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This page is dedicated to one of the most sought after props on the show, the Egyptian timer. The timer pictured above and below was actually used very visibly in season five production and it still operates (including the all important counting down).
A quick bit of history also reveals that this prop was used in season three and four production in a way. The cast and crew were very rough on the timer props and the RCA remote shell was often cracked and otherwise broken. This led to the prop being constantly rebuilt with new RCA shells, and the other parts were transferred over as possible. I so far know for certain that the metal engraved scarab had been on board since the Egyptian timer's introduction...and other parts such as the timer display circuitry and pseudo-buttons are possible transfers as well. So, while the entire timer may not have been used in all three seasons...parts of it were.
Now for a more in-depth look at this prop. Below you will find up close pictures of the different segments, as well as information on how the timer prop operates.
And while you may not be able to own one of the timers used in the actual filming of the show, there is currently a website outlining plans on how to build an Egyptian timer of your own. If you are interested, then visit XSlider13's Timer Website.
The section which appears to be a black plastic cover over the face of the remote is actually a section of translucent red material (cut to fit around the key pad - there are still edges of the red material around the key pad though). On top of the black it just looks black (unless you turn it on end and put it up to a light). Meanwhile, the red material makes the numbers and LCD bars appear red. Also, the LCD bars only have motion concerning the countdown of seconds. Every second causes the bars to shift position at random (to give the effect of constant motion). The boxes for the number display and the words above them (Hours, Minutes, Seconds) are screen printed on top of the red material covering the timer.
The numbered key pad is fake! The buttons don't even depress...it's just clear plastic with silver numerical labels (stickers) on top! Also, the two "mystery" buttons on the bottom row (far right and left sides) are actually block style arrows (left pointing left, right right).
The timer is programed using the pie shaped sections under the key pad (the bottom pie section above is discolored because of the red light...it is the same color as the other sections). The left pie section programs in hours...the bottom pie programs minutes and the right pie programs seconds. You hold the button down and it progresses forward only...if you miss your mark, you have to loop back around from "99" (it turns to "00" after "99").
The two round buttons directly under the key pad are what start and stop the timer's countdown (press either button once to start...once to stop). And if you let it count down to 00:00:00, it just wraps back to 99:99:99 automatically (which I guess is why we seldom saw the Egyptian actually make it to 00:00:00...we almost always saw it at the 2 to 1 second mark and then the camera cut away). Also, this adds clarity to the readout of the timer in "Virtual Slide" when they missed the slide. It was at 97 hours because that was close to the prop's maximum setting.
To answer an age old question we had...the top pie section is what activates the vortex. The way you can tell is because the two top prongs light up with a very bright blue light (something we never got to see because of the lightning effect over it). The top domes on the "bullets" are actually magnifying lenses (much like the top of the original timer prop)...so the blue light is magnified and dispersed in a wide pattern. A very nice effect.
The red light at the bottom is not a button at all. It is a hard plastic red cap that does not move. And just under it is the scarab. The scarab is actually a very detailed engraved emblem on a metal plate. One thing we never got to see clearly is that there are eagle claws coming out of the bottom of the scarab and each claw is holding an Ankh.
As for how this is turned off and on...there are three small switches on the back of the remote. The bottom switch turns on the number display and enables the countdown feature. The middle switch turns on the red light just above the scarab (it's an independent light). And the top switch governs whether or not the red light above the scarab blinks.