Introduction: Fogscreen Projection Screen Replica - Freefloating Images!
First Prize in the
Halloween Decorations Contest
I've always have been into pushing my haunt to the next level each year (3-axis animatronic skulls I designed, home-made rgb led dmx lighting, the hearse, singing busts, projections, etc), and this project was no exception. It is by far my favorite creation and several hundred people stood in front of the yard for hours watching the effect.
After going to Disneyland, and seeing the new addition of Davy Jones and Black Beard to Pirates of the Caribbean the ride, I knew I would have to make my own! :D
Upon further research though.... the information on these is non-existent, as they sell for well over 100k new... which is wayyyyyyyyy out of my budget (and I'm guessing your's if you're on here reading this too!) so I set to work...
If you would like to see the commercial version that I am replicating... Click Here...
Goal- to make an 8ft wide fog projection screen for a penny on the dollar (1k or less - wait wait wait dont look away). What I achieved was an 8ft fog screen, at around $250-300... so that's 3/10's of a cent on the dollar as they say.... sound interesting?
Now I have to apologize at the forefront for the terrible video and low light shots, as all photos were just taken on my camera phone... and thats why I really hope I can win the contest so I can finally get great shots of all of my efforts!
Below are two tests of the unit, and honestly it is very quiet other than the sound of the fogger (thats all you hear in the video).
So if this peaks your interest... read on... and I will do my best to guide you to making your own! Happy Haunting!
And if you enjoy this please vote and check out my other halloween themed instructables. :D
Lastly, this project utilizes power tools, soldering irons, and electricity. Please exercise caution and always wear the proper safety gear! Pleaseeeee......
Step 1: Gather Your Materials and Tools... There Are a Few....
As for materials, I will list everything I used just as a guideline.... Though you are more than welcome to use the exact same items :D
40 High CFM 120mm fans - I used 48v dual ball bearing Sunon fans that I was able to pick up on ebay for only around $3.25 a fan shipped LINK
40 Additional 120mm fans - I used some that I was able to source locally for only $1.65 each that are around 30cfm at 12v
Power Supply - If you decide to go the 48v route like I did, try to find a surplus industrial powersupply for cheap on ebay. I found 40v 30A lambda power supply for only $37 that I picked up locally (It did weigh 180lbs though so I'm being generous with "picked up") and I used an old scrap computer power supply I had laying around for the 12v fans
Power Cable Sheathing - You only need to go this route if you want it to look professional, and decide to use multiple strands of smaller wire instead of large gauge power cables to the unit. I found some woven sheathing that gave it a great look at only around 65 cents a foot at the local aeronautical surplus store (though it is widely available online at places like partsexpress and etc).
Power Cable Connector - Again, this is only for multiple stranded cable, and if you decide for the cable not to be permanently attached. So I picked up a army surplus 13 pin connector on ebay and it was only around 6$ shipped.
Wiring - Always check the clearance racks at Lowes and Homedepot... I was able to pick up two 500ft spools of 14 gauge paired wires at only $11 dollars each (normally close to 80$ each)... and the amount of wire really depends on how far you want the power supply away from the unit
Wire Nuts/ Electrical tape/Wire staples
Lumbar - You will need 2 sheets of half inch plywood, 4x 8ft 2x2's, 2x 8ft finished 1x2's, 2 1"x6"x8ft, and some random scraps
Moulding - 2 Half round wood moulding 8ft long
Fasteners - Lots of Wood screws in various lengths (1-2.5"), #6 2" bolts with nuts and fender washers (~20 bolts/nuts and 40 washers), wood glue
PVC Rain Gutter - I chose an 8ft piece from Home Depot
Pvc Drain Channel - Im not sure exactly what its called, but its located with all the drains you bury at Lowes and comes in 5-6ft lengths, and you will need two of these, and a coupler... All of the holes on the top need to be widened with a drill bit, and 1ft needs to be cut off of only one of the pieces
PVC Gutter Covers - These are flap like pieces of pvc and are around 3-4ft long so you will need 2-3 of them. I purchased mine at Home Depot (they are 1ftx4ftx1mm roughly and have a huge sticker on one side of them).
Oh... and the single most important part....
Honeycomb - A local aeronautical supplier provided me with some scraps luckily but you can always use plastic honeycomb (supermarketpartswarehouse) or even straws (the mythbusters approach) if you cant find the aluminum kind like I did.
