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Here we are a few weeks before the big day and I am trying to put together our cannons for the display.
I'll explain what I am building and want to do:
Four cannons rigged to fog machines. Machines activate and fog comes forth from the barrels as the light flashes and sound goes Boom!
I want the cannons to fire sequentially and then have them reset for the next explosion. I am not certain if I want this to be triggered or something that repeats every so often. Of course in the background, I would like a soundtrack playing of a swashbuckling sword fight and this may or may not continue while the order to fire is shouted before the cannon fire begins. From a TOT POV, they would hear the swordfighting going on via a soundtrack and then either via a trigger or a times sequence, they would hear someone yell some orders, culminating in the order to fire and then cannon one, then two, then three, then four would fire with belching smoke and flashes. The soundtrack continues, the prop resets via a timed event or via a trigger which is delayed or random after the trigger has been tripped, and then happens all over again. I have seen some of our members setups, so I know it can be done.

Okay.....
I have watched a lot of youtube videos and read a lot of threads, but in the end, this is an electronic thing and I am electronically challenged. So I shopped around. I came up with some expensive ways to go about this project, but they still do not seem to fit the bill entirely. The rough cost I am seeing is around $200 to buy something that may get me close to what I want to do, which is expensive, but at a cost of roughly $50 per cannon, and seeing the cost of some electronics out there, it seems reasonable but I always want to make the money go further.

Here is what I have come up with.
Fright Props sells controllers. After an email and asking some questions, the suggested equipment was a BooBox and a four relay board to power the sound, the cannons firing (by modifying my four machine control to be activated from the unit) and the relay to make the lights go off in the barrel. My only real issue there is the fact they don't have software for a Mac and it may be difficult to use their programming software before the big moment, but it is possible to borrow the equipment and program the unit. It seems as though it will do everything, but the price tag is around $250 - $300 by the time I put all of the pieces together (this does not include building the cannons either). In some ways, I see this as a one time investment for many years into the future, so each subsequent year it is used, I get return for the money.

At HalloweenFX, they seem to have a similar board and they do have Mac software, so this is a plus. Their HoudiniMax seems to be a carbon copy of the FrightProps controller and should do the same thing and the price tag is $139 on sale from regular $199, so I figure the total tag will be around $200 for all the needed equipment. Yes a savings, but still a price tag.

I will reiterate, I am not an electronics genius, so please know suggesting building my own board is not really an option (unless you want to teach me how to do it or design it for me):D. I have looked at similar projects and see the highly sophisticated blinking lights and boards full of resistors, but ain't gonna' happen. To do something like that, I would have to pay someone and I'm not sure that would be cheaper.

Here's my two questions.
1) Anyone use or have experience with the above mentioned boards and how easy and reliable are they to operate, program, and would they actually be capable of doing what I need
or
2) Suggestions? How could I pull this off less expensively? What are some alternative sources and could you direct me to where I can get the equipment to put this together in less than 40 days?

Please give any suggestions. I have been working to build this prop for four years and finally can make it a reality for this year with the right equipment and some gift cards that magically appeared ( from a show function I did lighting for). I do lighting and tech design, but I don't do circuits and resistors.
 

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I use the boo box flex and have relay boards for it in the mail. It is extremely easy to operate and program. The big thing is hooking to a fogger.

One, you will have to hack the fog machine control to get it to fire via the relay. There's plenty of how to info on that around the web. Not being comfortable with electronics though, you will need to post up on what fog machine your thinking of using. This will help people guide you with the right procedure.

Two, timing of the fog is going to be tough. There's always a chance that your fog machine will be in a heating cycle. If it is, it won't spit out fog. Not a huge deal, except for it doesn't help sell the illusion.
I know there is a member that sells a four channel controller on here, that is much cheaper. I don't recall whom.
 

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I don't mean to be a buzz kill, but if you aren't somewhat good with electronics, this is gonna be tough to pull off as you have described. You haven't mentioned what you're going to use for an audio player, you'll need something that can be triggered to play specific files. I'm not really familiar with the BooBox but I don't think it has enough outputs for what you want to accomplish. You'll need a controller with at least 8 outputs (possibly more) to do what you have outlined. You'll need either 4 hacked fog machines or one large fogger with a way to direct the fog to the correct cannon at the correct time. Again, not trying to discourage you, but this is gonna be pretty complex. Bottom line is, to control all of this, the electronics will cost money. My best suggestion would EFX-TEK's HC-8+ controller coupled with their AP-16+ audio player.
 
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