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Here is a quick overview of the DVD mod that I did for my Madame Leota prop that I'm making this year. For this mod you will need only the most basic of soldering skills. This is my first tutorial on here and I have a terrible camera, so please bear with me. ;-) The videos that I made of this mod are at the bottom of the (Very long) tutorial.

I needed a way to control the video for Leota so that she did not loop during other props. I also did not want to have her turn off when she was not being used to and give away anything for the rest of the prop. I am also using DMXorcist to control everything, I know that it has a built in video player, but I have been having a few issues with the video playback (probably my computer's fault). I wanted this to also have the possibility of being a bit more location independent.

I found some references to some solid state video players, but they were very hard to find and very expensive. I decided that modding something that I already had would be best. I decided that DVD could likely fit my needs of playing somewhere remote as well as I could customize the disk and menu to be anything that I needed. I then also saw Mr. Chicken's fantastic Leota and that got my wheels turning to do a little more than just a static image for the menu.

First you'll need a DVD player to maim..... err improve. I suggest finding a DVD player that does not have a blank screen between the end of a video and the return to the menu. This makes it a bit easier to hide the fact that you are actually just playing video. It is also important that it has a physical play button on the unit.

Next go to your friendly radio shack and find yourself a male and a female Mono mini jack Audio plug and some really cheap wire. I used the ones below:
1/8” Mono Phone Plug (2-Pack) - RadioShack.com
1/8" Mono Inline Audio Jack (2-Pack) - RadioShack.com
75-Ft. 24-Gauge Clear 2-Conductor Speaker Wire - RadioShack.com

You will also need a relay of some sort. Guitarist has a great one on here:
http://www.halloweenforum.com/tutorials-step-step/69743-haunting-relays.html

I'm using a very similar Relay to what Guitarist has because I need for the relay to be triggered with standard household voltage electrical sockets. You can use whatever best fits your needs.

If you are using a DVD player with a metal case, you will likely also need a rubber grommet that will fit around the metal portion of the female mono plug (the plastic screw on portion is going to not be used). This grommet will prevent the case of the DVD from shorting the connection we are putting in. I don't recall what size I used, I can't find the packaging at the moment. Here is a picture of what one looks like. Buying a variety pack may also be a good choice:
The Hillman Group at Lowe's: Rubber Grommets 11/32 x 1/8

Now that you have your parts listed above, open your DVD player and locate the back of the play button. You should be able to see two or more places that the DVD player is soldered to the board.

At this point, use a piece of wire or a paper clip to find out which contacts that the play button uses to trigger the play. Once you know which two need to have contact, take a piece of the wire and solder one end of each of the wires to the contacts you discovered. This may be a good time to test if this is working by having a DVD in the drive and touching the other ends of the wires together to see if it plays the disk.

Once you know your solder job went well, find a good spot in the back panel to drill a hole to mount your grommet. Once the hole exists place the grommet in and seat it then place the female Mono plug into the grommet which should secure it in place. The hole end should be on the outside of the DVD player. Now take the the end of the wires you soldered which are not connected and solder them to the contacts on the Female 1/8 mono jack sticking into the insides of the DVD player.

You should now solder a wire to the male 1/8 mono plug so that you can plug it into the contraption you just put in the DVD player to test it out before you close the player back up.

When that's all tested as working close up the DVD Player. Now take the loose ends of the wires soldered to the male plug and attach them to the normally open pole on your relay so that they will not be triggered when the power is not flowing to the relay. At this point, you can power your relay however you like and you should have it control the play button!!!

I really hope this all helped someone. As always, I'd be glad to answer any questions that people may have.

DVD Guts:

Leota Relay Demo:
 

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Far be it for me to disagree with a fellow haunter but media players aren't that pricey - have a look on eBay.

I like these players because there are no moving parts and a quick response. They used to be cheaper - sub US$20 but seem to have gone up a bit lately.

