This is a DIY “How To” video tutorial on how to build a pneumatic automated Halloween prop. In this video, we cover the basics on automating a haunted door with moving Lock, Door Knocker, Handle, and Mail Slot door with skeleton hand. We cover the basics of how you can build an automated prop using AutomationDirect pneumatics and CLICK PLC’s. This video shows how we built and programmed this prop with AutomationDirect’s FREE CLICK PLC software.
Are you like me and love to decorate for Halloween or just about ANY festivity? I love using automation for props. If you have been following 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 of your friends and co-workers too! This year, we decided to build a simple animated FRONT DOOR 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 The Haunted Door. Once again, after searching the web, I am shocked at the prices that prop shops are charging for simple pneumatic products and a few input and outputs which are nothing more than programmable relays. I encourage you to look at AutomationDirects NITRA pneumatics, our PLCs and our sensors, switches, buttons and knobs. Our prices are much better and using a CLICK PLC like this one gives you more inputs and outputs, FREE software and much more room to expand. A lot of DIYers are now playing with compact PC's similar to the raspberry pi, but from what I have seen, programming I/O with one can be a total pain. This is where our PLC products shine! After all, that is what they were designed to do; read input devices and control output devices. I try to find the least expensive route when building our props with the intent on using these year after year or possibly selling or passing them on to someone else. The problem I have seen with a lot of DIY prop videos on YouTube is the builder uses scrap products like old door closures, appliance knobs and buttons etc. These are great for a one time prop, but don't expect them to last long. You have to ask yourself: Would it be easier and less of a headache to spend a few extra dollars, purchase industrial grade gear and have a long lasting, easily built prop? Well, I think so. We purchased an inexpensive door at the local big box shop as well as a door knob, mail slot, door knocker and sliding door lock. The back of the door reveals how we control each piece of hardware. We use pneumatic valves once again because they are inexpensive, low cost and pneumatics are clean. The cylinders that control the door knob, the door knocker and the slide lock are all spring return style. By using the spring return cylinders, we only need to plumb one side of the cylinder and we can use a simple one way valve like this one. When the output turns on, the valve is opened and the cylinder extends. When the output turns off, the valve closes, the cylinder pressure is released and the internal spring retracts the cylinder rod. I did use a two way cylinder on the extending hand. It requires a 3 way valve with 2 solenoids to control the direction out and back in. Here is how this prop will operate: A person walks by and trips a photo sensor telling the PLC to control up to four pneumatic valves. We could run all 4 valves and cylinders simultaneously or independently or in a timed sequence. Its ALL up to YOU! That's the wonderful thing about a PLC, YOU program it how YOU want it to control YOUR devices. As usual, we are using a CLICK PLC. I can't stress enough how easy the CLICK PLC is to program and use and it is very inexpensive. 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 Have a CLICK PLC with built in Ethernet, DC inputs and relay outputs shown here. 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 4 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! I have a 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, the part numbers are displayed on the screen. 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 which, time is money. 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 chose to use several different valves with this project. We have a 3 way, 2 position poppet valve for the handle, knocker and lock. We chose the 4 way valve on the mail slot air cylinder so I can control the extension and retraction and if we want to stop the hand somewhere between full extension or retraction, we can. Otherwise I would have used a spring return solenoid which would have only allowed the cylinder to be at full extension or full retraction but nowhere in between. I used flow control valves to adjust the flow so the cylinders move smoothly without slamming. This year I added one of these cool little guys: a push to connect inline pressure gauge. These are gauges are very inexpensive and can be used anywhere on the system to check system pressure. The valves are all plumbed with flexible quarter inch tubing and our push to connect NITRA fittings. Each valve is wired to an output on our PLC. I used Y1, Y2 , Y3 and since the mail slot has an extend and retract, it uses Y4 and Y5. 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 X1 input. It is the only input we have. So, let's turn to the software. Again, our CLICK PLC programming software can be downloaded for free from our AutomationDirect website. In this program, I have the sensor 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 outputs Y1 to Y5. I used many ladder logic rungs with compare statements to trigger all the cylinders. For example, on rung 4, I say if the value of timer T1 is greater than or equal to 100 milliseconds and less than or equal to 777 milliseconds, then turn on output C10 which is an internal bit in the PLC. On rung 19 I have all the C bits used in the timer comparisons. If any of the C bits are on or true, then the output Y2 is turned on. Output Y2 controls our door knocker. If you noticed, I used compare statements using milliseconds and not seconds. Milliseconds worked better for triggering the output on and off quickly. I use similar timer compare instructions for each of our 5 outputs. After the timer reaches its set value of 16 seconds, we reset the timer. Once everything is reset, the system is ready for another round. 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'm sure if I were to program this project again 2 years down the road, I would probably do it differently. Today, this is how I did it and it works great! 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 and the construction materials. 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 AutomationDirect's support options and click here to learn more or see more videos on the pneumatic products. And be sure to click here to subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified of new Videos. Don't forget to hit the like button below!