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Seeking advice on controlling multiple skulls

1680 Views 5 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  HalloweenBob
I've used two moving jaw skulls for years with two Scary Terry audio controllers driven from a common trigger and sometimes common audio source (separate left and right channels). Now I'm going to add a 3-axis skull and plan to use all three together, with the two jaw only skulls being the chorus and the 3-axis the main singer. So I need the song output, and separate controls for the main singer's jaw and the 2 in the chorus (same for each in the chorus). And I need to control the 3 axes.

I really like NOT being tied to a PC, but I think this may be getting too complicated to avoid it. I could use a Pololu maestro servo controller for the 3-axis, but would still need music out and synchronize two separate audio tracks.

If I go with a PC option, what are thoughts on VSA versus Vixen? I use maestro controllers on another project, so I like sticking with one or two of them as the servo controllers.

So, what advice do those of you who've done this have? Is there a stand-alone option I'm missing (REKU too high-priced to add)?
Any problems you see if I go PC-driven?
Tradeoffs between VSA vs. Vixen?

One more: I currently use a PIR and an arduino to trigger the props. How do you all trigger your PC-driven props?
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I have used VSA for pretty much everything I've done. It is fairly easy to use ,especially if you use some of the software from Monkeybasic. I checked my version and they do have a servo and relay option for using the Maestro controller. I have heard of some people having trouble with long runs of servo cable but I was running 3 3 axis skulls with 2 axis eyes in 2 of them for a total of 16 servos on 15' cables and had no problems other than a mass of wires. I was using 2 parallax servo control boards. The learning curve with VSA really isn't too bad. The nice about is that you can use the Wave Motion Analysis to get the audio tracks done with a little tweaking fairly quickly. I haven't used Vixen ,but from seeing what it takes to do one song to lights it seems a bit labor intensive. I heard they were coming out with a servo controller version, not sure if it ever happened. Just my 2 cents worth.............

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If you want to avoid a PC, try looking up haunthackers there is a board that has random 3 axis movement and audio synching....
A really nice stand alone system without breaking the bank is the HC8+ controller w/microSD adapter from EFX-TEK.com.
Couple this with their AP16+ audio player and it's a great combo. You can use VIXEN to create your shows, then they get loaded onto the SD card.
The HC8+ has 8 inputs and 8 outputs (can be daisy chained if you need more), you can have up to 8 different shows on the card and trigger them individually or they can play random. EFX-TEK has a really good forum for info and help.
I know it's a bit more pricey, but I HIGHLY recommend using DMX with VSA to control multiple skulls. I switched over a few years ago with my Sindy Skinless group and it was an amazing difference. wiring was reduced to a single power run and one DMX cable that dasiy-chains from one skull to the next. Long distance runs are no longer an issue, and I can add as many other DMX devices to the chain as I want, like LED spotlights, DMX fog machines, or anything else you like.

Here's the catch. You need a controller card for each skull, so you will need to buy more of them. You'll also need a USB to DMX adapter. The most common is the ENTTEC Open or the ENTTEC Pro, but I found this gem that works flawlessly for half the price (https://www.dmxprosales.com/DMXking-ultraDMX-Micro-USB-DMX-adapter-p/dmxking-dmxmicro.htm)

Using VSA, you can easily program precise jaw movements in seconds using their wavemotion analysis feature. Programming is easy to do manually or with some great programs available from Nelson at HauntMonkey (http://hauntmonkey.com/). Actually, he is moving his whole line of products to a new site called LifeApe (https://lifeape.com/)

If you have any questions about where to find things, how to wire everything up, or VSA programming, I am always happy to help. Contact me here or in a PM.

If you haven't seen what I do with multiple skulls, here's a video showing the setup I described including DMX lighting :
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Sorry, I found this post while searching for information. I didn't realize how old the thread was. You have probably solved this long ago.
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