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Discussion Starter · #22 · (Edited)
Thanks Engineerchic. Totally not intended, but possessed is good! I think I might be possessed by something to undertake this project!

Update: I've spent the last 3 days pretty much setting up the track and making sure the front wheel assembly glides freely along the track. I realized after much finagling, that I had an easier way to adjust the track. I had been using ties to get the exact distance between the track (which is the secret sauce to making it glide freely), then I realized as I moved each section, the next section would get out of wack. The key is to make sure the inside track keeps up with the outside track. I should have done a section at a time and built it as I went instead of putting it all together first. I wanted to make sure it would fit in the area in my front yard and also got a little ahead of myself, but lesson learned.

I tweaked the design so the front of the coaster moves freely. I used a bolt in the center in my mockup. The back wheels for now are static.

This is the first step towards success, now on to the coaster design and lift system. The current tray is pretty heavy, so might have to get some aluminum or something with less weight.
More to come!

Platform test
Coaster pic
Platform detail
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
An update to my long running blog of my Ghost0Coaster scenario if anyone is still following!:
A little more work with the lift system, and I think I'll be able to start decorating. I got the victim, a medium sized skeleton with red led eyes, might even have 2 people riding side by side. Did a little mock up (been doing a lot of those lately!) with a storage bin and a few items added for weight, and it had no problem making it around the track. The old lift hill was just a placeholder, and was a little too steep, I added a longer slope, and it is way easier to pull up. I also got some metal strapping and used that with plywood cut to the exact distance of the track, and it works a LOT better, and is also a lot easier to do. Might redo some of the rough spots where the car hits the black tubing. I can now ditch the black tubing if I want, but not sure if I have the energy, been working non stop the past 4 days. I'm beat!

So far, it has been working flawlessly for over about 60 or so runs. I'm working up a lift system with a rope or maybe I'll use some wire that I have left over from my flying ghost. I did a trial run with just a knot run through a V test prototype made out of wood nailed to the back of the car, and it worked great (see video). Just need to see if it will work with a continuous moving rope or wire.
Going to have to add some pulleys or something at the top of the lift to make it work smoothly, and need to figure out what will power it. I have the 12 car seat motor that has a lot of torque, but not sure of the longevity. I was also thinking of using a drill, but those are pretty loud. If anyone has any suggestions, please?

Lift test 1
Coaster run with car mock up


Looking forward to the decorating part. It looks like it might rain tomorrow, so I'm going to work on the car and arduino scenario.
 

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Yep, I am very interested and following. It would be great if you could just tie a knot in the rope every foot or so and if it went over the pulleys okay, it would be very easy to adapt the coaster to grab a knot as it goes over the rope. You might be able to adapt some bicycle rims without too many issues with the knots.

The other option is to put the rope on a spool attached to the motor. The coaster grabs the apparatus at the bottom and the motor lifts the coaster to the top. After it reaches the top and the coaster is on it's way down, the motor reverses and sends the apparatus to grab the cart back down and waits for the cart to arrive, then rinse and repeat. If this sounds interesting, we can discuss the apparatus later.

I don't see why a wiper motor wouldn't work in this scenario. It seems light enough and those little motors are pretty powerful. I would think it would easily move the cart about a foot a second, but the only real way is to try it out. Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
Hey Fogmaster, thanks for the info, sorry, been working non stop on this monstrosity!

I've messed around with the continuous loop thing, and it keeps snagging. I'm down to using the black rubber tubing as a channel for the wire, and put a few little washers every few feet to snag the cart. The washers are perfect to catch the cart, the snagging is a little problematic. I've got a few rubber bow rollers (the rubber things that go on the front top of boat trailers to hold the bow of the boat on the trailer), and they move freely (see below)

I like your idea of spooling the rope or wire on the motor. I'd love to see the type of apparatus you are thinking about. I was thinking worse case scenario, I can just get an electric winch from Harbor Freight and set that up to go up and down similar to what you are talking about.
The good thing is that there will be a time out after the coaster does it's circle around the track. I can make it delay as long as needed, so this might work out.

Some other ideas I had:
1. Spinning wheels similar to actual roller coasters powered from below, and a thin piece of wood on the bottom of the coaster to bring it up.
2. A channel that has a spinning threaded rod with a large nut and metal l bracket or something to travel up and back.

I took a few days off because of the hot weather, and worked on some of the other items on my punch list. I've got my Arduino board up and running and my mp3 background audio and scare mp3 mostly ready to go.
I figured how I'm going to get the skeleton to raise his arms and a few other little things that I needed to do.

Thanks again for the feedback.
bow roller
Wide bow roller
 

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MODERATOR NOTE:

Just an FYI to the OP and anyone else that happens to have this happen: you are a newish member here, or maybe you joined a while back, but haven't posted much on the forum. You go to make a new post, or maybe edit a post to add a photo or link to something.

