The Gruesome Suffocating Jack-o-lantern




Introduction: The Gruesome Suffocating Jack-o-lantern

About: I have had a few careers so far, soldier, school teacher, arborist, millwright. I love change and I love learning.
I know this seems early but it is really late because I made it last year and I'm just trying to think of anything that might win me a laser engraver.

I wanted to make a really sick and disturbing jack-o-lantern. I saw on the internet that someone made a drowning one by putting a jack-o-lantern in a bag and filling it with water. That was pretty cool but not disconcerting enough for me. I had to make something people on the street were going to talk about for a while.

I was inspired by the drowning jack-o-lantern to make a suffocating jack-o-lantern, one that would really try to breath and suck the bag into its mouth. Now that is gruesome! I had to build quite a machine to pull it off and make it "breathe".

Unfortunately I took mostly video and it was pretty dark. I will give you the full video at the end and screenshots throughout. If they look grainy and dark, just think of it as spooky!

Please check out my other instructables and I also have a diy podcast called

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Step 1: Materials

First and foremost, you need a jack-o-lantern. It should look scared and have a large open mouth. I named mine "Phil" (don't ask why, it's personal)

Other materials

2 Large clear bags (they don't both have to be clear but since they don't normally sell bags in "ones", you will probably have two clear bags with a few left over)

1 long vacuum hose found in neighbors garbage. + a little duct tape to plug a few holes.

1 large bucket (free from an ice cream store)

1 electric drill (cordless won't get you very far)

1 bicycle wheel (found in garbage)

1 large piece of wood (to act as a base for the breather)

1 chair to sit and relax on once in a while (and also to hold the bucket at a good level)

2 bungee cords (Ill explain this later)

1 hinge

some string and rope

1 elastic band

a bit of odd screws to hold various things together.

bits of steel as structural support

1 weight (can be just about anything cheap and about 5 lbs)

Step 2: The Wheel

Everything is really centered around the wheel. It will turn the rotary motion from the drill into linear motion for the breather.

I just used some scrap steel to make a bracket to hold the wheel about 8 inches off of the base. I am cheating by using a welder but I'm sure there are lots of you out there who could rig this up without the aid of a welder.

Step 3: Turning the Wheel

The power for the machine comes from a drill. If you try to use a cordless drill it will probably not last long. I ran my drill for 3 hours straight and it still runs fine to this day. I mounted a hinge on the end of the board and welded a rod to the hinge. I did not want to alter the drill in any way to I lashed the drill to the rod using some rope. Into the chuck I inserted a piece of 1/2 inch round bar long enough to extend over the top of the tire. This is all set up so that the round bar in the chuck rests against the tire. When the drill turns, the wheel turns and reduces the drill RPM to something usable. (If the wheel was 27 inches that would be a 54:1 gear reduction) The last step is to tie a string from the drill to the support post holding the wheel. By hanging the weight on the string, the drill is pulled into the tire giving it more traction.

Step 4: Turning Rotary Motion to Linear Motion

We need to turn the turning wheel into a pumping motion. I did this by clamping a vertical rod to the spokes with 2 pieces of flatbar and two bolts. This allowed me to adjust the radius by loosening the bolts and sliding the flatbar in or out. On the top of the vertical rod are three washers. The top and bottom ones are welded to the vertical rod and the middle one sandwiched in between is welded to another piece of rod heading towards the bucket.

This is not quite liner motion yet. We need to install a pivot and a slider or piston.

Step 5: Finishing the Linear Motion

Our armature from the wheel needs to connect to a piston via a pivot to complete the linear motion. I used about 2.5 inches of bungee cord tied with string as a pivot. I used this slack system to make the motion more jerky and less mechanical. You will see what I mean in the video. The piston slides through a steel tube guide to limit its motion to just back and forth.

Step 6: The Air Pump

The air pump is the bucket on the chair with a bag bungee corded to it. The opening of the bag has the vacuum tube taped to it and the end of the piston. As the piston moves back and forth it causes air to be forced back and forth in the vacuum tube.

Step 7: The Jack-o-lantern

The jack-o-lantern can not be lit with a candle as it is in a closed air system plus the heat could melt the bag. I stuck two LED's in the eyes which were not cut all the way through (I did not want the bag sucking into the eyes) The end of the hose was stuck right into the back of the Phil. The bag was placed over the Phil and secured around the hose with the elastic band. I stretched the bag a bit around the mouth so it would suck in a little further.

Step 8: The Video

After the video was taken the breather machine was taken around behind a shed (the vacuum hose was about 30 ft long) so the noise could barely be heard. The hose running from the back of Phil was hidden as much as possible.

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    12 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    wow i wonder if i i could do this out of a stryfoam head and maybe amke a drowing one two


    13 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome! but a little complex for such a simple effect. i'd either use a reversing fan, or just a magnet and electromagnet on a 555 timer. you should add some gruesome sound effects to that, too!

    dave spencer
    dave spencer

    Reply 13 years ago on Introduction

    Half the fun was in making the machine. Ask two guys to build you a chair, one is a welder, one is a carpenter. You are going to get two very different chairs but as long as you can sit down on both... I have some experience with 555 circuits and was thinking of modding a vacuum cleaner to do it. If you really look at it, my design is pretty simple (especially if you don't have any electronics experience)


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah it seems as though you took the Rube Goldberg approach to this project


    13 years ago on Introduction

    I like your mechanism! I'm thinking of a water based siphon arrangement, something like a Soxhlet extrator, but this is probably much better.... L