This is a DIY Halloween props “How To” video tutorial on how to build a pneumatic automated Halloween props. In this video, we cover the basics on automating a scary rocking chair and a mannequin. We cover the basics of how you can build an animatronic Halloween props using AutomationDirect NITRA pneumatics and CLICK PLC’s. This video shows how we built and programmed this prop with AutomationDirect’s FREE CLICK PLC software.
CLICK PLC Software Version: 2.20 Released November 1, 2017
CLICK PLC Firmware Version: Firmware is in the software 2.20
Are you like me and love to decorate for Halloween or just about ANY festivity? I love using automation for props. If you follow our DIY Halloween series, then you know we have been creating DIY Halloween prop videos since 2012! These videos are fun, informative and attract a lot of DIY Halloween and prop enthusiasts. As long as our customers love them, we will keep creating them! So make sure you hit the Like button below and subscribe to our channel. Don't forget to share OUR videos with all your friends and co-workers too! This year, we decided to build a simple animated rocking chair and mannequin prop to show YOU how easy it is to build when using AutomationDirect products. Follow along where I show how to build a prop we call Rocking Ralphie. Before we begin, I would like to discuss one of the latest trends, and that is using a microcontroller or single board computer like the raspberry pi or Arduino to control automation or props. Now, before you start commenting below, please hear me out. Single board controllers are great for certain applications and you may have used them in your own applications. Here are AutomationDirect, we have used them as well in certain applications. I would like to mention; these devices are NOT industrial grade like PLCs. PLCs are designed for harsh environments and are tested for extreme temperatures, vibration, and electrical noise where the single board PC is NOT. While some may find a single board PC easy to program, others find them very difficult. But not with a PLC! PLCs have been around for decades and for the most part all program similarly with ladder logic. If you use a PLC like our CLICK PLC I am using on THIS project, you get free software, and free technical support. Try finding a phone number and a knowledgeable tech representative to help you with a single board computer issue.. This year I purchased a rocking chair at the local big box shop and an inexpensive mannequin at an online Halloween store. I continue to use the CLICK PLC for our Halloween projects, and I use pneumatic valves again because they are inexpensive, low cost and pneumatics are clean. This year I am using one of our new NITRA rotary actuators to rotate Ralphie's head. I used a standard spring return air cylinder attached to the rocking chair to control the rocking motion. Here is how this prop will operate: We control the rocking motion with a simple on/off switch where the PLC is programmed to turn on and off the rocking cylinder at an appropriate time cycle using a Timer and compare functions. Ralphie starts rocking and when a person walks by and trips the photo sensor, we program the PLC to stop the output of the rocking chair and slowly turn Ralphies head to look in the direction of the passerby. After a few seconds, Ralphie turns head back and the chair begins rocking again. When using a CLICK PLC, we can use just a few inputs and outputs to control our one prop, or we can expand the CLICK PLC and run an entire haunted house. As your animation grows, simply purchase more IO cards to Click on to the PLC. I use a CLICK PLC with built in Ethernet, DC inputs and relay outputs again. There are several models with DC in, AC in, DC, AC or relay outputs. It all depends on what you have connected to the PLC. All I have is a DC sensor for input and 2 DC pneumatic valves. I could have used an all AC voltage system, but I chose to work with low voltage DC with this system. Once again when it comes to electricity and wiring: If you don't have the skills or knowledge to work with electricity, we suggest hiring or finding someone that does so you and your system remain safe! We use Rhino DC power Supply that powers the DC photo sensor and our DC pneumatic valves. I am using pre-wired solenoid cables that we sell here at AutomationDirect. I highly recommend using these cables or using some other type of surge suppression. Pneumatic valves have coils and coils can create a voltage spike and without surge suppression, your PLC or other devices could get damaged. These cables have built in suppression, so no need for external diodes, PLUS it saves us wiring time. These are inexpensive, easy to use and will save you money and headaches in the long run. Since we have a 120vac supply voltage, we need to use this CLICK power supply, because the CLICK PLC requires 24vdc to operate. You may be thinking: Why didn't we omit this part and just power our CLICK PLC from the main 24vdc Rhino power supply? Well, we could have but it's not good practice to have your control power and IO power on the same source. It is recommended to separate the two, so you are less likely to have voltage noise and spikes on your PLC power. This keeps the PLC happy and operating well. We only used two pneumatic NITRA brand solenoids on this project. We have a 3-way, 2 position poppet valve for the rocking chair. We chose the 4-way valve on the rotatory actuator, so we can control the rotation of Ralphies head. These rotary actuators are great, allowing us to control the degrees of rotation and by using flow control valves, we can adjust the speed. The valves are all plumbed with flexible tubing and our push to connect NITRA fittings. Each valve is wired to an output on our PLC I used Y1, Y2 and Y3. I chose a plastic housing photo sensor part number shown. This DC photo sensor has a sensing distance of 1.5 meters and does not require a reflector or a 2-part sensor with emitter and receiver. The sensor is wired to our X2 input. And our selector switch is wired to X1 input. Now it's time to program with the software. Again, our CLICK PLC programming software can be downloaded for free from our AutomationDirect website. In this program, I have the switch on our X1 input, when it turns on, I set an internal contact. This contact triggers timer T1 and when the timer equals some set values that I choose, it turns on and off the output Y1 to rock the chair. These times are all adjustable and may need adjusting depending on the weight of the chair, the mannequin and the surface the chair is sitting on. The sensor is wired to input X2. When X2 is triggered, we turn off the internal contact to stop rocking the chair which is controlled by Y1, then we pause, and we trigger output Y2 to turn Ralphies head. I prefer to turn his head slowly to give a more dramatic effect. We can control the timing and speed with simple adjustments to the air flow and PLC timing. Once Ralphie has scared the passerby, then we reset the head with Y3 and restart the rocking motion again. Simple As I always mention, there are many ways to achieve this same project whether it be selecting pneumatic components or writing the PLC program for the CLICK. If done properly, they will all bring you to the same finish line. I hope you are able to stop by AutomationDirects website and pick up a few parts, and be on your way to creating your own automated Halloween prop or just something fun. Please, if you create something cool, let us know, we would love to see what you have created. Keep in mind, All of the products we have used in this system are products that AutomationDirect sells with the exception of our air compressor, the chair and mannequin. The tubing, fittings, wires, terminals, even the Teflon tape are all sold here at Automationdirect! So keep us in mind for all of your automation needs. If you have any questions about using AutomationDirect products, please contact AutomationDirect's free award winning support team during regular business hours. They will be happy to help. Click on this short video to learn more about AutomationDirects support options and click here to learn more or see more videos on the pneumatic products. 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