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Discussion Starter #1
Extremely Simple PIR Prop Trigger

OK, as I have posted before, I have several props that are great but the problem is some of them only work when sound activated. I have been very envious of haunters who are electronically gifted and trigger their props with PIR devices and computer programs and all manner of other sofisticated triggers. Unfortunately, about all I know about electronics I can sum up in my ability to screw in a light bulb. But, never fear, I have found a solution to my problem. I had a thought that I would simply buy a driveway alert system that works on PIR (I now do know that that PIR stands for passive infared) and hook that up to one of my sound activated props. So....I went to my local Harbor Freight (discount tool) store and bought a driveway alert system. This is a two part system that has a PIR sending unit and a receiving unit. When something (or someone) passes by the PIR it sends a signal to the receiving unit and the receiver sounds a chime to let you know something is coming down your driveway. I simply put the PIR sending unit at the place where I wanted the prop to be triggered and placed the receiver in the prop next to the sound sensor. And, wonder of wonders, it worked. It worked over and over again. It worked on all my sound activated props that I tried it on. The PIR receiver has a "hi" and "low" setting for the chime. With the chime set on "low" you can barely hear the chime. It makes only a tiny electronic "ding, dong" sound. And when the prop is outside in the haunted forest with all the other sounds and distractions going on it is not noticeable at all. Additionally, you can put some sound dampening material such as closed cell foam on the back and sides of the receiver to further reduce the sound if you like. I know this is not very sofisticated and there are many more and better PIR devices and tutorials out there. But for me, in my haunted forest it works surprisingly well and the best part ...other than it worked...is it only cost $13.00 on sale. Also, since there is no wiring or prop modifications required even the electronically deficient, like me, can have a PIR activated prop. You will, however, have to learn how to install batteries.

OK UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE JUNE 13 2013 : As you read through the posts on this thread you will find a problem that I encountered. While it was hilarious for us at the Haunted Forest most haunters would not appreciate the fact that if you have more that one of these simple PIR's set up it will trigger every prop when any PIR is triggered because they all worked on the same channel. I now know (thanks to information provided by BobbyA) that you can purchase these driveway alerts that will work on different channels. You need to check above the UPC code on the box to see what channed the boxed alert works on. If you are going to use more that one be sure to buy alerts that work on different channels. They realloy do work quite well for a cheap PIR trigger.

Driveway Alert On Off Switch.jpg
 

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That is a BRILLIANT idea!!! Simple, yet effective. And it works remotely, too! How much was the set?
 

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BRILLIANT indeed! I'm comfortable hooking up PIR sensors for items designed for them, but have hesitated to hack sound activated commercial props. This is a simple and cheap hack to set them off.
 

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ViennaMIke, I wish I had your ability to hook up PIR's. However, this really works great for me. I may try to do something more sofisticated next year but right now this is about as technically advanced as I can get.
 

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Thanks fingers. With my simple brain I need simple solutions. Just a side note. When I was working on props in my barn a couple of days ago my wife (Wicked Grandma) walked in. I had put the receiving unit in my Dracula in the Coffin prop. When she passed by the PIR Dracula came up and scared her right out from under her pointy hat. Seriously, she said it was awsome and she barely heard the tiny ding before the prop activated. And this was in my barn (which Wicked Grandma calls the dungeon of doom) with no other outside noises or distractions. Once in the haunted forest with the other sounds and distractions I'm sure it will not be noticeable at all. And since she can hear a grandkid sneeze 100 yards away I think this a good testimonial.
 

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A great idea, to be sure! I've gone so far as to build a multi-staged timer circuit to handle six different scares at once, each completely independant of one another. They use PIRs, which I just love now. It's totally changed how we run our haunt now, for the better!
 

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CreepyCreations, I am so envious of your skills. Of course ours is just a family haunt for the grandkids and family so the grandkids think I am a genius with the very simple things I do. Maybe next year I will try something a little more complicated. However, I have been working most of the year on this Halloween so I don't know if I can ever figure the really cool stuff out.
 

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To be honest, I don't think we were ready to try anything like using PIR sensors before this year. So, I just decided I'd go for it. As it turns out, I think it will all work very nicely, but it wasn't without its hardships. I think I lost 3 sensors due to shorts, voltage spikes, etc. so there were definitely some casualties along the way. However, they gave their little electronic lives so that I can scare the crap out of the ToTs! LOL We've been at this for 8 years now, so it's a learning process the whole way. You build something, you learn from it, the next build is that much better, and so on. Keep at it!!! And, have a great Halloween.
 

