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Evil, Wicked, Mean, Nasty
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Some of you may have read my thread on the use of prop controllers. This thread demonstrates how someone can apply some of what I discussed, into the build of an actual prop.

My goal for this year, is to build a small Frankenstein scene...with an animated monster. The monster will contain few pneumatics, controlled from a central desktop prop (illustrated in the first thread). I also want to add a singing pumpkins display into the scene...with my own twist. Instead of pumpkins...I want singing laboratory jars. My jars will be controlled by a box I call...

Frankenstein's Briefcase

Hey...the name follows the prop, not the other way around. I truly wish I had come up with the name first...but I didn't. I could have created some damn fancy stitched together, skin covered, bleeding & screaming, bone jarring mess of a case. But I didn't. I created a wooden box for controlling wall outlets. And..the damn thing looks like...well...Frankenstein's Briefcase. Go figure.

So here's the theory, I want to control a series of lights. Instead of pumpkins, mine will be lit up laboratory specimen jars with corpsed heads in them. Or something equally disgusting...I haven't gotten to that yet. My controller for the project is an efx-tek EZ-8 button banger. Why?...because I have one sitting in a box. If it's going to sit in a box, it might as well be a box that does something.

I started with a thin piece of wooden, large enough to hold 4 wall outlets, some relays, and a couple controller board. Four outlets will give me eight plugs. Since I'm using one channel on the controller for triggering audio, I'll only have seven channels to control my outlets. Therefore, each of my plugs will be controlled separately, except one full outlet. Somebody is going to light up twins...or the extra will be left out. (I kind of like the thought of one dead cracked jar, lots of mold and spider webs. A poor soul who's too far gone to sing.)

The case is about the size of a briefcase - 12 inches tall by 16 inches wide and about 3.5inches thick. It's made of wood and stained. Mounted on the top of the case is a single red button. This will act as my trigger. One side is enclosed under a tinted piece of heavy plexy. This assures nobody can stick a finger in there and electrocute themselves. Obviously...to prepare the controller, I remove the plexy to access the board. Once programmed, I have no need to re-enter the box.



This prop is self controlled. The EZ-8 board holds the programming, and the audio card will produce the sound. There is no computer attached.

The reason this thing looks like a briefcase - I originally intended to hinge the thing and have it open up for access. But after I made the shell and stained it, I decided it needed to be able to stand on a table so viewers could see the controls. When I put out a prop at my office, the first thing they want to know is how it works. In this "case", the inside might be more interesting than the effect.

I could have wired extension cords directly to the relays. But I wanted the flexibility of taking the prop apart for storage...and also some flexibility in how I decide to use it. Thus...I chose to wire outlets.
 

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Evil, Wicked, Mean, Nasty
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
The following illustration explains how this prop is wired. Warning...this prop uses household current that can kill or injure. Insert warning to have an electrician review all work here...[].

The primary circuit in the case...



This is the wiring that powers the outlets. The EZ-8 controller runs on 12vdc. It has a wall wart that attaches via the side of the case. There are eight channels on the controller. One will be used to trigger a sound card. The other seven trigger 12v relays. The relays control individual circuits that turn the wall outlets on or off.

Remember when wiring something like this...always maintain common/neutral. You want to trigger the hot side. (Hopefully my drawing is correct. I'm not an electrician. Insert another warning here.)

The switch on the EZ-8 board is set to 2. This runs 12v to the relays via the channels. This particular board can be programmed by button banging. In my case, (pardon the pun) I'm using Vixen to sequence the outlets.
 

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Evil, Wicked, Mean, Nasty
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Each of these relays is plugged into a relay socket. This is the no-nonsense way to attach wires to relays. Underneath the relays is a mounting rail called a din rail. (Out of my element here...correct me if I'm stating anything incorrectly). The din rail is screwed to the wood. The relay sockets snap onto the rail. Presto...very neat. (I always thought guys making these kinds of props were damn anal. Well, it turns out they aren't so organized...they are just lazy and found an easy way to mount relays.)

Each relay has two sides flipping. (reference the controller thread for further explanation) I decided for fun, I would use the other sides of the relays to control some additional leds. I was thinking the led panel would actually appear on the side of the prop. Instead...I liked the flashing look inside the plexy covered case. So I continued with it.

Here's the second circuit diagram...



Both circuits are attached to the same series of relays. It might be confusing, and if it is, don't try it at home. It's really pretty simple. If you want to learn about relays....build this part of the prop. It doesn't use the household current.

By the way...time for me to call out something that confuses the heck out of me. Question - is household voltage 110v or 120v? Well, I understand that there isn't a difference...they are both the same. Depending upon when you learned about household current, you may refer to it differently. Some say 110v. Some say 120v. In fact...the power company today is probably even sending a bit more than 110 or 120 through your outlets. You'll notice...I just like to say...household current. :)
 

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Niiiice! I need to get into the EFX-Tek boards and start doing some programming. Sooner or later I'm gonna hit the wall with custom circuits.
 

