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  • Building the “Normally This Weird” Death Ray Weapon part 4

    Posted on March 29th, 2011 dstipes No comments

    Here is the challenge: how to construct a detailed prop with virtually no budget. Well, there are some strategies for accomplishing such a task. 

    If you have a lot of money, time and resources every part can be meticulously designed, rendered or blueprinted . You can take the designs and manufacture every item on your prop by hand or subcontract it out.  Or you can do as our little team did for the Death Ray prop built for “Normally This Weird,” the Sci FI web series. 

    We started with concept sketches. This was a guide for the shapes and possible relationships between the various design elements or shapes. 

    Death Ray weapon concepts.

    Nate Stipes and I began searching Goodwill Stores and Dollar (discount) stores looking at everyday objects.  Our first goal was to get things for free as Nate did with a broken Electrolux vacuum cleaner. 

    Basic Electrolux with barrel added

    We needed some sort of chambers on the top. What might look kind of like the drawing? With some imagination, we found them in the form of two Coffee canisters!

    Chambers from coffee canisters.

    We needed a gun barrel.  Here we had to buy some two-inch PVC pipe for strength and rigidity at the base. For the smaller section, we found a $3 high pressure car wash sprayer / nozzle from Goodwill. Diane Cook added disks made from yogurt  cartons and quiche packaging. 

    Water pressure nozzle, yogurt container bottom and "O" rings form part of weapon barrel.

    Coca Cola caps and cut off wood dowel rods became trigger buttons and knobs.  Plastic food containers formed unique shapes at the front and rear of the gun.  

    Cola bottle caps and food packaging (with yellow LEDs added)

    One half-inch PVC pipes and couplings from Home Depot became ‘steel’ and ‘brass’ power tubing and fittings. Plastic canvas from Michael’s Art Supply became vent grills or detail pieces.  The top “power condenser’ was created from a coffee creamer bottle, toothpaste cap, and a blinking LED light and mounted with some Velcro tabs.  

    PVC pipe and plastic "canvas" mesh.

    The light sequencer was created by Diane Cook from the side of a Log Cabin syrup bottle.  With a coat of spray window frost it became a cool detail.

    Props literally from trash.

    Various items used in Death Ray. Can you find them on the prop?


    The roll around base was from a $6 Goodwill chair.  We simply lengthened it with some metal water pipe.  A cut up pencil holder became the green “plasma chamber.”   One of the most fun design solutions was the use of two paint rollers covered with plastic vacuum hoses for the gun handles and fire controls. 

    Finished Death Ray Weapon prop.


    As seen in Normally This Weird

    If you have little cash but some time and imagination you can take ordinary items, broken appliances, even trash and make a pretty cool Death Ray Weapon (prop, that is!)

    Photos: (c) 2011 by David Stipes 



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