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Monster Guts Nerve Center - top

Monster Guts Nerve Center - relay connections

Modding an extension cord

Separating the cable

Making the cut

Tinning the copper

Connecting to the relay block

The finished result

The Nerve Center by Monster Guts is a basic Halloween prop controller. It uses two power relay switches to create animations by switching power on and off to any connected decorations and gadgets.

Visit CNET TV for a video version of this tutorial.
Caption by / Photo by Donald Bell/CNET
The Nerve Center doesn't include basic AC sockets on the back for connecting your props. Instead, you'll have to splice an extension cord to these detachable sockets on the back.
Caption by / Photo by Donald Bell/CNET
Here's a common extension cord that we'll mod to use with the Nerve Center. Warning: Do not modify your extension cable while connected to power. Your cable should not be plugged into anything.
Caption by / Photo by Donald Bell/CNET
Warning: Do not perform this modification while the cable is connected to power. For your safety, the cable needs to be unplugged.

The first modification we'll perform is to make a section of the cable where the to sides are separated, creating an inch-long gap. To do this, I located a section near the outlet end of the cable and slowly wedged a flat-head screwdriver between the cable sections and then slid the screwdriver along the opening to expand the gap.
Caption by / Photo by Donald Bell/CNET
Warning: Do not perform this modification while the cable is connected to power. For your safety, the cable needs to be unplugged.

For the next step, I took one of the two sides of the cord (it doesn't matter which side) and cut it in the middle of the separated section. With a pair of wire strippers I then exposed 1/4-inch of copper from each side of the cut cord (only one side show here for the sake of comparison).
Caption by / Photo by Donald Bell/CNET
Warning: Do not perform this modification while the cable is connected to power. For your safety, the cable needs to be unplugged.

To prevent the copper cable from fraying and possibly causing a short circuit, I took the additional step of soldering the ends of the exposed wire.
Caption by / Photo by Donald Bell/CNET
Warning: Do not perform this modification while the cable is connected to power. For your safety the cable needs to be unplugged.

Next, I connected the exposed ends of the extension cord the the removable relay block on the back of the Nerve Center. You'll find three connections for each block with can be used depending on the result you want. For our purposes, we wired one cable to the connection marked COM, and the other to the connection marked NO (Normally Open).
Caption by / Photo by Donald Bell/CNET
Here's what the finished result looks like once the detachable connection block is attached to the Nerve Center. At this point, so long as the cable sections are firmly screwed down into the block, you can connect both the extension cable and the Nerve Center to power without risk.

Visit CNET TV for a video version of this tutorial.
Caption by / Photo by Donald Bell/CNET
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