A projector... Footage... and a fog machine (preferably that can do continuous fogging).... but these aren't part of this instructable...
Drill - With various bits
Jig Saw - you can honestly cut everything with this but a table saw works best for the long cuts (or a circular saw)
Hole Saw Bits - If you would like to use the power connectors
Soooo many zip ties...
Paint - I used the same Behr Ultra High Gloss Exterior Black that I used on my Hearse... expensive but it covers in one coat and is by far the best paint I've ever used on bare wood.
Handles - This makes moving it so much nicer
There are various small bolts and screws not included, but those will depend completely on your setup.
So... once you have all that in front of you... lets proceed :D
And Btw... the renders are from a c4d file I created for this instructable. If you want it to look at, let me know and I will send it to you :D that way you can print out the side template and just cut it out.
Step 2: Let It Begin! Assembling the Base Structure....
So, if your purchasing the lumbar at a big box store, they typically will cut large sheets of plywood for you for free (or only a few cents a cut) so I took advantage of this fact and had them cut the first piece of plywood into 4x 1ftx8ft strips.
Then print out the template from the .c4d file and attach it to the remaining sheet of plywood. Cut out two of these end caps, and now the assembly can begin. (if you do not have cinema4d, the dimensions are easy to figure out... the 1ft pieces of plywood are to scale in the image and are at 30deg and 60deg off of center, with the side angles between them at 45deg. The vertical section is 6" tall)
Take a small scrap of lumber (I used 7"x1"x1" on the outside and 10x1x1 in the center) and screw/glue these to each side of one of the strips of plywood. Repeat this for the other side, and affix these to the end caps with 1.5" wood screws and glue (as per the first picture.
Repeat for the remaining strips of plywood (this is where it really helps to have a second pair of hands)... And the photos show this progression.
Note: if you plan on painting the unit, I'd suggest painting the strips of plywood before installing as per the photos as they are extremely difficult to get to once all attached.
Next: My glorious fans, all 80 of them....
Step 3: Yes, You Read That Right.... 80 Fans...
Fans, fans, more fans.... but I must say... I always get giddy every time I see them all spin up at once :D
This step is arguably the easiest, but takes a while... so put on some music... grab a nice cold drink... and pull out your bag of zip ties, 2x2's, 1x2's, and boxes of fans....
Note: Make sure all cables are exiting the same direction, all fans are blowing the same direction, and please test them all before attaching... because its much easier to swap one out now than in a few minutes
Cheaper Low CFM fans- these will be set up in a 2x20 fan configuration. The easiest way I found to connect them was to thread a bolt in between the 4 corners and pinch them down on each side with a fender washer (as per the first photo)... then put all of the wires exiting away from the exhaust of the fan (intake side) and zip tie these to a 1x2 on each side, leaving roughly 1" from each end. (these will be the bottom central fans in the last photo... notice that we have the wood width wise)... you can daisy chain all the molex connectors or solder all of these together at this point if you would like.
High-CFM Fans - For these we will create banks of 1x20 fans that are flanked by 2x2's on each side... I really wish there is more that I can say... but get to zip tying (4 per fan) and make sure to evenly distribute them along the 2x2 (they should be roughly 1" in from each end when done). Wires on the intake side as per before. (see the second and third photos for this step).
Coming up next.... PVC Parts....
Step 4: PVC... That White Plasticy Goodness
Now for the plastic madness... which is actually fairly easy...
This is where you can not unfortunately rely on the template exactly... as I dont have the perforated drain pipe in front of me to take measurements of but its location is close to ideal. But you will need to cut a tight hole out of ONLY one side and side it in until it hits the far wall, where it can be attached via screws, wood blocks or glue. Whatever method you prefer. Do the same to the inside of the remaining side.
On the section of this pipe exiting the fogscreen, cover the holes with tape (metal, plastic, seran wrap, etc works as well) so that no fog escapes before entering the main unit.
Now cut 2 small pieces of wood to support the gutter roughly 2"x1"x1".... and affix these to the side walls with glue and 1-1.5" wood screws.
Now I know you're excited, but you cant attach the gutter yet... I found this out the hard way.....
If you skip this next step, 80% of the fog will exit the last 30% of your screen which does not make for an even image.
The Trick: Take a 1" wide section of your honeycomb and run it along the drain pipe and tie it to the pipe with thread (I know this seems insufficient, but it holds it quite well and more importantly does not impede fog flow at all).