Multi media player to play SD/MMC/USB/ Hard Drive NBOX - eBay (item 250472469490 end time Aug-02-09 12:06:54 PDT)

or

USB 2.0 TV CARD READER SD MMC MS MP4 Video Photo Player - eBay, Portable DVD Players, Movie Players, Recorders, Electronics. (end time 02-Aug-09 12:16:53 AEST)

or best of all with DVD AND memory card playback

WINTAL PORTABLE MINI DVD/GAME PLAYER,W/GAME CONTROLLER - eBay, Portable DVD Players, Movie Players, Recorders, Electronics. (end time 01-Aug-09 21:29:53 AEST)

Actually I think I've just solved my sound playback problems - just use these as an audio player. I was looking for a simple sound solution but these would work just as well!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Far be it for me to disagree with a fellow haunter but media players aren't that pricey - have a look on eBay.

I like these players because there are no moving parts and a quick response. They used to be cheaper - sub US$20 but seem to have gone up a bit lately.

Multi media player to play SD/MMC/USB/ Hard Drive NBOX - eBay (item 250472469490 end time Aug-02-09 12:06:54 PDT)

or

USB 2.0 TV CARD READER SD MMC MS MP4 Video Photo Player - eBay, Portable DVD Players, Movie Players, Recorders, Electronics. (end time 02-Aug-09 12:16:53 AEST)

or best of all with DVD AND memory card playback

WINTAL PORTABLE MINI DVD/GAME PLAYER,W/GAME CONTROLLER - eBay, Portable DVD Players, Movie Players, Recorders, Electronics. (end time 01-Aug-09 21:29:53 AEST)

Actually I think I've just solved my sound playback problems - just use these as an audio player. I was looking for a simple sound solution but these would work just as well!
I agree with you that those media players are not that expensive. The trouble though was that I needed a device that I could control with my computer so that it could be played when I wanted it to. The ones that I was looking for and turned out to be expensive were were media players controlled by DMX.

The DVD player for me was a great idea because I already had one so it was free. Another benefit is that it would go to the menu and loop forever until I choose for the routine to play by activating a simple relay. This made it all very simple and fit my needs perfectly.
 

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No arguments there and I'm sure a lot of us have a couple of redundant cheapo DVD players around. The solid state ones interested me because of the ease of use - I'm sure you could hack a media player play button in exactly the same way (as long as it has one).

I'm bidding on the WINTAL player which I hope to mod as you have done.

I've been searching for a while for a sensibly priced solution for audio as well as video and the Wintal player seems to fit the bill.

Thanks for the HowTo
 

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Great tut,

I'm interested in playing more than one video using this setup.

I have my projector set up and I want multi videos to play during various routines.

What I did was the same wiring but also to the "next" button go skip chapters. I made a DVD that had a few chapters and I would fire the play relay and then fire the "next" relay the number of times I would need to get to the chapter I want to play. There is a lag time to get to say the fourth chapter which sucks, and the player I'm using puts the chapter number in the top corner of the screen as the relay skips forward. So you see on the screen "chapter 2,3,4,5". Can anyone think of a way that you can trigger multi videos via VSA other than the way I described?
 

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Possibly send a remote control code - some authoring software allows you to number chapters so that when you press the 3 key on the remote, it goes to chapter 3. There must be a way of getting VSA to send the equivalent code via an IR led.
 

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I tried the arrow thing with no luck. I dont hav the org remote for the player I planned on using and the universal remote wouldnt control the arrows or enter key.

Fritz42, I just had an aaaahhh moment. I cant believe I didnt think of that 1,2,3,4 buttons.
I took the universal and hacks the 1-4 keys and now with four relays I can press 1-4 and with 4 titles/chapters on the menu screen I can fire the relay and play any of the four at will with no problems!! Thank you so much for the simple idea. I still cant believe I over looked that option.
 

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VERY nicely done. Glad it worked.

As for overlooking the obvious, I am a very simple person (please remember that by that I mean UNCOMPLICATED not stupid! lol)

I spent 30 years in the IT business and I often found that my simplicity allowed me to come up with easy solutions to what others thought were complex problems.

Live by the KISS principle is my motto.

I also have as part of my creed the 'old engineers' mantra

If it doesn't fit, hit it with a big hammer until it does!
 

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Fritz
sounds like you are describing Occams Razor.

anyone know why my soldering attempts on a remote havent stuck? what am I doing wrong.
 
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