Project Upgrade – Dancing The Night Away

Now this has been a very productive weekend. Thanks to Raven’s agility show, I’ve had what has becoming an increasing rare amount of time to just sit and chip away at the post backlog. Halloween is at the forefront of priorities as our annual Halloween Haunted Trail is but a few weeks away. Like yesterday, thought I would go ahead and detail the improvements and upgrades to another prop for this year’s haunt.

If you happen to recall, several years back (2017 I believe), we constructed the Dancing Zombie prop based on some linkage ideas we had found on the web. The core of the design was the offset wiper motor that would rotate the torso in somewhat of an ellipse incorporating a smooth forward/back as well as a left to right motion.

Hit the jump to read about all the new offseason upgrades to our Dancing Zombie prop!

Continue reading Project Upgrade – Dancing The Night Away

Westworld 2.5 Servo Man Industrial Upgrade

Good hauntings all! As it is September, we are currently in full throttle preparing for this year’s Haunted Trail of Tears (link here). Truth is, the trail efforts are an ongoing effort throughout the year, researching ideas, building new props and unfortunately, rebuilding or upgrading props that didn’t live up to expectations. I covered the efforts involved in the Westworld 2.0 line rollout with Servo Man back in July of last year (link here). That line made its debut in the 2019 event.

Unfortunately, that version ended up experiencing a malfunction late in the evening. The best I could tell at the time, the fabric got caught up in the servos which added a bunch of drag to the mechanism – end result, nearly burned out servos. I got it put back together for the 2020 event and hauled it out to its spot in the trail. turned everything on and nothing. Apparently, something got knocked out of whack during the bumpy ride down into the valley. With no time to repair it, it simply became a static prop for the night – completely bummed, especially with all the offseason work that went into it. You can check out all the details in the previous post on that version, but wanted to throw in some quick shots just so you know the upgrades that were done for this year.

… and the simplified version showing the main linkages. Note specifically the neck area as that turned out to be where a lot of the issues turned up. That little neck on the servo was basically holding up the entire weight of the head and carrying all the torque for the rotation.

Hit the jump to see the latest additions in the Westworld 2.5 Posey line.

Continue reading Westworld 2.5 Servo Man Industrial Upgrade

Project Nikon Cozy

Well, Mr. Heat Mizer has decided to turn it up for this Midwest weekend. Hard to complain too much as we have been pretty lucky thanks to the cooling brought on by the nonstop rain. Unfortunately, we are currently heading up to the Quad Cities to run the Bix7 kicking off tomorrow morning (link here). Much rather endure this weather for 7 miles versus the monster 34 a few weeks ago (link here). Was planning on taking it easy anyway and this will just be a constant reminder to do just that. In the meantime, I hate to waste cycles in the car and thought I’d go with something I don’t need to do a lot of research on.

Project Nikon Hauler 2020

Hit the jump to see what surprise awaits behind that door!

Continue reading Project Nikon Cozy

2020’s Signature Halloween Trail Prop

Update: Just wanted to give a quick shout out to Creepy Joe for giving me the new soundtrack for my clown props (link here). Maybe I’ll add an animation of a clown sniffing a girls hair (link here, here and here) – if that doesn’t give my haunted trail (link here) guests nightmares I don’t know what will!

I can’t believe we are in June already and the date of our Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears is FAST approaching. Worse yet, I am still trying to get the Halloween project posts out from last year. Whoever told me I was going to have more free time when I retired clearly didn’t know how hectic things are around Intrigued headquarters. I am shocked I found time to even have a day job ha! To chip away at the backlog, figured I would go ahead and finish off the second part of the Foam Coffin project – specifically the animation for last year’s signature piece. If you recall, the first part of this project was making the coffin (link here).

Project Foam Coffin Halloween Project for Haunted Trail of Tears 2020

That was actually supposed to be the easier part of the project, but putting all the extra design time in to create the foam board connector system and making the foam cutter (link here) added a serious chunk of time. Luckily, I had started work on the animation at the beginning of the year or there would have been zero chance of this prop making it to the trail last year. Actually it started midway through the previous year when I was working on the Servo Man two servo mechanism (link here), but I will get to that after I talk about the concept.

Project Foam Coffin Halloween Project for Haunted Trail of Tears 2020

Hit the jump to read how a spooky concept came to life!

Continue reading 2020’s Signature Halloween Trail Prop

Project: It Was Just a Harmless Coff

Well, we just embarked on another camping adventure. A short one this time unlike our previous multi-week excursions. Of course, there is birding involved – Ron is even going to be able to join me for some fun time in the field… not for a couple of days though until the weather clears up. Seems that we are perpetuating a trend on our trips. In January we brought the Midwest rain, snow and ice down to Texas with us. In April we brought the Midwest Spring downpours to the Alabama Gulf Shores and Florida Panhandle. Now, damned if we didn’t manage to bring the May showers north with us. Clearly we are CURSED!

Project Foam Coffin Halloween Project for Haunted Trail of Tears 2020

As I sit here listening to the rain come down, thought it would be an excellent time to get to another one of the new props for last year’s Haunted Trail of Tears (link here). Unlike the previous post which was more of upgrade to an existing prop, today we are covering the signature piece for the year. Each year I decide on what the big addition is going to be and then spend a majority of the year trying to get it conceived prior to show time. Note, regardless of how early I start on the signature piece each year… I NEVER give myself enough runway. Every year it comes down to the night before or even the day of to get it in good enough shape for the trail.

Hit the jump to learn all the behind the scenes work it took to bring this idea to life.

