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View Full Version : 3 axis skull. But what controller?



alanf
01-09-2013, 12:30 AM
I am looking to build a three axis skull from triaxial skull labs to upgrade my singing skeleton. But I am new to using servos, and need some help in knowing what controller in can use in conjunction with my ren ss 24 and control with vixen.

Here are some I'm looking at;


https://www.sparkfun.com/products/9664


http://diychristmas.org/store/product.php?id_product=56

Thanks

dirknerkle
01-09-2013, 01:12 AM
Contact tstraub for a "sound-to-servo" controller which reacts to things like microphones, audio feeds, etc. Contact ctmal for his RenServo. Or, if you're looking for a wireless one, DIGWDF has MiniRenServoXB.

Tyler (tstraub) also has a very cool "learning" controller that can be programmed to execute up to 4 different actions. It's cool.

tstraub
01-09-2013, 07:06 AM
The Sound to Servo controller that Dirk is referring to is based on the Scary Terry circuit and completely standalone no need for vixen or your Renard controllers. I used it along side of a PICAxe based servo controller designed by user Halstaff to create a 2 axis talking skull. Head movement was random while not talking but always looked straight forward while talking. It worked very well for my needs but I'm not sure if it is what you are looking for. More information about the project can be found here (http://doityourselfchristmas.com/forums/showthread.php?21498-My-talking-skeleton) if you're interested.

The RenServo by ctmlal or the MiniRenServoXB might be more what you are looking for in terms of control mine just did its own thing.

alanf
01-09-2013, 10:08 AM
I am leaning towards the mini ren servo xb. So the only thing I can't really see from the pictures is where how the lights get plugged in.

ctmal
01-09-2013, 10:27 AM
I am leaning towards the mini ren servo xb. So the only thing I can't really see from the pictures is where how the lights get plugged in.
The mini ren servo xb is strictly a servo controller when the servo firmware is installed and can control up to 8 servos. It does 'speak' the Renard protocol so you can just wire it up inline with your Ren SS and control the lights with that.

hollandlihjtdisplay
01-09-2013, 11:40 AM
I used parts from this company to make our 3 axis skull
http://www.graveyardskulls.com/ (The site seems to have some issues right now, but some good how to information can be found in the tutorials.

Then for control i am using a Bobcat DMX Servo Controller from http://www.diylightanimation.com/wiki/index.php?title=Equipment ( not one of Rjs designs).
8 servo outputs
8 led outputs for the eyes
17581

alanf
01-09-2013, 06:56 PM
Thanks I think sticking with a ren is the way to go. Now to start getting set up for wireless.

mkozik1
01-10-2013, 12:58 AM
I used parts from this company to make our 3 axis skull
http://www.graveyardskulls.com/ (The site seems to have some issues right now, but some good how to information can be found in the tutorials.

Then for control i am using a Bobcat DMX Servo Controller from http://www.diylightanimation.com/wiki/index.php?title=Equipment ( not one of Rjs designs).
8 servo outputs
8 led outputs for the eyes
17581

I have been using the SSC32 but began moving to the Bobcat last year. What are you using as you software? The SSC32 used VSA by Brookshire and it works pretty well. I did some stuff with the Bobcat and want to use the wireless as you have but just ran out of time! Have 10 more boards to build!!

-Mark

hollandlihjtdisplay
01-11-2013, 12:16 AM
I have been using the SSC32 but began moving to the Bobcat last year. What are you using as you software? The SSC32 used VSA by Brookshire and it works pretty well. I did some stuff with the Bobcat and want to use the wireless as you have but just ran out of time! Have 10 more boards to build!!

-Mark
The picture is from the wiki on diylightanimation.com, my board was wired last year. I have ordered the parts to make the wireless board though. I am using lsp to control my stuff, but sadly i never had time to program a sequence for the 2 skulls, just the 4 talking faces, lighting, etc.... I start out with vixen with my voice singing to the song which a add in generates the jaw sequencing tracks which i transfer to lsp.

Keith R
01-11-2013, 01:10 AM
I am looking to build a three axis skull from triaxial skull labs to upgrade my singing skeleton. But I am new to using servos, and need some help in knowing what controller in can use in conjunction with my ren ss 24 and control with vixen.



