The Table Back of Table
Fifty Dollar Bill Shocker

A fifty dollar bill lies on a small table in the foyer. When the trick-o-treaters try to pick it up, an extremely loud buzzer goes off and they get a shock from the bill! There's a delay before the buzzer can go off again to discourage kids from playing with it.

The buzzer is from a fire alarm. The touch is sensed by one of those alarms you hang on a door knob which goes off when someone touches the handle from the other side. It's attached to one of the two wires on the bill. This setup wasn't entirely successful. Some source of electrical noise caused lots of false triggerings. The first year we used it, we had a sensitive mechanical switch which detected downward pressure on the bill. That's probably a more reliable way to do it, but it needs to be able to handle the physical stress of kids pounding on the bill to make the buzzer go off.

The shock is generated by a power supply for a 6 inch fluorescent tube which runs on 12 volts. It produces a low-amperage and high-frequency voltage which is not dangerous, but rather painful at full strength. It goes through a variable resistor so its strength can be adjusted. The shock is adjusted so it's only slightly painful to the most sensitive people. Unfortunately, people vary a great deal in how sensitive they are to electricity. Certain people can't even feel it, but we got plenty of people on video tape jerking their hand away!

Close-Up of the Wires To place a pair of alternating wires along the edge of the bill, I wrapped a dollar-sized piece of cardboard with a thin wire leaving space between the wrappings for another wire. I then taped the first wire in place with masking tape leaving the edges exposed. Then I wrapped the second wire around the cardboard between the wrappings of the first wire. These two wires are connected to the shocking voltage. If a person's finger touches any pair of wires along the edge of the bill, they get shocked. A photocopy of one side of a $50 bill is glued down to the cardboard, and the cardboard is glued down to the table.

[ Previous Effect: Small Decorations ]

[ Main Halloween page ]

[ Next Effect: Sound Effects ]