One vendor kurt reminded me of was EFX-TEK
. I ordered some stuff last night and these guys have killer customer service. Fast email response, they seem to be working 25 hours a day. Recommended.

Halloween Ideas

* mutli-channel player — sned sounds over individual channels of a 5.1 setup. pretty useful for running multiple sounds off a single pc. Also a random tip on this page — “Want a “dead ringer” for Halloween? Run a string from a grave up to a bell mounted on the tombstone!” — I might try this.
* Another random good tip I read — used rotisserie motors make great prop animators
* Electronic Goldmine for random electronic and control supplies
* What to do with an old CRT?? Make it into the world’s heaviest strobe light of course.
* Article on 4-bar linkage design
* Fittings Depot — for pneuma fittings. Awesome.
* Great article on how to use a Shiatsu massager as the basis of a prop.
* EFX-tek prop controllers.

Halloween Gear

Latest links culled mostly from the MoM Forum

* Simple Dimmer. Lots of other kits and components here too.
* Simple prop controllers and some nice application notes like this skull idea (zipped pdf)
* I’m sure I’ve blogged this before, the hauntmaster controller — “The Flex ECT is an externally triggered, dual timer that is connected between a sensor (switch) and the electrically operated event device as shown in the diagram to the right”
* Plans to build your own event control timer.
* A range of LED fixtures and drivers. Seems like all halloween lighting should move to LED over time?
* Some hints in here on silencing pneumatic solenoids — the exhaust noise doesn’t really bother me but maybe I will want to do this some day.
* Some very basic intro guides to haunt lighting
* Lighting control units. These look like overkill to me, better for Christmas applications.

Halloween Status

Minor meltdown over the last 6 days. My DMX512 system became inhabited by gremlins. Really teh gear is not supposed to be used outdoors so the fact that it survived 5-6 years is amazing. But I was using it to control every effect and so the s$%t hit the fan. Over the past 6 days I have ripped DMX control out of most of the system and gone to simpler, cheaper x10 and Zwave. Much more durable signalling (wireless and powerline) but much higher latency. I have kept DMX only for my lightning effects, as latency matters and I don’t have the time to build a bunch of color organs (tho next year).

Anyway nearly everything is working again. I have a major air leak in my pneumatics which I will fix tomorrow.

Oh and a rant — why so many fricking plug types for 220V service? The circular locking type, the regular 3 prong with a 90-degree twist on one of the prongs, and the bigger 3 prong? And this is all for 20A service. Getting things to plug together is a major PITA. Some electrician out there probably knows the answer and can probably tell me why converting from circular locking plugs to the 3 prong type is a major no-no.

Zensys Z-Wave

Per PCMag, Zensys Z-Wave is Home Automation that Works. I’m going to order a kit and try it out — it can’t be any worse than x-10 — i generally don’t use x-10 at halloween time because the robustness and latency is just not up to snuff. But maybe this will be better.

Using christmas lighting gear for Halloween

Lots of discussion in the MoM group about using Christmas lighting and control gear for Halloween. Lots of good pointers — Light-o-rama control software, Dasher at the Christmas Cave, Animated Lighting for all kinds of controllers and props, a simple two-outlet fade controller. Now controlling Christmas lights is actually a bit different than Halloween — Christmas lighting is not intended to surprise, so much of the software and gear doesn’t pay attention to latency, and doesn’t have all the input/control options. But some useful stuff here anyway.

MIDI over Ethernet

For future Halloween consideration — looks like you’ll be able to run MIDI over IP — IEEE P1639 – Distributed MIDI — I’d assume 802.11 would work too. Would be a nice control protocol option, there is lots of MIDI-compatible prop control gear and lighting. And I’d love to be able to use a nice MIDI keyboard as my central control station for Halloween props.