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I am an older haunter and have been building props for my yards since I was too old to trick or treat anymore.
I have been "haunting" the internet and stealing ideas for props for years and I have an impressive amount to display each year.
I would love to learn more about animatronics so I could have some in my haunt. Most of my moving props are hacked ossilating fans and simple door closer pop ups.
I went to the local community college and spoke with a counselor about what I would like to learn and why. After I convinced him I didn't need therapy. his only suggestions were multiple classes in electronics,computer planning or robotics which take all kinds of pre-requisets which I dont have the desire or time for.
I am 53 yrs old and don't need the classes for a career...just for fun.
Have any of you found simple classes or combos of classes where you could learn basics about...prop-1 chips, simple robptics,computer programing things in that genre or are you guys just a hell of alot smarter than me??
 

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i would have to say that the best learning tool I found so far is the Basic stamp.

I got the kit that comes with the basic stamp 2 (bs2) and the "Board of Education" carrier board. It has a great spiral bound manual that goes into basic electronics so you will start to understand why you would want to put a resistor or a capacitor somewhere and it is full of projects that get you started on the programing and also the hardware side. The Board of Education has headers for connecting 4 servos which is really nice and if you are clever enough you can get the stamp to do all sorts of amazing things.

I also recomend "programming and customizing the basic stamp computer" by Scott Edwards. It has a lot of good ideas also.
The nice thing about the stamps is that they have been around for several years and they are very popular so there is a TON of great information, tutorials, help groups etc. on the internet for when you get stuck.

(The prop one is based on the stamp)

There are obviously other ways to go and cheaper (i think the kit i got was like 150) but you will learn a lot this way, and it is fun.
 

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Im going to agree with the VSA and the Parallax USB Servo controller...Very simple if you have basic PC skills, but also very powerful. You can create some very sophisticated animatronics, and even expand into DMX control for a complete lighting and special effects show.

Do a search on this site and the halloween fourm site for Brookshire VSA...You wont be dissapointed.

You can download the trial version for free here.
http://www.brookshiresoftware.com/
 
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