JEC

Mar 092017
 



Mike Slattery, CTO over at TEKVOX in Dallas, wrote a short white paper about how our DMX Engine can easily control fixtures in multiple physical zones, and shows how the Engine’s ‘mask’ command makes it simple to adjust the look in each zone without affecting surrounding areas.

He writes from a Crestron background, but the principles apply to every major control platform.

Take a look! DMX Multi-Zone Universe [PDF]

 

 

 

 Posted by at 5:47 pm

DMX Control of a Daktronics Venus 7000 Video Controller

 Case Study, DMX, RS232  Comments Off on DMX Control of a Daktronics Venus 7000 Video Controller
Feb 142017
 

Canucks Arena & Video Ribbon. Photo from GLOBETREKIMAGES / 604 NOW FLICKR POOL

This was a fun one.  Turns out, the Daktronics Venus 7000 video controller can be trained to play content based on incoming RS-232 messages.  And, the trusty DecaBox can receive DMX and output all manner of RS-232 content.  When the dust settled, we ended up shipping a somewhat-modified version of our DMX to ASCII firmware.

Here’s the story, straight from the customer:

Recently, I was given this task of creating a lighting board to Daktronics Venus7000 lighting trigger and started out by looking at my relevant device ‘gozintas and gozoutas’ (ins and outs). 

I do not dabble too much in lighting control technology although I knew we are using a Grand MA on PC. I do provide in-house second tier support on our Daktronics LED systems and servers so I also knew that I needed to create some simple ASCII data strings on an RS-232 serial port. 

After asking the Google, I was able to find some articles about converting DMX to serial. This is the link that came up: http://response-box.com/gear/decabox-protocol-bridge-overview/ and this Decabox looked like the exact piece of ‘glue’ needed to convert lighting transitions to a Daktronics triggers. 

I took a bit of a chance and purchased the Decabox, (John Chapman at Engineering Solutions Inc. was also very helpful in that he returned my call and assisted me in determining a data scheme). I went back a to Daktronics Engineering and they were good with John’s proposed data string.  

Shortly after submitting my order, I received the Decabox which John had  pre-programmed and we were ready to test. We were very quickly able to see the appropriate serial data in our Dak server room and soon after got Dak to remotely configure the serial listen port. 

Success! 

This has solved an ongoing issue with playback synchronization of Daktronics content playback, and our house lighting.  We now have consistent and repeatable triggers during our game start opening sequences, whereas before we relied on an intercom countdown to mouse click (which was not very tight!). 

I would not only recommend this device, but also have kudos for John Chapman’s support and timely follow ups to our questions. 

GS | Broadcast Technician
Canucks Sports & Entertainment | February 2017

Need something similar? Contact us and let’s get started.

 

 Posted by at 11:07 pm

Announcing the RS-232 Driven Double DMX Engine

 DMX, RS232  Comments Off on Announcing the RS-232 Driven Double DMX Engine
Oct 102016
 
RS-232 Driven Double DMX Engine

RS-232 Driven Double DMX Engine

This has been shipping for a few months now, as free upgrade to any purchase of an XLR-5 or XLR-3 Engine. It features

  • XLR-3 and XLR-5 outputs in the same chassis.  Each output is controlled by its own drive chip, which means the system has a ‘built in’ 2-output optosplitter.  Currently the outputs are parallel copies of each other.  However, each drive chip is connected to a separate pin in the internal processor, which means that future firmware updates could allow two universes of DMX to be driven independently.  We use only genuine Neutrik connectors.
  • Mounting ears for easy panel mounting.

Today, we’re delighted to also announce a completely updated firmware build (v5.044), featuring the following improvements:

  • The internal dimming engine calculates fade levels 100x per second, rather than the previous 20.  This allows silky-smooth crossfades on LED fixtures.  “This LED strip now acts like a halogen bulb,” said one customer.
  • Built-in RGB color wheel engine performs rainbow color cycles without any controller overhead.
  • Startup scene and timeout delay can be set, so that lighting levels are instantly restored after a power cycle.
  • ‘Group Fade’ command lets multiple channels be set to the same level in a simple way.  ‘Group skip’ option makes it easy to control multiple fixtures at the same time.

