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Discussion Starter #1
I'm sure this is covered somewhere on the forum, but my search didn't throw up the specific result I was looking for.

I have just received 2 Scary Terry talking skulls (my first EVER attempt at anything involving servos and/or computers... TOTAL NEWBIE!).

I have seen 'Push-ejects' fantastic tutorial on Youtube about using a hidden tone to activate the jaw motion..

...however, he says to use a 14kHz tone. I find that that is extremely audible to (my) human ear.. in fact to the point where it is quite uncomfortable (admittedly, my hearing is supposedly excellent as I am a pilot and it's part of my medical requirements). I have used a 16.5kHz sine-wave tone in audacity, but even with that, I find there is still a very audible 'click' from the speakers as the tone is generated. Any advice on that?

Also, I want to have the two skulls 'speaking' different parts of the same song or audio piece. When I select export to MP3, it says it will merge the seperate audio 'tone' track with the stereo. Does that not mean that both skulls will react at the same time to the same audio tone? How can I get around that problem?

Forgive me if I'm asking stupid questions.. but that's just about my level!

Whilst typing this post, I am developing some ideas, but won't get a chance to try them until next week.

Any advice from you experts would be so gladly appreciated.

Thanks!
 

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There are several ways you can use the Scary Terry boards. You described one - using an extra channel (via audacity) to set tones that supposedly aren't heard by the human ear. I agree with you...there's a distinct tone that is audible although it shouldn't be. To me...it's a humm...no matter how high I set it.

One thing you can do is split the left and right channels. Put a mono copy of the file on one channel (call this the audio channel). Use the other channel for the tone signals to the scary terry board. Output the audio channel to your speakers but only pass the script channel to the board.

As for more than one prop talking - I haven't tried it before. But taking the scenario I described above...mix the two. Lay down a script only channel on say the left side. On the right, put the audio along with a high signal. Set the board pots on the second prop so it reacts only to the high signal and not the regular level audio.
 

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I have a Cowlacious/Scary Terry talking skull, and I tried the suggestion with the tone mixed into the voice track - I can hear it too and it didn't work that well for me. Splitting the audio works great, with an audio track and a cue track. However, I'm not sure if you can do what Darklore suggests (two different tones on one cue track).

I hate to say this, but it seems to me like you may end up in a setup with two mp3s playing at the same time, one for each skull. Each skull would have its parts of the song and an appropriate cue track. How are you playing the mp3s? If you've got a microcontroller you can have two mp3 playback modules and start them one after the other. Then it's a matter of editing the dialog and cue tracks so half the performance is allocated to each skull.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I've a feeling I'm going to end up running the routine straight from the laptop unless I can figure a way round this mp3 problem. 3 weeks of head scratching and bumping this thread for other potential solutions.

I don't have any microcontrollers or anything else fancy like that. My initial plan was to simply have my iPod hidden out of sight playing the routine through 2 computer speakers.

Any other ideas.... Please keep them coming! Thanks!
 

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I was going to suggest that you use a computer. It gives you the ability to run multiple tracks at the same time. I don't know enough about what software to use, but someone here should be able to help.
 

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Also, I want to have the two skulls 'speaking' different parts of the same song or audio piece. When I select export to MP3, it says it will merge the seperate audio 'tone' track with the stereo. Does that not mean that both skulls will react at the same time to the same audio tone? How can I get around that problem?
I believe the ST board lets you select whether you drive the servo from the right or left channel. The tone itself would have to be added to channel for the skull that it's driving.

I don't know how you do it in Audacity, I use Goldwave. I can insert a tone into either the right or left track.

If I was doing a 2 skull routine I would record the dialog for both skulls into 2 separate audio files. I would then do a tone track with the audio and get it working for both and save the file as stereo in case you have to fine tune it later.

Then I would wave each as a mono file individually.

Create another project and in that one import each mono track as a separate stereo track.

I hope that makes sense.
 

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If the original poster is willing to live with the "click" from the speakers as the tone plays then that will work. If he doesn't want that then he has to go to a different solution.
 

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I'll have to see if you can eliminate the actual click. Maybe using the tone but making a short ramp up of the volume at the beginning of the tone would help to eliminate the click. I did notice the click with my preliminary testing of a generated tone but I didn't have the time to try my theory.

