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As I look at animating more props I'm trying to decide if going pneumatic or electric is better. Here's some background:

  • I have none of the pieces needed for pneumatic (compressor, hose, fittings, etc.)
  • I typically use Arduino or Raspberry Pi for controlling
  • I have some experience with servos and solenoid actuators on the electrical side.

I want to do some pop up scares from behind tombstones and maybe do a zombie in a box where he's banging on the walls. solenoids don't offer enough travel so I need to look at actuators.

My questions:

  1. Can I run several (let's say 4 different props) off of one compressor? Just controlled by 4 different solenoids?
  2. What PSI should I be looking for in a compressor if i want to try to run a few props at the same time?
  3. I'm worried about the compressor humming noise ruining an otherwise creepy graveyard. Does this happen much?
  4. Can I hide the compressor and run tubing all over the yard, or are there limits to lengths of tubing and their practicality.
  5. In the long run, is one cheaper than the other?

The thing that's getting me to even consider pneumatic is the cost of an electric linear actuator - seems high at like $65 for one piece. Especially when I can get a valve for $8 and a cylinder for $20-- but then there's the upfront cost of a $99 compressor and another $30 in tubes and fittings.

Am I way off base? What else do I need to know? Anyone know of a good guide?

Thanks...
 

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Do it! Get the biggest compressor you can afford and have room for. It's not PSI that's important, it's the volume of air that it can supply. The more props you have, the bigger the demand for volume. You can run as much tubing as you want and hide the compressor where it won't be heard. The key with long tubing runs is to keep it 1/2" and branch off to each prop with 1/4" tubing. Use a regulator at each prop so the main line can have high pressure and then dial it down for each prop's specific requirement.
 

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Go for it. You can start with simpleprop like water splay or air puf or blast and add cylinders latter. You can relay 12.24 v dc or im using 110v ac.
You can run wuth arduino just need relay and power source.
Simple. To basic setup get whater apay from frightprop or build yourself and get remote control relay 1ch from ebay.
Fun and easy
 

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I would say you should consider this carefully. A good compressor will cost you well more than $99. If the only use you have for it is Halloween they are a bit pricey. Also most machines age better if they are used regularly. Siting around only to be used once a year can lead them to fail sooner than normal. The parts are also going to cost you more than electric generally. Finally you also have to consider the fact that pneumatic props require more structural support which would often mean welded steel frames. That being said, you can make some really nice air driven props. I do not want to dash your dreams I just wanted to give you a realistic perspective. A quality compressor will make less noise than the little ones but it is still a bit loud so I agree with the other posters that you need to hide it and run air hoses to the props. The longer the hose the more drop you will get in pressure. Also pay particular attention to each joint since leaks are the biggest issue for those systems.
 

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You can always pipe the air through 1/2" PVC and you won't have that much pressure drop and use fittings where you need to tee off for the props. Hose is usually smaller diameter and more restrictive.
 

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I have used an air compressor for from Harbor Frieght for four years and it works great. I use it to run 2 separate props. I have the compressor in the back of the house and run a long line to the front yard. You don't hear it running from the front yard. You can use the air compressor for a nail gun as well. If you don't have one a nail gun is the greatest gift to prop builders there is. I would say go for it!
 

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PVC piping is relatively inexpensive, easy to install, lightweight, and corrosion resistant. However, PVC has one major drawback. It is brittle. An inadvertent impact could cause the piping to shatter, endangering surrounding personnel. Most PVC pipe manufacturers warn against using PVC for compressed air service due to potential liability from such failures. The Plastic Piping Institute, in their Recommendation B, states that plastic piping used for compressed air transport in above-ground systems should be protected in shatter-proof encasements, unless otherwise recommended by the manufacturer. In many states, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has stepped in and regulated against using brittle plastics such as PVC in these applications, and additional states are following suit. PVC is particularly prone to becoming brittle when exposed to UV light.
 

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