2000 was the first year that I added pneumatic props to my display. I am not too mechanically inclined, so I was a bit apprehensive to try playing with compressed air. I couldn't believe how simple it really was! I used an small electric air compressor with regulator, and purchased a solenoid and 2 air cylinders from a surplus parts shop for next to nothing.

I ran the tips of the air cylinder rods through the bottom of each skull, then fastened them with a fender washer and cap nut, to prevent them from flying off when triggered.

Using cable ties, I attached the air cylinders to some EMT pipe that was pounded into the ground behind some of the tombstones near the driveway, which effectively scared everyone approaching the house!

The rods in the air cylinders are free spinning, so in order to keep the skulls facing forward, I found it necessary to insert the EMT tube at a slight angle into the ground, towards the driveway.

Using a Noma remote control unit (see my Remote Control Solenoid Project), I was able to trigger the effect whenever someone walked by. This was the most effective scare I have ever seen! I kept my video camera running all Halloween night, pointed directly in front of the popping skulls, and got some fantastic footage! I highly suggest you try a setup like this.