waist and help define the upper body shape, but after I was done, I think the landscape cloth alone can serve to handle this... So its your option, rod or no rod! If no rod, be sure to zip tie the landscape cloth to the shoulders and to the front of the upper bracket.
Cut a 2" hole in the center of the piece of landscape cloth, and fold it over the body (see the photo). use zip ties to attach the landscape cloth together at the sides and bottom. Bend and adjust the wire until it resembles a body shape.
Step 9: Setting up the Circuit
I buy pneumatic parts from Ebay, McMaster Carr, C & H, Surplus Center, junkyards, and my local hydraulic supply. When I start a project, I see what I have, and to some extent, build around the parts I've got!
If you're not sure about air fittings, look in your yellow pages and find a local hydraulic supply. I've got a great relationship with a small supply shop. They are happy to answer my dumb questions and help me find the right combination of parts to hook up most anything I've brought in. I'm sure there's a supply near you that will be happy to help you sort out the details.
What little I've learned about pneumatics has been by trial and error, and just trying to make it work. You can do it!
Remember SAFETY when working with air...
ALWAYS start testing with very, very low pressure - then work up to normal operating pressure.
For a first attempt, start with 10 PSI, then work up in 10 PSI increments. Starting with low pressure lets you find and fix the air leaks and loose parts BEFORE slamming 60-100 PSI to the mechanics, potentially causing the mechanism to fly apart and harm to yourself or others.
Step 10: Add Realism
You may need to pad the buttocks area, too.
Attach the pants using zip ties looped through the belt loops and through the landscape cloth.
NOTE: do not attach the pants directly in the front. You'll need access to the inside to work on the moving parts. Its simple enough to open the front of the pants to get in. (no jokes, please!)
Its hard to see, but the solenoid and fittings are held in the body with zip ties.
The photo shows my test air connections. The finished body will use 3/8" black nylon tubing to supply air to the solenoid.
Fit the reducing coupling into the neck, and fit the 8" piece of 1/2 PVC to make the neck joint.
Step 11: Finished Product
I screwed the heels of the shoes into the back of the 1/2" fittings on the foot. Then using zip ties, I tied the bottom of the pants leg to the tops of the shoes to keep the PVC hidden.
The finished body is quite realistic in its movement. The body here has been flailing for as long as an hour continuously without a problem.
I needed to 'sprinkle' watered down paint to add some 'funkiness' to the clothes - after all, its been hanging out a long, long time!
And there you have it an awesome prop for your Haunted House, or just for scaring some friends