For some reason, your post tells you it is holding for approval. No one can see it until it gets approved, and it sits there, awaiting approval for hours.

I wanted to explain to the OP here since this did happen to one of their posts in this thread (and if anyone else has this occur).

We have an automatic spam filter/system on this site that works pretty well 90% of the time.

Unfortunately it has a thing about new-ish members or members with very low post counts when they post sometimes, or make posts with links/images in them. It is a protection thing, to prevent spammers from registering and then flooding the site with spam links, but sometimes that also means folks that are doing completely okay things (like in this case) get their posts waitlisted for approval until a real live human (moderator) can double check it and approve.

And that includes if someone posts something, then comes back a little later and adds or changes their post that was previously approved - starts the whole automatic thing over again sometimes.

I know this is frustrating. I don't know why it does this only on some posts and not others. I feel terrible when I log in and see someone's perfectly normal post sitting for hours waiting and wondering what they did and getting angry/upset/worried about it.

Please be patient, know you didn't do anything wrong, and hopefully after a few more posts, you won't get caught up in the spam filter any more. :)

Thanks so much for your understanding!
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Thanks FG for the info!
Been working away at the coaster the last week. It's coming along nicely. It took me awhile to get my arduino up and running and program it. Had some issues figuring out which pins do what in the octobanger scenario. I didn't realize that it told you which pins do what when it connects. Also spent way to much time to figure out the Pir sensor was wired BACKWARDS. I wish I could have that day of my life back. Anyway, I had to order a 12v 20amp power supply for my seat motor, it kept stopping, and I realized I was only using a 5amp rinky dink supply. I'm pretty sure it's going to do the job. I also ordered some shaft collars so I can connect it to either a bike wheel, or a bow roller. I was checking some diy rope ski lifts, and that mechanism looks promising.

In the meantime, I've put some cardboard on the lift section of the coaster, and I'm going to try to simulate a dilapidated wooden coaster matrix. I ran the 3 strings of xmas lights one after the other, and it looks great at night. I even got the lights to blink in time with the voice: Welcome to the Ghost0coaster, please keep your bones inside the death trap...I mean vehicle at all times...Enjoy your ride Ha Ha Ha!

Been working on the skeleton and trying to get him to raise both his arms. I'm working with one of those circular turntable motors that reverses when it hits something. Trying to figure out how to do that has me stumped. If anyone has any ideas?
I first tried using 2 separate motors inside his chest, but they didn't sync up. I'm thinking of putting a rod through both shoulder holes, and try to maybe do a pulley system? Not sure. My brain is fried at this point. Feels good to be getting to the decorating part though. Should have the car done by this weekend. I didn't get a chance to do any videos of merit, but I'll post some when I get the car done.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Working on the "rider" now, got the mechanism that will lift his arms. Arm lifting mechanism . Going to get the car up and running and get a static display going for now with the rotating coaster lights. The rotating creepy effect I was able to achieve with the Octobanger program is looking great.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Been working all week to get the coaster rocking and rolling. I've got it mostly decorated and have the basic car done, and reworked the arms up mechanism. The old one kept binding up. I used a circular motor with a bit more torque from American Scientific. I also used a door actuator to move it's mouth, and the built in red leds for my Octobanger sequence. I'm having a little issue with the sequence restarting and the audio skipping when I have the door actuator running, even though I have it on a separate power supply. The 4 banger relay is being powered by the arduino 5 volt, and I'm guessing from a little bit of research that my relay board just needs it's own 5 v power supply and just doesn't have enough power. I unplugged the actuators power supply and it seems to run fine. Otherwise, it's looking good!

My plan is to have a 110 power source in the car that will power the lights and everything in the car. I was racking my brain to figure out a way to trigger the car from my main sequence on the track, and I think I figured it out. I'll have a rotating piece of wood or something on the side of where the car will be, and when the main sequence starts, the rotation will trigger the sensor on the car and start the car sequence. The "rider" will then speak and the lights on the main track will do their thing and the coaster will then release and go around the track, rinse and repeat. Still have some work to do, but it's looking like a coaster! It makes it around the track fine each time, so it looks like it it's a go.

Wish I could have gotten some round bulbs instead of the normal Xmas lights, but at this point, just trying to get er done! Was going to try to animate a few of the wooden coaster pieces to make it appear like it's collapsing, but might not have time to do a lot of the smaller ideas I had. One other thing I was trying to do, the octobanger lets you have single relays stay on after the sequence is done, but I wanted to try to make the lights rotate. Anyone have any ideas? I was thinking of maybe having one channel on the octobanger somehow trigger another arduino/octobanger with a simple rotation sequence.

