Checkin’ In: FX Master Edwin Wise

Checkin’ In: FX Master Edwin Wise

Edwin Wise is no stranger to the pages of MAKE magazine, and special effects are his specialty. It’s only natural that he contributed a couple of DIYs to our Halloween Special Issue back in 2007, including the Hot Glue Spider Web Gun and the classic animatronic prop, the Flying Crank Ghost:


In Volume 13, he offered up the super-loud Boom Stick, a two-stage, chamber-sealing, quick-exhaust, piston-valve air cannon that you can build out of common plumbing components. The Boom Stick straight up assaults the startle reflex of any nearby victim. A nice companion piece is the Vortex Cannon project Edwin wrote for Volume 15. Here’s a video of the Vortex Cannons so you can check them out in action:

Last, but not least, in Volume 16, Edwin provided us with the Chladni Plate project, where you use a broken speaker, bits of wire, and tape to prepare a coneless voice coil driver, then use it to generate standing waves on a sheet of metal, making sound visible!


We checked in with Edwin this week to see what effects he’s been brewing up, and here’s what he said:

“What am I up to, huh? I continue to write stuff for Make magazine. I have another article coming out in issue 19, for example, though at only four issues a year there’s only so much I can do there.

My 800-lb gorilla project each year is that I do FX, acting, and stuff for Scare for a Cure. This haunt is a direct descendant of Richard Garriot’s Britannia Manor (which was a BIG DEAL in Austin, but ended in 1994, and was then continued in spirit by Wild Basin’s Haunted Trails, which I joined in 2000, but ended in 2005). [Check out images and details of the transformation of the 2008 haunt, World of Horrorcraft on Edwin’s site.]

I’m also working, in the background, on a variety of projects — some electronics for the haunt, some physical projects, and one computer program that is a wiki that makes it easy to write how-to articles and link/embed research and supporting information from around the web. Unfortunately, software takes a lot of time and that’s one resource I’m usually short on, so I don’t think it will be up and running until the end of this year.

This wiki/database program that I’m targeting for my own blog and project documentation (and as a forum for other similar makers) was actually conceived as a way to track changes and connections, and comment on, government information such as the federal budget, a project from the League of Technical Voters, “Connect the Dots.”

Anyway, I’m busy. Always. This doesn’t even count my background activities of ballroom dancing, tai chi, and social stuff!”

Thanks, Edwin! Keep up with Edwin on his site, And for back issues of MAKE, including the classic Halloween issue, head on over to the Maker Shed.

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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