The complete protocol description is available in this file: Double-dmx-engine-504.

Note that this protocol simply expands on the features available in our original DMX engine.  Code written for our earlier hardware will still work very nicely.  Check this page for older information.

Want free gear?  If you’re a Crestron, AMX, Lutron, Savant or Control4 guru, we need to talk.

We’re what the IRS would classify as a ‘very small business’, and don’t have resources to tackle this alone.  We don’t have the time or staffing to buy / borrow / rent hardware, then learn the software, to test against each and every major system out there.

Here’s what you get:

  • One RS232 Driven Double DMX engine
  • One 9v DC adapter
  • As much email and telephone tech support as it takes to make you happy
  • Full credit for your work if desired, including links to your website and a quick company bio if you’d like some extra exposure.

And in return, we want

  • A complete ‘plugin’ or ‘module’ or whatever it’s called on your particular platform, which we can publish here on this site and share with other customers.  The module needs to support all of the commands described in the PDF instruction manual linked to above.
  • A sample file / installation / setup which a new user could use for initial testing, before they integrate our gear into a larger system.
  • Basically, your work should include everything a brand-new customer – someone reasonably skilled in their trade, but new to using our gear – would need to get up-and-running, as quickly and painlessly as possible.  Source code, screenshots with annotations, even short video clips would be much appreciated.

Interested? Send email to drivers AT response-box.com.   Please mention your platform of choice and describe your experience in this world.

This is a first-come, first served-per-system sort of project.  We can sneak five or maybe ten boxes out the door before accounting notices and begins to gnash their teeth.

Thanks for visiting our little corner of the Internet.

-John Chapman, President, Engineering Solutions Inc

* New feature requests are always welcome, and existing gear may be easily and quickly updated in the field.  We thrive on that sort of feedback.  If there’s a function we’ve not considered which would make your life even easier, please let us know.

 

 

 Posted by at 3:24 pm

DMX Control of a Wattstopper Lighting System

 Case Study, DMX, RS232  Comments Off on DMX Control of a Wattstopper Lighting System
Jul 292016
 

wattstopperbridge

 

The LMDI-100 Serial Interface allows third-party access to a Wattstopper lighting network.  Recently one of our customers needed to communicate with Wattstopper via DMX.  This was easily accomplished using the DecaBox and some custom DMX to RS-232 firmware:

From the mailbag:

I would like to thank you for all of your help with my latest installation project.  It seems that more and more often I am running into integration challenges with house lighting systems that need to interface with the DMX consoles.  Typically these systems utilize proprietary communication language, so it becomes necessary to convert them into something that can work with DMX.  

In this particular project, the only way we could make this conversion, was convert the proprietary system into RS232.  From there, we were able to convert the DMX system into a series of 232 commands, using the DecaBox Protolcal Converter to seamlessly interface both systems.  

At first, I was a little nervous about the prospect of making so many conversions, but the technicians at Engineering Solutions took care of inputting all of the necessary code and the system worked flawlessly right out of the box.  

When the contractor added additional dimmers to the system, all I had to do was ask for an update on the code and simply upload it onto the DecaBox the next day.  I wish all of my integration challenges were as easy to deal with as this was.  I will certainly be using the DecaBox in the future.  It saved me thousands compared to similar solutions.

Thomas Smith, Innovative Event Services Inc

Need something similar? We’d love to hear from you.

 Posted by at 6:27 pm

We’re in Love With Synchronized Fireballs

 DMX, MIDI  Comments Off on We’re in Love With Synchronized Fireballs
May 112016
 

eyeballs

Earlier this spring we spent a couple days helping the artists from UK-based Arcadia Spectacular* automate part of a production at the 2016 Ultra Music Festival in Miami.  In this case, they were using the ‘Spider’ stage, an enormous structure which travels in four full trucks and requires 15 people and two days each for setup and strike.  The distance between the spider’s feet is about 62 feet.