Now ensure there is still atleast a .5-1" gap above the honeycomb and attach the gutter at each end with a wood screw as per the 6th photo.
Now flip over the unit and attach the gutter flaps to the edge of the central air duct's plywood as per the photo. 1" wood screws work well for this... though it is honestly a true pain as you have to fold it out of the way as you screw it in.
They should be pressed tight together at the top, and this is where you have to get creative. I used #4 x1.5" bolts to hold the gap open with nuts pinching each side. The ideal size is around 1/2" between the two, and this system allows you to adjust and test the gap as needed.
Step 5: Wiring... Break Out the Music and the Cold Drink Because This Will Take a While...
Yep, the title says it all. This was honestly 1/3 of the build time.
Im purposefully glazing over this section of the instructable because it is completely dependent on your setup, and I wouldn't fully recommend the way I went about it, but it was out of necessity because I was able to get the smaller gauge wire so cheaply.
But before we can wire in the fans we need to attach them... so throw in the assemblies (making sure the fans will be blowing towards the inside of the machine) and attach them from the outer portions of the device. As you can see from the first photo, if you attach the outer fans first, this will allow you to screw them in from both sides of the plywood. Then attach the central array of fans the same exact way. You honestly only need 4 screws per side (thats 8 per bank of fans) to hold them in there.
Now to why you are really here...
In reference to the second picture, I used 9 wires for the 48v, and the last 4 to carry the 12v. These are all taped every 8" together with electrical tape and put within the sheathing.
Then I mounted the other end of the coupling to the unit and proceeded to wire the fans from there. With fans of this power (48v ~30w each... Sunons) we can only run a few in parallel for each branch of the 48v coming out of the connector. So I broke them up into banks of 8, and wired them via wire nuts, and wire staples to keep everything neat.
The last thing we want is a wire to hit a fan and either break a blade or cause it to stop spinning and burn out... so it really pays to keep everything neat.
The 12v fans are wired in a similar fashion but in banks of 20 because they are only .15A each
Now stand back and admire your handywork. You should be looking like the last photo by this point.
Next.... Final additions....
Step 6: The Home Stretch...
You're so close!
Whats left? .... Well, let me answer your fantastically placed question! Not much honestly....
Honeycomb installation... and Final Details....
But Mike, didn't we already install the honeycomb?
We installed some, but that was only a warm up for what is to come. Here is where those 1x6's and moulding come into play.
Attach the moulding, with the flat side 1.5-2" from the top edge, to each 1x6. Attach each of these to the vertical portion of your fogscreen's end caps with wood glue and 2" wood screws (refer to the top most portion of the first image).
Cut your honeycomb to fit snugly onto this. I left my aluminum honeycomb press fit into this without fasteners, though you could easily add them from the sides.
The honeycomb causes the turbulent air to form a Laminar flow, which boils down to a sheet of smooth air flowing together and giving you a smooth sheet of fog rather than a plume.
Attach your power cable to your power supply (Make sure to pay attention to polarity)
Setup you fog machine at the pipe inlet at the side (leave 2-3" inches of space between the nozzle and pipe).
Setup your projector to rear project on the fog and gather footage
Paint it! It will last longer, and when its painted black, it fades into the dark night and all you focus on is the image floating in midair, from seemingly nowhere.
I built a low wall to cover mine, with pillars to each side, so all the viewer saw was an 8'x6' image floating.
Also... invest in some handles... best 10-15$ you will spend if you will be moving this around...
Next... test footage....
Step 7: Testing and Performance Night -
Note: For halloween night I used a 3500 lumen projector and 1200w american dj fogger, and these were both more than enough. You could see the image from over a block away. Video was cued with resolume and the iphone app for wireless control, though a dvd player could stand in perfectly.
So, let it begin, the testing phase...
These were all with a 5mph breeze (thats why the top of the fog feathers out a bit) but commercial fogscreens cant handle any wind at all so I'm beyond impressed with the final product and everyone adored it. I hope it brings as much joy to you as it did to us!
Halloween Night: I was unfortunately talking to my godmother throughout the video so wasn't able to control the live dmx lighting or video playback, thus the disjointed video and audio half way through, as well as the excessive dialogue :D
Thank you for reading my instructable and please feel free to check out my others!
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Please be positive and constructive.