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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

First off, thank you so much for the wealth of information on this forum. So helpful.

This is my first post and this is my first try at an actual, custom built prop. I had no idea what I was doing going into this but I knew what I wanted. I had to learn about actuators, Arduinos, relays, etc. I'm pretty happy with the end result. I've lowered the fog amount since the video was taken so the skeleton can be seen more clearly. Sorry my camera couldn't focus on the eyes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFOcdyftHzI

Here it is without the fog:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5EdNeNWqNY

If you are curious, this is what it looks like inside the coffin:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvH7Jepilow

Lastly, here is a bit more detail on the brains behind the prop:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nQ8HtI0hls

The loose Haunted Mansion inspiration comes from the sound effect before the coffin opens as well as the obvious Ghost Host track.

I'd welcome any suggestions to improve it or any questions you might have.

Thanks again,
Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks dirtTroll! Good eye. The garage door opener is a cheesy prop that is just about finished. It will turn on blue lights, start moving, and play an mp3 that follows custom made hitchhiking ghosts along their path. Some pics of the ghosts:
All three cut out (Copy).jpg
Prime and base coat (Copy).jpg
All three final (Copy).jpg

I can follow up with a final video if you're interested.

-Mike
 

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Very cool, Mike. I was going to build something very similar for next year--right down to the linear actuator, Arduino, and MP3 shield. A question about your Arduino sketch and the MP3 shield (I haven't played with one yet): it appears that you have the actuator running and MP3 playing simultaneously. Did you program an interrupt to share the microcontroller's resources, or when you set the output to the MP3 shield to HIGH, is the playing process handed off to the MP3 shield so that the Arduino can run the actuator? I hope that makes sense--I understood that the Arduino can't perform two tasks at once (like you're doing) without using interrupts.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Very cool, Mike. I was going to build something very similar for next year--right down to the linear actuator, Arduino, and MP3 shield. A question about your Arduino sketch and the MP3 shield (I haven't played with one yet): it appears that you have the actuator running and MP3 playing simultaneously. Did you program an interrupt to share the microcontroller's resources, or when you set the output to the MP3 shield to HIGH, is the playing process handed off to the MP3 shield so that the Arduino can run the actuator? I hope that makes sense--I understood that the Arduino can't perform two tasks at once (like you're doing) without using interrupts.
I'll send you my exact Arduino code through a PM now and maybe you can answer your questions reading through it. I tired to put comments in there to make it clearer. That code was after countless iterations. I found it best to write (or really download and change) the code for each function (LED light, mp3, jaw servo, actuator, fog machine, etc) separately and test them. Then I would slowly build 2 functions together and test. Then 3, and so on. Many times, simply combining the functions resulted in lots of failure. I would find out that only certain pins could work because of interference with the mp3 shield or other sources like power supplies. Lots of trial and error. It helped to start this one in July ;) I can answer more specific questions over PM if you want though I am still just a rookie.

-Mike
 

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Mike - have you had any problem with the electronic components due to moisture from the fog machine? I have a similar build but run the fog machine under the coffin to avoid any contact with the 'brains'. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Mike - have you had any problem with the electronic components due to moisture from the fog machine? I have a similar build but run the fog machine under the coffin to avoid any contact with the 'brains'. Thanks.
Good question. To avoid this issue, all of the "brains" are kept in a watertight tackle box outside the coffin in yet another larger black plastic box. There are still some electronics in the coffin with the fog like speakers, sound sensor, and servo motor for jaw. So far so good but, since this is a new prop, I haven't tested it for long periods of time yet. Time will tell. I've got it set to blow fog for only 2 seconds now followed immediately by the coffin opening so hopefully that helps dissipate it quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
It's a "linear actuator" ( I don't recall seeing it described in the last video).
Yeah, you're right. How the heck did I miss talking about the most important part? You can see it clearly in the last video but I don't mention it. I only quickly say "this relay opens the door" which refers to the actuator. That was the simplest pieces to get working since it was just forward and reverse. It is actually 2 different relays (1 forward and 1 reverse). Took me 2 tries though to realize I had a 5V relay board and needed a 12V relay board since it's a 12V actuator.
 

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Totally awesome prop!! extremely impressed with the complexity of a first prop. Makes me want to up my game a lot.....do you have an electronics background because that is what has kept me from taking these kind of props on?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Totally awesome prop!! extremely impressed with the complexity of a first prop. Makes me want to up my game a lot.....do you have an electronics background because that is what has kept me from taking these kind of props on?
Nope, just go for it Houston Haunter! Technically I am a trained Materials and Mechanical Engineer but no electronics background. Get yourself a starter Arduino kit and you will be amazed how quickly you pick up on everything through trial in error. The wealth of 3rd party add-ons for the Arduino like relay boards, sound sensors, mp3 players, etc make this a great time to build your own prop. I'm not sure I could have done this on my own before the advent of these easy micro-controllers.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Very impressive. Although you claim it's very loosely based on the Haunted Mansion, it actually matches one of the parts from the Paris Haunted Mansion, Phantom Manor!
Oh that's too awesome! I've been to Phantom Manor and I totally don't remember that prop. That makes me even happier that it's a little more authentic now.

-Mike
 
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