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Discussion Starter #1
I've been lurking around the forums for a while and finally have a question.

I want to build a 3 axis skull for a life size prop, but don't want it tethered to a computer.

What board(s) and software is need to automate a show, with sound, and have the routine stored on the board?



Thanks for taking the time to read this thread and I look forward to hearing some suggestions.
 

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The company that makes the VSA software (brookshire software) that many people use to create their 3-axis props make a stand-alone controller called the RAPU (remote advanced playback unit) that is built for exactly what you want to do. It is a great concept because you develop your routine exactly like you are going to run it from your computer and when you are done you download your routine to the RAPU unit (via USB) and it becomes a stand-alone controller. It can connect to a serial servo controller such as the SSC-32 (this is what I used) or a DMX system. The downside is that it costs $320. I was in the same boat you were last year and despite the cost, I could not find a reasonable alternative so I bought one and it controlled one of my props and did a great job.

There is also a huge advantage that the RAPU gets you - the ability to trigger a routine rather than requiring a person to click the "play" button on the computer version. HOWEVER....the trigger thing is not straightforward. You would have thought that when they went to all the trouble to design the RAPU board they would have added a feature something like "set this pin to 5V to trigger the next routine" but no - you have to send it a command via RS-232. And now you are wondering "how would I send it a RS-232 command unless I had a computer?" which of course defeats the whole purpose of making a stand alone controller. So to get around this rather absurd problem I created a little circuit board with a microcontroller that accepts some kind of a trigger and then sends the "play" command to the RAPU unit. If you (or anyone else) decides to go this route I am glad to help you out this this part of it. The little board I built ended up being a big help as it allowed me to set the delay period between triggers and allowed me to "randomize" the routines that I had so I never knew which routine would play next. The whole thing ran 24x7 for about a week prior to halloween and I never had a problem with it.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I guess I should clarify that the audio would be the skull talking.

Calloween -
I noticed that the "simple circuit board" has 3 servo controllers. If I am operating a 3 axis head that would use all three controls. Would I then need to add another board, like a "color organ", to control the jaw movement in sync with the audio?

Spookineer -
I remember looking into the Prop1 last year for another project, but never thought of using it for this type of application. I'll check it out.
 

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If you use the RAPU unit the audio tracks are stored on the board as well and it has an audio out connection that you connect to an amplifier or powered PC speakers. The synchronization between the jaw and the audio would be part of your "routine" that you create along with the other movements of the head.
 

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azdude, glad to know someone addressed the lack of an easy trigger for the RAPU. IMO a serious oversight on the part of Brookshire. The other down side of the RAPU is that its expensive. A stright forward trigger connection and a more reasonalbe price and I think they would sell a lot more.

extrikate, here's a previous thread on the same topic http://www.halloweenforum.com/halloween-props/76728-bit-banger.html
 
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