Halloween 2009: "Fire" Breathing Dragon With Articulated Wings




Introduction: Halloween 2009: "Fire" Breathing Dragon With Articulated Wings

This is a slide show to demonstrate the signature prop from our Halloween 2009 yard haunt.  Her name is Puff, naturally.

Our theme was Haunted Castle, and the name of the Castle was "Dragon's Lair Castle". 

There were 2 instructables that were very useful in this dragon prop, 

For the wings: 
I took this design, and scaled it up 50% and added a double acting air cylinder for control. If doing the wings again, I would consider aluminum channel rather than pine strips, as at 50% larger, plus the air cylinder the weight is becoming an issue.

The fire light effect is based on a 3W RGB Led driven by a custom microcontroller circuit and using code heavily modified from this instructable:
I changed the hardware to drive about 300mA per red / green / blue segment, and to change the color slightly as a function of the brightness.  The controller board is a bit over featured since I intend to use it for other things in the future.

The construction of the dragon was as follows (photos were unfortunately not taken for the first step, so I may have to add a few sketches to this slide show)  Update: I found a couple photos taken on a cell phone and have added them.

- A metal frame made from 'Unistrut' (an L shaped metal angle that has holes every inch) bolted into the rough shape of the dragon (you can see the detail in the early photos)

- Strips of cardboard were glued to the metal forming a series of rings  at various diameters, bigger in the middle, and tapering near the neck and tail.

- A shop vac extension hose was threaded from the neck to out the bottom of the dragon, to connect to a fog machine.  The fog will blow across the high brightness LED which flickers, and this should create a plausible fire effect.  A length of speaker wire was also run at the same time to provide power for the LED fire and for the non-flickering LEDs in the ping pong ball eyes.

- Paper Mache was used to cover the cardboard with newspaper using a standard flour and water paste.  The final coat of paper mache was with white paper towel used to give a a primer coat and a nice texture. 

- The dragon was painted with poster (tempera) paint.  A final coat with clear gloss spray paint gave a nice sheen.

This project would not have been possible without the support of my friends who helped in paper mache and painting and setup (Matt, Ross, Lanah, L, B, Irene, Charlotte, Tara, Tim, Tom) but most of all I would like to acknowledge the contribution of the creative director and my lovely wife Rose, who both contributed wonderful imagination and lots of hours of time to this effort.  

Please enjoy.

For some additional pictures,  including lots of the trick-or-treaters
Here is a slideshow video set to music (Video created by IdaRose Sylvester)

Halloween Contest

Third Prize in the
Halloween Contest



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    15 Discussions

    If you like dragons, get into the WINGS OF FIRE series

    MUA HA HA HAAAA this made me want to SCARE some people this holloween!!!!

    This is incredible! The animatronics were astounding! You should do it professionally!

    Where do you live? I would drive from Ontario Canada to see your amazing creations! I wish you were my neighbours.  WOW!!!

    2 replies

    Why Thank You!  That is a wonderful thing to say.  Sadly, we are some distance from you,  just south of San Francisco, California.


    This is so great!  The dragon by itself is cool, and then with the rest of the whole theme, outstanding.  Really like how the fire effect LED works out.

    1 reply

    This is AWESOME! spitting flames...flapping wings. Neighborhood children BEWARE!!!

    I saw Puff the dragon in person and she was AWESOME.  The moving wings, glowing eyes and fire (dry ice) breathing were super impressive!

    1 reply

    HA!  Lord Cheney's Enhanced Interrogation Chamber!!!  Nice!  Oh, and SWEET dragon!!!

    Nice your dragon looks awesome at night - try to make it's head move though
    to creep people out

    Awesome dragon!  Thanks for the shout-out and glad my wings instructable was helpful.