Continue reading Project: It Was Just a Harmless Coff

Project Wicked Color

“Another post so soon and sans birds or anything with a heartbeat – what’s up with that Bri!?!” Tis true folks. My inbox has been filling up with hate mail from the Birds Are Rats with Wings (BARwW) Consortium – when they get their dander up they can be a handful, especially when maintaining a birding blog as part of the overall Intrigued mothership. They were feeling left out along with a number of the other purely non-wildlife readers that have admittedly been slightly in my pursuit to close the gap on Ron’s birding count. Guessing based on the last post you might have been expecting a companion post on the actual 2020 foam coffin prop. That would definitely been a logical thing to expect, but that is waaay to predictable for me – I prefer to keep you guessing (especially for those sending me angry emails ha!)

In my defense, this post does carry the Haunted Trail of 2020 theme (link here). For reference, you will need to actually look back at the Project Witch Replicate post (link here). That blog post covered a new prop for the Haunted Trail of 2017 (link here and here) – can’t believe it was that long ago. This was the 2017 version of the witch.

Witch from Haunted Trail of Tears 2017

Hit the jump to read about the 2020 upgrade!

Continue reading Project Wicked Color

Project JigIt: Failure Leads to Invention

So, long time followers of Intrigued should already know my kryptonite is failure. It literally gnaws at my core until something is done about it. Pretty much three paths lead from such events – train harder/get better and get ‘er done, find a better way to accomplish said feat or, unfortunately, find myself in the hospital. Come to think of it, there is really only two paths as the last one just starts the cycle over again. Not sure of the exact moment this infliction came to be, but likely a result of being undersized in every sport I ever participated in and a father (who was also undersized) that wisely knew the ramifications of letting someone get the better of you and not picking yourself off the ground. This being an over-dramatic intro for one such failure, albeit one of a harmless nature. What you see in this next shot is the results of “find a better way” after a disappointment.

A bit of background. For the 2019 Halloween Haunted Trail (link here), I had designed a new prop to add to the cemetery. The intent was to have a coffin being half exposed from the ground being pulled out by a group of skeletons. Prop building for the big event starts months in advance in order to get it completed prior to the chaotic mess that occurs during setup. I picked up the foam sheets to make the coffin out of in April and went right to work on cutting out the pieces. The top and bottom were supposed to be easy as they were straight cuts. Not the case, as my hand would waver on the long cuts – the foam was no match for the hot blade of the gun and happily obliged a wayward cut. Slowly the coffin size got smaller and smaller as I tried to correct the bad cuts.

Project Foam Cutter Jig

Hit the jump to read about the solution to an annoying failure.

Continue reading Project JigIt: Failure Leads to Invention

Halloween Haunted Trail 2020 – Part 3: Night Walk

Pretty sure your browser image cache is getting hammered as a result of these Halloween posts.  Good news, this is the last of the Haunted Trail 2020 series and in my opinion the best.  Even with all the images we selected for the posts, it still doesn’t cover the expanse of the trail, but it does give a good perspective of what you are in for the night of the event.  I’ve already covered a lot of the background in the other posts, so for the Night Walk I’ll keep the words to a minimum.

Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears 2020

I did want to cover the changes we put in place to make the event as safe as possible in the midst of the pandemic.  From our sampling it was clear most of our friends were really looking forward to the night.  Part of that was the chance to see how everyone had been coping during the lockdown.  We are a social species and interactions with friends is just plain good for the soul.

Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears 2020

Hit the jump to take a virtual tour of our big night!

Continue reading Halloween Haunted Trail 2020 – Part 3: Night Walk

Halloween Haunted Trail 2020 – Part 2: Day Walk

Bringing you the second of the three part Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears.  Last post I took you behind the scenes to give you a feel for what it takes to prepare for the event.  Putting all the props together, getting them staged out on the trails and then the creativity phase of actually placing and building up the scenes.  Today we are going to focus on what we call the Day Walk.  Once everything is built I like to go through and take shots of the trail before the sun goes down.  It takes on an entirely different feel once darkness falls which will be shown in the final post of this series.  Note, due to the dramatic change that occurs, some guests actually prefer to experience the trail during the light in order to minimize the trauma and nightmares ha!

Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears 2020 - Day Walk

It is hard to really express how big the trail is.  I keep reminding myself to calculate how long the walk is with all the offshoot paths etc.  Each year that gets forgotten ugh.  Our guests are probably more interested in the elevation change as it actually sits in a valley requiring both a healthy walk down and then an admittedly difficult walk back up.  Although Linda and I discuss options every year to mitigate this (elevators, ATV shuttles, tow ropes..) there doesn’t seem to a viable resolution, although the idea of elevators sounds pretty cool hehehe.

Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears 2020 - Day Walk

Hit the jump to see a good representation of this year’s Haunted Trail of Tears.

Continue reading Halloween Haunted Trail 2020 – Part 2: Day Walk

Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears 2020 – Prep and Setup

Well, the time has come for the massive end of the year summary stats padding.  If there is one set of posts that have a dramatic impact on those numbers it is the Halloween Haunted Trail Project posts that have the biggest impact – specifically in the number of images used during the course of the year.  Probably not an extremely relevant number for my readers, but one I have been keeping since the beginning in my yearly assessments.  If nothing else, it is a barometer for how productive I was.   It goes hand in hand with the word count.  Was the ratio of words to pictures in the ballpark as I am sure my readers prefer the pretty pictures to my ramblings.  The Haunted Trail posts are always skewed to the pictures due to the size of the event.  So, without further ramble, let’s hit the trail.

Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears 2020

Oops, before we hit the trail, we need to talk about all the prep work that comes with putting this event on.   Linda and I had long debates on whether we were going to hold the annual party this year.  As you know, the pandemic had taken its bite out of the year and we were not sure whether we could pull this off and keep everyone safe.

Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears 2020

Hit the jump to learn what it is like behind the scenes at the Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears

Continue reading Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears 2020 – Prep and Setup