Wire controlled tail? Posted by Pr6i6e6st on Sep 01, 2016
Hey guys! I'm new here and am just wondering if I can get some advice/tips.

I'm making a xenomorph ("Aliens") costume and everything is going great so far, but I need a tail that can be controlled by my body movements, I.e. Leaning forward or backwards.

I've been studying wire controlled tails and tentacles, all the different methods. I understand how to rig it up and to make a harness. What I need to know is what low cost materials could I use?

The tail needs to be about 9' long. I at least need the mechanism to raise and lower the tail. The mechanism doesn't need to be within the entire length, as the last section can just flop around. I currently have 24 feet of sump pump drainage tube, about 20 feet of flex tube and some very strong counter wound cable.

At first I tried putting crimp clamps along the flex tube and bent some wire to make hoops like a fishing rod, but I can't keep it stable on the axis of the flex tube (the clamps lose grip and will rotate on the flex tube). So now I'm wondering if I took the drainage tubing, and fill it with something like expanding foam, cut it into segments, and mount those to the flex tube, could it work?

I don't need this to curl on itself like a monkey tail, I need more like a scorpion thing going on. My own movements, with the flex tube should allow me a decent enough left and right sway but I need to be able to raise and lower my tail.

Thanks in advance for any advice or even considerations.
Re: Wire controlled tail? Posted by Shawn on Sep 02, 2016
Not sure what you mean by flex tube. Do you mean like dryer hose that expands? Not sure how your clamps are rotating on that if it is what you have. If this was secured to your waist via a belt then you ran your "hoops" along the top then strung the wire through this, pulling the wire should curl the tail up.

I am a little concerned with your idea to use the sump pump drainage tubing either empty or filled with expanding foam.  I think it would be too heavy to really work or even wear for very long.

Boning (used in hoop skirts of old) or carbon fiber rod (used in kite making) is often used to create something like this. It would be much like your flexible tube but you first create a "sleeve" out of a heavy cotton that is the shape of the tail you want. Then you use the boning or carbon fiber rods to create hoops that graduate down in size. you sew these into your cotton sleeve, can even be on the outside of it if you want. You then have a solid foundation to attach your "fishing hoops" to that you are going to run your cable through. You can also use small sections of tubing to create the "fishing hoops" might help control movement more. they would span between the hoops you used to hold the shape of your tail leaving enough space between each (shouldn't take much) that would let the tail curl.
Re: Wire controlled tail? Posted by Pr6i6e6st on Sep 02, 2016
Thank you for your response first of all.

The flex tube I have is for washing machines I believe. It's half an inch in diameter and quite rigid but can't hold itself up with a single rod of itself after a few feet. 9' feet, it kinda drags. It's heavy. I do have drier tubing as well. The kind that has a wire coil through a plastic form, behaves like a slinky.

It's possible any of what I have is too heavy or my hoops don't allow enough movement for the control cable. By your idea, it sounds like I need to significantly decrease the weight. Would latex be too heavy to put on something like this? In terms of visibility, should my mechanism be part of the visible sleeve or underneath it like a sock? Could foam/pool noodles work in place of the heavy cotton?

Thank you again btw, sorry if I'm not very descriptive
Re: Wire controlled tail? Posted by Pr6i6e6st on Sep 02, 2016
Would it work to just get a couple fishing rods and put the sleeve ontop of them?
Re: Wire controlled tail? Posted by Shawn on Sep 03, 2016
How big around do you want this tail to be? Is it like rat tail or dragon tail in diameter? Pool noodles might work.

You would hide the mechanism under the final skin.

I think that fishing rods may be to rigid. The tail would stick straight out from your back when it is in repose and only curl up if the cord is pulled.
Re: Wire controlled tail? Posted by Shawn on Sep 03, 2016
Did a bit of Googleing and found to YouTube videos that may help get you going in the right direction.  The first one is part of a series done by a person who built one from 3d printed parts but I still think it will give you inspiration for the tail.  The second one looks like parts you can find in the hardware store.

Re: Wire controlled tail? Posted by Shawn on Sep 03, 2016
Found this instructable page on it: http://www.instructables.com/id/Alien-Xenomorph-Costume-1/?ALLSTEPS
Re: Wire controlled tail? Posted by Pr6i6e6st on Sep 04, 2016
Ok so I've taken some foam tubes, smaller than pool noodles and made something like a fishing rod with it, duct taping for stability. It was working pretty good till i put a tube on the base of the tail for it to run through but I think that tube is causing too much friction. That and it might be easier if I cut some slits to allow it to bend upwards easier. I did like in some of the tail videos and put tube spacers between the hoops, but the hoops may also be too floppy. I may need to try little triangles to help keep them from flopping.

And I'd probably say it's like a dragon tail
Re: Wire controlled tail? Posted by Pr6i6e6st on Sep 05, 2016
So far, I have cardboard bent into a sort of triangle with metal eyelets duct taped along a long foam tube about 6 feet long. Using fishing line, it was almost ok but kept twisting. I found some garden hose and ran that through the tube and held it firmly. It's working MUCH better and is the length I need to move. The base of the tail can prop it up.


What can I use to run the length of the wire the rest of the way through the costume with minimal friction?
Re: Wire controlled tail? Posted by Shawn on Sep 05, 2016
You can get tubing at the pet department like they use in fish tanks to run the wire thorough or you can get something a bit heavier at hardware stores that is used for running water lines. Friction on something like this normally happens at a bend or turn.  The best thing is to try and not have any "turns" in your path to where you need to get. Also you want to keep the path as short as possible. Anyway you could simply run the wire to the someplace at your waist then to activate you reach to your waist and pull.

No More Post