at least i got the blog

Wednesday night and I’m sitting here trying to be anything but unimpressed with the new Dears leak, so far it ain’t workin’. I’m also fast at work grabbing the new Decemberists LP, which I learned also leaked a couple days ago while searching for some new song about “ghostriding the whip” for Sharaun. Speaking of workin’, I put in a good effort today – felt like I dug around and made some stuff happen… I like that feeling. Now Sharaun’s watching some eight-hour dancing-show extravaganza and I want to tear my eyes out – but at least I got the blog to keep me busy.

Got my unopened box of 15th series Garbage Pail Kids the other day, and promptly violated the collector’s code by tearing open each and every still-sealed pack. When it was all over, I had one complete set, one nearly complete set (lacking two cards) and one complete ‘B’ set, not to mention a pile of wax pack wrappers and a neatly stacked tower of twenty year old gum. I’ll sell the extra sets on Ebay to make back my outlay. Then there’s the gum… what do you do with twenty year old gum? You wonder about how it tastes, that’s what you do. You wonder and wonder and wonder until, finally, you just pick up one of the brittle pink sticks and poke it into your cheek. It won’t chew like regular gum though, it’s more accurate to say that it shatters like peanut brittle. Moreover, it’s age has made it impervious to saliva, and it never quite “gels” into one mass – remaining, rather, as a thousand tiny shards. Then you taste the bleu cheese, and you know it’s not right. Something in this gum has got the mold, and it’s like a fragrant fungus just bloomed on my tongue. Ick. Don’t eat twenty year old gum.

Some time ago, I realized that my pneumatic PVC-frame scarecrow prop I had planned for this Halloween was unrealistic. It’s not that the idea isn’t good, because it is, it’s that using air to power a prop that simple is just overkill. I guess I just wanted to do something more with pneumatics this year, but running a hose and buying a push/pull cylinder and solenoid seems like too much investment for an effect that could that could be realized with a small electric motor. All that needs to be done is to jiggle the joint strings to get the desired “electrocuted” effect, and I could do that with a windshield wiper or washing machine motor… something really easy. I mean, if I have to run power to the prop to trip the pneumatic solenoid anyway, why not just run power to a motor? The thought was that I was making the prop unnecessarily complicated just so I could use pneumatics.

Then… I stared researching it some more… and I’ve almost flip-flopped again. Air’s more reliable, and all I have to do is power a dead simple solenoid – no relays, no gear motors, etc. Still though, I run up against my long-time Halloween prop nemesis: timing/automation. I can buy a solenoid, I can get sound to come out of a speaker, but how do I make them happen on-cue or in sequence? This year, I debated buying a professional prop controller/timer – and I’m still undecided on that, although they are pretty affordable. Something else I stumbled on the other day, a Windows application that you can use on cheap PC-controlled timer/relay board. $50 for the software and $30 for the hardware (not counting the PC which will control the timer board) and you’ve got an extremely flexible complex prop automator.

At first I was excited, when I saw that the DIY jobs can support five inputs instead of the PicoBoo, where one PicoBoo = one input. This means that one PicoBoo could likely trigger only one prop (maybe two if you’re creative), while the Haunt Controller PC board could potentially power up to five. But, all is not as sweet as the first impressions, as those relays seem kinda weak… 12V and max out at 3-5 amps, and the PicoBoos have two straight up AC outlets on them (albeit offering only 8 amps combined). For my money, then, the AC-outlet F105 PicoBoo controllers are more versatile for amateur-type haunt automation.

Whew, glad that’s over, I was getting bored.

Before I go, here’s an interesting note written by a chemistry nerd on the plausibility of the London plane terrorists mixing and detonating TATP on a commercial airliner. Regardless of the plausibility of using this particular explosive, there’s always something that’ll work. I don’t remember who I heard say it but, if we can’t keep weapons out of prisons – how can we expect to keep them off airplanes?


One Reply to “at least i got the blog”

  1. Just as an FYI, the relays on the kit 74 can easily handle 8 amps at 120VAC. The 12VDC is used for the coil to trigger it.

    I do not suggest running 3 – 5 amps of 12VDC though those relays, you will pop the traces off the bottom of the board, but you can easily do AC.

    — I

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