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Discussion Starter #1
Im splitting this off from another thread so we can stay somewhat on topic...

There are many different controllers on the market which range from timers to microcontrollers to computers. Some only control servos, some only relays, some only lights, and some can do everything. Just as the controllers vary so do folk's range of skills and prop control needs. I dont know of anyone who has experience with all of them.

So who is to say any one product is better than the other... you know what they say about opinions... However, if everyone will chime in with their um...experience, we all can have a better smell er...I mean feel... for each controller.

And now for your comparative pleasure, I give you the controllers...

www.gilderfluke.com ...the MiniBrick
www.bpesolutions.com ...the Wizard, Puppeteer
www.cowlacious.com ...the Pet
www.hauntbots.com ...APC16
www.efx-tek.com ...Prop1
www.parallax.com ...Basic Stamp 2 and BS2 family of Stamps
www.dontronics-shop.com/manufacturers.php?manufacturerid=9 ...kit 76 & 108
www.brookshiresoftware.com ...Visual Show Automation
www.animatedlighting.com/products/hhiab.asp# ...Haunted House in a Box

I know there are others but this is all I can think of at the moment...(gimme a break...Its late after a ruff Monday...)please add the ones I've left out.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Kit 78 and 108

My first venture into controllers was the Kit 108. It has 8 AC relays and 4 inputs (why I choose it over the kit 74), requires constant connection to a PC by a 9pin serial cable. It comes with software that works like a timer...with date, time on, time off and can also be "scripted" using Hyperterminal to toggle relays when a input is sensed. I found the software to be useless. Using Hyperterminal I was able to use a hacked PIR from a outdoor light to trigger an AC light and solenoid. My first popup...complete with homemade PVC cylinder. A Kit 74 is the same thing except no inputs and uses the PC's parallel port. It did what I wanted at the time...

Kit 108...$87
http://www.dontronics-shop.com/manufacturers.php?manufacturerid=9
Kit 74...$39.95
http://webtronics.stores.yahoo.net/pcprinporrel.html
 

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I'd add the UDT II IR from Terror By Design to the list. I've used this controller for years and found it very reliable.
randy, I see you use Hyperterminal for running the Kit 108. Which scripting language did you use? I've been tempted to use a 108 for some time now, but realized that the software might be a problem.
 

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Based on Zombie-F's success with the Prop1 controller, I plan on using this controller for a prop this year. It appears to be very powerfull in what it is capable of doing.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Visual Show Automation

I have VSAv2 and its great for precise servo control. It requires a servo controller and will drive as many servos as your controller will handle. Get a digital servo contoller and you can send a signal/s to stamp. Im doing a monster mash animation and ended up doing the lip sync manually. Got pretty tedious but worth the results. I downloaded the VSAv3 demo and played with it...it will auto sync but i found that music and other singers will cause it to overcompensate. I need to play with it alittle more before I decide its worth the upgrade.

www.brookshiresoftware.com...VSA $56
servo controller boards
www.picobotics.com/PicoPic.html...PicoPic $50
 

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Hey Randyaz...This is hard to explain, but I have an idea. Maybe you could record yourself singing( or saying) the words along with the music. Use THAT track to make VSA sync your voice to the servo. Use the ORIGINAL music track and sync it to your own recording,(which no one will hear cause there would be no speaker hooked up to it, just VSA could hear it), that way, VSA won't "hear" the musicians just your voice. You don't even have to use the lyrics, just say "Blah Blah BLah" in time to the original lyrics, since it won't matter, you just want a sound to make the servo move. You could use a free audio editor like audacity to make two seperate tracks, and really get the blahblah sound in perfect sync. Just a thought, sounds easier than trying to get the software to do it.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hey Doc, great idea! Im sure it would work. "Voice" record along with the soundtrack. Let VSA create the events. Load the soundtrack into VSA, copy in the voice over events, and shift the voiceover to sync with the soundtrack. And it will all play through VSA.
 

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I wanted to know what sound devices most of you are using with your prop controllers. I know their are several out there and I have read some threads that say some have poor audio quality on the ones with the 60 and 120 sec chips. I have only used cd players up to know. I was looking at one disount electronic supplier that has mp3 players cheap but I would have to hack it to turn it on etc. So I am looking for ideas. I have the prop1 controllers know as well and I know the rouge works with it but 100 per pop is a bit high per prop.
 

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randy, I see you use Hyperterminal for running the Kit 108. Which scripting language did you use? I've been tempted to use a 108 for some time now, but realized that the software might be a problem.
Hi All, New guy here.

I thought I might jump in here. I too have used the Kit 108 or at least the same basic board. I ended up writing all my routines in Liberty Basic and directly accessing the board. ( I can post code if anyone is interested ) Worked great for running the board and assorted sound clips in a "show".

I am now interested in expanding beyond the 4 in and 8 out of the Kit 108 and have been overloaded with info on the Basic Stamp, Prop-1, Wizard-1, etc. Added to that I have worked with PLCs in the past and am tempted to buy a unit off ebay.

Ideally I would like each prop to be self contained and triggered by a master program on the PC. The Wizard-1 looked interesting, but for some of the props I want to build I would need more I/O then it has, plus the cost is pretty steep.

Please continue this thread as I would really like to hear more of what others have done.
 

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Hi, Coach, welcome to the Forum! Yes, I'd like to hear what others have done as far as programming for the 108. I've been programming in VB and VBA for several years but never used routines to control Hyperterminal outside of launching and running .ht files in the program. It's too late for this year, of course, but I'd like to set up PC control for next season's scares.
 

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The next time I'm going to use a microcontroller, I'm going to try the Arduino boards. They look like they are pretty easy to program and they are cheap! They also include USB on them so you can plug them in to program them very easily.

http://www.arduino.cc/
 

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Ffhc

@ Procrastinator

That looks like a very nice controller!

I have used the Frightmare Forest Haunt Controller Pro software with Kit 74 and a homemade 4 channel input circuit for three years in a row and it has served me very well. I plan to add another Kit 74 to the chain next year.

The FFHC was written by Ian Austin of the Frightmare Forest in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
http://www.frightmareforest.com

The input circuit is really easy to build and a schematic and instructions are found here
http://halloween.sitenation.com/site/view/article/1024669839/ca

If you're want you can also buy input kits from Ian's Haunt Controller website
http://www.hauntcontroller.com/where_to_buy.php

I really like Ian's software because it has a lot of nice features that were added with a haunt in mind, not controlling a lawn sprinkler. A nice bonus he added is an application he calls the Audio Satellite which lets you trigger sound files on multiple computers connected on a network.

You can download and run his software without licensing it for 10 minutes to see if you like it. I would recommend reading the PDF manuals and looking at the notes in his sample scripts. It will give you a better idea of what you can achieve with his software. As far as scripting goes, I'm told by my friend who programs databases for a living that it's not all that sophisticated, but it's been able to do everything I've wanted it to do and scripting changes are fast and painless. I'm completely satisfied with my purchase.
 

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For anyone interested in Kit74 and the FFHC, Ian Austin has taken down halloween.sitenation.com
This means you can still buy a Kit74 and purchase the FFHC software from hauntcontroller.com, but you can unfortunately no longer buy an input kit from Ian and without a schematic of the input circuit posted anywhere, you cannot build one either.

I've made an appeal to Ian to offer the schematic and a PCB layout on his hauntcontroller site under Creative Commons, so hopfully everyone will be able to access it there.
 
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