Maybe I'm overthinking it, but that's how I roll. Not sure if I can tap into the outlets I'm already using to run my lights during the sequence since they won't be going at the same time and using the same 110 power source. Not sure if that will work. If not, I'll just have to keep it static. That's all for now. I'm beat! Here are a few short videos to show some progress. Hopefully I'll get the whole thing rolling by this weekend. I'll be sure to take a video. Thanks again for all the input everybody!
Arm/sequence test In the sequence, I'm going to have to time it so the arms go up and the motor cuts off as they are up.
Light sequence test Need to mess around with the sequence, this was a test.
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
Updating my coaster blog:

Getting down to the wire, but I'm at 85%. Lift system and a little bit of decorating of the car, then it will be complete. The release mechanism works like a charm (even though I encountered some issues, which I believe will be solved by a flyback diode), and even though I had to shore up the track some more due to the heavier car after adding the electronics, it rolls great (and fast!) around the track with no problems.

I was successfully able to use the Harbor Freight $20 screw boat crank and attached my seat motor to it. It works! The great thing about the screw mechanism is that it is self braking and silent. As long as the motor is silent, the mechanism mostly is pretty quiet.

In the attached video, the motor is using a 5 v power supply just to test, but when I hooked up the 20 amp 12 supply, the motor was rolling a lot faster. Was making headway then the rain came.

Unfortunately, hurricane Zeta is heading right for my just finished coaster with only 2 days left till Halloween. It seems right on the cusp of figuring out the lift system design, I'll need to dismantle part of it. Hopefully it won't be too much work. It looks like the fact that there is not much surface area on the track portion, that wind doesn't seem to affect it. There was a near miss of a hurricane a few weeks ago, and the track never even moved in the wind. That was before I added the cardboard. I'll need to cut out the cardboard and probably the "roller coaster supports". This sucks!

Lift test
 

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Updating my coaster blog:

Getting down to the wire, but I'm at 85%. Lift system and a little bit of decorating of the car, then it will be complete. The release mechanism works like a charm (even though I encountered some issues, which I believe will be solved by a flyback diode), and even though I had to shore up the track some more due to the heavier car after adding the electronics, it rolls great (and fast!) around the track with no problems.

I was successfully able to use the Harbor Freight $20 screw boat crank and attached my seat motor to it. It works! The great thing about the screw mechanism is that it is self braking and silent. As long as the motor is silent, the mechanism mostly is pretty quiet.

In the attached video, the motor is using a 5 v power supply just to test, but when I hooked up the 20 amp 12 supply, the motor was rolling a lot faster. Was making headway then the rain came.

Unfortunately, hurricane Zeta is heading right for my just finished coaster with only 2 days left till Halloween. It seems right on the cusp of figuring out the lift system design, I'll need to dismantle part of it. Hopefully it won't be too much work. It looks like the fact that there is not much surface area on the track portion, that wind doesn't seem to affect it. There was a near miss of a hurricane a few weeks ago, and the track never even moved in the wind. That was before I added the cardboard. I'll need to cut out the cardboard and probably the "roller coaster supports". This sucks!

Lift test
I'm rooting for you, man!
 

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Fingers crossed that you have a couple days of good weather to finish this up. I think it's the most ambitious home haunter prop I've ever seen!
 

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Have you seen how most mobile carnival rides, including their roller coasters, are propelled? They have powered tires between the rails that move the carts along as they roll over the top of them.

I have even seen a kiddie coaster by the name of Sooper Jet that has the motor in the last most coaster car and it pushes the train around the track via a tire and a track in the middle of the coaster rails. You can see the motor sticking out of the back in this short video.


The motor gets its power from a commutator assembly that is in the center of the ride. Keep in mind this will only work with circular or triangular track layouts. That is unless you use a battery or gas powered motor, then you could use any layout. I have seen a gas powered coaster like this:


You can see on the main coaster track, in the center is a flat rail...that is what the propelling tire runs on. In this case, the coaster is pulled and not pushed as the motor is in the front.

I would say that for home, sporadic use, a battery powered motor could do the job and you just switch between two batteries...one is on charge, while the other is on the coaster. But all in all, with this method, if you want something that transports more than a couple kids (or something the weight of a couple kids), then gas powered is the way to go. The problem is that a gas motor is heavy and you would most certainly need a steel or wooden track.

I'm rooting for you, man!
As am I. This is looking to be a nice project. Seeing the bogie complete the track is promising, however that chain lift system looks painfully slow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Thanks guys, everything worked out with the storm. Just had to reassemble the cardboard and rickety wood appearing supports.

