20.12.2021 – THE MISSION
I was passed a Ghost Trap by a friend to well extend its original cable. If you take a look at the scrawny cable which came with the trap, you’ll know that it will never last long in a normal busting. Because of my alternate Saturdays shifts and the Pandemic, it was quite difficult to drive into town to get what I needed. Of course I can order stuff online but there are some complications.
So, my task is to replace the cable and that’s it. Nothing too serious and no, I am not going to look for accurate screen used parts (because it’s kinda hard to find in Malaysia anyway). Instead, I am going to go look for the next best thing.
There are a lot of cables which will certainly work but for some degree of robustness, I decided to go with microphone cables which in theory, can take some amount of punishment. And as for the connectors of a certain diameter, well, let’s try with some BNC types.
In summary, basically what I did was to
REPLACE the existing meh wires with a 3 metre or so of microphone cable and its own connector system (BNC RG59).
Yeah, I should have gotten one too but the Proton Pack was more important. Everything is OK but it is the pedal which sticks out and nags at me. Of course I can try to make a pedal that resembles the one in the Movies but, nah.
Here is an image showing how fragile looking the cable was. I am also going to leave the RED INDICATOR alone since this is a specially made LED for the toy. Plus, it is hard to get those original Linrose Pilot Light (B4611B1). I say this because the resin lens for the LED is cannot be found anywhere else and you will have to use a lathe to make your own.
Once in a while, I would like to go into the City to get my stuff. There is a place called Jalan Pasar which to a lot of Malaysians, who are in the know, consider it as a kind of source or technological hub for electronic components. It is true to a certain extend and in this case, whatever I needed, I can usually get them in one place/shop. I do not have to waste hours looking for one or multiple online shops which carries the needed items and end up burning most of the cash for delivery charges instead.
It is still December 2021 and so, most of the shops have barricaded themselves with the Staff asking what you need at the entrance, then bringing you the items to and fro, etc. things can get bad if you do not know what you need and keep describing to them wrongly. Plus, you r ‘potato’ might be their ‘tomato’, so it helps if you have a sample or an image to show them. In some shops where I am familiar to them, I was allowed in.
Apart from the necessary stuff, I also decided to stock up on some other items and components for testing and prototyping. It is surprising how much wiring you can end up using when you have a production run or well, more prototyping. The 3-metre microphone cable doesn’t look like much but it is long enough.
So, there are about maybe 2mm of insulation to protect two wires plus a copper shield.
The first thing I did was to prepare the pedal. In fact I am quite tempted to replicate something similar to the actual movie prop. But sadly, due to the pandemic, I would have difficulty in locating resources in helping to create the weird shape of the base. So, I’m going to drop this idea.
If you look closely at the pedal, it is basically a switch to be stomped on. OK, don’t stomp too much because I am going to reveal the actual switch to you.
To disassemble the the pedal, you just squeeze the two parts together, then push the plastic shaft right through. If this Trap was mine, I would consider replacing the shaft with a metal rod of the same diameter. Or even get one with a longer pedal.
The design of this pedal is actually quite common and you can actually find a lot of these on the Chinese market. Anyway, I like this design as it was already ‘prepped’ for what I am going to do next. The hole for the wire is big enough for me to retrofit a BNC connector.
When the pedal was opened, I was quite taken aback on how simple it was. You have a spring to ensure the pedal returns to its original position, and then you have the switch, which is a 12mm x 12mmx 5mm tactile switch. I’m not too happy with the switch as it might not survive constant stomping.
So, this is what we’re going to do. A very simple soldering task. The only thing difficult would be to ream out the hole for the BNC connector.
The BNC connectors I am using is the common standard RG59 which is mainly used for CCTV. Because of that, it is a very common connector system.
Using a plastic reamer, widen the hole as much as possible without breaking the panel. The hole needs to be slightly smaller than the actual thread diameter of the BNC connector, which is about 9.5mm. Do not worry if the BNC connector cannot pass through the newly widened hole at this moment. Note that the BNC connector is too long and will hit the tactile switch panel which I am not removing as it is crucial to keep the said switch in position when you stomp on it..
