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