Intro: Electric Chair Done My Way
It's been done many times but this is my rendition of the ever popular Halloween prop. I'm excited about how well it turned out.
Step 1: Building the Chair
The chair itself was made out of scrap 2x4 that I had laying around. It's pretty basic and straight forward construction. Afterward I stained the entire thing.
Step 2: Mannequin Time
Next I bought a standing mannequin from ebay. It is a 6 ft full body model but didn't bend at any joints so to make him sit in the chair I cut him up at each joint. Rebuilding it was as simple and lining everything up in the chair how I wanted it then using a little spray foam to fill gaps and fiber glass to keep it all solid. Knowing what I know now however I wish I had just duct taped it all with the spray foam and called it good since the cloths cover all the joints anyway. Fiberglass wasn't worth the effort.
Step 3: Getting the Look Right.
Once my orange jumpsuit came in I wrestled it onto the mannequin which was a fight since I foolishly made his knees too far apart. Eventually I got it on. Threw a black pillowcase over his head, and elastic strap across the chest and metal bands over the wrists. I also made a quick head band out of some sheet metal I had. Put a sponge under the "helmet" and bolted the thick cable leads to each side. Add a pair of black canvas shoes and the look of the chair and convict was finished.
Step 4: Making My Transformer.
Just for fun I decided to make a "transformer" looking box that sits next to the chair. I was able to get a stainless steel trashcan to use as the box itself then bolted on a couple short table legs that I painted off white to look like insulators and wrapped the cables coming from the head piece around them. I also added a high voltage sticker to help sell the look. In side the box hides a car battery to power the actuators and the fog machine.
Step 5: Bringing the Whole Thing to Life.
Now to make all the magic happen I started off using a pair of car door lock actuators. One pushes the body out and back to make him jolt around. The second I used wire to connect it to the jaw of the mannequin so that his head also thrashes up and down separately from the body. For the sound I mounted a speaker to the backside of the chair and one in the throat of the mannequin so his screams sound like they are coming directly from him. With all of this mounted out of sight I put a strobe light aimed upward behind him since he will be sitting in a corner when showtime starts and the hose coming from the fog machine is slipped up into the jumpsuit at his back so the fog roll right out of his clothing making him look as if he is smoking. The whole thing is controlled by a 4 channel picaboo plus controller. With all that done it was time to work on how the controller would be triggered.
Step 6: The Trigger
For the trigger I wanted to do something interesting that I thought of and hadn't seen before myself. Since this prop will be unveiled at a Halloween party before Halloween I didn't want it to be triggered using normal means such as motion sensors or pressure pads. I thought it would be really cool if the party goers and trick or treaters were able to fry the deathrow inmate themselves thus becoming the executioner. To make this happen I bought a small fuse box with a cutoff switch and wired it up to the controller to act as the actual trigger. I had to add a fairly strong spring inside the box connected to the switch so that it would automatically disengage the switch after the initial contact starting the action. With that working successfully all I had to do was make a stand for it. I also ran the trigger wire through some large conduit leading back into the transformer box just to make it look a bit scarier.
Step 7: The Final Result!
After all of that hard work this is what I have to show for it. I'm pretty happy with it and hopefully it will make a lasting impression on all it's visitors.