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Ok now, just a quick update from the 2012 Haunted Forest PIR project. . My very simple PIR triggers worked very well, extremely well, in fact much too well. I failed to realize that each of the driveway alerts that I purchased operated on the SAME FREQUENCY!! (Who Knew?) So when my pirate parrot that was perched on the rum keg in Pirate Cove was triggered and began to sing "What do we do with a drunken sailor?" of course my dracula rising from his coffin which was in the haunted graveyard about 100 yards away also decided to pop up and do his routine. And not to be outdone, my jumping spider located about 50 yards deeper in the grave yard also leaped from his web. Of course the same thing would happen anytime someone triggered any of the props that had this driveway PIR setup. If they triggered the jumping spider then the pirate parrot would do his rendition of "Fifteen Men on A Dead Man's Chest" while the Dracula would again tell anyone within earshot "how scary you look tonight". and all other props with the set up would do their thing as well. As it turned out this was all very hilarious and really cracked everyone up. Since our haunt is set up in walking trails through 10 acres of woods and is only for our family and friends it really didn't make much difference. But if this were a neighborhood haunt or a commercail venture some modification would be necessary. But for a cheap and easy PIR trigger I will be doing it again next year. They really did work well and the slight noise of the receiver pinging was not even noticeable. BTW...why would a company make their driveway alerts all work on the same frequency that is not modifyable? Seems to me if I have one and my neighbor has the same alert anytime someone would come up my driveway it would not only alert me but would alert my neighbor as well. Not only that but what if several neighbors have the same alert system. Then everyone would know anytime anyone came up any neighbor's driveway. Maybe the company does not figure that two or more people in the same neighborhood would buy their product. Anyway, they did work well for what I was doing but maybe not for use with a commercial haunt or one that is open to the public (unless your are using them to trigger maybe just one prop.)
 

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Scary Papa... they make them all run on the same frequency.... (get ready for it...) because it's cheaper! They just buy ONE value of crystal/capacitor/whatever component (usually a crystal) to set the frequency it works on. That being said, it *MAY* <-- (HUGE emphasis on the "may") be possible to replace the crystal in both the transmitter and the receiver to change the frequency. I've never tried it myself, so I have no idea if it's even possible (depending on how they built the devices in the first place). A schematic of both pieces would be a big help, too.
 

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"Why would a company make their driveway alerts all work on the same frequency that is not modifiable? Seems to me if I have one and my neighbor has the same alert anytime someone would come up my driveway it would not only alert me but would alert my neighbor as well. Not only that but what if several neighbors have the same alert system. Then everyone would know anytime anyone came up any neighbor's driveway. "

Scary Papa - I read this and couldn't stop laughing! My (over?) active imagination kept coming up with situation after situation. I showed my wife this and we both had a good laugh. Then my wife tells my son, and the laughter kept coming. Your neighbors, my neighbors, and neighbors here, there and everywhere gave us all a good laugh - THANK YOU!
HM
 

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ok, on the serious side (hee hee) this is basically the same hack as the motion sensor, right? I don't have any sound activated props (yet) so I am always in the market for the next thing. I am also technologically challenged, and my haunt is around 50 yards long at this point. so anything I can easily use is an incredible bonus for me.
HM
 

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BitN... that is one heck of a good price for the whole kit. Sadly, here in Canada I would be lucky to buy just the raw motion sensor for $13.99! We get SOOO screwed up here. :(
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I was surprised that these simple PIR devices are not available in Canada. I have seen them at our local Harbor Freight store for as little as $11.99.

CreepyCreations - Thanks for the heads up on why they only work on one frequency. Cost is alway a factor I suppose. But I would be willing to pay a little more for one that would be adjustible for two or three different frequencies. Oh Well...At least everyone can laugh about it including me. Maybe this Halloween I will try a wireless doorbell. Lowes has lots of them that the chime can be adjusted to different sounds. Wonder of that would work better? I don't know if the trigger frequency would be different for the different chimes or not. Of course I COULD just learn how to make a proper PIR triggering device. But wouldn't that take a lot more work and energy on my part?
 
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