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About ArlenAhl

  • Rank
    New Forum User
  • Birthday 05/21/1954

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  • Gender
  • Location
    Firestone, Colorado
  • Occupation
    IT analyst

More About Me

  • Interests
    Animatronics, Photography, Scroll Sawing, Song writing
  • How I learned about Light-O-Rama -
    Web search
  • Favorite Decorating Holiday?

LOR Software

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  1. ArlenAhl

    Seeking ServoDog opinions

    I'm in Colorado and we have snow and cold and wind. In fact it snowed 8" on Christmas night with about 40mph winds and another 4-6" since then. My old elf was covered in snow, but kept on working just fine! I did not use the waterproof servos. There are adjustments on the board to adjust the power output, but they are adjusted when you get the board for 6v. That's what all the servos I have seen or used run on (~4.8 to 6v) so I don't believe you should need to make any adjustments. Yeah, read the SD manual when you get it, but it is fairy straight forward. There's always this forum and LOR support has been great if you have any issues. Would love to see what you come up with! Arlen
  2. ArlenAhl

    Seeking ServoDog opinions

    Sax, Things I would do differently include, using mechanical advantage everywhere and no direct drive servos. Also incorporating a triaxial skull design for better movement and either build all that inside a hollowed out Styrofoam head, or use a skull ( http:// skeleton-factory.com/skulls ) with a mask or a skull and use the SmoothOn rubber skin. I'd like to incorporate some body movement an maybe eye movement too. Also some inter-activity for passers-by to 'get involoved' and assist in controlling the show. I've seen this done with the light synchronization before but not with the animatronics. Maybe more and smaller animatronics. Some real simple stuff and some more complex stuff. I'm far from an expert in the animatronics like some others that are on this forum, but I was pleased with the results for my first year! I guess we'll have to see how much time and money I have available this next year! Happy decorating and to everyone a happy and healthy year in 2015! Arlen
  3. ArlenAhl

    Seeking ServoDog opinions

    Eric, I used 1 power supply to run each servo dog. 12v 1.5A. Then the servo dog powered the servos. There were 7 servos on 1 SD and 6 on the other. For a while I thought I was having issues with now enough power to the servos and added local power at Mrs Claus and the old Elf, but it turned out is was an issue with the servo dogs (what originally started this thread). After that I went back to 1 supply at each SD and it worked great. My biggest problem overall I think was I was using several servos to direct drive movements, instead of applying mechanical advantage through gears, levers or linkages.. Actually you don't have to be as artistic as one would imagine to pull this off! Sax - did you try going to triaxialskulllabs.com ? I might try that next year. Or even build this type of movement assembly into the Styrofoam heads. Might work better.....
  4. ArlenAhl

    Seeking ServoDog opinions

    Thanks for the comments! Sax, Yes, I used a part of the same piece I cut out of the mouth for the lower mouth/lip. I did not use masks. Just a lot of time making the heads. As an example - they old elf - I started with a mainquin toddler's body and added the Styrofoam head (I used the same head for Mr & Mrs Claus. Mrs Claus' head I added shape as noted in the end of this description.) Do any shaping to the head if needed first. Then I used a liquid I got at the hobby store from DecoArt called MAGIKOTT (or decoart.com), a surface coating for painting Styrofoam. You brush 2 or 3 coats of this on and the Styrofoam won't just absorb paint. Then you paint the surface a flesh color using acrylic paint. (I tried to post pictures here but haven't figured out how - sorry so I posted on FlikR - https://www.flikr.com /photos/130436217@N06/ ) Paint blemishes, shadows, wrinkles etc. Do the eyes with detail. Use hair and spirit gum from a costume/party shop to attach hair for the beard, eyebrows and hair. Finish by gluing false eyelashes. This is all a whole separate process I had to learn from Internet searches apart from the animatronics. Styrofoam is and isn't easy to work with, it is messy and gets everywhere when cutting! You can buy foam cutters with saw type blades etc, but I found a very sharp, long (~ 6"), narrow bladed kitchen knife worked best for me. You can also add to the shape of the head using the spray construction foam that expands, and is used to fill cracks, and holes works well. Spray a larger than need amount on the head and shape it with a disposable plastic putty knife to add shape and volume to the head. Let it dry. Fill any holes with more spray foam. Let dry. Then do final shaping with a drum sander or Dremmel type tool. Do all l this BEFORE using the MAGIKOTT. Repeat as needed. Be Careful and wear latex or plastic gloves as this stuff is oily, goo-ey and sticks to your skin and hard to remove, (I had to sand some of it off my hands!!!) I tried to use some stuff called Ecoflex 00-30 from Smooth-On to create a skin for Mrs Claus face and neck. It is liquid rubber with flesh color added that stretches. (The elf and Santa had hair to cover the mouth and hide the appearance of the cutout mouth.) It worked well except her mouth servo died twice after I had applied the stuff and to take out the servo and replace it, it tore the rubber skin. Also the skin added tension to the mouth movement, that made the servo have to work harder. I ended up with some of it as the neck covering, but very little on the mouth like I had planned. Maybe I'll improve that for next year. Try and try again! Always moving forward and getting better! Arlen
  5. ArlenAhl

