Instructables

Thunder Cloud with Lightning Bolts

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Picture of Thunder Cloud with Lightning Bolts
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My first idea that I really wanted was to have real lightning bolts come from a large cloud hovering over my head. But after looking it it, I realized that a lightning bolt at a Halloween party was potentially hazardous. A live electrical arc could kill someone or burn the house down, etc. So I compromised with fake plastic lightning bolts, lit up by LED lights. I needed my husbands help on this one with hooking up the lights. But it sure is a fun and electrifying costume!!!
 
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Step 1: Gathering our materials


Materials I needed:
Spiderweb material - 4 bags
Chicken wire
Black paint- tempera
Wire hangers- 2
Backpack-plain or dark
Thunder noise novelty toy-purchased with strobe light
Headpiece- I used the inside of an old construction helmet. (no helmet, just the fitted head ring)
Velcro
LEDs -in strips
Button-SPST push button switch. Rated 3 amps at 125VAC. Mounts in a 1/2" hole. Radio shack.
Foam Tape-double sided
Duct Tape
Sheet of white/clear plastic
Scissors
Wire strippers
Wire
9V batteries -3
Battery snap / switch - 3 to connect these LEDs to the 9V battery,
Rosin-Core Solder, solder iron, Soldering gun

Step 2: Making the Thundercloud

Now we get our backpack, wire hangers, chicken wire, duct tape, head piece and roll of Velcro.
I bent a wire hanger in half and wrapped it around the top of one of the straps of the backpack and bent the hanger upward to connect to the head piece and go on to form a base to form the cloud. I repeat with the other hanger, attaching it to the other strap of the backpack.

I try on the backpack with attached head piece to make sure I will be comfortable wearing this giant cloud. I loosely wrap the chicken wire around the tops of the hangers to form a basic cloud shape.

Then I wrap the chicken wire with rolls of spiderweb material. I ued 4 bags of spiderweb material to make sure I didn't have any chicken wire showing and the cloud looked nice and fluffy. The I started to paint it or dye it with watered down tempera paint. This was not easy and very messy. Next time I would of dyed alot of the spiderweb material gray before I wrapped it on.

Step 3: Making the Lightning Bolts

First I cut out 4 lightning bolts from the plastic sheet I have. I was able to use regular scissors. This plastic sheet would normally have been used to for a flourescent light fixture. After I cut out the lightning bolts I made a duplicate copy on the reverse side. I made my lightning bolts about 1 ft long. So I have 8 pieces of plastic to form 4 lightning bolt shapes.

Now we have to put LEDs on them. My husband got some LED strips. He cut them in smaller strips to be attached on the lightning bolts but now they still need to be connected to each other, so he has to wire them back on to each other, using wire, wire strippers and soldering. He cuts some sire about 4-6 inches long and strips the ends to attach the LED strip to the next LED strip. HE marks the wire with red for the positive end and then solders the wires onto the LED strip and attaches it to the next LED strip. At the top of the LED strip he attaches long wires, about 3' long each, that will connect to my power source, the batteries, and then the 9V batteries will all attach to one red button to make the LEDs turn on and the Lightning bolt FLASH!

Soldering the wires to the LEDs is tedious work but my husband gets it done. At the end he has 4 lightning bolts with long wires coming out from the top of the lightning bolts. He tests each lightning bolt to make sure they work. Then we can put on the othe side of the lighting bolt. We used double sided foam tape for this. Cut pieces as close to the edge of bolt as we good and then attached the opposite side of the lightning bolt to complete the lightning bolts. Done.

Now the lightning bolts need to put on the cloud. We thread the long wires at the top of the lightning bolts through the cloud, through the chicken wire and down in to the inside of the cloud and off to the side. We do this is different places with all 4 lightning bolts but the wire will all be collected together.

Now the wires coming down need to connect to a 9V battery, with a battery snap / switch. The battery snaps onto the leads on the terminal end of any standard 9V battery. The leads are all connected to the red button.

Step 4: Add the Thunder Noise

Picture of Add the Thunder Noise
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Now I add my thunder. I take the novelty thunder toy. I wrap in bubble wrap and attach a string to it and duct the string on it, securely.
I then attach the thunder novelty toy to the inside top part of my cloud. It has 3 settings, on,. off and sensor. I use the sensor. It goes off a lot so I turn it off most of the time. This toy makes great thunder sounds and has a strobe light for an added effect.

I am ready!!

I try on cloud, turn on my thunder noise and push my button to make the lightning flash!

It is really great.

Note: the lightning bolts are sharp so be careful getting the cloud on and also getting too close to someone.
momofJandL (author) 2 years ago
Exactly!
Bindlestiff2 years ago
Brainstorm?