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Discussion Starter #1
RaspberryPi for controlling AC power--not just on / off, but dimming & RF control?

My wife is pushing me to pick something for my birthday, rapido. Today. I've always heard RaspberryPi is great for Halloween / Christmas / Home automation. I'm not a developer; just write the occasional super-simple script--these days in PowerShell. In the past, Python and Perl--languages I never knew well, but hobbled along. Anyway, the local expertise I have available to me is people using Rpis for various things. And some of them are software developers. So I don't want to get into an Arduino vs. Rpi debate. It's either Rpi or nothing (no aurduino for me). A neighbor expressed interest in Rpi using Python, so we may learn together. Also, I know very little about electronics. I own a soldering iron and understand a few child-level concepts about components. But I have a passion for Halloween special effects of course. So I thought this may be a good opportunity for me since I'm always on the fence about buying an Rpi for myself. Specifically, people have recommended I get a CanaKit. Unfortunately, I see there are various kits, ranging from $50 to $90. And various overlapping sensor collections between $30 and $100.

So... I'd like to use an Rpi to control AC lights and other devices. Not just low amp LED string lights--or string lights at all, actually. But socket-bulbs, motors, etc. A friend searched on Amazon and showed me an 8 socket Relay for the Rpi. But firstly, isn't a Relay binary--just on or off? Which is fine. I could find great uses for that. But I'd also be able to do things like dim lights and/or control voltage.

I also want to be able to control AC stuff using non-line of sight remote control. Probably RF since WiFi may be too expensive. Or not. Please tell me. :)

The urgent questions. For an Rpi beginner like me, but an avid home haunter / yard haunter:

1) Which CanaKit should I get
2) Which sensor kit should I get if I could only get one
3) Which one-off Rpi single components may be helpful / get me jazzed given my needs above?

The non-line of sight remote control is really important. Probably don't want my wife to spend more than $150 max if possible. What combination of stuff would get me started right in taking my yard haunt to the next level?
 

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Discussion Starter #3

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I bought my pi3 off of amazon. i am using it to learn lynx. the kit came with a 32gb micro sd card and everything i needed to get started. It cost about 70 dollars. Seems to run just fine.
 

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I bought my pi3 off of amazon. i am using it to learn lynx. the kit came with a 32gb micro sd card and everything i needed to get started. It cost about 70 dollars. Seems to run just fine.
Thanks. I'm thinking of this $90 version:

https://www.amazon.com/CanaKit-Raspberry-Ultimate-Starter-Kit/dp/B01C6Q4GLE/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1494618919&sr=1-1-spons&keywords=CanaKit&psc=1

Vs. this $70 version:

https://www.amazon.com/CanaKit-Raspberry-Complete-Starter-Kit/dp/B01C6Q2GSY/ref=sr_1_3?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1494618919&sr=1-3&keywords=CanaKit

Vs. this $50 version and maybe getting some sensors:

https://www.amazon.com/CanaKit-Raspberry-Clear-Power-Supply/dp/B01C6EQNNK/ref=sr_1_4?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1494618919&sr=1-4&keywords=CanaKit

Think there is an RFID sensor kit, but I'm not sure if that's what I'd need for remotely transmitting signals through walls, out to the lawn from inside the house, etc. I just know that regular remote control line-of-site infrared control won't work for what I may like to do.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Any thoughts of which CanaKit to buy? Go cheap with a basic kit, then add components as I need them. I feel I should at least get the mid-level kit having a breadboard and the GPIO breakout stuff.
 

