The cigar box and flashing lightbulb method you describe for the flashing eyes is a good one, and is similar to the current method used at the end of the Pirates ride. However there is a much simpler method that you can use if you can control the lighting in the area. In fact, this is the original method used at the exit to Pirates.

Note: Since this project uses electricity, young children should be monitored by adults when building this project.

Difficulty: Beginning hobbiest

Parts List


Building Instructions


You need a darkened area with predomantly black or very dark scenery.

  1. Cut the cardboard into as many groups of eyes you want.
  2. Paint the cardboard black.
  3. Paint glowing eyes with florescent "blacklight" paint. These eyes will be invisible until they are lit with a blacklight lamp.
  4. Cut a cardboard shutter for the blacklight (the shutter will be afixed to the motor so make the shutter large enough to cover the blacklight)
  5. Paint the cardboard black.
  6. Place your "eyes" in your darkened place.
  7. Mount the blacklight lamp pointing at the eyes, but hidden from the view of the audience. Move the "eyes" to get the best response. The eyes will glow nicely if you have done everything right.
  8. Mount the shutter disk on the motor shaft, and mount this right in front of the blacklight so that the disk completely covers the output from the light.
  9. Cut out holes in the shutter to illuminate the "eyes".
  10. As the disk rotates it will cover and uncover the blacklight lamp, sweeping patterns of light and dark over the scene. As the light catches the florescent eyes they will light up. As the cardboard "fan blade" blocks the light the eyes will blink out.
  11. You've now imagineered another eyes in the darkness scene.


The advantage of this technique is that you only have to make one piece of equipment, the blacklight with the motorized shutter. Then you just dob a little paint around on some black cardboard or construction paper to make eyes where you want them. The drawback is that you need very low light levels to have a good effect, or else a UV (blacklight) spotlight will be seen.

Goes great with fireflies. Get those party invitations out!
Backyard Imagineer: Loren Wilton

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