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Otaku,

You rock!

It's funny that you mentioned this. I was just thinking about ordering all the parts to make your circuit.

I'd definately be interested!
 

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Alright! I got the prototype board today and it works beautifully. Programming is simple, just load the MP3 file in the player, plug it into the board, set the time, and go. A 2-line LCD panel displays the times and mode that its in. You just program the startup time, which can double as a delay before play, since the player won't start until the On button is released by the timer. Add a couple of secs of silence to the end of the file, enter the Play time and you're ready to go. It also has a looping option and you can set the time interval for that, as well. Couldn't be easier. I'll get a pic up tomorrow. I love this thing! Really makes the MP3 player easy to use.
Any idea of the approximate cost and when it might be available?
 

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I have been using an ISD board with my talking Reaper. Last year the TOTs complained that they couldn't understand what he was saying. I used the MP3 player with the same audio file last and it made a serious difference, both in sound quality and performance of the servo driver board. A trick I learned - put the spoken track on one channel and use the other to drive the servo. I put a steady 500kHz tone on the unheard channel and sliced it up to match the vocal track. You can manipulate the amplitude, length and decay of the tone sections to get super-clean performance from the servo. Very helpful for tracks that use reverb, echo and other effects that can confuse servos.
Great idea! How did you generate the 500kHz tone?
 

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I emailed Jeff with the pricing concerns and he has an idea. Break the board into two functional parts - one would have the LCD and the progamming components, the other would have the MP3 module and playback/triggering components. Together they would cost about as much as the current board, but the player portion would be less expensive (his estimate). This may allow buyers to get more than one "player" board and program them from one programming board. He still needs to do some design and prototyping work, but this may be an option. What you folks think?
The LCD display is really what is driving up the cost. It is a good "turn key" solution however, but the cost is just too high.

To be honest, a more powerful solution was created by another Hauntforum member. Here is a link to the hack and a link to the EFX-TEK forum discussing the hack. A prop-1 controller ($35) was used to control the mp3 player. It appears they were also able to create pseudo playlists.

Unless Jeff at SimpleCircuitBoards can get the cost at or below $35 (excluding the mp3 player), I think the prop-1 solution is far cheaper and more powerful. It isn't a "turn key" solution, however.

Be aware that MPJA only has 28 of these units left in stock! I would guess that once they're gone, they're gone for good.
 

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I wonder if the board could be made using other devices to display/indicate the time values that were programmed? I agree that the LCD is a costly part of the board. I'll ask Jeff if there are other ways to indicate the programmed values to the user.
Regarding the use of a Prop-1, the issues there are that you must use a computer, learn PBasic (not difficult, but since I teach VB/VBA courses I know what to expect), and if changing the On time is needed, you have to re-code the sub. This board is able to be a stand-alone device if attached to a 9 volt battery.
Please keep in mind that products like this (short-run board fab, manual assembly, design/engineering time) can be more costly than a scaled-up commercial product.
I saw that MPJA is getting low on the players. I found this place:
http://www.watchcloseouts.net/ecommerce/Scripts/prodList~idCategory~56.htm
They have ~550 of them in stock. You have to create an account to view the price - it's $9.85 each.
I agree with most of your statements about the Prop-1, but there is a way to change the "ON" time with the Prop-1 using the "POT" instuction. Basically you can connect a potentiometer to an input pin on the prop-1. Here is a link to the documentation. As far as programming it goes, Jon Williams from EFX-TEK (also a Hauntforum member) is very helpful and would most likely be able to help you with the programming.

You also stated that the SimpleCircuits board is a stand alone solution. I have two points about this statement.

1) You stated that the board can run on a 9V battery. Be careful about this. According to the documentation, the battery/power source must be capable of providing 250 mA of current. That's a lot of current. A typical "off the shelf" 9V battery can supply ~150mAH (milli Amp Hours) of current. If the circuit draws 250 mA of current, a 9V battery will power the circuit for only about 1/2 an hour. You could purchase a lithium 9V battery (relatively expensive ~$6 each) that would supply ~900 mAH that would run the circuit for about 4 hours. This may be less than desireable. Have you tried to run the SimpleCircuits board on a 9V battery for extended periods? If so, how long does the battery last?

2) Since I have this mp3 player, I know that the output of the player is not that loud. In order to get decent output volume you need to have amplified speakers. Most amplified speakers need to be "plugged-in" (you can find battery powered amplified speakers, but they are usually very small). If you need to "plug-in" the speakers you may as well "plug-in" the board. If you "plug-in" the board why not use a Prop-1?

I still think this is a good idea, but the price needs to come way down.

You didn't answer my other question. How did you generate the 500kHz frequency?
 

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Programming a Prop-1 wouldn't be an issue for me at all, but may be a stumbling block for others. Agreed about the 9 volt battery - I'll check it out.

Did you see my second post about the using the Tone Generator in GoldWave? The latest version makes it real easy to do, but earlier versions require you to enter a few values in the Function Generator dbox. I don't use Audacity, so I don't know if there is a corresponding feature for creating specific tones.
Sorry I missed your other post. Please send me the file, I would be interested in seeing it. Thanks!
 

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I called MPJA and they said they have 4 left and after that it will be discontinued!!! Looks like we may be shopping at the other site....
The other site may be a problem also. You need to have a $200 minimum order. You could always organize a "group buy", however.
 
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