    Seeking ServoDog opinions

    Sax, Sorry it has taken me so long to respond. We have been fighting severe Colds/Flu here for over a week. Servos - I initially used PowerHD servos from Pololu.com. While they initially seemed to fit the need, they didn't last at all. I then tried some Futaba - They were ok, but The best one's I found were HiTek. The cost was higher that PowerHD and about the same as Futaba, but seemed to operate much better. I still used some PowerHD where they didn't fail (at the time - although during the holidays they did fail!!! and part of my program didn't work as planned because of it.) The 3 main characters, (old elf, Santa and Mrs Claus) all used 3 servos each. I built a head rotate(LR) and tilt (up/dwn) assembly that was direct driven for the LR movement using PowerHD high torque 1501MG servos. In mid-November I replaced 1 of these with a HiTek HS-5485HB that has worked much better. The PowerHD 1501 cost $19.95. The HiTek HS-5485HB cost $34.99. Other PowerHD I also were: HD-1600A, HD1160A,1705MG,1711MG and a couple micro servos as test items. The Futabas I tried were S3114 ($14.99) and S3115 ($21.99). I used the While not all of the PowerHD nor the Futaba's failed, I wish I would have found and used compatible HiTek's everywhere. Probably would have spent the same or less and been much more reliable. The head up/dwn was controlled by the PowerHD 1600A 's or PowerHD 1711MG's and seemed to work with few replacements. One note - PowerHD servos seem to be much noisier than Futaba or HiTek during operation. Futaba was worse than the HiTek but not too bad. The mouth movements initially used PowerHD HD-1600A's, then 1711MG and 1705MG's. Again, I wish I had found similar HiTek models to use. Heads - The heads I used were standard Styrofoam wig display heads available at most hobby stores. I cut out the mouth section and carved area large enough to fit a small assembly for the servo to control the mouth. Programming - Yes, I used only the LOR sequence editor to control the servos through manual programming. It wasn't too hard actually. Took no more time that synchronizing lights to music! I know there is a system out that allows tracking your head movements to control the animatronics head movements for under $100 - TrackSkull from MonkeyBasic.com. Recommended by Mike Ziemkowski ( Experienced and I trust his judgement) but after all the servo cost, I didn't want to spend the $ this year. Any other questions feel free to ask. Arlen
  6. ArlenAhl

    Seeking ServoDog opinions

    Hi Mitch, I had several posts about troubles with the Servo Dog not maintaining settings. The primary issues I had were corrected by working with LOR support and they replaced my Servo Dogs. I have still had some issues, but I don't believe they are with the Servo Dogs, I think they are with the servos, the CAT6 extenders I use, or just my inexperience in how I built the animatronics (it was my first year0. One thing I will say that I was told and did not follow..... Use the BEST servos you can, right at the start. I spent more money and wasted a lot of time replacing servos several times because I tried to get by with least expensive way. And the way I designed my animatronics, it was a real pain to replace the mouth servos, and I think caused other possible issues having to dis-assemble and re-assemble them several times. Here's a link to a youtube of my animatronics in action (although the heads didn't completely work all the time as designed. and I had issue with the small elves). http://youtu.be/NfyPxzgu4HM I'd be glad to share more info if you are interested. Arlen Ahl
  7. I have built a Show using the Simple Show builder. It allows me to select a file to fill between shows, OR turn lights ON between shows. Works Great! EXCEPT I can't specify a startup or shutdown sequence. Using the Show Editor I can specify Startup and Shutdown sequences, and I can add a fill sequence, EXCEPT that the fill is an animation and the rest of the show sequences are Musical. I can't specify that the Musical sequences play FIRST, then the Animation sequence. OR, it won't allow me to specify to turn lights ON between shows. I can't save the Simple Show Builder show to a schedule for Weekdays, then another for weekends. Any ideas of how to get the best of both the Show Editor and the Simple Show Builder? By the way - this all should run from the G3-MP3 player using an SD card......
  8. ArlenAhl