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Evil, Wicked, Mean, Nasty
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The leds are really just for effect. They light whenever the associated outlet plug is powered. The EZ-8 controller has leds as well. For this type of display, that's useful. I'm just adding to their light show.

Notice in the image above....I'm showing channel one powered on the controller. That enables the first relay, which connects the side controlling power to the first outlet. It also connects the other side, closing the first circuit on the led panel. The leds are getting power from a 9V battery. (Note - it is not "loose" in the case. It's attached to the inside so it doesn't shift around in the case.) Since each led is controlled individually, I wired them up with a resistor on each led. The resistor is on the negative side (shorter leg). If you wire this and the led doesn't light up, re-check the legs on the led to make sure the shorter one is on the negative side.

Here's what it looks like on the outlet side....



Here's the inside....





I'm still waiting on another sound card to arrive. It will mount near the EZ-8. Right now, I'm running sound from my PC to sequence the lights. With Vixen, it's quite easy. Note - these pictures are shown without the tinted plexy.
 

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Evil, Wicked, Mean, Nasty
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Niiiice! I need to get into the EFX-Tek boards and start doing some programming. Sooner or later I'm gonna hit the wall with custom circuits.
We don't all have your knowledge of custom circuits. The world's probably a bit safer. lol

If I had other controllers, I'd use them and illustrate them. Any vendors want to send NFR samples my way, I won't complain.

Zombie-F mentioned throwing out a contest this year for techno-props. While I'm not big on joining the competition, hopefully I'm doing a bit to educate the masses and level out the playing field.
 

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You my friend, are a monster..........
Your ideas are great.

Im always hoping one of you techno guys will start offering your services or some pre-programed boards.

Keep us updated on its performance.
 

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Evil, Wicked, Mean, Nasty
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
nice job DarkLore...looking forward to seeing the singing specimin jars
Sorry....the folks in development need to eat more pretzels.

When I was looking for jars for my brain prop, some folks in the development donated some large plastic jars that contained Costco pretzels. I didn't use them for my brain jars...but I figured I'd find a use for them. I'm up to four.

Of course...for all I know...even a c7 bulb might get too hot and melt one of these jars. I'll have to test one.

I'll work on some jar labels later.

jabberwocky - I don't mind sharing my Vixen file. Anyone with the board can transfer the program to their board.

(Many thanks to KC for distributing Vixen - FREE! For links to Vixen and EZ-8 add-ons, check the efx-tek forum.)

NOTE - It would be best to wire the case with a grounded (green) wire. Just because I didn't, doesn't mean you should follow my bad example.
 

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El Diablo Blanco
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wow amazing I'm a electrician and probably couldnt build that......lol ....simpley amazing you ROCK!!!!!
 

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Very cool, Darklore! I like the idea of showcasing the electronics, especially when it fits into your theme.

Where did you find the relays and DIN rail?
 

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Evil, Wicked, Mean, Nasty
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Very cool, Darklore! I like the idea of showcasing the electronics, especially when it fits into your theme.

Where did you find the relays and DIN rail?
I bought the relays, relay sockets, and DIN rail at a local electronics parts store. I don't think they ship orders.

You can find the same kind of relays at Radio Shack, but they will be a higher price. Maybe someone reading the thread can suggest an online electronics supplier. All Electronics maybe?

Efx-tek sells a relay board that uses solid state relays. The relays are sold separately. Solid state relays won't click like mine, which is less distracting to the music.
 

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I bought the relays, relay sockets, and DIN rail at a local electronics parts store. I don't think they ship orders.

You can find the same kind of relays at Radio Shack, but they will be a higher price. Maybe someone reading the thread can suggest an online electronics supplier. All Electronics maybe?

Efx-tek sells a relay board that uses solid state relays. The relays are sold separately. Solid state relays won't click like mine, which is less distracting to the music.
Thanks. I haven't looked for them yet - just thought maybe you'd found them online somewhere. I agree that SSR's would be nicer but like you said, they're pricey! :eek:
 

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Nice work DL - This looks similar to something that I made this year for my singing pumpkins also using vixen. I will post that in another threat I do not want to high jack this one.
 

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Evil, Wicked, Mean, Nasty
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks. I haven't looked for them yet - just thought maybe you'd found them online somewhere. I agree that SSR's would be nicer but like you said, they're pricey! :eek:
I checked the recent All Electronics catalog - arrived yesterday. They do carry them...."ice cube" relays, sockets, and DIN rail. I don't have it handy or I'd provide the part numbers.

I would suggest that you consider solid state relays.
 

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Thanks, Darklore. I don't have a project in mind, I'm just looking for reference. Besides, I think the clear relays look cool - I may want to show them off in a controller similar to your setup.
 
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