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I will show you mine if you show me yours.

5915 Views 48 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  Specter
No that’s not what I am talking about. What I am referring to is my Halloween prop control center. I live in the Arizona desert and we do not have lawns in our front yards. What we do have is a lot of rocks and very hard dirt.

That makes for some very difficult Halloween setup. So I have been working on this setup for a number of months.

The first picture show the control box without doors, you can see a number of shelf with different components. Each following pic moves down the inside of the control box.

Things of interest.

Keyboard with six switches above.
Two computers with KVM switch.
Six K74 boards
Six plugs on the outside / Wiring to the plugs outside
Orange wire below the plug, this will plug into a 220V line that will be split into two 110V circuits.
Outer wrap for power lines.
Black (Snake) (Thanks Randy for the name)) Prop power line.
The back of the box without doors.

More to come.

Thx PMT
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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
I am going to move forward with the ground lighting idea, I would like some input as to how you all setup your ground lighting? That is to say have you done anything other than just hooking up some floodlights. How do you hide the lighting? Did you build some kind of an enclosure?
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
Update time,

This is a side shot of my new control center.



This shot shows the power hook up for all of the props and lighting. To the left of that is the hook ups for the sound system. Two front speakers, two surround sound speakers and the last is a center channel speaker.



The front doors open and closed, and the back doors open and closed.







PMT
 

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I use LED flood lights for my ground lighting. Very easy to make (hmm I have a couple more to make. Maybe I should create a tutorial on what i did.) anyhow, I can run all my ground lights via a single computer power supply. Using low voltage wire (i use cat 5 cable currently with rj 45/11 jacks and ends to connect groups of lights to a single cat 5 cable. Also use quick connects for the flood lights. Using ultra bright leds they put off quite a bit of light. LEDs are not like they used to be. I know my ultra bright LEDs are bright enough that they blind you if you look directly at them. You could easily create them with pvc end caps and leds super glued in to holes created in them. I went a little overboard and put mine on round boards (PCB boards.) Just a thought. LEDS are cheap as well if you buy them from teh right source and more than a couple at time.. UV LEDs are the bomb.
 

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I agree with the LED lights. Low voltage is much easier (not to mention safer) to work with, and it's easier on the electric bill, too. I've put together a how - to for some inexpensive and really easy LED spot lights here. You could scale them up using larger PVC fixtures and multiple LEDs to light a bigger area.
 

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I agree with the LED lights. Low voltage is much easier (not to mention safer) to work with, and it's easier on the electric bill, too. I've put together a how - to for some inexpensive and really easy LED spot lights here. You could scale them up using larger PVC fixtures and multiple LEDs to light a bigger area.
I used the runner caps for chain link fence (the kind used for joints in pvc bodies.) so it was easier to aim the way i wanted to. I run mine off of 5 volts from a computer PSU.
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
LED Lighting

I have some interest in LED lighting, I would like to know how you determine how many LED’s you hook up to what amount of power? Lets say you are going to use a 9v DC power supply, how many LED’s would you use in your spot and how much light would it put out? A little how to would be nice.
 

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I have some interest in LED lighting, I would like to know how you determine how many LED’s you hook up to what amount of power? Lets say you are going to use a 9v DC power supply, how many LED’s would you use in your spot and how much light would it put out? A little how to would be nice.
LEDs have different forward voltages and current ratings. This site has some excellent info on LED wiring and does a far greater job of explaining them than I could. They also have a bunch of calculators that make it really easy to determine the resistance needed for your setup.

As far as how bright your setup would be, LEDs are measured in millicandella (mcd). The higher the mcd rating, the brighter the LED. The sight I linked to above also has a mcd to lumen calculator. You generally have to use quite a few LEDs to approximate the brightness of an incandescent bulb - a 40 watt bulb puts out 450 - 500 lumens.

I've never used LEDs for floodlights, just spots. A spotlight is focused on a much smaller area, so it doesn't have to be as bright to highlight something. I'm lucky enough not to have a streetlight nearby, so I'm not fighting too much ambient light.
 