    Servo Dog Questions

    Tim, I just reposted a comment to an LOR support ticket I have on the same issue. My servo dogs so not keep their settings either. Especially the Power Up and Lost Communications parameters. It seems like when the servo dog loses communication to the PC, the servos just rotate to wherever they want. Always the same place it seems, but not where I want them to go! Anyone else out there that can help us overcome this?
  9. ArlenAhl

    Invert Channel Up/Down settings

    Thanks Don! I'll try it! George, How do you get a clipboard of a sequence? I've read the manual (help) on Clipboards but don't fully understand. Does it save all the channels, or just a certain channel? Arlen
  10. ArlenAhl

    Invert Channel Up/Down settings

    Don, Yes, if a fade is going from 100 to 0, I want it to invert and go from 0 to 100 etc. If an intensity is 40, I want it to change to 60; 25 to 75, etc How do you get the sequence out of LOR sequence editor to Notepad? George ( or is it Bob? (ItsmeBobO) ) I downloaded clipboardFlipper. I'll try it. Thanks! Arlen
  11. I have Sequence editor v 3.11.2. I had everything programmed, then a servo went out. I replaced it with a better grade servo. Problem is, the new servo operates opposite direction form the old one. So my ramp ups and downs are now opposite of what they need to be. Is there any way to take a channel and invert what I programmed? So that what was down is now up and what was up is now down and the fades are opposite? Sure will save me a lot of time re-programming the servo actions! I ATTACHED WORD DOC FILE AS AN EXAMPLE but I don't see any way to view the attachment. Thanks, Arlen
  12. Tim - Just got home. The commands I found that worked for me are: In the ServoDog utility, set the Power Up parameters to Start Pulse on First Command, In the Lost Communications Parameters, set to Hold at Current Position. Then, I make sure that the servos start and end at the same position in my sequences. So far this has worked for me. Let me know how it works for you. Arlen
  13. ArlenAhl

    Servo Dog Questions

    Hey Tim, I see you've had no replies to this post. Hmmm.... Sorry - I haven't been online following for a while - busy working on my animatronics. Did you figure this one out? Do you have a link to any video of you elf face & mouth? Arlen
  14. Tim, Sorry for the late post. I 'kind of' figured this out... The default and Neutral settings just don't seem to save in the Servo Dog for me. I'm not at my LOR software right now, but I think I ended up setting the servos to 'use last setting' (or something like that) I'll repost the accurate settings later today. It seems to work better. This is my first year doing this and I of course jumped in preety deep. I've built 3 life sized mannequins and two 'head only' elves. The mannequins have 3 servos each,head L/R & U/D movement plus the mouth. The two elf heads only have the mouths plus a servo to spin the head (they are inside gift packages). Getting the right servos has been a nightmare. I keep having to replace the servos as I undersized most of them. I noticed you are in Denver. Sort of neighbors - I'm in Firestone (N I25 by the Longmont turnoff)! I'd love to see and hear more about your display. Arlen
  15. ArlenAhl

    3 Axis Skull Kit

    JF1993, I had never heard of the "3 Axis Skull kits" before your post. Silly me, I built my own tilt/rotate movement device for my Christmas animatronic head functions. Totally different approach. But then, I'm brand new to this environment. After searching for this online, I found the Triaxial Skull Kits fromTriaxial Skull Labs (triaxialskulllabs.com) do not seem to be available right now. (Store is closed) My heads are Styrofoam heads, and not hollow, so I built a 2 axis head movement (could be 3 axis) that mount in the neck area that provides L/R and U/D movements but not side to side tilt. They work well except I used under sized servos due to inexperience that I've had to replace a couple times. Thanks for the different POV on this. Next year I may change how they work. Could possibly build my own parts for the same thing. Arlen