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So I was talking with one of the engineers at my work and I was complaining about how I have to build stepper motor drivers and a controller for a prop I want to build when he opened up his magical engineering drawer and handed me one of these. http://www.pololu.com/product/1350
It is for servos and not steppers but I will happily alter my design for servos if it means I don't have to build a driver and waste an arduino. Anyone seen these before? They seem perfect for animatronic props as it can be programmed and then just left to its own devices.
 

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That's just one of many servo controllers that are aviable. I used Parallax controllers for my 3-axis skulls. Sounds like you hit the jackpot with a freebie though. Can that one be used as a stand alone controller or does it need to be connected to a computer to run the program?
 

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That's what is awesome (other than the free aspect) about it. You can just load the program in and don't need the computer anymore. I never looked into servo controllers as I don't use servos. Nothing against them, it's just that steppers have more torque (I believe) and I can scrounge them free.
 

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That model can only store 1 KB of data for stand alone use, which isn't very much. The larger versions can store 8 KB which still isn't enough for a complex program. The other problem is that they can only execute one channel at a time so complex movement of multiple channels simultaneously isn't an option. Not the best choice for multi servo control in my opinion but free is always good!
 

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True, they don't have much memory, but it should be enough for the loop I want to run. It can do multiple channels at once, but they have to use the same timing, which I didn't like, but I'll work around because... Free...
 

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This looks interesting and I definitely like the idea of stand alone without a computer....The biggest drawback (for me anyway) would be the major pain to try to sync sound to it.....I think VSA has me spoiled.....It would be an awesome controller for something all-in-one like a raven where the head turns and ruffles it's wings once in awhile.....Or maybe a clock prop, etc.....There are definitely uses for the price....ZR
 

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Maybe a bit off topic here but if anyone is looking for a great stand alone controller that can do 8 channels of servos and/or PWM, the HC8+ from EFX-TEK is awesome. Programs are created in VIXEN and then loaded onto a MicroSD card that pops into the controller. The size of your programs are pretty much unlimited and it can play up to eight different programs with 8 different triggers.
 

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.The biggest drawback (for me anyway) would be the major pain to try to sync sound to it.....I think VSA has me spoiled
It says that the servo outs can be used as inputs, so you could have something external trigger it with the audio, but I have not downloaded the program yet. I have not used VSA. I will check it out, I'm always up for new toys. I control my stuff with DMX, and use SMPTE to sync the audio.
 

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Yeah, you could trigger the audio just fine but the software they are giving you to program the servos are um....primitive to try to sync the movements to the audio....Definitely give VSA a look since your using DMX.....VSA will control your whole show including DMX.....Here's a video of my haunt....The first 3 rooms are VSA routines.....ZR

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lg3tHE2Om3U

It says that the servo outs can be used as inputs, so you could have something external trigger it with the audio, but I have not downloaded the program yet. I have not used VSA. I will check it out, I'm always up for new toys. I control my stuff with DMX, and use SMPTE to sync the audio.
 

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In that case I wouldn't look at VSA either....The software alone is $80 for the hobbyist version and you'd still have to get an enttec DMX box just to get started....BUT it does control just about anything you can imagine from servos to DMX lighting/smoke machines, whatever and if you step up to professional ($130) you can even sync video to your shows....There is no other total solution that is easy to program that I'm aware of......The biggest drawback (besides price) is your tethered to a PC....Unless you spend even more money on a RAPU which is something I haven't been able to bring myself to do....ZR


It looks expandable and adaptable. A bit out of my price range though. I haven't touched a stamp in years. I don't know if I would remember what to do.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
$80 for control software is acceptable. I have an enttec box around somewhere unless I gave it away. The drawback for me is that with either VSA or my lighting console I need controllers/ adapters for servos and motors. And if I need them either way, I'll just stick with my console. Of course the drawback of that is my console is currently only setup to handle a single audio file at a time (which is a pain!) and can never do video, so VSA definitely wins there. I'd pass on the RAPU. For a whole show control, I don't mind being tethered to a pc. For small props, I like them to be independent, except powered through a DMX relay so they can be shut off as needed.
 

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Not sure if you saw my link to stuff I did with VSA because it got stuck at the bottom of the last page but here it is again https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lg3tHE2Om3U .......The first 3 rooms are VSA......I used a BOC from skulltronix to control 16 servos to push the keys down on the organ while the video on the ghost bust sang the Halloween song....I'm not sure how you're controlling your motors but I'm pretty sure you'd end up bypassing the DMX board altogether once you started using VSA....I sold all 3 of the DMX boards and haven't missed them once since using VSA....Monkey Basic sells software supporting VSA as well FYI....ZR
 

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I did see the video. Your setup looks awesome. I would love a skulltronix skull, but I think the wife would leave me if I spent that much.
 

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LOL....Yeah, well aside from the price of a skulltronix skull, I thought it was a good example of how VSA can control everything from DMX lighting to servos, etc....In the VSA specs it says it can control Pololu/Maestro compatible servos but I don't think you could control the Maestro board itself....The thing I really like about the BoC servo board is you hook it up via your DMX chain and it integrates really well with a DMX setup.....ZR
 

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Yeah, you could trigger the audio just fine but the software they are giving you to program the servos are um....primitive to try to sync the movements to the audio....Definitely give VSA a look since your using DMX.....VSA will control your whole show including DMX.....Here's a video of my haunt....The first 3 rooms are VSA routines.....ZR

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lg3tHE2Om3U
That VSA stuff is incredible. How can I learn more about how you do this type of set up?
 

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It looks expandable and adaptable. A bit out of my price range though. I haven't touched a stamp in years. I don't know if I would remember what to do.
The HC8+ from EFX-TEK is actually Propeller based, not a stamp. It has a lot of horsepower and that's the beauty of it, you don't need to know any programming, your shows are created with VIXEN (freeware). Worth every cent of the price.
 
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