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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This is the first prop for a Halloween display featuring a ghost train...except there's no train. There will be sights and sounds associated with a train but not the train itself. The crossing gate will be synchronized to lower and rise in conjunction with train horn sounds and flashing signal lights. Looks like I'm going to have plenty of time now to work on the other props.

 

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That looks great, the aging effect came out really well. The actuator has a long travel, was it expensive? I always browse them on Amazon but they seem so pricey ... but a little easier to implement than a wiper motor for some kinds of movement. Where did you source this one?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
That looks great, the aging effect came out really well. The actuator has a long travel, was it expensive? I always browse them on Amazon but they seem so pricey ... but a little easier to implement than a wiper motor for some kinds of movement. Where did you source this one?
Thanks. This is the first time I've used a linear actuator and don't know much about them. The one I used for the prototype cost around $50 on Ebay, but it was super slow (I had to speed up that part of the video). The actuator in the final version came from Frightprops.com, costing about $150. (Yeah, not cheap.) It also requires a 12-volt power adapter (you can use one from a wiper motor), and I bought a Picovolt controller from Frightprops ($60) to control it's speed and direction. The Picovolt allows you to program a routine of movements that can be triggered a variety of ways (I'll be using a Light-o-Rama setup). Without a controller, I'm not sure how you could get the actuator to reverse without manually rewiring it. I considered using a pneumatic cylinder but wanted something with finer control. In any case, it was a big investment--but one that can be reused. The secret is to buy things throughout the year to keep yourself ignorant about how much you've been spending. Here's a Frightprops video giving a good overview of what an actuator does and how to control it. Frightprops does an excellent job providing advice and instruction.
 

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this is different....I like it...don't suppose you could put up a video later with the sound effects? Really awesome 🎃
 

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"The secret is to buy things throughout the year to keep yourself ignorant about how much you've been spending. "

Yup, BTDT as I learn how to cast human hands holding candles. Making mistakes in silicone is financially painful. But it's all a learning experience. And it is fun even when it's frustrating.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
this is different....I like it...don't suppose you could put up a video later with the sound effects? Really awesome 🎃
Thanks. I'll send you a message once I've created a soundtrack--probably just using sound effects samples arranged with Audacity.
 

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A couple of thoughts --

FIrst, the tech is great. I know you're not 100% satisfied with the stopping and starting points, but to an outside eye, it looks damn good. You might want to beef up the horizontal position by adding a stopping pin for the arm to rest on. That way the actuator isn't actually suporting the weight, it's just slowing the descent until the arm reaches the right position.

To me, the "metal" still looks like wood, although you may not have this problem under Halloween lighting. Next time, a couple of coats of primer will help disguise the tell-tale grain lines.

Super soundtrack too -- and speaking of which, I'd love to hear the soundtrack for the train going by. I'll also just leave this here ;-)
 

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BAD INFLUENCE
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That is fantastic. I think your start and stop positions are fine where they are. I would probably avoid a stop due to the fact if the actuator over traveled a small amount it would put stress on it. Most of the actuators I have seen are pretty stout as far as supporting any weight goes. Have you thought of putting a flashing light on it and maybe one hanging off of the broken part? As mentioned before I will be waiting to see the final product. Great job.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
A couple of thoughts --

FIrst, the tech is great. I know you're not 100% satisfied with the stopping and starting points, but to an outside eye, it looks damn good. You might want to beef up the horizontal position by adding a stopping pin for the arm to rest on. That way the actuator isn't actually suporting the weight, it's just slowing the descent until the arm reaches the right position.

To me, the "metal" still looks like wood, although you may not have this problem under Halloween lighting. Next time, a couple of coats of primer will help disguise the tell-tale grain lines.

Super soundtrack too -- and speaking of which, I'd love to hear the soundtrack for the train going by. I'll also just leave this here ;-)
Thanks for the painting and pin advice. If I make a second, I'll be sure to start with a couple layers of primer.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
That is fantastic. I think your start and stop positions are fine where they are. I would probably avoid a stop due to the fact if the actuator over traveled a small amount it would put stress on it. Most of the actuators I have seen are pretty stout as far as supporting any weight goes. Have you thought of putting a flashing light on it and maybe one hanging off of the broken part? As mentioned before I will be waiting to see the final product. Great job.
Thanks. I know the real crossing gates have flashing lights on the bar. I should probably add one on each side. I've also built a crossing signal pole with flashing lights but haven't aged it yet. I'll post a short video about it when it's done.
 

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Thanks. I know the real crossing gates have flashing lights on the bar. I should probably add one on each side. I've also built a crossing signal pole with flashing lights but haven't aged it yet. I'll post a short video about it when it's done.
dmoore7 said
sounds like you have all your bases covered. I thought I would mention while working with the Medina Railroad Museum Layout, I built crossing gates for the model train layout and used a qkit SG1M sound module to get the bell sound, also has whistle, chugg and wheel clacking sounds module @$15. Worth looking up on net. Good luck looking forward to finial gag.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
dmoore7 said
sounds like you have all your bases covered. I thought I would mention while working with the Medina Railroad Museum Layout, I built crossing gates for the model train layout and used a qkit SG1M sound module to get the bell sound, also has whistle, chugg and wheel clacking sounds module @$15. Worth looking up on net. Good luck looking forward to finial gag.
I'm not familiar with sound modules. I'm planning to use mp3 tracks stored on USB flash drives. The drives will be attached to these gizmos. I use Light-o-Rama controllers to synchronize everything but needed a way to trigger sounds on cue at different locations in the yard. The mp3 gadgets can be connected to AC cords, which are connected to the LOR controller. When the controller sends power to a circuit, the mp3 file on the connected player is automatically triggered. At least that's the plan. I found some decent train sounds on iTunes.
 
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