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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys-
I am making a 'side' prop... it's a bird cage where, every once in a while the perch will swing on its own. I was thinking of hooking up an solenoid to a black thread, and the other end of the thread to the perch. When the solenoid pops open, it pulls the thread, and swings the perch.

I've never used an solenoid before, so not too familiar with how they operate. Do they pop open/closed quickly? It would have to close fast enough so that there's slack in the thread to allow the perch to swing freely. How strong are these things? Are they capable of being turned on/off every 30-60 sec for a few hours a year ;) ?

Also- never used a 555 timer before. It seems like the cheapest way to make a simple timer tho. Not sure if I would need any sort of relay from the timer to the solenoid - or any idea of how to go about programming one.

Also- any ideas on where to get an solenoid?

I appreciate any input you may have.
 

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Questions addressed as asked :

Do they pop open/closed quickly? - depends on the actuator.

How strong are these things - again - depends on the actuator

Are they capable of being turned on/off every 30-60 sec for a few hours a year - again , same answer as above

Not sure if I would need any sort of relay from the timer to the actuator - same answer as above ......

how to go about programming one - a 555 does not need to be programmed , the codes are already there . you simply need to connect to the connections

Also- any ideas on where to get an actuator? - the infamous EBAY
 

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Discussion Starter #3
LOL. Ok- so what kind of actuator am I looking for? What specs should I need?

Can you explain the 555 timer a little better? How do you adjust the timing of it?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
ok, so I said ACTUATOR, what I meant was a SOLENOID...
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Maybe instead of a 555, I can use a PIC or Basic Stamp- that way I can have a random time delay to it...
 

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The Evil Apparitionist
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Maybe instead of a 555, I can use a PIC or Basic Stamp- that way I can have a random time delay to it...
A 555 timer circuit would work but you'd need a transistor or relay output to handle the current draw of a solenoid. 555s also can be susceptible to false triggering without adding an additional timing stage.

This is nice little PIC kit that can supply up to 3 amps (should be plenty for a solenoid) with set and variable delay times:

PIC relay controller KIT PRC-1 - Electronic Hobby kits from Electronic Rainbow, Danville Indiana

 

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Specter,

Most any solenoid will have enough pull to make a small perch swing. One thing to point out: if the solenoid is able to pull the string and have the perch move, the perch will probably *not* be able to swing the other way (it'll yank on the solenoid).

Regarding duty cycle, I'm sure you're good.

As far as ways to get it to run on its own, there's a couple ways to go about it. 555 is a timer IC that requires a few extra components (resistors, capacitors). Generally, you're able to 'tune' the off time and the on time. But it's a regular interval - there's no randomness to it.

PIC and BASIC Stamps are microcontrollers. They're like super-simple computers that you can program to do stuff. Upsides: they're very versatile. Downside: it'll be higher overall cost, and you'll need to be able to program them.

Either of these two methods will require circuit construction know-how. If you're looking for the absolute simplest way to go - I'd try to find a little board online somewhere that has the 555 circuit all ready to go. This looks like about the right thing.

- Hook
 
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