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I've never used LEDs for floodlights, just spots. A spotlight is focused on a much smaller area, so it doesn't have to be as bright to highlight something. I'm lucky enough not to have a streetlight nearby, so I'm not fighting too much ambient light.
Also i have a small write up at scaryrednecks.com. Nothing fancy but gives you some basics of LEDs. I have used LEDs for both spot and ambient light. IF you get the right LEDs you can put out a lot of light for very little voltage. For me, since i use ultra bright leds and not the standard type. I only use 2 LEDs per spot. Now as far as how many LEDs to use for 9Vs that is a trick question. What you want to do is figure out the forward voltage and such of the leds. (in most instances all colors but blue generally have a forward voltage of about 2-2.5 volts.) also you need to know the resistance of the LED itself. Once you have that you can use a simple calculation to figure out the size of resistor you need in the circuit. (even if i was using 1 LED at exactly 2.5v i would STILL use a resistor.) In general a 1ohm resistor will work in most applications for anything under 12v HOWEVER the closer you get to the actual resistor you need the better since the resistance will affect the brightness of the LEDs. also you always want to run the LEDs in a circuit in series not in parallel. For my stuff i can run about 25 LED spot lights with 2 leds each with one 5v circuit out of a computer Power Supply. (a computer power supply has different voltages for each color of wire and will run as low at 3v to as high as 24 (+ and - 12v wires) Also you can create a small circuit which will let you change the voltage out of the 24v circuit to anything from 1.2v to 23v using a simple potentiometer.) Computer PSU is great and cheap but i digress.

Also the type of LED determines the type of light it will produce. For spots i use LEDs whose angle of light is about 30degrees versus a standard LED which has a angle of around 100 or so. those are great for ambient light. The stuff you can get at radio shack will not cut it. the link given in the above post is where i go to figure out my resistors. Also their write ups are good as well. I get my LEDs from Futurlec they are as reasonable as i have found in price and the more you order the less they become. I can't beat $0.20 per LED when i buy in bulk. I just wish they had the UV ones in stock. Now I am not an expert when it comes to LEDs or electronics but i am learning.
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
Yet another update,

I just built one of my plug boxes for the control center.



Tested all six of the K74 boards.



Then each of the main power supply switches. They turn on and off the power to the boards.



Last of all tested each of the channels from the boards (all 48). What you see here is the hookup for the cable that goes out to the plug/lighting box.




I must say that I am very happy with the results. Everything ran as planned, this is going to save so much time at setup. It will also streamline the programming of the VSA. With so many channels to work with the possibilities will be endless.
 

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Hey propmaster-
This looks AWESOME. I'm really confused tho- I don't suppose you'd mind telling us what props you're running, with what hardware? What are those 6 boards used for? How many props use VSA? Seems like you got a TON of animatronics running!

Also- do you have a main power cable coming IN to the system?

Thanks for the help- this just looks awesome.
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
Hey propmaster-
This looks AWESOME. I'm really confused tho- I don't suppose you'd mind telling us what props you're running, with what hardware? What are those 6 boards used for? How many props use VSA? Seems like you got a TON of animatronics running!

Also- do you have a main power cable coming IN to the system?

Thanks for the help- this just looks awesome.
Specter,

The main power comes in on a 12/3-extension cord; this is than plugged into a specialty-modified cord (jump cord) that is fitted with a 220V plug. This is plugged into a 30amp /220v plug that I use to run my 15” planer in my workshop.

Once the power enters the control center it is split into two 110V channels.
From that point it goes on to power everything connected to the system.

The computers control the six boards (K74). Three boards to each computer, eight channels per board. So you end up with twenty-four channels that are run per computer on the VSA program.

The K74 boards simply turn on/off the power, controlled by the VSA program. What I use it for is the following. Lighting overhead, up lighting from the ground, ground breakers, stand up zombies, air driven jump up’s.

Some of the props run on 110V but not many. Most use some sort on DC wall transformer. Now I do use a lot of lights, and they are switching on and off all night long. For example last year I did a Killer Clown theme, so I built a rope light that had three channels in it. With the VSA program I could get just about any effect that you could think of, the best was the chasing lights, looked just like the circus.

I hope that has answered some of your questions. I am sure the one that did not get asked is. Will I use all of the capabilities of the system?

I probability never will given the limitations of the area of my set up. But this is my third try at this, and I have had three years to think about what I would change. I believe that I will be able to say this is the last control center for me.

PMT
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
I have finished my three power plug boxes and I am getting ready to build the up lighting boxes. I had asked if anyone had any ideas or how they addressed this issue with no response.

That was kind of disappointing, but I must move on.

So the next question is. Has anyone modified the lighting cans from track lighting? What I can tell from researching the cans is that they have a pin/key that turns into the tracks. I believe that I can remove this pin/key section and adapt it to mount to a box like my plug boxes.

The big difference will be that each of the lights will have two lights that can be pointed at prop. And the box will also have two of the cable plug in’s, one on each side of the box so I will be able to continue the run.

I will also be able to select what line number goes into each box. So for example box #1 could be set to channel 1 & 6, or 4 & 5, or 2 & 7. You get the idea. The combinations are endless.
 
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