Skeleton and burried coffin 2006
The Animated Skeleton "Mr Bones" 2002
There's just no toy you can buy at the store that compares to something that
you put together.
Mr Bones 2002... Sporting a new animated head and
completely air brushed for this year's haunt. I also painted the
coffin with the same light granite paint as the gravestones.
The body was purchased for about $10.00. It's one of those
really cheap plastic "glow in the dark" skeletons. He
came in a plastic bag and kind of snapped together at the joints.
I immediately modified it - drilling holes in all of the joints so I
could run bungee cord from one hand (through the arms and body) to the
other. The "glow in the dark" paint job was...
<cringe>, so I touched it up with a coat of ivory white and then
flat black spray paint (see last years images below).
The head came off of one of those stupid dancing ghouls that came out
somewhere around 2000 and seem to still appear in stores from time to
time. There's was a werewolf, a Frankenstein, a Dracula and a
skeleton. The heads are life sized (kid size) and the body is
dwarfed to look "cute". Anyway, it swayed it's hips and
sang some song "Super Freak"?!? Anyway, I bought it
for $12.00 after Halloween last year and figured I'd scalp it for parts.
The head and the body were totally different styles and colors, so I
had to air brush in some additional details in the body that really are
not there. The lower arms and legs, pelvis, and chest pieces got
the most work. It took me about 3 hours to paint all 3 colors -
Ivory base, tan shadowing and flat black to make it look less like solid
|Skeleton and coffin
|Yes, Mr Bones is talking this year. He's going to be
wired for sound. I've got the motor in place and I'm working on
the light organ that will convert my voice to jaw movement. He
still sits up and causes trouble... and this year he's going to
follow up the screams with a little attitude! <grin>
He was going to turn his head, but in my haste to get fancy (as
usual) and hide the motor in the neck, I broke the gearbox. After
I broke it, I realized I could have easily extended the drive shaft and
hidden the whole thing in the body of the skeleton. I also ran too
much voltage through the LEDs that are in the eye sockets. I have
bought replacements, but don't really like the cheesy look, so I may not
replace them. I will look for another head this year (after Halloween
when everything goes on sale for 75% off so at least the head can turn
10/16/2002 Update: I finished soldering the light
organ. I tested it last night and it takes quite a bit more
wattage than I had originally imagined (i.e. I've got to amplify the
speaker signal to get the mouth to operate properly). I'll have to
scrounge up some kind of cheap amplifier that can throw out 10-12 Watts
of power (minimum) for the speaker and light organ. I've hidden
all of the wiring to the head inside the body. It comes out at the
pivot point (behind the pelvis) and goes into the coffin support box
where I will be mounting the speaker and light organ board.
The circuit basically is put together like this:
- 110V AC current is fed into the light organ from a wall socket
- An audio signal (speaker signal) is also fed into the light organ
from an amplifier hooked up to a microphone & selectable audio
source (like a PC or tape player)
- When the light organ receives the speaker signal it closes the
circuit to a 110V output
- The output (AC110V) is run through a transformer that changes the
voltage to DC 6V.
- The DC 6V is wired to the skeleton and goes to a motor that powers
Basically, when I talk, the mouth opens in time to my voice (either
live or pre-recorded). I can adjust the sensitivity of the light
organ so that the jaw operates correctly at different sound volumes.
|Skeleton head and upper body close up
Click here to watch it in
(mpg video 66 KB)
The Animated Skeleton "Mr Bones" 2001
|Here's Mr. Bones on Halloween night... He was a show
stopper. Quite a few good screams when he popped out to say
||Skeleton & coffin on Halloween night
|Here's the coffin I built for the animated skeleton.
The coffin is made from Styrofoam and "Liquid Nails" (for
foam board). The piston
is a PVC piston of my design.
|With a some help from a few good friends I have the
skeleton opening the door and leaning out to "greet you".
||Skeleton & coffin
(piston partly extended)
|The skeleton has an amazing amount of character once it's
hooked up. By opening the air valve slowly it can sit up
gently. If you crack the valve all of the way - well, you'll jump
back if you're not ready for it...
I'm still working on a more efficient (and reliable) door
closer. At the moment, the door is attached to the piston end cap
with some fishing line, so when the skeleton returns back to the upright
position the door is pulled closed behind him. Unfortunately, the
fishing line tends to get caught occasionally on his shoulder or arm and
then the door does not open all of the way. I've got a better
design in mind and I will take some pictures once I have it completed.
|Skeleton & coffin
(piston fully extended)
|This is the bottom of the piston mounted behind the
coffin. The two metal straps on the back of the coffin keep the
piston from hanging up on the Styrofoam and keep the skeleton from
falling over to either side.
The metal bar that is bent slightly upward in the middle is the pivot
point for the piston. I had to bend it a little to put the piston
in the right position in the slot so it wouldn't bottom out. The
piston hangs from the metal bar with an S hook and a zip-tie
The metal L bracket on the bottom of the piston is not used for
anything, it's just attached for future projects so I won't lose it.
|Another shot of the metal straps that cover the slots in
the Styrofoam. The coffin is zip-tied to a mall step ladder (the
red and white bars that are in the way)
|The top of the piston is attached to the back of the
skeleton with a couple of zip-ties (one around the neck and another
through a hole I drilled in a small L bracket attached to the end cap of
the piston. For a closer look at the L bracket, take a look at the
bottom of the piston in the picture above
|Here's the piston fully extended. You can see that
the piston moves quite a ways down in the slot I cut for it.
The slot and piston will be painted flat black once I have everything
finished. You won't be able to see them through the fog and dim