UPDATE: video example was uploaded:)
This is a simple tutorial on my findings on making a foam ghost and a free issues I ran into... I made four of these and am using them outside for some shows. But due to it being made of styrofoam the wind rubbing it up against the trees is ruining the ghosts, so I advice you to use this technique for temporary displays or indoor use only...
Finally you do not have to only make a ghost, you can probably make a Christmas tree:) or anything you wish. If you know what your doing, you can even make 3d cutouts as opposed to my 2d cuts, (flat ghosts)
Materials needed in this are:
4' by 8' 2" foam board
Projector (an overhead can cork too if you happen to have one and the way to print or draw your image, (just a thought)
Hot Wire, (I used a cheap hobby one, but for the 2" board you will want a better one, one that melts faster)...
Obviously Rgb lights and a way to power them and control them. (I will not get to much into this because I am using the strips and powering them through a dc controller using light o rama.) what I am using are 5m 5050 rgb 60 LEDs a meter waterproof LEDs...
Hot glue gun and hot glue
Way to connect the lights to the controller, (I'm using waterproof 4 wire connectors)
Black paint (not spray paint, it will eat the foam)
Step 1: Trace Out the Ghosts
I used a cheap $50 mini projector for this step. You project the image you want to trace onto the foam board.
I used 4' by 8' 2" foam board. (I decided I could get the rgb light strand in this better than the smaller...
You can get images online, I used a royalty free clip art photo. You can also skip this if you trust your own drawing skills and want to freehand.
I encourage you to be creative!
Step 2: Cutting the Foam
There are a couple ways you can cut the foam, but the cleanest and nicest look you should use a hot wire. This will melt the foam as you cut leaving virtually nothing to clean up and it will stay together.
A couple things, the hot wire will be hot, duh! And the fumes from melting foam is extremely toxic be sure to work in a well ventilated area, or better yet outside:)
I used the cheapest hot wire I could find, the hot wire ended up melting the plastic handle and moving the wire back and fourth far to wide so I used pliers to hold and move this wire... What I advise is to get a better bigger hotter hot wire for cutting these 2" thick foam boards.
Step 3: Adding the Lights
Finally we get to adding the rgb led strands:) I used my solder iron with a flat 3/8" head I had in a kit. (I'm not sure what it's for but I used it to melt a groove around the entire ghost that the LEDs fit snugly into). You can bend the hot wire and do the same, or you can use a knife or screw driver and dig the foam out.
If you choose to dig the groove out you should be fine because to hold the light strand in we will be using hot glue, and quite a bit of it.
After I made the groove all the way around I started laying in the LEDs. This is a longer process than I had hoped so be prepared to take your time...
Lay down one end and put a liberal dab of hot glue, hold it till it's dried enough to hold the strand in place. Move about 4"-5" down the strand and do the same repeating this all the way around... (Be sure the LEDs are facing inside not outward)
After you go all the way around cut the extra off were you are allowed to cut it, (mine was every 3 LEDs.
Now to make sure the LEDs stay in go over the entire strand fully covering it with hot glue.
Now a lot here you need to take into consideration for your needs and setup so don't be afraid to do things differently.
If you just want ghosts that change colors for your own display then you can get a 5m rgb led kit which includes a power supply and controller, (their only $15). For my purposes these ghosts are being made for a halloween light show were I use light o rama software and controllers to run these lights and many others... So on how to connect your lights to the controller is where you need to decide... In the end you could just hard wire the ghosts to the cheap controller.
I attached the led light strand to a water proof 4 wire connecter (see the 3rd image). This worked to hang the ghost and for easily connecting and disconnecting them). I added the other connector to the controller leads.
As shown in the last image I used silicone to cover the electrical connections, this is a bad idea, after awhile the silicone lets go of the foam and it's purpose is useless... (As seen in the last pic). So use hot glue for this purpose as well.
Final note on hot glue, if it gets to hot it will melt the foam as well, so just unplug it every once in awhile and plug it back in when needed, use your discretion.
Step 4: Cover the Sides
I used black paint to cover the sides of the ghosts... These 900lumens are going to shine outward as well as in and by limiting the outward shine makes the ghosts look better:)
Sadly the painting helps quite a bit but if you are able to fully cover the sides the better this will look.
Since I am using these ghosts outside in the weather, I am limited on my choices so I'm staying with paint.
If I was to make this for indoor use I would probably use 2" duck tape to cover the sides as well...
Use your discretion on solving the light leaks on the sides.
Step 5: Finally Enjoy!
Finally the ghosts should be all done and just need to be plugged in and bam! If your using these inside you have a 3' tall mood light. If your using these in a light show you have a magical ghosts.
Enjoy these ghosts and there are so many other things you can do with LEDs and foam, (as I said earlier, what about a Christmas tree;)
Let me know what you creat! And remember have fun!
Participated in the
Make it Glow!