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New Donation Box


Aaron Maue

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Last year, we didn't do a donation box, but I estimate that over 25% of our guests either tried to give us money or asked if we were taking donations. So, we thought we'd try it out this year. Like many of you - the donations will all go to a local charity, with none to cover our show costs.

The design is my wife's idea. I just implemented what she asked. The picture is below. As you can see, it's a stocking. It's entirely self-contained, with the exception of the connection to power and my LOR network. The stocking itself is made of 3/4" plywood.

As you can see from the video (link below), in its "normal" state, the floodlight and candy cane are turned on. When someone opens the mail slot to drop a donation, it sets off a couple of triggers that launch an audio sequence and an animation sequence to "thank" the user for their generosity.

The internals work like this... There's a CTB08 controller that I use to turn on the floodlight, candy cane, the C7s, and a small audio amplifier that drives the attached speaker. I also use one output to drive a relay to turn the flood and candy cane off while the sequence is playing.

As part of my show, I put the floodlight/candy cane channel and the audio amplifier channel in the background tab. When my show starts up, the flood/candy cane and amp channels turn on.

I have a magnetic switch on the mail slot which, when opened, energizes a relay that does 2 things... First, it triggers the input on the CTB08 which starts the interactive sequence that chases the lights around the stocking (chase isn't final in the video; still deciding on that yet) and pulls the relay which turns off the flood and candy cane. Second, it sends a trigger to a self-contained MP3 audio board from a company called Hauntbots. I have since discovered cheaper boards from other companies, but I don't regret my purchase. I've made multiple contacts with them to ask questions and they're extremely fast and extremely supportive. The trigger to the audio board plays an audio file that I have recorded to an SD card which is inserted into the slot on the audio board. The audio you hear in the YouTube video is not final, so I didn't spend much time working on its quality.

This has been another fun project, with a couple of learning opportunities along the way. Lemme know what you think. And if you have other questions, let me know. I'm happy to fill you in.

Video link: http://youtu.be/iqRPol6Pn_A


Attached files 320002=17462-DSC_6197.jpg

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Great idea! Do you have any specs or how to would like to add something like that to my display

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That is very cool... I have not done anything with triggers, but is that a seperate animation sequence that just runs from the trigger, seperate from the regular show ??

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Maine Lights wrote:

Great idea! Do you have any specs or how to would like to add something like that to my display


Since there's interest, I'll put together a how-to with some specs you can work from. Stay tuned.
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MikeyRo wrote:

That is very cool... I have not done anything with triggers, but is that a seperate animation sequence that just runs from the trigger, seperate from the regular show ??


Yes. It's a separate animation sequence. It's triggered by one of the inputs on the hardware and runs in the interactive section of the show, as opposed to the Animation or Musical sections that you use for the regular part of the show. Check out these threads for some more information...

http://forums.lightorama.com/forum93/29843.html
http://forums.lightorama.com/forum76/29613.html

In short, using the Advanced license, you can create an interactive section of your show that is activated with the external trigger(s). When the controller senses the trigger, it activates the interactive event you've associated with that trigger.

If you look at the hardware user manual, it shows you how to wire it up, as in my first linked thread above. Then, following the second thread above, you'll see how it gets set up in the software.
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That is just an awesome project. I do have a couple suggestions though. Can you delay the time before the spot light cuts out to give the people time to put in the donation before it goes dark?
Also I think I would use a more fun announcement like a Santa voice or elf voice thanking the peeps. That way kids will be begging the parents to hear it again. (evil smile)

I've been looking for an idea for a new donation box and something like this just may fit the bill.
Thanks for posting it.

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Guest Don Gillespie

Cool idea I like what you have done I do agree with Brian a voice over by santa or an Elf might entice the kids to add another dollar, nice work

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Don Gillespie wrote:

Cool idea I like what you have done I do agree with Brian a voice over by santa or an Elf might entice the kids to add another dollar, nice work

Ditto
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Thanks to all for the kind words. And awesome suggestions, Brian. The delay is easy enough to do. I'll just wait a couple seconds into the animation to pull the relay. And when we record the narration, we'll get someone to do it as Santa or something like that. We were looking for a way to get the neighborhood kids involved somehow. Maybe a couple of them could play elves in our voice track.

