OPERATION - the Halloween Costume: TAKE 3





Introduction: OPERATION - the Halloween Costume: TAKE 3

A fully "OPERATION-al" Halloween costume

Inspired by the original created by Felix Jung (http://www.avoision.com/portnoy/2004/october/29.php) in 2004 and somewhat by Jack W. Bell's take in 2005 (http://jackwilliambell.livejournal.com/86072.html), I took it upon myself to reproduce it this year with the addition of the mask and light up nose, hence the “Take 3”.


I started out first experimenting with the aluminum flashing. Previous costume creators used electrical boxes and aluminum foil. I thought aluminum roof flashing would be perfect. I picked up a 6V piezoelectric buzzer (Radio Shack) and a 10 Candela LED (Fry’s) and was off and running. Since my electrical engineering knowledge is wanting, I found these sites helpful for dealing with the LED http://led.linear1.org/1led.wiz and http://www.kpsec.freeuk.com/components/led.htm. See image #1 for the original circuit diagram I was going to use.

The switch would be metal kitchen tongs (Felix’s idea) with the circuit completed by the flashing surrounding each hole. Each hole then connected together. Everything worked fine but I was disappointed with the fact that if the flashing was only barely touched, then LED and buzzer were feeble. I wanted a steady buzzer and LED no matter how lightly or briefly the flashing was touched. A little research led me to an IC, specifically a 555 timer in a monostable circuit. My favorite site was http://www.kpsec.freeuk.com/555timer.htm. They have excellent descriptions and examples of 555 timer circuits. Or try this one http://www.uoguelph.ca/~antoon/gadgets/555/555.html. So the circuit grew (see image 2).

To help determine what size capacitor and resistor to use for the timing circuit try the following program http://www.doctronics.co.uk/down555.htm. I went with a variable resistor (a 1Meg Potentiometer) so I could play around with how long the buzzer and light would go off. The 6V was 4 AA batteries in a case I picked up at Radio Shack. After putting everything together on a breadboard (it worked!), I tried my hand at soldering. Only two attempts to get it right. Image 3 is a shot of the circuit board.


For the main body I went with a cardboard box. I loved the original’s idea of using candy (after all it is Halloween!) for the innards. I actually entertained the idea of using an a plastic fake belly and cutting holes in it. However, I couldn’t find anything suitable. So I went with the cardboard box. The box was an 18 X 18 X 27 dishpack picked up at the local U-Store shop. It ended up being just the right size. To house the candy I decided to use simple boxes glued on the interior of the torso. I picked up the boxes at The Container Store. Image 1 shows the interior with the small boxes glued into place. The long “Spare Ribs” box was two smaller ones cut and glued/taped together.

I created templates to trace onto the torso and then used a utility knife to cut the holes. Using a tin snips, I cut flashing to size ensuring that the opening was ¼ inch smaller all around than the holes were. I then super-glued the flashing over the holes. I left a strip attached to each piece of flashing and tucked that inside the box.

You can kinda see in image 2 (at the top hole) how the strip folds into a small slit in the cardboard. It was to the strip on the inside that I attached the wiring. Note that I used a physical connection for the wires. I learned ahead of time that aluminum can’t be soldered properly so I went the route of punching a hole in the strip and securing wires to it with a screw, nut and lock washer. Image 3 is a piece of the flashing used for the 3” by 3” hole.

For the head hole I used a pot lid to trace it out. I centered it a little towards the back in to give me a little more room between the front (with the interior boxes attached) and my body. For the arm holes I used a smaller pot lid. However, for these holes I ended up having to make the holes more oval shaped in order to slide my arms out when removing the body. Once the holes were in I painted the box. I first used some Kilz™ primer and then for the red standard interior latex (semi-gloss). The yellow was acrylic paint from the craft store.

Image 4 is a shot from the Top and Back. The wire coming out of the top connects to the mask to supply the LED in the nose. The wire coming out the side connects to metal kitchen tongs the people will use to extract candy from the holes. I used quick disconnects on these wires to make the disassembly easier. The Cavity Sam on the back came right from the game and is there for decoration only.