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Mikeerdas, I am by no means an expert in Rpis, but RFID will not be the way to go to transmit signals over distance. There are a couple of ways you can go. First would be using something along the lines of an Xbee radio. These can be configured point to multi-point which means one master (at the Pi can talk to several radios in the yard) The other method would be wifi. The cost would be relatively equal. There are many wifi shields available. You would also need to establish what sort of control protocol you wish to use. I use DMX for everything. I am starting to experiment with DMX over IP radio, which means I have two radios, some data sheets and a lot of confusion. But it is doable. Hope this helps a little. Keith
 

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Mikeerdas, I am by no means an expert in Rpis, but RFID will not be the way to go to transmit signals over distance. There are a couple of ways you can go. First would be using something along the lines of an Xbee radio. These can be configured point to multi-point which means one master (at the Pi can talk to several radios in the yard) The other method would be wifi. The cost would be relatively equal. There are many wifi shields available. You would also need to establish what sort of control protocol you wish to use. I use DMX for everything. I am starting to experiment with DMX over IP radio, which means I have two radios, some data sheets and a lot of confusion. But it is doable. Hope this helps a little. Keith
Thanks Keith, it helps a lot. And a local acquaintance recommended the $90 Ultimate CanaKit from Amazon to get started. Wife just ordered and will have by Monday. Also asked for an eBay gift card. I'm psyched! The possibilities seem endless. I'd also like to convert my stand-up Multicade, currently running a Jamma 60-in-1 game board (original Ms Pacman, Galaga, etc) and convert it into a RetroPie so I can run a lot more games. All with a 4 position cherry red joystick that is already on my Multicade.

multicade_jamma_60_in_1_board.jpg

multicade_jamma_60_in_1_board_2nd_image.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Received my CanaKit Ultimate Starter version yesterday. Is there a forum post listing various projects members have created here using a RaspberryPi. Glad for the advice so far but looking for more inspiration. Or a Pinterest Halloween Raspberry Pi board, whatever. :) Thanks.
 

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Mikeerdas,

I just ran across this thread and see you already ordered a starter kit.
Here is a site that compares the starter kits: https://www.pretzellogix.net/2015/01/14/the-best-raspberry-pi-starter-kits-compared-and-reviewed/

Here is another one:http://amzn.to/2pV2PnP
You'll need a Raspberry Pi to complete the kit. The one advantage is this one has a DC motor and you can learn how RPi's can control motors. For larger DC motors, a shield is probably necessary or additional components (transistors or MOSFETs) to switch the current.

As for the thread, why not start one here? Do a tutorial to show others how you used your RPi to control your haunt site. I play around with the Arduino and RPi but never used it in this application. I'm sure others would want to read and learn from this. Heck, Halloween Bob started a 200+ page thread on building 3 axis skulls and how he controls them. Maybe this thread could run as large!
 

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Mikeerdas,

I just ran across this thread and see you already ordered a starter kit.
Here is a site that compares the starter kits: https://www.pretzellogix.net/2015/01/14/the-best-raspberry-pi-starter-kits-compared-and-reviewed/

Here is another one:http://amzn.to/2pV2PnP
You'll need a Raspberry Pi to complete the kit. The one advantage is this one has a DC motor and you can learn how RPi's can control motors. For larger DC motors, a shield is probably necessary or additional components (transistors or MOSFETs) to switch the current.

As for the thread, why not start one here? Do a tutorial to show others how you used your RPi to control your haunt site. I play around with the Arduino and RPi but never used it in this application. I'm sure others would want to read and learn from this. Heck, Halloween Bob started a 200+ page thread on building 3 axis skulls and how he controls them. Maybe this thread could run as large!
Thanks MagicBill. If I'm able to get my Rpi to do as I please, I'd be glad to share. I list experiment videos (with some text narrative in the descriptions) and special effect observations on my YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/mikeerdas
 

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Mikeerdas,

Over the weekend, my new issue of MagPi magazine came in.
This magazine is devoted to everything RaspberryPi. In the past, they gave away a free RPi Zero as part of their subscription.
https://www.raspberrypi.org/magpi/

The newest article was an AIY Projects Voice kit to set it up to respond to OK Google as a hotword.
https://www.raspberrypi.org/magpi/ok-googe-aiy-projects/

Now I remember someone put an Alexa voice recognition inside a skull head.

Maybe that is what I need to add to my Bucky skull...
 
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