In this installation, they needed to convert DMX input into a very precise and real-time set of MIDI output commands.  The MIDI was monitored by a PC running custom software which in turn drove the pyro system.  Our DecaBox with custom firmware was a perfect fit.

small rack

Control Rack for part of an EDM festival. The medicine stored in the top left corner is telling.

liveshot

Our left red LED indicates DMX reception. Since the right LED is also on, a MIDI message is being transmitted.

And here’s a short video clip showing the entire system in action.  Note that the fireballs and the right LED for ‘MIDI OUT’ in perfect sync.

Thanks, Arcadia Spectacular, for the opportunity to work with you on this project.

Need something similar? Let us know.


 

 

 Posted by at 4:35 pm

How to Control DMX Equipment from a Savant Automation System

 DMX, RS232  Comments Off on How to Control DMX Equipment from a Savant Automation System
Apr 142016
 

redboxsmall

The process is so straightforward and gratifying it’s illegal in six different states.

Savant makes a very nice control system which can be used to automate many aspects of home control, including audio, video and lighting.  Recently several customers requested help integrating our RS-232 DMX Engine with DMX lighting equipment they had previously installed, including at times an array of our 4-channel LED drivers.

We learned that an integrator, previously unknown to us, had developed a driver for our engine and submitted it to Savant’s repository of useful files.  It had one small error, which we were able to diagnose and report to Savant.  Their internal team edited the driver and all seems to be perfect now. Here’s a copy for reference – it’s an .xml file inside a .zip file:  232 DMX Engine.  You shouldn’t need to bother with this file, ever, but we’re keeping a copy for reference.

One customer was kind enough to share project files, which should help future users get up and running very quickly.  Here’s a Zip File containing everything you need.  It’s about 12 MB in size.  The developer included these notes as well:

There is one screen shot that is titled “keypad button function/led behavior” – It’s important to make sure that button function and led behavior is set to “none” otherwise the led indicator cannot be programmed independently to show status of the light. Also, important to note that in Savant’s profile info they indicate to use the yellow (no flow null) RJ45 to serial adapter, however, that didn’t work for me. I used the red (no flow no null) adapter.

Screenshots (click to enlarge):

Workflow to turn led indicator on

Workflow to turn led indicator on

Workflow to turn led indicator off

Workflow to turn led indicator off

Trigger - Led indicator to show status of light

Trigger – Led indicator to show status of light

Trigger - Button Press Light On

Trigger – Button Press Light On

Trigger - Button Press Light Off

Trigger – Button Press Light Off

Keypad button function_led behavior

Keypad button function_led behavior

Let us know if you need help getting something similar up and running.

 Posted by at 3:02 pm

DecaBox Summer Custom Work

 Case Study, DMX, MIDI  Comments Off on DecaBox Summer Custom Work
Oct 192015
 

This summer we were pleased to see the DecaBox used behind the scenes for a couple of high-profile events.  In both cases, we provided custom firmware which allowed the end user very precise artistic expression.

For the first project, we spent a few days in email discussions with one of the lighting directors at America’s Got Talent.  When the dust settled, we ended up with this DMX to MIDI functionality, which I shared with some less-technical friends the night of the first show:

On tonight’s broadcast, each time a contestant is chosen, a group of lights will pan, tilt and focus so that the artist is highlighted. Our box lurks on the lighting network and listens for that cue to occur. When it does, we send a special MIDI message to a computer in audioworld. This machine is in charge of playing the ‘whoosh’ effect on stage and as part of the master audio feed.

The designers love having light and sound effects exactly locked in sync, each and every time a contestant reveal occurs.

One instance of the effect can be seen within the first few seconds in the video clip below.

 

The second project involved some edits to our standard MIDI to DMX firmware (specifically, adding support for the MIDI sustain command, then making sure that the resulting DMX output behaved accordingly).  In the designer’s words:

When we were asked by Renegade Lighting Design in London who were putting together an installation for Swedish Lighting company Hem for the London Design Exhibition to provide a piano which could control the 88 lighting fixtures.

We were looking for a solution to a couple of midi to dmx related issues – the tricky thing was that for part of the time the Yamaha Disklavia would be in self-play mode getting midi files from a hidden playback system – for other parts of the day, various classical pianists would be playing the rig –

We turned to the Decabox after trying a few different solutions which didn’t really fit the bill as we needed sustain and velocity control of the lights vi midi.