I thought of the idea of a motor inside the cart, but the way it is currently designed, that won't work, and the weight of this thing is heavy, around 25 lbs or so. I'm already testing the limits of my track. I've had to reinforce it a few times already!
Thanks for the tips!
It looks like the current lift system is way too slow, and not going to work. I'm off to Harbor Freight to get an electric winch apparatus, was trying to avoid spending $70 on that, but since I'm down to the wire, I'm just going to bite the bullet. The actual chain system will work, just need more torque, and the winch looks to be more that capable of that.
I'm planning on converting this to a Santa and sleigh for the holidays, so this will live on for at least another few months. I figure as long as the release system works for tomorrow, worst case I can just manually push it up to the top if need be. Fingers crossed!
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
Hey everyone, I hope everyone's Halloween went great. I was able to get the coaster up and running for Halloween. Just barely got everything up and running in time for Trick or Treaters at 6. Thanks to my son's help, we made it happen. I put him on fog and cleanup duty, and the end result looked great.

I never was able to get the lift system working, and spent way to much time on trying to work it out at the last minute, but I can't say I didn't try! I wish I would have spent a little more time perfecting my arduino program. See the post mortem video below for the daytime walk through. I have a detailed explanation below of how I did everything, but if you just want to skip to the actual videos, just scroll past all of the mumbo jumbo. Thanks again to everyone who helped with ideas and with moral support, it was a LOT of work, but in the end, worth it.

So the coaster car had it's own arduino routine. I put a sensor on the left side of the car and when that was activated, the rider would start talking. "Welcome to the ghostocoaster, please keep your bones inside the death trap....I mean vehicle at all times. Enjoy your ride! Ha Ha Ha". I had a door lock actuator on a rod that was attached to the skeleton's jaw that made him "speak", and his led eyes that I left on the "try me" circuit hooked up to the arduino.

The red led strips that lit him up and the circular motor that lifted his arms were on 2 separate 110 outlets. The flashing light on the front of the car was a fairy light strand from harbor freight that I didn't have time to hook up to the arduino, but it actually worked out as a backup just in case the arduino would have went down (which it didn't).

The car arduino was using the octobanger software that had 2 mp3's that I put together on my Tracktion software. I did a running loop of various rollercoaster sounds, and my voice as the announcer lowered down about 4 steps to make it sound more demonic. When triggered, it played the welcome to the ghost0coaster mp3. I'll see if I can post a sample of it somehow in this thread.

I picked up a set of stereo computer speakers from big lots that were usb powered and lit up and attached them to the back of the coaster. Along with the speakers, I also got an mini FM transmitter that transmitted the car routine to an fm radio that I had hooked up to my Xair wireless mixer. This way, I could control the pan and volume of the audio as the night went along. I also added another background mp3 track that played panned to one side, and the other mp3 tracks from the car panned to the other side. It had a really cool stereo effect, especially since I also had my powered pa speaker hooked up underneath the coaster track, as well as I had a small speaker in the tree on the other side of the sidewalk, this along with the speakers on the car really worked out great. I also added a microphone to the Xair which had reverb, echo, and also a backwards reverb that sounded like the effect in Poltergeist when the girl got sucked into the TV. I had my sister's boyfriend on the mike, and he would ad lib a lot as it came down. He even sang Rollercoaster by the Ohio players, it added to the spontaneity.

I ended up having 3 separate arduinos total. 1 for the car (which was necessary because the car couldn't be wired, since it had to go around the track) , one for the track lights, and one for the release mechanism, which I ended up upgrading to a better linear actuator instead of the car lock actuator i originally had used. It was a lot more robust. That was a good call.

The main track arduino routine had a little motor that would spin at a specific time that had a piece of plastic yard sign that would activate the other 2 routines. This proved to be problematic, only because the actuator routine had a 60 second delay and the car had no delay, so they were out of sync. Lesson learned.
I was a little apprehensive to change my track routine, since I was having some issues uploading from the Octobanger software the last few days before the 31st, but I should have added the actuator to that arduino in retrospect.

The whole car was powered by a flashfish battery inverter thingie that lasted all night.
The crowd really dug it, and had a lot of great positive feedback. I had a bunch of neighbors that came by after the storm to make sure it survived, and a few of them took time to come by and check on it when the eye of Zeta passed by during the break in the storm!

Overall, it was rewarding, but man, it was a lot of work. If anyone wants to try to attempt this (don't know why you would!), feel free to contact me and I can go into more detail about some of the pitfalls encountered. This project made my Axworthy attempts a few years ago seem like a walk in the park, but no pain, no gain!

Till next year....

Halloween night ghostocoaster video

Next day ghostocoaster post mortem

Car mp3 Welcome to the Ghostocoaster

Background coaster sounds etc
 
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