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Discussion Starter #1
Here is a link to some photos...I may try to add video later on...it did not turn out that well.

Flickr: dna1990's Photostream

This year was abit different for us, making a walkthru instead of a normal front-yard display type of show. The center piece was a 8'x10' wall. The wall was hidden from view until you walked thru a series of turns thru a camo net tent.

The wall was typical foam carving, lots of moss and greenery, etc. Some flame pots. Lit with mostly blue and green lights. But then via remote control, the lights would fade to red and the wall would transform into a 'face'. Parts of the 'bricks' would push forward to form a nose and eyebrows. And other parts would pull in to reveal a UV red mouth. Two simple LED lights turned on for eyeballs.

What made it really 'work' was the sound. It was that sound of concrete dragging on concrete - so it really sold the illusion of the 'rocks' transforming into the face.

Two skulls would popup from either side, again via remote and let out a nice scream.


There was a treasure table, a crystal skull atop of Dollar Store ice chest. Instead of painting the ice chest, we lit it from underneath with a LED color-changing lamp. The cracks and distress marks carved into the chest really lit up well.

After the 'exit', there was a 7' tall cage with a gorilla. And lastly via remote, the bars would open and the ape lurch forward. A good last minute startle effect.

Lots of jungle themes, safari, spears, spiders, and skulls, skulls, skulls.


The link has daytime, night, and 'behind-the-scenes' pics. No pics of construction phases though.



The face, skull popups, and gorilla were all air powered. The main lighting changes, sound, and air solenoids were all controlled via a Animated Lighting controller package. And a 12ch remote. A handful of cheapo MP3 players played some Midnight Syndicate select tracks, jungle ambient effects, one in the gorilla cage for jungle drums and gorialla grunts. And one hooked up to a Christmas Light Lighting machine. It was OK, but I needed better bulbs. I tried a blue 'plant' bulb and it was not bright enough to sell the effect. When the gorilla triggered, an old Radio Shack voice recorder was used to play a gorilla scream and snort.


We also put up a picture pose skeleton for TOTs to get their picture made....lots of fun. We had folks Fri, Sat, and Sun...

Enjoy. Any questions?
 

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AL "fan"...not exactly. More like I have an investment in AL, so I might as well use it.

I like their controllers very much. I think even the older units are pretty rugged. But I am really tired of their software.

I did learn abit more about the ACL or 'code' side this year and was able to finally make a trigger-based program versus the typical continuous loop of sequences. But I had to convert to ACL and edit slightly to make it work.

I have the MP3/DIO board, so it has 8 digitial inputs. Several of these were wired to a RF remote unit I had separately. My 'Startup' routine was a ACL code block that did a simple loop around IF statements watching for each of those inputs and did a GOTO the sequence that corresponded. Those sequences were straight GRID routines to pop on the air valves, change lighting and play the correct sound effect.

The trick was - to insert another ACL code routine between each of those sequences that sent it to the last routine in the list. This basically would force it back to the top Startup and go back into that loop, watching for another trigger.

What I was hoping to also do, is to have a 'main' program that would run while still waiting for the trigger. I was not able to make that type of 'interupt' program work. I was not able to get the Sound.Play command to work either, which would have eliminated the need for me to edit my 'soundtrack' for each effect to add in silence in several places.

I have always used hand-held remotes or triggers. I hate when a TOT figures out the PIR or other mat sensor types. However, it does get old after a while, especially on Saturday when people came by in groups and long lulls in between. So in future years, I want to attempt using a trigger that sets a flag in ACL code. If set, the program will go into a timed mode or listen to a PIR input instead of the remote. That way I can leave it unattended for short periods and any visitors would at least see the 'effect'. Just perhaps not as perfectly timed as if I were there in the shadows to trigger it myself.

For the first time in using the MonsterBrain by itself, I did not have any issues with it getting 'out of sync'. I cycled the 'face' routine at least 500 times over the course of the weekend. The remote died once, and one AL light controller had to be reset only once. That is the stability we need.

Funny though, I was reading the forums at LOR, looking for info on their S2 release. There were still posts there too about having to edit and sync in WAV format versus MP3 due to sync issues or moving shows from computer A to B. So whos knows.
 

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WOW! That looks great. I love elaborate scenes and you had a lot there - looked great.

Did you use spray paint on the foam for texture or something else?

Great job really. I hope mine turns out as good next year.

Back to your controller. I need to grab one. Do you recommend your setup or would you go with something else if you didn't already have this one?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The DIO board has 8 digital outputs. They can run a few amps I think, but I went ahead and ran them to larger mechanical relays. I plug any 'motors' or solenoids into those outlets insetad of the lighting controllers or the DIO itself. Even if you are careful to always use 255 with 0 ramp - thos types of loads have been known to trash a triac-based board.

As to a VSA interface, I would rather them fix what they have before adding anything new. I have their servo board, but I doubt it could easily match or intergerate well with VSA. I would lean toward having AL 'trigger' a VSA sequence, not actually house or communicate with it.

I have not got my hands on Maestro either (the commerical Christmas season has taken a real dive this year for animated lighting displays). I hear conflicting reports on its actual capabilities. In some ways it looks to address the many user-interface issues with AD. But you can also read that it doesn't do full music sync, whatever that means. My current guess is it may be a decent replacement for grid-based shows. No ACL or macros stuff.
 
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