The Lab (Technical Talk) > New Hardware Projects

How to control a basic battery powered prop?

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Reys Dad:
Does anyone have any suggestions on the simplest way to control one of these props? Its the kind that works on motion control or a try me button.  I want to have this guy start & stop playing his banjo during a portion of a sequence. Could it be as simple as running a 5v DC adapter from one of my LOR channels and wiring the 5v end into the props battery box or do you also need to do something with a GPIO relay to trigger it? If so how do you setup to trigger it in xlights?

The GPIO relay is the best method with the relay connected to the try me connection.  The first thing that I would do is check to see if the try me button starts and stops the prop or just starts it.  Set up your prop and hit the try me button.  While the prop is doing its thing, press the button again and see if it stops, resets and starts again, ir just keeps running.  This will determine what you need to do to have full control over the prop and once I know how it reacts, we can set up your prop for full control from xlights.

Reys Dad:
Thanks for the reply, I still need to order the prop. Once I have it I'll check the try me button and feedback

Reys Dad:
Hi, I received the prop in last night. I didn't have time to play with it too much because it scared the crap out of my cat but I can confirm the try me button will turn it on and also turn it off.

Cool.  You can control it with a relay board connected to the GPIO pins on the PI.  The Adreno relay boards work well with the PI.  They are 5V with ground triggers and the PI can supply this type of control.  The PI can with a 2.5A power supply can handle up to a 4 relay board with no issues but if you are going to go with a 8 relay or larger board, I would get a separate power supply for the relay board.  You need to determine exactly what type of control you want to have over the prop.  Are you just going to trigger the prop and let it run through its routine or do you want to control both the start and stop?  Is the control of this prop reactive or just part of a sequence or set of sequences?  Does this prop always do the same thing for the same amount of time or does it do multiple things that that take different amounts of time?  The problem with this type of prop is that if you trigger it while it is already running, then it just stops of if you attempt to stop it with by using the try me button and it has already stopped, you will just wind up starting it up again.  These can be real issues in a reactive setup because there is no way for the show or the PI to know if the prop is running or stopped so the single channel control method just doesn't work all that well.  Play with the prop and figure out what it does and what you want it to do and we can get you set up.


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