View Full Version : Fright automation units

11-15-2006, 02:19 PM
I am planning on building up some props and adding some programming and pneumatics, but what companies make the best programming unit for the price? I've seen the Boobox (and it's other forms), Terror By Designs units, but has anyone actually had any experience with these? What are some other companies? I am hoping to hook up both lights and solenoid air valves to these, but also have little idea on how to wire the damn things. Which ones also come with the best sound quality? I am going to start from scratch, so any info is welcome.

I plan on converting my electric chair from a motor to a pneumatic, and reconstructing a large werewolf prop I borrowed from a friend, made by Stagefright. I have been running into wall after wall trying to find information and methods on how to make all this run smoothly, simply, and by itself with a simple trigger.

Duke of Darkness
11-15-2006, 04:14 PM
I am not the most technical person as haunters go, and I find many of the controllers confusing. That is why you may get all kinds of different answers here, but I love the BooBox. Not because it is the most powerful or has the most features, but because its use is very intuitive and I was up an running after only a few minutes of trying to figure it out.

I too, however, would like to hear from others who have used a variety of controllers.


Jim Warfield
11-15-2006, 08:49 PM
If all else fails, grab the thread and swing that balled-up Kleenex ghost over your own head and act scared, they have to laugh or scream, of course if the laughing only comes after the straight-jacket straps are pulled tighter, then that's no good.
A $5.00 motion switch wired with a push button over-ride to activate it if you need to do so.
Radio-remote controls switching 120 volts via a hand held remote works good too.
Many pnuematic valves automatically reverse themseves at the end of their "On" cycle, this solves resetting the electric chair guy.
A mercury tube from an old wall therostat can carry low voltage to switch relays from "Normally On" to "Normally Off" settings, they can also be mounted on a moving part of the prop to activate another power source like a sound making device.

Ken Spriggs
11-16-2006, 07:35 AM
I am a complete moron when it comes to controllers....BUT I do know that the BOOBOX...since we have 2 or 3 of them .... is really easy to use.

(I even know how to reprogram it)

Jim Warfield
11-16-2006, 09:03 AM
I tried to re-program a "Boo-Box" when I was in high school, it didn't work, we got divorced later.

11-16-2006, 09:11 AM
I agree with everyone else. For ease of use, and durability, the BOObox is the way to go. And the guys from Fright Ideas are great to work with.

11-16-2006, 10:34 AM
Here is a link for the manual for the BooBox in PDF format you can download. This might help a bit.


As for automated props, I still have people pulling strings and flippin switches.

Good Luck


11-16-2006, 11:14 AM
There is a lot to be said for pulling strings, flipping switches, and pushing buttons. It's cheap, and it lets the actor call the shots when it comes to timing. Of course, if you are like me, you have some actors with timing less accurate than a simple machine.
Ideally it is best to be ready to substitute a button pusher switch flipper with a devise, and vise versa, depending on the situation.

11-16-2006, 12:33 PM
Boo Box and the less expensive Pico Boo's are the way to go. I use several Pico Boos at Nightshade Manor. They are extremely easy to program, have flexible trigger device options and are extremely reliable.

11-16-2006, 01:23 PM
I have always gone with the BooBox but I am open to new ways andporducts to do things.

Good PDF link too Krone.

Jim Warfield
11-16-2006, 09:43 PM
If you care about your customers (Your "Bread& Butter", remember?) having a good time, an actual person making the decision to activate or not activate a display makes the difference between scaring some all ready terrorized little kid so badly that they will never see another Haunted House or allowing them to pass by unscared, possibly helping to create another future customer.
motion switches don't operate like this.

11-17-2006, 05:37 AM
If you just need simple control, Carl Cowley's PET's rock.


Duke of Darkness
11-17-2006, 10:32 AM
Jim, I agree that it is often better to have a person trigger an effect than a motion sensor or other automatic trigger. Again, the Boo Box is ideal for this application because you can have someone push a button (it is even possible to set it on a remote control) and have a program begin that includes audio, as well as several timed effects. It seems from the other posts in this thread that I am not alone in my enthusiasm for the Boo Box, but we have still not heard much about other options....


Karl Fields
11-17-2006, 11:39 AM
We used to use Gilderfluke exclusively, but when the Cowlacious PET came on the scene we started using those also. Both are fine units with pluses and minuses. We had some new props that we needed controllers for this year and purchased half dozen of Sprawling Delusion's OEM KeyBanger with audio and motion sensor. Controls 24vdc solenoid valves directly, output to powered speakers directly,simply plug the supplied wall wart in and your ready.
"Programming" is too easy to call it that, push the buttons to mimic, real time, what you want the prop doing and save it. Without using a string, it can't get much easier than that!

Jim Warfield
11-17-2006, 06:17 PM
Karl, How easy do you think "String" is when I plant my own cotton, pick it, roll it, lacquer it and do it all mice elf!????
Huh? Huh?

Inn Reaper
11-21-2006, 10:04 AM
Here is my thinking I have over 30 boo-boxs in our haunts. Do you want your actor who is in make-up and costume standing there flipping switches or do you want to give him the best opportunity to scare people. The boo-box is by far the best and easiest thing I have ever used. They even hold up outside. The can control (8) separate outputs (lighting, sound, 24v, 9v, 12v, 120v, with built in 40w amp.) It even has a pre-amp plug to use for amplied props.

You can set the timing up perfect because you can record in real time with a photo eye or give him a remote. We do both. Our actors love it. While (8) functions are happening he can evaluate his exact timing for his scare and not worry about flipping a switch.

Also (1) boo-box has (2) triggered inputs so you can use (1) for (2) rooms.

11-27-2006, 02:54 PM
If you need 1 to 3 programmable channels, Terror By Design has a 3 channel puppetmaster easily programmed. Haunted Village also carries the 1 or two channel Maestro units similar to TBD's units. If you need more than 3 channels, Gilderfluke has a 4 or 8 channel minibrick (although you need to program the 8-channel unit with easy-to-use software, you can program the 4 channel unit with on-board push buttons)...any specific questions, e-mail me offlist at craig@craigsrobotics.com.

Jim Warfield
11-27-2006, 04:01 PM
Nobody has softer software than is found in my head.
I activate one scare only when the patron is looking at it. I activate another scare only after the first person in the line is half-way passed it.
I operate one scare with absolute silence, inches from the their face with lights on. (Not the haunted pants zipper!)
Another prop only gets used when everyone's attention is focused upon me (somehow I sense these things?)
Some items never happen because a small child has went "WAAA!" and I really would like the opportunity to entertain them, Mother and child because putting this house into their memory banks with a pleasant feeling about it is the most valuable "advertising" ever found.

11-28-2006, 07:39 AM
Even so, you can add a manual trigger to an automation and set it off at your timing, I would just figure a single-acting popup is a bit dull. Wouldn't you rather have something that jumps and thrashes a bit? That's where the timers come in. But Jim I can see your point 100%, it's better to have, for example, 5 well placed scares than 15 random ones.