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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The clock is counting down... or hopefully will be soon! Just thought I'd open a thread to discuss things to do new, different, the same, better or easier for '23 !

For me, I keep thinking I want to get an early start and do a little at a time so things aren't such a big rush at the end. Every year, seems like the same story. I can hardly believe September is ending. Takes me a week or so into October to 'get in the mood'. Then usually some big work project / trip / other activity comes up right in the middle of October and blows out a whole week. Next thing I know it's 'one week to go' and right back to the same hustle a the year before!
 

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Here’s our list for next year so far:

- Do the prep work at least a week ahead of time for all those little things that you think shouldn’t take that long but actually add to the burden on setup day. This includes checking batteries and replacing as needed, checking lights and getting them in place before Halloween, and pulling items out of storage.

- Downsize - yes, yes, I know that’s shocking to some, but after seeing how much stuff we were able to put out in the yard without deploying any animatronics (because of the rain predicted), we realized we could get by quite nicely without them. It saved time on prep (no need to assemble anything) and meant less to carry back and forth during setup and teardown.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I do hear ya on the downsizing! I was just looking at (more like lugging) my speaker set up. 17+ years ago I stumbled on some 'semi-pro' PA system speakers. I donated time to do some PA work for charity events, races, etc - so have held onto them. Now I drag them out of storage once a year for Halloween. I'm thinking a couple bluetooth speakers would get 98% of the same sound - especially since I'm just looking for local ambiance, not covering a 100 yard area. And no kid is going to know the difference or give up their candy due to a slight change in sound quality! lol

Probably 400 pounds of gear I don't need and recover my 10 square feet of storage space! Plant a few BT speakers in the bushes next year!
 

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We started in June or July this year—earlier than I have EVER managed—and still didn’t get to everything on my ever-growing list for the new theme. I really think prioritizing and tackling the hardest builds first (instead of the things I get most
would have made me happier.

Minor lessons that I would add are:
  • Consider lighting early, to be sure you have enough and the right types of lights, because that can really make the display, and running to the hardware store at the last minute is not fun
  • Convert battery operated lights and props wherever you can using low voltage converters so you don’t go crazy turning each individual thing on and constantly changing batteries
  • Plan for your power needs with appropriate multiple outlet stakes for outdoors, hopefully minimizing the extension cords snaking all over
I was very happy with our lighting and the ability to plug everything into a single root cord, but we definitely were at saturation on extension cords.

Also, a plus one on using Bluetooth speakers!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Plan for your power needs with appropriate multiple outlet stakes for outdoors, hopefully minimizing the extension cords snaking all over
...
Also, a plus one on using Bluetooth speakers!
Thanks! bluetooth it is!

Planning power needs / outlets / extension cords is one thing I wish I could to better at. It seems like I have 25 different props and each one of them needs a few watts of power... at 3, 4.5, 5, 9, 12, 24 or 120 volts! So that spans a whole range of batteries, wall warts and direct plug ins. Don't even get me started on the stupid wall warts that cover an extra space on a power strip unless they are the very last one in line, or the polarized plugs and non-polarized sockets, or the three-prong plugs on things which don't even have a metal case!

I think I spend half my time grinding the 'fat' blade of polarized plugs to fit normal sockets, ripping out the ground pin on the 3-pin plugs or grinding the lugs off of 2-prong extension cords - which prevent three prong plugs from being plugged in. We won't even go into wrapping blown fuses in aluminum foil to get them back in service because it would be weeks to order that one obscure sized / fractional amperage tiny fuse! lol :p
 

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My todo list/ideas for next year:
  • Complete the juicer machine as it was intended: cup sensor, (animated) backlights, proper drain system for spilled liquid
  • Cauldron Creep
  • Flying Crank Ghost (FCG)
  • Pepper's Ghost (either with a skeleton or another FCG)
    I might do something animatronic with the skeleton, like make it point towards you after the light comes on.
I will probably have to make some choices as I did too much in too little time this year (didn't start building my props until mid September), definitely don't want to make that mistake again. Our backyard looked much better last year with the DMX lights and chilled fog which I did not have time for to put up this year.

