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Funeral Crasher
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Sure, Mike! I'm hoping they haven't re-engineered this model at all. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you!
 

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This might be overkill for what you're trying to do, and sounds like you are already going for a different solution in particular. But you could also use one of my MonsterShields with the MP3 module and a cheap $10 Parallax PIR motion sensor for a trigger. You'd still need an amplifer and speakers, and of course you'd need to get power to it. The advantage is you could program up to 15 different sound tracks to play, each being up to 16 minutes long. The MonsterShield can be configured to trigger one of the 15 slots randomly. Or you could set 1 slot to be an ambient track that plays in a continous loop until the MonsterShield is triggered, at which point it plays one of the other 14 tracks. This allows you to have more "personality" and variety by varying what it does each time it is triggered. The audio tracks are just MP3 files on an SD card. Also, since this is a full prop controller, you could also hook up other stuff to it such as lights, fog machines, etc if desired. If you don't plan on hooking anything up to it, you could disconnect the relay module to save space. Just a thought. Full disclosure: I'm the guy who makes the MonsterShields!
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
This might be overkill for what you're trying to do, and sounds like you are already going for a different solution in particular. But you could also use one of my MonsterShields with the MP3 module and a cheap $10 Parallax PIR motion sensor for a trigger. You'd still need an amplifer and speakers, and of course you'd need to get power to it. The advantage is you could program up to 15 different sound tracks to play, each being up to 16 minutes long. The MonsterShield can be configured to trigger one of the 15 slots randomly. Or you could set 1 slot to be an ambient track that plays in a continous loop until the MonsterShield is triggered, at which point it plays one of the other 14 tracks. This allows you to have more "personality" and variety by varying what it does each time it is triggered. The audio tracks are just MP3 files on an SD card. Also, since this is a full prop controller, you could also hook up other stuff to it such as lights, fog machines, etc if desired. If you don't plan on hooking anything up to it, you could disconnect the relay module to save space. Just a thought. Full disclosure: I'm the guy who makes the MonsterShields!
Thanks X. Sounds like a cool product I might consider in future seasons. Want to keep it simple for now. One of the main problems is power. Which is why I like the FM transmitters + shower radios idea Dave suggested. Another challenge is whether or not trick-or-treaters walking down the driveway will even hear the audio effectively at the angle / position it's coming out of from the culvert. Even if I had powered amplifiers, I don't know that I'd be able to achieve the effect I want to achieve--hearing something like spooky whispers from behind. The most effective method would probably be for people to hear something behind them at head/ear level rather than below them. And I can't achieve that from a driveway culvert. Think I'd need trees on my lawn and/or other posts to get what I really want.
 

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I did something similar with a sewer drain on the corner we live on. Our Halloween fence directs people in from the corner and they walk right over the drain. I put a simple battery powered boombox with a cd of growling and whispers on continuous loop and put the whole thing in the sewer on a milk crate. Youd be amazed at the number of people who look all over for the source but never down. Very effective and creepy with the echos.
Obviously watch the weather forecast but we put this in days in advance and then turn it on with a long pole.
I've thought that someday I'll put some static monster down there with glowsticks.
Can you imagine the fun you could have with this space if power were available?
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
I did something similar with a sewer drain on the corner we live on. Our Halloween fence directs people in from the corner and they walk right over the drain. I put a simple battery powered boombox with a cd of growling and whispers on continuous loop and put the whole thing in the sewer on a milk crate. Youd be amazed at the number of people who look all over for the source but never down. Very effective and creepy with the echos.
Obviously watch the weather forecast but we put this in days in advance and then turn it on with a long pole.
I've thought that someday I'll put some static monster down there with glowsticks.
Can you imagine the fun you could have with this space if power were available?
Very cool Deadicated. Battery powered boombox sounds great. Nice that folks couldn't identify the sound source.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Sure, Mike! I'm hoping they haven't re-engineered this model at all. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you!
Dave,

Received the two units while on vacation. Haven't tested them yet but plan to soon. Do you know of any Reverse Inverter (for lack of a better term) where I could put a car charger plug (like the one that comes with the FM transmitter) into a unit that will run it off AC? Don't think two AAA batteries would last long. And if I don't decide to use my car for an effect, I may want to run them in the house off house power. Also might be nice to run off house power for daily podcast listening use. I prefer not to have to solder anything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
The FM transmitter I bought says on the back that it uses 30 mA of current (and 1.5 V x 2 AAA batteries). There seem to be a variety of AC to DC converters so I could power the thing through house power (it has a 12V DC car adapter plug). Seems there are a variety of these inverters/converters on the market but I'm not sure which would be sufficient. 30 mA is a pretty small power draw, isn't it?