John was such a help in trying to get the sustain pedal to also control the lights – Many many thanks and will definitely be getting a few more! The client was very happy so job well done!

Cheers – Laurie (www.playback.systems)

JE5_0933

Click to Enlarge

Thanks to the AGT team and Laurie in the UK for the chance to collaborate during these events.

Need something similar? We’d love to hear from you.

 Posted by at 10:00 am

Chassis Misprint –> Discounted Pricing

 DMX, MIDI, RS232  Comments Off on Chassis Misprint –> Discounted Pricing
Sep 172015
 

September 17, 2015

This doesn’t happen very often, but we’ve got two damaged DecaBox chassis tops which are looking for a good home.

IMG_7226

IMG_7227

They were printed (briefly) out of registration, then re-printed correctly.  So if you enlarge either photo, you’ll see the bottom of a row of text  that’s in the wrong place.

Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with the gear.  It’s 100% brand new, just cosmetically imperfect.  And if someone would like to use it at a discounted price, we’d be happy to oblige.

Usually when we list ‘scratch and dent’ gear like this, it only lasts a day or two.  Sometimes only a few hours.

Our offer today is that we’ll take $30 off any regular priced system we sell for each of these two parts.  So take a look in the online store and pick your favorite version.  Then send an email to sales AT response-box.com with ‘Imperfect Chassis’ in the subject line.  Let us know your delivery address and deadline, and we’ll send back an online invoice for the total + shipping – $25 discount.

This page will be updated as quantities change.  Thanks!

 Posted by at 9:37 am

Driving Smart LEDs From MalletKATs via MIDI

 DMX, MIDI  Comments Off on Driving Smart LEDs From MalletKATs via MIDI
May 132015
 
Click to Enlarge

Jason & Company – Click to Enlarge

88 DMX-Driven RGB LED Nodes

88 DMX-Driven RGB LED Nodes, circa 2005

This was a fun project.  Earlier this spring, University of Buffalo composer and percussionist Jason Ross saw our 2010 post describing a clever way to drive new-at-the-time ‘smart’ LED pixels via MIDI input.

He wanted to do something similar as part of a senior project. He was using a trio of MalletKATs to perform an original composition and hoped to map LEDs to individual notes as they were played. These particular ‘KATs contain four full octaves each, plus an extra ‘C’ on the top end.  He required a real-time, stable, hardware-based solution and we were happy to oblige.

Musicians will appreciate that this quantity of notes exceeds even the extended 128-step MIDI scale.  So we offered some custom programming for the versatile blue DecaBox which made everything work perfectly and simultaneously.

To make the installation a success, we provided three strings of smart LEDs, a power supply / decoder with modified programming, and our standard MIDI to DMX DecaBox, also with bespoke firmware.

We assigned each MalletKAT to a separate MIDI channel, and then mapped the specific MIDI notes generated (C3 – C6 inclusive, plus high C7) to three different ranges of DMX channels.  The DecaBox was then programmed to set all three colors of a specific RGB pixel to equal levels when MIDI Note On messages were received.  The brightness of the bulb tracks the note velocity (or loudness) as it is played. Thus, dynamics can be seen as well as heard.  The pixels are extinguished under MIDI control as well.

It takes a bit of math to route all the data to its proper end position, but that was all worked out through a few hours’ testing.  Our gear can receive and process a full pipe of incoming MIDI data in real time, so the lag between the input and display LED output is only about about .025 seconds.  This was especially important since the piece was to be performed live.

Smart LED DMX Interface - Click to Enlarge

Smart LED DMX Interface – Click to Enlarge

Shown here is the system which receives DMX from the DecaBox and generates the properly mapped control signals for the three smart LED strings.  This was a quick-turnaround project, so we secured the circuitry in a generic CATV demarc box with a laser cut mounting panel.  In this photo, the top cover was removed.

And finally, here is the YouTube link for Synth-phony in Lights:

screenkat

YouTube Link – Click to Play

Nice work, Jason.  It was a pleasure to collaborate with you on this design.  Need something similar? Let us know.

 

 Posted by at 4:09 am