Welcome to Haunt Hackers.
|We are group of designers of Halloween Haunt controllers and other products for the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) builders.
Our projects are for the Computer and Electronic hobbyist or professional. Weíve done the design and programming, but you still need a good understanding of computers, electronics and software to build our projects. You must be able to build, solder and debug on your own. We do NOT offer one-on-one support services.
We can supply Printed Circuit Boards at near cost, build documentation and the basic software to help get your project running.
The New Series of Controllers from Haunt Hackers.
Haunt Hackerís Controller Board Features
|The past prop controllers from Steve Koci and Steve Bjork have been designed for a particular task. Case in point, the Frankenstein 3-axis skull controller was designed only for that function.
The new batch of controllers (starting with Banshee) are designed for more general purpose applications and can be used to handle a wide range of tasks. As your haunt needs change, the new line of controllers can adapt to the new task and save you money.
All of the controllers are designed to be easy to build using standard "Through Hole" components mounted on Printed Circuit boards that we can supply. Besides writing your own programs, we have an ever expanding library of projects designed for these boards. Best of all, we don't charge for any of the software.
Our goal is to put the technology that we use in our own haunts into the hands of our friends in the Halloween Community. To do that, we design the projects with some of the latest technology while keeping the parts cost low.
Let's take look at the new controllers for 2018.
Banshee, The Super Prop Controller
|It's taken two years to get this board ready and boy it's a screamer. Banshee! is an "all in one" controller board with all the components needed to run any of our older projects with many improvements plus a few new surprises too.
By stepping up to a Picaxe 40X2, we get six times the program space, double the variables and it's eight times faster to run programs never dreamed of with the other controllers.
Banshee has a wide range of systems to control props like the eight general purpose I/O lines for Servos, sensors and other devices. In addition there are four High Power MOSFET Output Drivers (rated up to 10 amps) for LED lights, Solenoids and other elements of your prop. Add in two Optical Protected inputs for PIR and sensors for long range inputs for added safety and control.
The AU-5017 onboard audio system uses both MP-3 and wav format files great flexibility and sound quality. The audio is also fed into two 7-Band Audio Spectrum Analyzers for Servo Jaw Syncing, Color Organ or other sound analyzing effects in real time.
The new Battery Backup Real Time Clock feature lets Banshee know when to run automatically. Banshee also includes a 512 Kilobit EEPROM for recording and playing back prop programed sequences.
Like our other controllers, Banshee is your creation. Start with our software library of programs or write you own. You can customize Banshee to fit your prop controller needs.
Banshee will make your props scream!
Wee Little Talker
|Don't let its size fool you. This 2.3 by 3 inches controller can make just about any prop talk. With a built in audio player, the Wee Little Talker uses a full 7-band Audio Spectrum Analyzer to drive a jaw servo in perfect sync.
It also has an input for a trigger like a PIR and two LED driver outputs for glowing eyes or other effects.
This is the perfect solution when the prop does not need full 3-axis movement.
New for 2018 - Banshee Jr.
|The story behind the Banshee Jr
Our first Super Prop Controller, the Banshee was design to handle the needs of most any prop. The primary used turned out to be a replacement for the Frankenstein, a 3-axies head controller.
After many requests, we created the Wee Little Talker as a small and low-cost controller to just drive the jaw servo using our automatic speech to mouth movement technology. (Just like Banshee.)
While revisiting the design of our Haunt Hackers kits to use the DFplayer Mini sound module, we also address the need for a low cost 3-Axis head controller.
The new Banshee Jr design removes the extra hardware not really needed by the single head 3-Axis program. This cut the size of the PC board down by 30% and lowered the overall cost by 40%. We were also able to remove one of the parts supply houses for a few special required parts.
The Banshee Jr replaced the Picaxe 40X2 with a lower cost 20X2 controller. Since it designed to only control one head, weíve dropped the number of servo ports from eight to four. There is a fifth port that is used for a Trigger input port. (It can be used for an optional fifth Servo port.)
