One of the coolest things about decorating a yard for Halloween is that it doesn't take a lot to make something look really cool and spooky looking. This instructable covers the design and build of a very simple backyard fence prop that can be used in anyone's yard. If you have a large yard, you can scale this design up many fold.
The material list for this is relatively short and most items can be purchased online with the exception of the wood which can be purchased at your local big chain hardware store.
- Economy fence pickets
- Economy outdoor wood planks
- Blue LED spot light
- Fright Research Spooky Eyes 2.0 Controller
- (32) Bicolor LEDs
- Homemade PCB board for LEDs
- Fog machine of your choice
- 12VDC plug-in power adapter
This instructable covers a single fence section. Depending on the size and layout of your yard, you can construct multiple sections and illuminate them all similarly.
Step 1: Constructing the Fence
Well, the fence construction is pretty self-explanatory, so I will not get into too much detail here. I basically used economy wood pickets and wood for the cross braces. I then made two end posts to support the fence cross supports. The end posts were positioned on top of 3/8" thick steel rebar which was stuck in the ground about two feet. (Note: Make sure you have no underground pipes when pounding the rebar into the ground!)
Parts used for the fence:
- Economy wood pickets from your local big name hardware store
- Economy wood planks
- Pneumatic nail gun with various length nails
- Inexpensive plastic molding for the top of the corner posts
- Outdoor paint
Step 2: Electronics
When I first started this project, I was originally going to use static LEDs for creature eyes. To that end, I made up a batch of simple PCB boards using ExpressPCB to install LEDs in. ExpressPCB is website that provides free PCB software and will manufacturer a prototype PCB board for very low cost in about a week. I made a single PCB board with multiple LED boards on it and had several boards made. From these, I used tin shears to cut out the individual boards.
After thinking about it for awhile, I decided to use a special effects light controller to animate the LEDs in a way that makes them appear like real creatures. For this, I used a Fright Research Spooky Eyes 2.0 controller. These controllers are absolutely amazing and relatively inexpensive. They have 16-channel LED outputs which are bidirectional and can control bicolor LEDs for a wide array of special functions and operating modes.
With the new controller, I ended up purchasing a bunch of T 1 3/4 sized bicolor LEDs. In one direction, the LEDs will be green and when conducting in the opposite direction, the LEDs will be red. This is perfect for the Spooky Eyes controller in that the standard normal operating mode will be green creature eyes, but with an external trigger, the controller will operate in a "startle" mode which makes it appear the creatures are surprised or startled. In this mode, all the LEDs instantly turn bright red and then will slowly fade off one by one. This is a very cool effect. I soldered two LEDs on each of the PCB boards, which connects them in series. When doing this yourself, make sure to follow the proper polarity to ensure both LEDs illuminate the same color.
When finished, the LED boards were screwed into various positions on the fence and the wires were connected to the Spooky Eyes controller. For this instructable, I didn't bother to dress and hide the wires, however, for your installation, you may want to route the wires in a fashion where they aren't as visible. Of course, at night time, you really don't see the wires, especially if you use black wires.
Parts used for the electronics include:
- (16) Custom PCB boards by ExpressPCB.com
- Fright Research Spooky Eyes 2.0 Controller
- (32) Bicolor LEDs (red / green) - T 1 3/4 size
- Twisted wire
Step 3: Background Effects
To spice up the display a bit, I added two simple background effects. The first was a blue LED spot light and the second was a Chauvet Hurricane 901 fog machine. The 901 is a small inexpensive fog machine, but can really put out a lot of fog. The blue LED spot light was used to cast a subtle blue glow onto the fence from the side. By side illuminating the fence, it accentuates the fence pickets and adds a lot of contrast and detail to the fence. The fog machine was placed off the side and out of sight.
Parts used for background effects includes:
- Chauvet Hurricance 901 fog machine
- Fog liquid
- 12V Blue LED spot light (EBAY)
- 12VDC, 2A plug-in power supply for the spotlight
Step 4: Final Video
Above if the final test video of the Spooky Fence. Good luck with your build and I hope you enjoyed this instructable.