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My haunt is evolving into one of audience participation and I need some help figuring out a good way to remotely trigger multiple props in the yard. I was thinking of having a low-tech, easy-to-use switch box on the porch, so friends can activate props in the yard 30 to 90 feet away...even after a few pumpkin ales. :D I had one manually-activated guy this year, as well as a microphone system that allowed folks to talk through the main music system (“Hey, you!...in the Batman costume...there’s a zombie behind you...”) and they were both big hits. time to expand...

Picture a yard with several props that can be manually activated. Some props might be on a prop controller that run through an entire cycle after activation and some (like a rat mounted to the end of a cylinder that simply shoots out) might go on/off based on the corresponding press of a momentary button.

Some buttons (like the rat) might send on/off 12VDC directly to the pneumatic valve and some buttons (like a jumping ground breaker) might just sent a trigger signal to a controller that runs through its air/sound/light program when activated.

Wireless options: I'm open to this, but most props will need to have air & power lines, so another trigger cable is no big deal and range and reliability would have to be solid.

Soooo...any advice on how to accomplish any of this?...switch, valve/controller or anywhere in between? Thanks!
 

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Easiest way to do this is to make each prop do what you want it to do, as you described, and then set it up so it's triggered by a button press.

Then make a control panel that's similar to an video game arcade machine, complete with nice big buttons. Search Google for "arcade push button" and you'll find a ton of them out there. You can get a high-quality button for less than $2.00, and they come in multiple colors. So the red one could trigger the rat, the yellow one could trigger a coffin, etc etc. Then a roll of 2-conductor speaker wire or similar will be good to run from the prop to the control panel.

Only thing to do then is to test the props that are farthest away - will they work with a button at the end of a long cable?

Otherwise you get into setting up wireless remotes, and dealing with interference, extra power supplies and configuration, etc. It's doable but if you've already got cables running all over the place, why not add a few more?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Easiest way to do this is to make each prop do what you want it to do, as you described, and then set it up so it's triggered by a button press.

Then make a control panel that's similar to an video game arcade machine, complete with nice big buttons. Search Google for "arcade push button" and you'll find a ton of them out there. You can get a high-quality button for less than $2.00, and they come in multiple colors. So the red one could trigger the rat, the yellow one could trigger a coffin, etc etc. Then a roll of 2-conductor speaker wire or similar will be good to run from the prop to the control panel.

Only thing to do then is to test the props that are farthest away - will they work with a button at the end of a long cable?

Otherwise you get into setting up wireless remotes, and dealing with interference, extra power supplies and configuration, etc. It's doable but if you've already got cables running all over the place, why not add a few more?
Thanks for the reply, Jeff! The arcade button sounds like a great idea...if not just for one reason...because I get a little excited and am sometimes pounding the button to get a scare to go just at the right time. lol

This year, I only had one 80' wire and it was for a trigger (simple closure) and it worked...but I'd have to be careful if I want to use 12VDC, I imagine...good point!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I am reposting my simple solution you can deploy in under 7 years for a "plug and play" Halloween home haunt.
http://www.snydercentral.com/halloween/SpookyBox/SpookyBox.html
First off, Russell, thank you for your post. Second, I must confess that I’ve been eyeing your setup for a while. :eek: Thanks to you, this past year I got one of those Pyle mini-amps and that's what I used for my main music sound in the graveyard (via USB flash drive) as well as for mixing in the wireless microphones that my friends used to pick on individual ToTers. It was great!

I’ve been reviewing your pictures. I love your multi-function lamppost idea. I have to run a new gutter drain out in the yard, so why not drop in some power, camera & control wires?...and air lines?

Can I ask a million questions?

-How do you use the 2 button scare & reset control boxes? Each one has its own + and - for what purpose?

-What do the 4 button boxes do? (I can’t read the label)

-How do you organize all of those boxes in your “nuclear control room” living room? (Do you laugh maniacally all Halloween night?)

-Are you using Cat-5 for control wire?

-Are the connectors on your trigger wires RJ-45? I can’t make out the jacks on your wires or panel.

-Are you running wires directly from the main panel’s relay connections to the device you’re controlling?

-How do you control the PC USB triggers? How do you decide whether to use a manual or PC trigger?

-How did you make such a neat (and narrow) trench for the yard runs?

-What style of cameras did you use in your light? It must be tiny.

Phew! And, feel free to tell me to take a hike and stop bothering you!
 

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LOL Russell, I'm going to have to come by sometime when I'm back in TX. The things you come up with...way too much time on your hands.
 

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I'm afraid I'm going to get in trouble reposting the same stuff over and over on the forum so I am going to update my web site with my experiences (good and bad) with prop controls. I want to start with very basic stuff and finish with details on my current set up. I'm not sure how long it will take as my wife has informed me that I want to remodel the master bath.

www.snydercentral.com/halloween/controls/controls.htm
 

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As long as I'm high jacking your post, while looking for a lamp post pic I ran across a pic with post-it notes asking the wife for some sewing. I forwarded it to a recently new father I work with asking him if he did the same before heading into the office (e.g. feed, powder, change, this side up, etc.).

BabyNotes.jpg
 

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What do the 4 button boxes do? (I can’t read the label)
I try to make all the props work off a 2 button controls (scare/reset) because the people that help me are retarded - sorry I meant mentally challenged - and can barely handle 2 buttons. Some of my props are multifunctional. I have had PicoBoo and ScubaSpook controllers for years but haven't had the time to play with them but plan to use them for multifunctional props in the future.
Devil Can functions - Shakes, Scares, Resets, Blows air out the front, and has a Air Horn
Cobra functions - In, Out, Up, Down, and spits Air

http://www.snydercentral.com/iphone/Lcobra.mp4
http://www.snydercentral.com/halloween/DevilCanDemo.wmv
link above is to a wmv this is a link to mp4 http://www.snydercentral.com/halloween/2014can.mp4
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks so much, Russell. I really appreciate all of the work that you're doing...and have done...and it's helping me tremendously.

I completely thought that was a store bought lamppost...lol...awesome! I've already "gently suggested" to my wife that we maybe could use a little light closer to the road...maybe a really nice lamp post... Of course, I didn't know that I had to *build* one. ;) I really want a little extra light out there since that's where the parents and small children wait for the brave ones to run the cemetery guantlet. And, I sure could use an extra 120VAC receptacle out there...and another camera...and some air lines would be helpful too...and...and...

I love relays and use those when I'm switching 120 VAC, but I often take the lazy man's way of just wiring DC right through the switch. Of course, that doesn't give the ability to turn something *off* when a switch is thrown *on*, which is where a relay really shines. If you don't mind, please keep the info coming...no hurries or worries...it's all helpful and greatly appreciated!
 

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http://www.snydercentral.com/halloween/controls/controls.htm

Some progress but it's been slow and tedious as expected. I'm concentrating on what I ended up with and will circle back to why.

I'm not sure if the documentation will be helpful to others but I'm going to see it thru completion for myself (OCD?).

I wish I could cut and paste from the minds of the forum's "braniacs" (e.g. bfjou812 and others).

The wife is declaring an official end to the Halloween season but I am the BOSS (when she isn't around).
 
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