We also addressed the power system too. In place of the multiple power supplies, the same 5 Volt power supply is used to run the main circuit and drive the servos. The only other power supply is for optional LED show lights and can be any value from 5 to 30 Volts.
Overall the new Banshee Jr is lower in price, faster to build and easier to hide in your props.
About our Projects, Controllers and Information
|We at Haunt Hackers wanted to create projects and controllers that the home or small haunter could afford. With the right skills and a willingness to build, test and debug your projects, you too can bring life to your haunt on the tightest of budgets.
To keep prices low, we do not charge for our designs or software. Some projects, we do offer a PC board at cost to help make the project easier to build. The information found on this website is a free service to our fellow Haunters.
As such, we can only donate limited time to this endeavor. Most of our time is spent in the design of projects and controllers with very little time leftover for updating this website and responding to email questions.
As new information on the projects and controllers does come available, we will post it on the website. So, please visit us again for new postings. Questions about a problem with a project or those wishing to inquire on precise subject or issue, we do our best to respond quickly.
On that note, we will not respond to emails asking for general information on a controller or project since all of the currently available information is already posted on the website.
Thanks you for your understanding, Steven Bjork.
The Haunt Hackers
Why do we use Picaxe Micro-Controllers for our projects?
For more information on Picaxe line of controllers
|By Steven Bjork
Over the past 40 years, Iíve used just about every type Microprocessor and Micro-Controller in the devices and computers that Iíve designed. From the old days with CPUs like the 8080 and 6809 to the new Raspberry Pi 2, they all had their advantages and disadvantages.
For example, the current generation of Arduinos are powerful little controllers that are great if you are willing learn the Operating System (OS) and programming tools. This can be a bit daunting for the casual user that only uses them during the haunt build season. Once your up to speed on the ins and outs of Arduino, it's time to put it to rest till the next build season. By the time you pick it up again (six or more months later), it may take a bit to remember it all.
Simple controllers like the Basic Stamp and the Prop 1 & 2 controllers are a good choice for the seasonal haunt builder. They have a low learning curve since there is no Operating System to learn. BASIC, their imperative programming language is easy to pick up and use.
While the Parallax are fairly easy to program, they are limited by their high cost. The Basic Stamp 1 module starts at $30 while the Prop 1 & 2 can run from $40 to $100. These were not bad prices when they where first introduced. But today, there are less expensive controllers that offer more power and options.
This is were the Picaxe line of controllers comes in. With chips starting at $2.50 and topping out at $8.50 for the Picaxe 40X2, they make a great low cost alternative.
Why so low? The development of Picaxe controllers were funded by the United Kingdomís Oil and Gas industry as a way to kick-start education in the computer sciences. The hope is that inexpensive tools will help create the future engineers that industry needed.
Picaxe has a wide variety of controller chips to choose from. Each size up adds more Input/Output (I/O) lines and functions. The base model, Picaxe 08, has six I/O lines and is perfect for simple control operations like moving a few servos when triggered. At the other end of the scale, the Picaxe 40X2 has more program space, RAM and a whopping 31 I/O lines.
Another reason to use the Picaxe line is the expanded BASIC command set. There are plenty of new commands and functions to make life easier for the seasonal haunt programmer. Add in all with the help on the web, it will not take long to get up and running.
What is the cost in getting started? Well, the on-line lessons and programming software are free. You will need to buy a Picaxe chip Programming cable and one of our Project PC boards or Picaxe circuit board to get started. A CHI035A - PICAXE-18M2 Power Project Board, Picaxe 18M2+ and PICAXE USB Dowload Cable are less then $50. These parts not only get you up and running, but starts you off with your first prop controller.
You can see why we use the Picaxe line of controllers as the heart of your projects. They are easy to learn, inexpensive and most of all, powerful. When building one of these projects, the only extra cost is buying (just once) a $20 programming cable since the coding and chip programming software are free.
For more information on the Picaxe line of controllers, please visit www.picaxe.com .