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Psychomaniac
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Discussion Starter #1
I had yet another idea for my haunted house and while making a parts list for building (yet) another prop controller I decided to look around and see what was available pre-made first. The PicoBoo seems very well regarded but the new Nerve Center from Monster Guts is also quite intriguing.

Does anyone that has used either one of these controllers care to comment on their pros and cons? Any others that I missed?

Thanks!
 

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I have 3 picoboo 105's and love them. Super easy to use I will continue to go with them. Maybe upping to a boobox4 or boobox8 with a scaremaster eventually. There is a new FI-105 where you can have different scare sounds that cycle through up to 10 which is a pretty cool idea. Can't really see a negative, 10 amp on each outlet is plenty, 2 minutes recording time is enough. Maybe buying more because it is just to easy to program.
 

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Keeper of Spider Hill
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I had yet another idea for my haunted house and while making a parts list for building (yet) another prop controller I decided to look around and see what was available pre-made first. The PicoBoo seems very well regarded but the new Nerve Center from Monster Guts is also quite intriguing.

Does anyone that has used either one of these controllers care to comment on their pros and cons? Any others that I missed?

Thanks!
I am in your same boat and I am leaning towards the Pico Boo myself. This year I only need 2 outputs, one for my corpse to sit up, and one to control the air jets . Having eight different programs for a prop that just sits up really will do me no good. I really like the fact that you can get a different sound each time it trips and the ambient track mode just means that is one less cd player or mp3 player I have to set up in the garage...;)
 

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Psychomaniac
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Discussion Starter #6
Okay, that's an important distinction... no ambient sound on the Nerve Center. I guess it depends on the prop whether that's important or not. For example, for my current props it would be useful for one but not the others. On the other hand, the Nerve Center has eight routines and the PicoBoo only has one. I think that ends up at the same trade-off... helpful for some props but not for others (right now, I would only need one routine for all off the props I have automated so it wouldn't be useful for me at all).

The plug and play aspect of the 105 is nice. Still, I'm pretty tempted to go with the 104 (or Nerve Center) for the added flexibility that the terminals offer. It means more work making up an AC adapter box but that's pretty simple. I don't like the exposed terminals at 110v but some tape can clear that up.

On the audio side, does anyone know if either the PicoBoo or Nerve Center actually records in stereo or are both channels mixed? That could be an important decider for me.

Thanks!
 

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the new picco 104 and 105 have 2 sounds to cycle between check the site. I also have vsa and a dmx set up but its nice to be able to run a power cord to wherever and set up a stand alone prop. just add pico boo 104 lights prop and computer speekers and presto prop on your sidewalk. i use my main system for stuff on the porch or inside.
 

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I could not agree more with Mark. The other thing to remember is companies are always expanding DMX devices, you can not go wrong once you learn how to program them... and whats best is being able to handle your whole haunt from the comfort of your laptop or desktop computer...
 

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Psychomaniac
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Discussion Starter #9
VSA and DMX are great but I think that's a hard comparison to make. There are a lot of other costs involved and a great deal more logistics (especially if you have haunt elements separated by several hundred feed like I do). It's worth looking at however... I did some searching for Medusa (tagged along with VSA and DMX) and didn't really find anything. Can you guys point me to something specific?

I think at this point I'm going to go with either the PicoBoo or Nerve Center for this project. It's something I can play with in the future as well and move around as needed. I just need to find out about the stereo audio question because that's become important for this particular prop.
 

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Just to carify, DMX is based on RS422, which by itself can support up to thousands of feet with proper cabling (CAT5, for example). DMX over ethernet also would use CAT5, but is a completely different animal. If you're looking for only 100's of feet, plain vanilla DMX will probably suffice.

- Hook
 

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I learned something new, I was not aware DMX was based off RS422. I am an old network guy so here is my question.. I know with long runs 1000ft+ on old RS422 based networks if you have no signal across the line you can pick up noise and then putting a signal across you can get some really flaky signals, but then again that was on old receivers.

Hooked, do you think the scenario is possible with long runs with DMX?
 

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I have only used the BooBox of the two, I liked it ease of use. I used it for my demon/insect last year. We also used some PLC's but those are big money, and you need the software to program them.
 

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Psychomaniac
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Discussion Starter #15
I just found out that the PicoBoo is mono. Bummer. I'm waiting to hear back on the Nerve Center. If they're both mono (which I suspect) then I may have to come up with a different plan.

The Medusa board is interesting. I see all the outputs and servo controls but what about trigger inputs?
 

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if you have no signal across the line you can pick up noise and then putting a signal across you can get some really flaky signals, but then again that was on old receivers.
RS422 can only have one master, so there's no reason to turn off the transmitter. Maybe you're thinking of RS485, where there's bi-directional communication, and times when the bus is not driven?

The Medusa board is interesting. I see all the outputs and servo controls but what about trigger inputs?
The Medusa (and any other DMX device) is only a slave. These get their commands from a DMX controller (which may have trigger inputs). If you're using VSA, there's a few ways to trigger routines. If you've only got one routine, you can hack a keyboard (connect [enter] to a trigger switch). If you've got multiple routines, there's DMXorcist or Helmsman. Both of these allow you to set off VSA routines based on hardware inputs.

- Hook
 

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There may be some trivial differences that I'm not aware of, but basically RS485 is a superset over RS422.

There can only be one device 'talking' on the data lines at a time. If two devices try to talk at the same time, the data will be garbled. RS422 is based on the idea that only one device can ever talk on a particular set of lines. In these networks, one master talks to a bunch of slaves. And if the slaves ever talk back, it's over different wires.

RS485 is a multi-master setup. In this case, after one node makes a request, another node can respond, over the same lines. In order for this to work, the first node has to turn off its communication driver before the second node can start talking.

DMX slaves (PAR cans, foggers, Medusa, etc) never respond. They only listen. Because there's only single-direction communication, the DMX master never needs to turn its communication driver off, and so is more akin to RS422. However, because there's so little difference between the two standards, a lot of people never talk about 422, but just say it's 485.

- Hook
 

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Psychomaniac
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Discussion Starter #20
Okay, that's pretty much what I figured with regard to triggers and inputs. You start adding those elements and it gets very expensive very fast. Running 200 feet of cable over open ground to connect a prop doesn't thrill me either.

It's very disappointing that neither the PicoBoo or Nerve Center is stereo. Now I need to do some serious thinking on how I'm going to make this prop sequence work.
 
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