The tranmission range seems decent *if* I keep the 12V DC adapter plugged in; almost as if it's acting as an external antenna. I suspect the permanently attached 1/8" plug/cable, which is pretty short, may also act as an antenna. One thought would be to find a male-to-female coupler and plug in a longer 1/8" cable to see if that would extend the range.

Opened the device up to see if there was any user-accessible parts, like a potentiometer, I could tweak to increase the range. But there's nothing on the circuit board I was able to fiddle with. Just an IC with various pins. Wonder if the range could be extended by messing with the pins? Guess I would have to find a diagram for the IC.
 

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Funeral Crasher
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I don't know of any way to invert the power on it, Mike.
I will say that I use mine every night for a few weeks before Christmas using the two AAA batteries. It runs about 4 to 5 hours each night and I have to change the batteries about every five days. So they last a good while.
I originally opened mine up to try to hack it for better reception. But gave up after I opened it. When I found out what kind of distance I was getting I didn't care anymore about hacking it.

What kind of distance are you getting on yours??
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
I don't know of any way to invert the power on it, Mike.
I will say that I use mine every night for a few weeks before Christmas using the two AAA batteries. It runs about 4 to 5 hours each night and I have to change the batteries about every five days. So they last a good while.
I originally opened mine up to try to hack it for better reception. But gave up after I opened it. When I found out what kind of distance I was getting I didn't care anymore about hacking it.

What kind of distance are you getting on yours??
Thanks Saruman. Love ThinkGeek.com.

Dave, in the house I'm getting about 30 feet. Not getting such great reception outside to the front lawn. Can't receive it on a typical car stereo radio--probably due to auto-tuning based on signal strength. Will have to try it on the overhang above the front door to see if it could broadcast across the lawn. Noticed if I wrapped my hand around the transmitter that the strength of the signal increased. Guess my body served as an antenna. Wondering what else might serve as an antenna. Anyone know if I could wrap it with wire or what might serve as an antenna?

My old radio shack FM transmitter had a standard "boom box" antenna screw-in. So I was able to replace the tiny antenna with a larger, boom-box length antenna. No obvious solution here.
 

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You could try wrapping some wire around it and hanging the end up high to act as an antenna. As for power, you could look for a small 3 VDC wall wart and solder a couple of wires to the terminals where the batteries go. But if they will last a few hours anyway, it may not be worth the trouble.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
The two Walgreens sound-effect strobe lights weren't loud enough to be heard from the culvert. Hope to work something out better next year. However, I did put the two units in our mailbox, and also wired a crow to it, and the sound coming from the mailbox got a *lot* of attention from kids, teens, and adults alike.

 

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Your house looks fantastic, Mike! I love the flashing lights in the upstairs windows. And the skeletons in the car.
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
Your house looks fantastic, Mike! I love the flashing lights in the upstairs windows. And the skeletons in the car.
Thanks Dave!

The two skeletons in the front are the Walgreens ones I finally scored this year. There's a cheap skeleton in the rear seat I got in a pinch from Spirit Halloween last year but he wasn't properly illuminated. Tons of people took pictures of the car--very popular!

Hope you had a great Halloween Night and turn-out where you are.
 

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We had a great night, but the turnout was probably the lowest I've seen. We got 202 TOTs and usually average about 250 or 260.
I'm not complaining, though. Finally there is some candy left for ME !
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
We had a great night, but the turnout was probably the lowest I've seen. We got 202 TOTs and usually average about 250 or 260.
I'm not complaining, though. Finally there is some candy left for ME !
80 has been a high water mark for us. I'd love to have 202, but it's fun to try to break new personal records each season. And like you said, hey, can't complain about treats leftover for the hard-working host. :)
 
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