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Making a display interactive

Discussion in 'The Development Lab' started by David_AVD, Jul 25, 2011.

  1. David_AVD

    David_AVD Bite my shiny metal ass!

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    In chat tonight, I asked for ideas for new display elements or functionality. A couple of ideas were:

    A donation box that played a short audio file (mp3) each time coins were dropped in the slot. This is certainly doable. A small mp3 module with SD card storage, opto trigger input (from the coin slot) and a small (1W) amplifier would be easy enough and not too expensive. I already have a supply of economical mp3 playback modules.

    The other one that stuck out was lights that followed a person as they walked around the display (or fence line). This could perhaps be done with cheap PIR sensors (maybe these) that either triggered their own local light output, or perhaps fed back into the show control PC for more elaborate processing.

    So, I'd like to hear people's thoughts on these ideas. Do they sound useful, desirable, practical, etc? Do you have other ideas for making a display interactive without blowing the budget completely? :p
     
  2. aussiexmas

    aussiexmas Sinnamon Lights

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    Many of the LOR controller boards include trigger detection capabilities which can be used in conjunction with the show builder to create several types of interactive display features. (See pages 111-116 of the LOR help manual http://www.lightorama.com/downloads/2.9.4/LORHelp.pdf )

    Last year I experimented with two different aspects of these functions for a small Haloween show and for the Christmas show.

    For Haloween, I set up a background animation of lights that I had already put up on the house, and used three push buttons to activate short "musical" sequences which played screams or thunder together with strobes and other flashing lights under the "soundboard" option.

    For Christmas, I had a normally running synchronized whole of house show so I was not able to add additional sound effects to my layout, but used the interactive buttons to activate additional strobes and flashing lights in the area around the donation box (magic toy interactive type). I had a sign to push a button when a donation was made. This was also mentioned in the voice introduction.

    The "Push the Button if you Dare" for Haloween were very effective. I believe the interactions at Christmas resulted in more children adding donations. This year I plan on improving the effects based on last year's initial success. For the interactive effects to work well, it is necessary to use control channels for the interactive effects that are NOT included in the normally running sequences.
     
  3. Greg Young

    Greg Young New Elf

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    David, living out in the country as I do, and formerly using all incandescents on a large display, it became obvious early on it was a waste of $$ to just leave the lights during the entire display time, if no one was there to view it..
    I went the PIR route, with outputs of the sensors trigerring X-10 modules that would activate different elements of the display as cars would drive into a parking area I built for viewing.
    Although I have been using sync'd lighting since 2003, and more recently switched over to about 90% plus of the display being LEDs (starting in 2005), the wow factor of having the display dark, and then having different elements coming on as folks would drive in was a huge success with the little ones, so I still use the PIRs, even though it is not needed from a cost viewpopint.
    Also we have gotten busy over the years so there is always some traffic each night...
    Greg
     
  4. mrpackethead

    mrpackethead Full Time Elf

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    Motion tracking with an infrared camera, its not that crazy and theres free software out there to do it..
     
  5. fasteddy

    fasteddy I have C.L.A.P Global Moderator Generous Elf

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  6. OP
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    David_AVD

    David_AVD Bite my shiny metal ass!

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    Going back to the mp3 audio board idea, how about a P-DMX version? It would mean you could deploy it easily along side other P-DMX devices in your layout.

    I realise you could keep the mp3 player inside and just run a speaker wire out to the display item, but this way it just drops in as another item.

    For example, a single CAT5 cable could power and control the mp3 audio board (trigger specific tracks) as well as a small pixel / DC board for the light effects. You could even drop a small P-DMX servo board in there too for some mechanical animation. All controlled by the same DMX stream.

    The P-DMX mp3 audio board could have a local switch contact for triggering playback of a random audio file. This could be used for donation boxes (coin slot opto switch), or perhaps Halloween sound effects.
     
  7. OP
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    David_AVD

    David_AVD Bite my shiny metal ass!

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    Would there be any interest in a board something like the the "sound to servo" one Steve linked to in another thread? I've had some ideas for an improved design kicking around for a while now and Steve's post brought it to the fore again.

    I was thinking of using a PIC chip to do the servo pulse stream and maybe offer more adjustments. I'd like to have a go at making the servo position proportional to the voice volume instead of just jumping between min and max.

    I'd probably implement it as a P-DMX design so it could (optionally) draw 24V power from a CAT5. A companion mp3 player with SD card would be the audio source. Maybe the mp3 player could be triggered by a contact closure or via DMX.
     
  8. XDU

    XDU Full Time Elf

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    Sounds good David
    If you go ahead with it why not include the facility to trigger it from a pir as well
     
  9. OP
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    David_AVD

    David_AVD Bite my shiny metal ass!

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    I think having the mp3 player and sound-servo controller as separate boards is the best way. The mp3 player could have DMX + several (8?) contact trigger inputs. Maybe make it so it can either play a different file for each input, or a random one each time a single input was triggered.

    Most PIRs have a contact output on them, so that should be ok. Not sure if 5V PIRs are easy to find though, so might have to think about a 12V supply option.
     

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