Cut off the centre solder lug but leave about 1mm extra. This is so that the BNC connector will sit flush in the foot pedal without interfering with the tactile switch’s panel wall.
Solder about 6cm of wire to both lugs. Now apply generous amount of styrene cement to the walls of the newly widened hole. The cement will soften the plastic temporarily. Slowly screw the BNC connector into the hole. The semi-soft plastic will form a thread and should in theory, lock the connector in place.
Desolder the original wires from the switch (do not desolder the other end yet) and using about 6~6cm if wires, solder the BNC to the tactile switch. And the most difficult part is done. We’re not finished yet because with the new cable, this switch is a lightweight.
With permission, I took home some used tyre weights from our Dealership. The weights discoloured after I soaked them over a few days with well, detergent, hoping all the brake dust and stuff would come off.
After another few days of scrubbing with Zippo lighter fluid, this was the best I could come up with. That is about 200g of tyre weights.
I test fitted the weights into the pedal and this was the result. I cannot block the shaft, spring nor the switch.
I had to work very fast with the hot melt glue since these weights are metal and will absorb heat. After a few burned finger incidents, I reluctantly call it done. At least the pedal does not move about if the microphone cable flexes around. THE TRAP
As for the actual Trap itself, it is a very straight-forward matter of just replacing the cable. And just like the Pedal, the same BNC connector must be installed.
Remove the wheels at the bottom by just pulling them out of their sockets. Do not do a sharp pull but slowly, using an object as a fulcrum to lift it up. In this instance, the rod holding the wheels were slightly bent which I guessed was that it got dropped a few number of times. I need to bend it back or else it would not roll when I do the video in the end.
Amazingly, the whole Trap was secured with only four screws. And like all equipment and toys, do remove the power before attempting at any repairs or investigations.
If you look at the Trap, on the left panel near the red led is a small little hole for the original wires. You can seal this up but I’m leaving it here for the moment (because I forgot about it). The mission is to create a hole to install the BNC connector in the middle so that the Trap more or less look like one from the Movie.
This is how the Trap looks like when it is opened up. There are a lot of interesting innovations here but for now, we’re going to install the BNC connector.
Close back the Trap with the two screws. Then firmly apply pressure to both sides while you drill out a small hole. Despite the two screws in place the Trap is still flexes a lot. With the hole as guidance, slowly ream out a 9.5mm hole. The firm pressure will make sure the hole is perfect. Do be careful that there is a small motor in the way when you’re widening the hole.
Again, we are doing some very simple soldering. Just you the original black cable and that should do the trick.
Open back the two halves of the Trap and lets concentrate on the left half. Slowly pull off the green PCB. Do not worry if for this version the LED and its panel come off as well, it was designed to be so.
Cut off about 10cm or so of the black cable and solder them to the BNC connector. Now the tricky part. Using some threadlock, screw the nuts in its place but do not tighten too much since we need to close both halves together. Eventually when you do, try to pull the BNC outwards while you screw it tight. This is the best solution I can come up with so when you plug/unplug the cable, you have to be very careful. Of course I can another version where it has four screw holes but I’d have to JB weld the nuts on the other side. Also, this version would make it even less accurate that it already is. THE MICROPHONE WIRE
The BNC connectors I am using is a little different from the ones you usually see in CCTV cameras. They are screwed on and not soldered or crimped. This is because if there is an issue, the minder or props guy can just easily cut the bad section of the cable, strip and screw on the fresh wires. And yeah, they might need some brute force to remove and re-crimp the connector.
So, this version does not need any soldering nor specific crimping (where its centre contact or ‘bullet’ needs to be bought new for every new connection). This version, (I hope) allows for more flexibility since CCTV cameras do not move about.
In the end, if you just look at this schematic for the BNC Female connectors, the job is very simple.
And there you go! It is done. The only thing I did not have was some red vinyl tape to wrap around on end of the BNC cables.
And here is the Trap all done.