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I'm looking for a programmable controller to run my Chuck E. Cheese bot. He has 8 cylinders and requires a fairly sophisticated controller. You can see a Chuck bot like mine in action here:


This guy is using an original show computer, which I don't have. It's the size of a refrigerator (yay 1970s tech!) and it's not possible to program it for new material anyway. The company uses a special programming studio to create their material, and the equipment at the stores simply plays it back. Since I'm just running one character and want to make my own stuff, I was advised to get a modern animatronics controller with more than the minimum number of channels in case I wanted to add lighting or other effects later. Here's my criteria:

Important:

Minimum of 8 channels (preferably more)
Can send signals on multiple channels simultaneously
Software with user-friendly interface
No coding knowledge required
Can run shows lasting at least 10 minutes
Real-time feedback
Ability to export show data

Not important:

Triggers
Audio quality

My plan is to use him to make videos, so audio isn't important since I will be syncing his movements to a pre-recorded audio track and adding audio during post production. I was considering the Hauntbots APC16, but wanted to know if there were other options out there.

http://www.hauntbots.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=65&products_id=180
 

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BAD INFLUENCE
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I've used a combination of VSA, Parallax Servo Control Boards and some Battle Switch relays and a 16 relay board to control some of the animatronics I've used. The VSA is the show control which can be programmed fairly easily depending on what you want to do. It will run multiple channels at a time. I used the servo controllers to control servos and later the Battleswitch Relays. They were easily used and programmed as a "servo" in the VSA. Finally I also used the relay board that would accept a 5 volt signal and turn on a relay for a specified amount of time. I used this set up on some of the higher amperage props. There are many options out there and some of them are easier to use than others . In checking the apc-16 I noticed that there are 2 banks of 8 outputs each, but they are rated @ 500 ma max per bank, that seems a little low to me . Just my 2¢ worth.
 

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I highly recommend the HC-8+ controller from EFX-TEK.com for a great stand alone system that doesn't need to be tied to a PC or laptop. That controller will fit all of your criteria and is moderately priced at $150 with the MicroSD card adapter. You can use VIXEN (freeware) to create your routines which then get loaded onto a MicroSD card. You can run up to 8 different shows from the card, each with it's own trigger or they can play randomly. Length of shows is virtually unlimited. The HC-8+ controllers have 8 output channels and can be daisy chained if you need more. If you couple this with an EFX-TEK AP-16+ audio player, you have a really sweet set up, I use this in my personal Haunted Graveyard Show. Check out EFX-TEK.com for more info. BTW, they also have one of the best support forums out there, always someone there to help.
 
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