Instructables

Halloween attraction (tech shop)

Featured
Couldn't have done this without tech shop!

 Tunnels are becoming more and more popular as Halloween attractions. tunnels come in varying sizes and designs.  The basic concept is a large tube with luminescent paint that rotates as one walks through.  Generally there is an opening at each end, a raised walking plank from end to end, and hand rails.  Black lights are typically mounted below the walking plank.   Our finished tunnel had a 10' diameter tube that was 12' in length.

The key concerns when we built our tunnel were safety, achieving the desired effect, costs, ease of construction, and long-term storage. 

This instructable will delve into the mechanics and drive line and not the finished product.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Vortex tunnel designs

There are three or four different designs to choose from generally from these two styles.  We chose the capstan approach: a long pipe with bearings on both ends that supports the tube.

Vortex Tube
The vortex tunnel tube is usually built with a series of hoops covered with cloth or plastic.    Hoops can be constructed of metal, wood, or plastic.   Metal is the strongest and most reliable but steel is heavy and aluminum expensive.  Wood is easy to work but can warp in damp weather.  Plastic PVC is inexpensive but quite flexible.  The lining can be plastic or cloth.  Some builders call for fire proofing the cloth.  What ever you use has to be dark, and able to take the glowing paint.

Drive Mechanism
We found two primary types of drives.  One method uses a series of (say 12") bicycle wheels near the ground that the hoops run in.  This has the advantage of a more forgiving design, and also that the inside of the tube at the top is visually unimpaired.  It has the disadvantage of having more moving parts.   A variation on this uses two smaller capstans at the bottom.

A second method uses a single (3") capstan at the top of the vortex tube which not only holds the tube in place but drives it.   The capstan is held between bearings on each end of a 12" pipe.  This has the advantage of a single moving part - the capstan and less noise, fewer alignment problems.  A disadvantage of the capstan approach is that the tolerances are smaller; the tube must be straight and balanced.  Also, all of the weight winds up at about 11' off the ground and so a larger supporting structure is needed.    A final disadvantage of the capstan approach is that the 3" tube is visible by the viewer.  However it if is painted black it is not noticeable. There are also capstan designs with supporting bearings in the center.

With any of the designs pay a lot of attention to keeping the spinning parts balanced.  Even adding the five rubber couplings - the additional ten hose clamps added a noticeable vibration - and so we moved them to be 90 degrees apart.  And then I added a piece of 3/8" circular plates on each and as a thrust washer - and that added to imbalance and vibration.

Walkway / Plank
We found that the plank needed to be about 12" off the ground.  Ours was constructed of plywood and joist hangers.  We originally designed a tube that was 20' long but the limiting factor was the strength of the plank.   In the end we wound up with a 13' plank and 12' tube which is more than adequate.

tinker2342 years ago
wow very nice i wonder if i could make the frame and tube from pvc and then the platform form hevay duty acrlic and use a dryer motor to spin th e the tunnel
myakka2 years ago
omg i saw this at busch gardens tampa at the halloscream event and they had this in the Nightsade Toys haunted house. the weired part about it is that when you steped in it you instantly flew into the side of the saftey railings, it was like gravity shifted. it was so trippy!

i hope too see some people make this so that i dont have to spend $60 to go to busch gardens!
cool!!!!!!!!
Celine11072 years ago
I would love to see a video of that!
Oh man i love this! I went into one when i was in Mexico city at the Ripley's museum, it was so fun. Great!
You are now entering The Twilight Zone.
doyal2 years ago
they had one of these at Moogfest this year. was pretty trippy. you need to wear those prism glasses when you walk through it!!
tgsimmons2 years ago
I've used a vortex tunnel in my Halloween haunt for six years now and it continues to be the highlight of the night. Here's a video that shows how well it works:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUtd27mozzU
merijnvw2 years ago
im speechless.... This is so awesome, is this actually just for Halloween?
dwleo2 years ago
Although this is a great instructable, maybe the same effect could be achieved by have the lights programmed to flash on/off in a 'travelling' manner. Use the visual effect to fool your mind.
I started planning one of these years ago but then realized it would be easier to make with "chaser" Christmas lights. I never actually did the project though.
blodden2 years ago
This instructable took me back to when i used to live in dubai. In mall of the emirates there was one of these tunnels and i loved it. Great instructable.
juke3212 years ago
you should make the openings round instead of like a normal so the effect is more real
l8nite2 years ago
I hope there is more coming on this build, we've discussed building a tunnel for our haunted house for a couple years now and have seriously talked about doing one for 2012
daveclark5 (author)  l8nite2 years ago
well - this is the time to start planning! for 2012, i'll strive to do a second installment showing the tunnel in action. the hard part is setting up the actual mechanism though. the hoops and cloth are relatively quick.
WOW =)
Pro

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?

close

PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!