Of course I could also make a very early start and do all of them 🤪.
 

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Thanks! bluetooth it is!

Planning power needs / outlets / extension cords is one thing I wish I could to better at. It seems like I have 25 different props and each one of them needs a few watts of power... at 3, 4.5, 5, 9, 12, 24 or 120 volts! So that spans a whole range of batteries, wall warts and direct plug ins. Don't even get me started on the stupid wall warts that cover an extra space on a power strip unless they are the very last one in line, or the polarized plugs and non-polarized sockets, or the three-prong plugs on things which don't even have a metal case!

I think I spend half my time grinding the 'fat' blade of polarized plugs to fit normal sockets, ripping out the ground pin on the 3-pin plugs or grinding the lugs off of 2-prong extension cords - which prevent three prong plugs from being plugged in. We won't even go into wrapping blown fuses in aluminum foil to get them back in service because it would be weeks to order that one obscure sized / fractional amperage tiny fuse! lol :p
Omg, yeah! One thing I really want to do at my new house is run some dedicated underground lines to the yard—we are set back a 100 feet or so from the road, and i will need the power out there. Of course, that will mean trenching and an electrician, so it may not happen soon.
I’m curious—what do you play for ambient sound? I’ve used a soundscapes app for role-playing games for the last couple years, which works great with the Bluetooth and was also great for recording exactly what I wanted into my Picoboo this year (my first run at pneumatics was an epic fail, but that’s another story).
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'll attach my sound file. Just something I mixed up in Audacity from a bunch of 'creepy sounds' available on the internet. I run this in an x-lights animated sequence on an old laptop. So I get the sound output which is piped to the speakers and x-lights runs the lighting sequence - which is definitely nothing big! Mainly just keep the lights twinkling/strobing/sparkling in orange/violet, with occasional 'lightning bolts' of orange, etc.

As usual, delete the .txt from the file name once downloaded to restore the file. Forum doesn't support .mp3 files directly.
 

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We've begun preliminary plans for next year. We'll be making a new cemetery fence as an upgrade to the display. Looking at some new lighting options for the front yard space. I've started on some small props for the theme and am gathering things we can use for much of the detail work in the scene. The driveway area will be a corn maze, something we've done before as an exit to the haunt, but as it's the main focus of the space we'll be enhancing it with a lot of little details and some well placed scares. Lewlew has it all mapped out and it'll be fun to sit down at our annual planning breakfast and finalize the plans. Even with the upcoming winter months and those "lesser holidays", Halloween is never on the back burner. I'm sure by mid summer we'll have most everything we'll be using for the yard display. Not having the structure to set up will be a huge chunk of work we won't have to worry about, and enable us to focus all of our energy on the smaller haunt. Can't wait!!
 

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The clock is counting down... or hopefully will be soon! Just thought I'd open a thread to discuss things to do new, different, the same, better or easier for '23 !

For me, I keep thinking I want to get an early start and do a little at a time so things aren't such a big rush at the end. Every year, seems like the same story. I can hardly believe September is ending. Takes me a week or so into October to 'get in the mood'. Then usually some big work project / trip / other activity comes up right in the middle of October and blows out a whole week. Next thing I know it's 'one week to go' and right back to the same hustle a the year before!

Yep me too, starting with such a shock I don't have Halloween off because of my career change. My brother gave me great advice after I nearly didn't get Halloween off last year: request Halloween 2023 off now! And so I did. This year I have a specific project in mind so I'm putting myself on a schedule, starting in August. I've already started purchasing materials.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Good deal. In this day and age, I'd just claim it's a special 'diversity' holiday and they should let you take it off no problem!

We always used to get President's Day off, then MLK day got shoehorned into January. So my employer started saying we could choose one or the other. Then some kickback came as to 'why do we only get to choose one or the other?' So they finally opened it up and said we could have a free floating 'diversity holiday' to take at any time provided it's OK'd ahead of time. ...so essentially just a holiday converted to an additional day of vacation.

Guess that was one (about the only) good thing about a Monday Halloween - could take the day off and have a nice long weekend for the prep. Now it will be: weekend...work some...take a day off... back to work...etc for a few more years!
 
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