I am not sure that you can use your Ren SS 24 to control the servos. You either need to get the Ren Servo board, a SSC32 (my choice), or the Pololu mini servo board (works very well). I was disappointed in the control I had of my skulls with Vixen, although many have used it with great success. I ended up using VSA and it was easy to use but the programming will take time, no matter which system you go with.
I used the Scary Terry board one year so that the kids could talk into a mic and watch the skull move its mouth. Not the way I would go because you need two tracks, one with voice (to make the mouth move), and the other with the music.

I haven't uploaded all of my vids from this Halloween, but you can view them here:
https://vimeo.com/user2895663/videos

All of my skulls were built using techniques used on these two sites:
http://www.halloweenforum.com/halloween-props/62161-my-3-axis-skull-progress.html
http://www.firediving.com/projects/3_axis_skull.htm

I am glad I built my skulls from scratch incorporating ideas from both sites. Here is a pic of my spare.

alanf
01-11-2013, 11:37 AM
I am planning on using vixen and the skull sequencing add in. I haven't played with them yet. But plan to soon.

ctmal
01-11-2013, 12:07 PM
I am planning on using vixen and the skull sequencing add in. I haven't played with them yet. But plan to soon.

Use the Object Sequencer Suite. There's a couple of bells and whistles in there that aren't in the Skull Sequencer.

alanf
01-11-2013, 12:58 PM
Do I need to have my skull built to mess with the sequencing. Or can I blindly start playing with sequencing?

ctmal
01-11-2013, 01:12 PM
It would be helpful to have your skull ready so you know what settings you need for it. Otherwise you might end up having to redo your sequence when your done. You don't need a skull attached to sequence though so you can play around with it.

mkozik1
01-11-2013, 01:12 PM
Do I need to have my skull built to mess with the sequencing. Or can I blindly start playing with sequencing?

You CAN, but I have found that having the skull there makes life alot easier. Being able to compare the values in the sequencer to the movement on the skull makes things alot easier. At least for me!!

Keith R
01-12-2013, 12:15 PM
It would be helpful to have your skull ready so you know what settings you need for it. Otherwise you might end up having to redo your sequence when your done. You don't need a skull attached to sequence though so you can play around with it.

What Chris means here is your null or starting settings. Most servos have a range from 0 to 90 degrees which is done by sending each servo a PWM (pulse width modulation) signal, a series of repeating pulses of variable width, represented by the pulse that you put into them. Most servo's pulse range from 500 micro seconds to 2500 microseconds, with 1500 being the middle. Your null (or "zero", or middle) reading when installed on your skull, may not be 1500 uS.

You need to have your skull set up and find those neutral settings so that your skulls don't snap into position at the beginning of your sequence and from sequence to sequence.
Hope that helps.

budude
04-13-2013, 11:01 PM
Reviving an old thread - - - just curious what you ended up with for your choice of controller. I too just bought two of the 3-axis skulls from the triaxial skull labs site - - perhaps a bit pricey but I just didn't want to mess with figuring out what parts to get and this has everything you need but you still have to build it yourself. I like the Pololu controllers but question for those using servos - how long can the leads be from the servo controller to the servos? As I will have two skulls, my choices are using two micro-6 or one mini-12. If I went the dual micro way, the method of daisy-chaining them seems a bit complicated. Any thoughts on that?

mkozik1
04-13-2013, 11:55 PM
Brian,

I used an SSC-32 on mine and had 6' leads using CAT5 as I too was controlling two skulls from one controller and VSA. I also have the Bobcat Servo Controllers mentioned on the previous page which use DMX and will be going wireless this year. I have been having conversations with Joe to see if he can build VSA type logic into HLS where-by a wizard would create the channel providing servo motion based on the level of sound (the greater the amplitude, the more the servo moves).

budude
04-14-2013, 12:09 AM
Brian,

I used an SSC-32 on mine and had 6' leads using CAT5 as I too was controlling two skulls from one controller and VSA. I also have the Bobcat Servo Controllers mentioned on the previous page which use DMX and will be going wireless this year. I have been having conversations with Joe to see if he can build VSA type logic into HLS where-by a wizard would create the channel providing servo motion based on the level of sound (the greater the amplitude, the more the servo moves).

OK - 6' (or ~10' apart) would be good enough. Yeah - I was looking at VSA as well - I'd like to get the middle version as it supports video (hoping to have a projection of Grim Grinning Ghosts) but if HLS gets me close, that would be great.

lightman
05-29-2013, 12:22 AM
Budude...