Sally goes bowling tonight so maybe I'll have a chance to test it out.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I am willing to live with the click, however, I think there may be a problem with the ST-400 boards. It doesn't matter which channel I select to drive the servo, they always activate with the right channel. I even took both jumpers off and they still activate with the right channel.

I listened in with headphones to be sure the tone wasn't coming through both channels and it is definitely split correctly L/R so that is why I now think that there is a problem with the ST-400 boards supplied with my skulls. I can get around it by running 2 separate MP3 players and making sure they start simultaneously. I will of course have to do 2 separate programs to control each skull independently. It's not ideal, but time is of the essence now so it'll have to suffice.

I will try and get an email to Cowlacious to follow this up.

Thanks to everyone for the advice, and keep it coming. You may end up with a niftier solution to help me out.
 

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Sorry to hear it may be a hardware problem. Carl at Cowlacious is really good at answering questions on his products, I'm sure he'll be able to help you.

To make things simple, I'd get two cheapo mp3 players, put a track on each and set them both to "loop." Then when everything's hooked up, hit "Play" at the same time on both. As long as you don't have split-second timing you should be OK.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks Jeff, I think that's they way I may have to go in the short term.

I've emailed Carl, so hopefully he'll be in touch soon.
 

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIBDT2Q4FLs

Jack's comment was correct. The theory I proposed was that you use two boards, each set to only recognize one channel. As for controlling a prop this way...I've included a sample that I just created. One thing I found...when I tried using a cowlacious sound card to produce the output, it didn't work. The scary terry board (old version from cowlacious) reacted to the total sound...not the individual channel. When I sent the audio directly from my laptop (visible in the corner of the video), it worked just fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Unfortunately, I am sending the audio direct from the computer at the moment and the 2 separate boards still only react to the tone from the right channel... It doesn't matter whether I have removed the little 'jumper' to specify it should react to Left Channel. (If I remove both 'jumpers' it shouldn't react to anything in theory, but it still moves the servo when the Right channel tone is played)


If anyone has the time, would it be possible to check your ST-400 and see if you can alter its' signal between Left and Right Channels to prove whether it functions correctly or not?

I'd be most grateful... in the meantime I'll have to do 2 programs and try to play it from 2 audio sources at the same time (hoping that over the length of the evening they don't get too much out of sync with each other)

Thanks again.
 

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I tried out my on ST400 board that I just received last week and it's only working with the right channel as well. If I remove the right channel jumper it doesn't respond. When I test with the left channel there seems to be no response. Actually I would say intermittent response, as it did respond a couple of times and most of the other times nothing at all. I'm wondering if there's a bad solder connection on the board somewhere.

I have another ST400 board from about 4 months ago I need to try but it's mounted in a prop at the moment. I'll be working with that one shortly.

All of my testing was done connected directly to the PC out of my sound editor switching the tone between the right and left track.
 

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIBDT2Q4FLs

Jack's comment was correct. The theory I proposed was that you use two boards, each set to only recognize one channel. As for controlling a prop this way...I've included a sample that I just created. One thing I found...when I tried using a cowlacious sound card to produce the output, it didn't work. The scary terry board (old version from cowlacious) reacted to the total sound...not the individual channel. When I sent the audio directly from my laptop (visible in the corner of the video), it worked just fine.
I believe the problem with the CAP audio players is that they're mono boards and not stereo. I discovered that 2 years ago when trying to do a stereo effect in my haunt. It was very disappointing at the time. I also discovered that the Picaboo prop controllers with built in sound have the same behavior. It was a real bummer back then but I got over it. At least when you know these things you can work around them.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks for doing that Jack. It does tend to confirm that the new boards may have a problem. I haven't had a reply from Carl at Cowlacious yet, but I'll point him in the direction of this thread.

If I remove the right channel jumper it doesn't respond. When I test with the left channel there seems to be no response. Actually I would say intermittent response, as it did respond a couple of times and most of the other times nothing at all.
Strangely, my boards even respond to Right Channel even when both jumpers are removed!

Ah well, back to the drawing board (or Audacity software!) It's a bit extra work, but I'm sure I can get it done in time.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
If you are only running 1 skull it won't be a problem jonny. You simply put the audio tone on the right channel. It only causes problems when you try to have 2 skulls interacting using Left channel for 1 and Right channel for the other skull. Other than that, I'm quite happy with the Cowlacious skulls. I wouldn't have had a clue about putting one together myself.

I notice though, that the price has now gone up. If I decide to buy again, I may elect to go for the kit to save money.
 
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