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Wacky ideas for tiki bars! Input Needed!

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I have an idea for the Pi-Yi Grotto that sounds a little insane so hear me out...I have a big panel of louvered doors when you get to the bottom of the steps heading to the tiki bar, behind them is the circuit breaker, water meter, etc. - they are pretty boring and obviously have little tiki appeal...I have a vision of what I can do to dress them up and make them one of the coolest Disneyesque/Tonga Room features around. Cosmetically, I want to repaint the doors in a weathered white and replace the lame brass knobs with handles fashioned from giant spoons and forks tikis. Now, here's where the wackiness ensues - I'm planning on getting some fake palm fronds and placing them through some of the louvers at random to produce the effect of a jungle outside the door pushing its way in. I was going to place a CD player inside the doors with a special effects CD of jungle noises but now I want to go a little farther. I want to create occasional thunderstorms with flashing lightning and thunder claps behind the doors. I've been spending the morning scanning Halloween websites (they even have newsgroups for people who go all out to do their houses up for the holiday! - go figure) looking for a way to make this happen as inexpensively as possible - I've found machines that work off sound effects CDs to produce synchronized lightning effect but I've got a closet for God's sake, I don't want to spend $100.00 to do this! I've seen kits that will supposedly produce the effects I'm looking for cheaply but, since I've never used a soldering iron or fooled around with building one of those electronic kits I'm at a loss...anyone out there have any experience with this stuff or have any suggestions? I don't want a constant thunderstorm, do you think I could put it on a timer to go off and on every 20 minutes or so? Any ideas for other ways to dress up the doors (perhaps faux warning signs or welcoming entrance signs proclaiming what's behind the doors) to give them a tropical/tiki look? This has to be one of the most ridiculous ideas I've ever come up with but if I could pull it off it would be the shiznit!


Aloha from the enchanted Pi Yi Grotto in exotic Bel Air Maryland!

[ Edited by: johntiki on 2004-03-26 08:42 ]

[ Edited by: johntiki on 2004-04-02 06:24 ]


The ugly ass doorway in question...in their original old people with bad taste blue...

I like the way you think! This would be uber-cool! I have some experience with electronics construction and repair - if you buy the kit and send it to me, I'll build it for you free of charge (minus shipping). Why? Well, partly because I'm full of the aloha spirit for my Tiki Central compadres. Also partly because I'm interested in this effect myself, and I'd like to see how these circuits work. What better way than to build one for somebody else. Email me offlist if you want to take me up on this.


A fog machine back there might add to the intrigue...

I too have thought about trying one of those build-your-own circuit kits for lighting control. I originally wanted a computer-driven system, but what I really want would cost waaaaay more than I spent on the whole lounge itself! A cheaper, but somewhat less controllable system are those x-10 home automation kits, that can run from computer control as well. A friend of mine designs his home Halloween effects using those x-10 units, and puts on a really impressive show!

X10.com Home Automation

Every year I do my Garage up as a haunted house. The following sites have been a great deal of help to me with ideas for props lighting, and special effects.




For a quick cheap way to make the lightening visual, would be with a strobe light hooked up to a "motion detector". Radio shack has motion dectors. Getting sound to match up is going to take some wiring work.

Check some halloween props...maybe there is one of those props that "screams" when you step on it or has a motion detector in it. Maybe theres a thunder and lightening one already made?



Maybe it could be hooked up to a motion detector (like those outdoor floodlights) so the sound & lights are only triggered when people are in the room.

Oops, someone thought of this at the same time.

[ Edited by: kctiki on 2004-03-26 12:23 ]

just throwing in my two pebbles, but for a stobe effect you might be able to dissect an old emergency light like on fire alarm systems - ? i bet if you got that salvage it would be more like 10 bucks instead of what you would get at spencers or other quasi-head-shops

great idea jt! j$

p.s. another idea to ferment in your head: two words: animatronic parrot

[ Edited by: Johnny Dollar on 2004-03-26 12:50 ]


You know I had a revelation on how I could make this work on timed intervals - some of these kits take a direct audio input from a stereo speaker instead of using a mic that would pick up ambient noise and trigger thunderstorms when the sounds aren't playing. Here's my idea - compose a CD that includes say 60 minutes of jungle noise - the one I have is already sounds of rain in the jungle so it would work perfect - all on one channel. At different intervals I'd add the thunderstorm effects, all on the second channel. I'd take that output of the channel producing the thunder and plug that into the light kit with say a 100 watt bulb to serve as the flash! Then all you would have to do is set the CD player on repeat and your could have happy jungle intermixed with bouts of bad weather for days. I'm trying to keep this as simple as possible and this would eliminate the need to use a triggering device and the need for 2 CD players. I looked into the fog machine idea but I think that could be dangerous - the hallway is so tight and lacking in any ventilation that my wife would probably find my artificial fog, asphyxiated ass slumped over the bar one morning. Maybe I could do some stuff w/small amounts of dry ice?

Or they make those small fog/smoke makers that go in fountains, ponds, etc. They are electric and plug in. They usually run about $20 at a place that sells fountains.


Awesome Idea!

I thought I was a little overboard when I was planning something similar, but hey, there's sanity in numbers. My plan was/is to either fill a basement window well with the same idea, or more likely, put in a "window" behind the bar complete with some sort of water pump for rain. I have a storage room behind where the bar will be, so I can just build it into the partition.

My advice for strobes would be the small "egg strobes" or hanging style. Use 3 or so (with blue gels)... by using 3, every time they are triggered, the flashes will be randomly timed and look much more natural. I've used them in haunted houses before for just that reason.

Please post pics to document the process and the finished set-up!


On 2004-03-26 13:32, ErichTroudt wrote:
Or they make those small fog/smoke makers that go in fountains, ponds, etc. They are electric and plug in. They usually run about $20 at a place that sells fountains.


And about those little mist/foggers, has anyone ever seen a Big & Beefy version? I'd like something much more powerful than the little sputtering desktop fountain variety, yet not a full-blown DJ/Club/Halloween fog machine. I'm still talking about a pond fogger.


I've found a three channel color organ that plugs directly in from your stereo for about $15.00 and can control three lights. Unfortunately, it is a kit which requires work! Check it out!


Now I need some suggestions on signage or props that would look good on the doors? Any ideas, suggestions?


Aloha from the enchanted Pi Yi Grotto in exotic Bel Air Maryland!

[ Edited by: johntiki on 2004-03-28 22:06 ]


Just a note: lightning flashes always PROCEED thunder, so there's really no need to have exact timing with the lights and sounds. {not meaning to sound like a smart-alec...just a small point that might save some hassle}.

I reckon with those doors that when you repaint them, give them distressed look and remove a slat here and there for more effect.

[ Edited by: PEDDRO on 2004-03-28 22:35 ]

I might suggest a trick that a friend of mine used once to trigger the lightning before the thunder: He recorded 2 tracks, one thunder and another a "control" track. The control track was just a simple sound that was timed a couple of seconds before the thunder on the other track, and that was the channel that was plugged into the color organ. The actual thunder track was piped through the stereo. The result was that the lights flashed and then a second or two later, you heard the thunder...

I agree that you should distress the doors (crackle, perhaps?). Maybe put a fan behind them so a gentle breeze can be felt through them. Then, if you really want to get fancy, maybe one of those gardenia air freshener plugins to give the subtle scent of tropical flowers on the breeze...

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