Hauntingly Goulish

This year I have taken a bigger step in my Halloween haunting.   In the past I’ve had a number of effects but they were all manually operated.   Last year when I added the 9ft skeleton puppet, I was no longer able to operate my effects.   I left the controls with Palley but she was often to busy to trigger things.   I had mentioned this problem to Dave shortly afterwards and he of course laughed and told me not to worry, he would be here to run things for me this year.   That of course won’t be happening.   So, I have decided to go high tech…

Back in February I had went in on a group buy for a basic stamp based micro controller, I was going to use this to create some other prob yet to be decided upon, but now it seemed to be the easiest solution to my problem.  Over the past month or so, I have been learning to program the controller, and wiring it to run a number of effects.   This includes the crow, the pop up jumper, and the buzzer.  Now because of the extra outputs on the controller I added LED based spotlights, and pulsating eyes on my popup jumper.    That still left me with a few outputs on the controller board though.   Not being one to waste a perfectly good event controller output, I decided I should think of some other prop to trigger.

Last Friday, while out with some friends, we went into the “Spirit” Halloween store.   While there I of course drooled over a number of things there.  I had made up my mind to NOT buy anything though and be good.   That was until I saw a Flying grim reaper that contained blue L.E.D.s to illuminate its face…  must not pass up blue L.E.D.s…  ….  So I broke down and bought it.     I noticed also when I bought it, it had a “try me” button.  I was hoping the try me button would actually trigger the entire unit.  It seemed at 1st like it would.  So I set about figuring out a way to remotly press the button.  While wandering through Wal-Mart Sunday I discovered a really cheap R/C car on clearance for $5.   Perfect.   A few minutes later in the parking lot I had removed the screws holding the car together and found it contained a tiny receiver board hosting a single chip receiver, that has at least 4 channels possibly 5 or 6.    After mapping out the circuit, I inserted my own resistor/transistor pair on one of the outputs, and wired it to the try me button on the flying ghoul.  Sure enough the remote triggered the try me.   I was elated.  I then hung the ghoul up, and triggered it.   The lights and audio triggered, but no motor.  I should have realized that in a demo mode you wouldn’t want to run to motor and burn it out.  Ooops…  That leaves the built in sound sensor.
Sound operated props are only slightly more reliable than those activated by a photo resistor in my opinion, and they certainly don’t lend themselves to easy control.
I didn’t want to dismantle the prop so I had to figure out way to trigger it remotely.   What I essentially came up with was an audio relay.  I stopped at radio shack and bought a small buzzer and wired it into the receiver form the R/C car.  Sure enough it triggers the ghoul just fine.  So now I will wire the remote to the prop controller and it will only take a short  burst of the buzzer to set off the flying grim reaper.  🙂

Wooohooo… 🙂