Zombie Containment Unit (ZCU) - Blog


With 2018 Halloween at our house being a complete success, it is time to start designing and building our newest prop for the 2019 year. Winter is a very good time to do this since its cold outside and nice to work in a nice warm garage! This page documents the design and build of our 2019 Zombie Containment Unit. I hope anyone wishing to build their own similar prop, or even something completely different, can take inspiration from our own design. Some of our custom control panels and LED bar graph kits are also available for sale if anyone is interested. For those wishing to make their own, we have also included downloadable design files.

Special Thanks

Before we dive into our design, we must thank those who built similar props before us which have inspired us and also gave us ideas on certain design elements. In particular, these individuals include Glenn Quagmire, Glen Akins, and Zombie Haunter - all of whom have YouTube videos showcasing their own ZCU designs.

Introduction

I have been planning on building this prop for a couple of years now, but finally got around to pursuing it. It is an expensive prop and very labor intensive, so it does requirement a substantial committment in time and money - all for a prop that will be used for only 1-2 nights.

The theme of our haunt for 2019 will be a industrial Zombie in Captivity scene. Our enclosed porch will be decorated as an industrial lab in which guests will enter and walk through a 30 foot long corridor until they reach a small room that houses the Zombie Containment Unit. From there, they will active the prop and enjoy the show! We plan to allow guests to visit on both Halloween and the night before.

The first step is requirements, which I have listed below.

Design Requirements

  • Use Hi-Rez Designs Zombie Containment Volume 3 video set
  • Use Hi-Rez Designs Relay Decoder for pneumatic synchronization
  • Multiple gauges, digital meters, and other lights for added flash
  • LCD computer monitor for main viewing window
  • 7" LCD screen for secondary readout
  • Fright Ideas prop controllers
  • Dual media players
  • Internal fog machine for gas vent effect
  • Internal air blaster for emergency exhaust effect
  • Internal fog machine for side panel damage effect
  • Pneumatic side panels which simulate a zombie trying to escape from enclosure

One of the important things to note here is that many of the existing ZCU designs utilize small control panels that move outward about 1-2" every time the zombie hits the inside of the box. I understand why this was done - as its makes the design very simple, but to me it didn't seem very realistic. To me, if the zombie was banging on the inside of the box and trying to get out, the sides should show visible damage. So my approach to the side panel animation was to have panels that appear to have completely broken outward with green gas escaping.