Remotely controlled starship

Hi,

I hope this question is appropriate to this forum, I'm new here, but I'm about to start building a PolarLights 1/350th scale Enterprise. If you're unfamiliar with the kit, it's styrene, large and very cool. Get one to express your innner geek.

Anyway, I want to hang it using steel wires, painted flat black and it will be displayed against a black background, with the illusion, I hope of it floating in space. I plan to run power to the model via the wires, like those little track bar lights you might find in a coffee shop.

All the electronics for the ship will be inside (it's a big kit) and I have the schematics to make the lights blink and the photon torpedos fire. But I don't want the torpedoes to constantly fire. I'd like to be able to push a button and have them fire. But with only three wires going to the model, I can't control the navigation lights, strobes, impulse engines, spotlights, etc.

I could install DIP switches in some inconspicuous spot, but how much cooler and geekier to trigger the effects from an infrared remote control shaped like a tricorder?

I have found a company that sells a remote (I'll have to hack it into a tricorder), a sensor and a PIC preprogrammed chip to decipher the remote codes (http://kitsrus.com/pdf/k92.pdf), but the schematic shows that all the outputs are high. Pressing a button on the remote sets the appropriate output low.

So, can anyone suggest what I can do to trigger the effects? They sell a more expensive and I'm sure much heavier kit with relays (http://kitsrus.com/pdf/k142.pdf) that actually reverses the outputs -- pushing a button sets an output to high -- using inverters. (They also sell a kit with four relays, using a UHF transmitter -- a car remote.)

But I'd like to do this without a relay. I know very little about electronics -- just enough to follow a schematic and wire it, hoping there are no mistakes in the schematic. But I thought a transistor, like an SCR thyristor, could be used as a switch. Could I take the first kit I mentioned, add the inverter to switch the output to high when a button is pressed, and use the thyristor to basically be a solid state switch? Essentially doing the work of the DIP switches?

I fear the 5V outputs of the PIC module would be too high for the thyristor and maybe that's why the relays are necessary.

I appreciate any help and advice.

Jennifer

PS All the kits I mentioned are at http://kitsrus.com/kits.html

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LasVegas10 years ago
Use black 30 gauge wire to hang it. First, it's very thin, but surprisingly strong and second, you can pass power through it if you use more than one wire. More than two wires would allow you to use the additional wire to send control signals serially or binary.
virtualight (author)  LasVegas10 years ago
Thanks for the suggestion. There will be three wires in all, so I suppose I could send serial commands, but then I'd have to something to read those serial commands, and still set relays or something. Would have a suggestion on what could read (and send) those serial commands? Thanks, Jennifer
Relays would rarely need to be used. Most low power circuits can be turned on and off by simply supplying a high or low signal at the right place. Higher power switching could be done with a transistor or FET (Field Effect Transistor). All of the above could be accomplished with a PIC (Like the Stamp Processor available on the Make page). The serial data could be sent to the PIC and it would turn on and off the choices through it's digital lines. The serial data could also be sent with another PIC or even a PC.
virtualight (author)  LasVegas10 years ago
You know, someone else at another board suggested the same thing, only they're advocating the BASIC Stamp module. And I guess a USB cable is really only four pins (unless the metal housing is something other than ground). So I could use four wires to hold up the ship and make it a very weird USB cable. Thanks!
You only need the data lines to pass USB info. The power lines would only be needed if the USB device needed power. The four wire idea would work for powering your ship and handling the USB data just fine. Most Stamp modules will support straight serial as well as USB. You probably don't need your ship to report data back, so the three wire idea would still work once the Stamp is programmed.