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Aaron Maue wrote:

Maine Lights wrote:
Great idea! Do you have any specs or how to would like to add something like that to my display


Since there's interest, I'll put together a how-to with some specs you can work from. Stay tuned.

It's not a step-by-step recipe, but the attachment should give you a good idea to see how it's all put together. If anything's unclear, just ask.

Attached files Stocking Donation Box How-To.pdf
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Aaron Maue wrote:

It's not a step-by-step recipe, but the attachment should give you a good idea to see how it's all put together. If anything's unclear, just ask.
much appreciated!!!

And I agree with your wife about the additional audio track (telling about the charity) would be distracting to the rest of the show...especially if you have outside speakers for the audio portion of your display (like myself)

as for when you mention "I could provide a series of input triggers to allow a visitor to activate a set of props and play an audio file for each one", you do know that you can do that now with LOR?

I have a 5 minute intermission at the end of each of my shows where the kids can come up and push one of 5 different buttons that activate different sound effects/and light sequences... it's defiantly a crowd pleaser

PS: Just thought of something...do you think there is anyway to have your trigger set off by falling money? I can just see kids just opening and closing the donation door just to hear Santa Claus talk...
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jimswinder wrote:

PS: Just thought of something...do you think there is anyway to have your trigger set off by falling money? I can just see kids just opening and closing the donation door just to hear Santa Claus talk...

Cenote had this idea last year and we were talking about for awhile. Never did finish that project. You would have to have a very sensitive trigger - for paper currency - but the idea above would work, having the trigger down the line.
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Dan Ancona wrote:

jimswinder wrote:
PS: Just thought of something...do you think there is anyway to have your trigger set off by falling money? I can just see kids just opening and closing the donation door just to hear Santa Claus talk...

Cenote had this idea last year and we were talking about for awhile. Never did finish that project. You would have to have a very sensitive trigger - for paper currency - but the idea above would work, having the trigger down the line.
How about a light sensor...so when something passed in front of it (currency) it would go off?
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jimswinder wrote:

Dan Ancona wrote:
jimswinder wrote:
PS:  Just thought of something...do you think there is anyway to have your trigger set off by falling money? I can just see kids just opening and closing the donation door just to hear Santa Claus talk...

Cenote had this idea last year and we were talking about for awhile. Never did finish that project.  You would have to have a very sensitive trigger - for paper currency - but the idea above would work, having the trigger down the line.
How about a light sensor...so when something passed in front of it (currency) it would go off?


I thought about that. But took the easy way out. I wasn't convinced I could come up with a sensor or combination thereof that would work consistently.

We didn't have any walk-up traffic last year, although that may change if they get out of their cars to drop a buck or two. We'll see how it goes and adjust next year if your prediction plays out, which it very possibly could do.
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jimswinder wrote:

Aaron Maue wrote:

as for when you mention "I could provide a series of input triggers to allow a visitor to activate a set of props and play an audio file for each one", you do know that you can do that now with LOR?


Good point. I was thinking this implementation would help to localize the audio to the particular location. I suppose I could use different speaker outputs from my sound card. Or maybe a second sound card.
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  • 1 year later...

Sooo.. Aaron, how did the finished product work out for you? I cut out a stocking today but probably won't animate it other than chase lights.

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Sooo.. Aaron, how did the finished product work out for you? I cut out a stocking today but probably won't animate it other than chase lights.

Worked great. It worked for both walk-up and drive-up donations. Functionally, it works just as in the video shown here: http://youtu.be/iqRPol6Pn_A.

We changed the audio track to reflect our actual charity and chose just one of the chase "styles" shown for the actual sequence. The mail slot trigger never failed once. And I did take one of the above suggestions and delayed turning the spotlight off for a couple seconds after the mail slot was opened.

Some people listened to the entire announcement. Some didn't, but I think those that did really enjoyed it. We had our kids do the voice over. The adults thought it was sweet. The little kids thought it was really cool. $3,500 later, and our chosen charity was excited, to say the least.

Made a couple of minor mods for this year. I added some lights that I can turn on when I go to empty the box when it's dark out. Holding the flashlight between my legs was a pain. And I made the collection box bigger.

Edited by Aaron Maue
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