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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Truth be told, I *thought* those $14 Big Lot skellies looked small in the bag, despite the claimed 5'2" height. Upon assembly, I found they're actually only about 4'6" tall with the feet on the ground. So, instead of short men, I ended up with 10 year old children as my skeleton chorus this year. Once I realized I needed to fork up almost $300 for buckies, I decided to exaggerate the theme. The Young Pirate Chorus was born!

Each child Pirate has:
$1-2 worth of thrift store clothing, child sized
$2 wig (2007 leftovers at 50-90% off)
$20 Talking Thru Boris skull
$5 in parts to convert it to run common DC power, not batteries
$6 (half price 2007) Big Lot Skellie
$2 piece of 3/8" rebar that makes him stand up

To make the boris skull fit the skellie, I sliced out of the top of the neck of the skellie, and inserted a 6" long piece of 1/2" (ID) plastic electric conduit (leftover from cemetary fence). I then sliced the square mounting peg off the base mount from Boris. The remaining post drops right into the 1/2" pvc with some play. If I wasn't happy with the fit, I could put a piece of tape around the Boris post to make the connection snug enough to not move. But, when it's windy, the heads turn slightly, a neat side effect of the loose fit.

To make the skellies stand, I drilled a hole, using an electrician's bit, through the crotch of the skellie, right up through the pelvis to chest mount, which is wide enough to accept the hole without compromising the joint. The rebar is then pushed up through the holes until it exits at the neck. To put it into the ground, I pound the rebar, then lift the body up until the feet sit flat on the ground. At night, the rebar is barely visible, even with no pants on the skellie.

I converted each Boris to run DC. I'm running 12V DC to each one to a converter board I built using Harry Goodwin's circuit. I also added the capacitor mod, and ran the DC input and Audio input out on 2 separate phono plugs, red plug for voltage, black for audio. I did not add a separate trimmer potentiometer to each, since all are the same distance from the controller. I could get away with one trimmer potentiometer to run all of them.

Making the four pirates sing individually was the biggest trick here. I didn't want to separate the audio channels for every song. Some day, I hope to have another 6-8 of these guys in the yard, and I'd quickly run out of audio channels to do that. So, instead of separating the audio, I switch the DC input voltage on and off. Boris starts very quickly, less than 1/20th of a second, once the voltage is turned on, so there is virtually no latency issues. To individually control each Boris, I used a Light-O-Rama DC controller. It'll handle 16 channels. I'm using 4 channels, one per Boris. It runs on a 12V power supply. I've installed a 13A supply, which should easily handle 10 or more Bori singing simultaneously, perhaps more. I use Light-O-Rama 1602 AC controllers for lighting and prop effects elsewhere in my display, so I can sync the lights and other props to the song, as well as turn on and off individual Bori during the songs, with 1/10th of a second precision. I used the Light-O-Rama 2.0.16 software suite to do all the programming. It takes about an hour for each minute of song, because I've got 96 channels of lighting and props in the cemetary to coordinate.

Here's a sample of the singing:
Pirates of the Black Tide (4 skellies individually singing):
YouTube - Pirates of the Black Tide 2008.wmv

A Pirate I was meant to be (4 skellies individually singing):
YouTube - A Pirate I was meant to be 2008.wmv

You are a Pirate (2 sing individually, all sing as a chorus):
YouTube - You are a Pirate 2008.wmv

A Pirates Life for Me (All sing as a chorus):
YouTube - A Pirates Life for Me 2008.wmv

I'll be trying to get more video tomorrow night of the other songs they sing. Tonight was tough because the Phillies won (I'm in the Philly suburbs) and everyone was driving around honking their horns!
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