I used standard craft paper (flesh-colored) for the body design (see image). This way it would cover up the flashing when I glued it into place. Once the holes in the cardboard box were cut, I temporarily taped the body paper to the box, ensuring to put small registration marks, and then from the inside traced the holes onto the paper. I attached the paper body with spray adhesive taking care to align with the previous registration marks. The actual game pieces are simply computer paper cut-outs and glued into place. For the observant ones, you’ll note that the game does not have a “Kidney Bean”. I skipped the wishbone… couldn’t figure out a candy to fit in that shaped hole. Artistic license. J Also note how nicely the buzzer embedded into the thick cardboard of the dishpack box. No glue... just snug fit. The “OPERATION” banners were cut right from a game box. You can see how the Velcro™strips are attached inside each hole. The candy bars also had tiny strips on them securing them into place. The strips on the candy were very small. Larger ones made removal of the candy near impossible.

Step 4: THE MASK

This was a significant part of the costume because it was one of the key components added above and beyond the first two versions (image 1). Finding a blank face mask (image 2) was fairly hard but eventually I did at a local costume shop. Here it is in original condition. I sanded it up and painted it with flesh colored acrylic craft paint. The eyes, eyebrows, and mouth are simple computer paper cutouts and glued into place. I used a utility knife to cut out small squares in the eyes and in the mouth. A small elastic band across the back and we were off and running. The wig is a sixties band member type found at the Halloween costume shop.

The nose is the bulb from a squirting sunflower… something a clown uses in their costume. I cut it up so that it fit over the mask’s nose and then Velcro’ed it into place. The LED was taped alongside the mask’s nose (under the red nose) and the wires run through the nostrils of the mask nose. The wires then ran along my cheek and over my ear and down into the head hole.

Step 5: Voila! - an "OPERATION-al" Costume



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    11 Discussions

    I picked up a piezoelectric buzzer at Radio Shack. Pretty sure it is this one


    This is an awesome Instructable. I do have a question for you though about the circuit stuff. I am totally circuit dumb though and have a question for you. Would you entertain the idea about possibly building one for me and I would pay for shipping and everything. Just let me know, and once again this is awesome!!!

    I made an Operation costume: Take 4! My wife and I cut sheet metal and foamcore shapes. I think it was one big shape behind, one cut out shape, then came the sheet metal, then another foamcore cutout, followed by the fabric. We wired it to a piezo buzzer then to a LED that I attached to my glasses, and to a set of large metal cooking prongs.


    I am in the process of building this, but I didn't go with your 555 circuit. I ended up going with the original one but modifying it. I put 3 LEDs in each box, and then wired them in a series I believe and connected the positive lead to the alluminium box, and the negative lead to the power. I then put a 47 Ohm resistor in front of the tongs. This makes it so that depending on which box you touch that box lights up. I am going to change it from 6v to 12v though because with the buzzer the leds are very dim.

    Great costume! Curious though, did you use the same type of wiring attached to the tongs that you used for the inside, or did you have to use something more durable? For that matter, what type of wiring did you use?

    1 reply

    Basic Radio Shack 22-gauge stranded wire used throughout. For the tongs I drilled a hole and attached the wire with a small bolt and locking nut. Worked fine.

    Awesome instructable... Loved this one so much I had to make it for myself. Think I'll skip the mask, and instead of the light up nose, I'm going to try and wire a red LED into each compartment which will light up with the buzzer :) Here goes nothing :)

    craft stores like Michel's have blank masks year round (full faced is usually more female styled but once painted it shouldn't be noticeable)

    reminds me of the "pumpkin" (apple II) computer costume my mom made me for Halloween a mililon years ago (i wore it for like 4 years and won best costume almost every year)

    My wife who usually just rolls her eyes when i show her a "cool" instructable actually giggled at this one. Nice