Pinging this thread again...

How is your project coming along. I just purchased VSA and TrackSkull. Do you like Triaxial's Twisty kit?.... $129.

I also have the DMX Medusa controller as well as the mini SSCII controller (from Lynxmotion robot arm). Have had good performance from both.

Regards,
Lightman

budude
05-29-2013, 12:38 AM
The kits aren't too bad but do require a fair bit of DIY'ness of your own to make things fit just so. The instructions have a couple steps not well defined but again with a little fidgeting you can figure it out. The one problem I had was the use of the plastic clevis on one end of the servos that come with the kit. Either I did something very wrong or they just suck... I could not get them to stay clasped together - not sure why... I ended up getting another set of metal clevis to replace those - this requires drilling out the servo horn hole a tad and I found that it cut back in how far it allowed movement. With all that said, the kit is probably worth it but I think they do sell just the plate which is the hardest bit to come up with on your own for a 3-axis skull.

Here's a video of the skull movement - I didn't have it mounted so it doesn't show the movement in a normal setting but you get the idea:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10200233236851623

I ended up getting the Pololu Maestro-12 controller - it works pretty well but I sure wish it had the bigger terminal block for the main DC like the 18 and 24 channel versions have - I would probably get the 18-channel version or some other controller because of this. The controller has a single RGB channel for LED lighting - - again, too bad you can't use either PWM or servo on all the outputs. I will have RGB lights (non-moving) in the skulls as well - it would have been nice to control the eyes on separate channels so I suggest looking for those features if you have lights in your skulls.

I bought VSA to control the skulls and have played with it some but need to get going with that - just have to finish up 'aging' the skulls. I do not have TrackSkull - - doesn't it need a special camera?

I have four other 'Bucky' skulls that I will be putting a single servo in for the jaw and am using Tyler's (tstraub) Sound-to-Servo boards (from ScaryTerry's design) to drive them - they are quite cool. I bought a 'brain' for one of the Bucky's that I'm going to try and make a mold of so that I can create a translucent brain with LEDs in it that will be back "singers" for the two 3-axis skulls.

I must say I've been enjoying the Halloween side of things as much as the Christmas stuff -- very fun stuff!

lightman
05-29-2013, 10:02 AM
Thanks for the info and video Brian. I am thinking about getting a Twisty Skull and trying out the 3 Axis route.

Yes, for TrackSkull I also had to buy TrackIR camera and sensor. I have to say, both packages worked right out of the box and are well integrated. Motions are smooth and very responsive to my head movements. I use a baseball cap with 3 IR reflectors on it (comes with the TrackIR camera).

TrackSkull takes these outputs and sends them off to servo controller board. You can record in TrackSkull then export the routine to VSA.

I have been working a lot with VSA lately....learning its ins and outs. I used to use a Midi based servo/audio system and have to say this new software is much easier to use. Editing is the key with VSA... it gives you several options for adjusting the movements. It also supports many servo controller boards... at the same time. Nice.

I have been experimenting and learning using animated soda cans. They are my test bed for now. Take a look at this goofy animated sequence. It was done as a test of the software's ability to control multiple axis and sound track.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3jUOq94sqY&list=UUphjYbZ4IEb1C3_h2C6zsOQ&index=2

Later...
Brian

budude
05-29-2013, 11:15 AM
Lol - that is great...

Greg in Canby
05-29-2013, 01:37 PM
I bought a 'brain' for one of the Bucky's that I'm going to try and make a mold of so that I can create a translucent brain with LEDs in it that will be back "singers" for the two 3-axis skulls.
If that doesn't work, check this out:
https://apfco.com/secure/w1381/product_description.cfm?product=KW1381-1

budude
05-29-2013, 01:44 PM
If that doesn't work, check this out:
https://apfco.com/secure/w1381/product_description.cfm?product=KW1381-1

I bought that as well actually - it is way too big for the Bucky style skulls but of course you might get away with a filling it only half way or something. The brain model I bought fits perfectly but wow - - it weighs a ton and adding that to the weight of the Bucky which is also heavy makes for a good boat anchor! I'm planning to fill in some of the gaps on the brain model with clay and making the outside mold from that and then figure out a way to make an insert into that mold so that it isn't solid since silicon is very expensive and it might be too thick for the LEDs to show through (although that may work better as I don't want it too bright anyway).