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
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

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

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

A Three-Output RS-232 DMX Engine With DMX Input Processing

 Case Study, DMX, RS232  Comments Off on A Three-Output RS-232 DMX Engine With DMX Input Processing
Jul 072014
 
3 Output RS-232 DMX Engine

3 Output RS-232 DMX Engine With DMX Input Monitoring

Here’s another in our series of ‘There’s Only One of These in the Whole World’ designs.

A client needed a modification to our very popular RS-232 DMX Engine.  They were using a PLC to drive a series of very remote DMX light fixtures.  This is a very common use case, and many of our customers who work in industrial control have done similar things.

However, this group needed three separate data outputs instead of one.  And further, their PLC needed to monitor several channels of a DMX stream which was generated by other equipment.  They asked if we could help.

Of course!

It took an afternoon to edit our regular circuit board design to include the new features.  Our across-town vendor can fabricate short runs of circuit boards in five business days*, so the files were emailed to them.  Once the boards came back, they were loaded with components, programmed and tested.  Per the customer’s request, we added a command to the firmware which allows the state of any or all of the incoming DMX channels to be queried at any time.

It took most of an afternoon to generate and fabricate the chassis design, including a few test cuts in thin card stock.

Test Cuts - Front Panel

Test Cuts on Cardboard – Front Panel

If you need something similar, or if you’ve searched the entire Internet and can’t find the precise thing you’re looking for, let us know.  There’s a good chance we can help.


 

* They can move quickly, too.  It’s stop-your-heart expensive, but we’ve done four hour turn times with these guys before.  Pretty neat.

 Posted by at 9:11 pm

Control4 DMX Control using RS-232 DMX Engine

 DMX, RS232  Comments Off on Control4 DMX Control using RS-232 DMX Engine
May 242014
 

redboxsmall

The friendly folks at Domaudeo in Quebec have written a very powerful plugin which bridges between a Control4 automation system and our RS-232 DMX Engine.

This demo video gives a great overview of the available options.  Real-time color control, scene recall with silky smooth crossfades and more are demonstrated.  Also, the ability of our engine to simultaneously and in parallel set any DMX channel to any level at any speed is also featured, starting at about 1:35 in the video.

There’s a more detailed discussion of the driver in this thread on the Control4 forums.

For pricing & availability, contact:

Jerome Fortin
Domaudeo Inc.
Levis, Quebec Canada
418-800-4644 | info@domaudeo.com | www.domaudeo.com

Here’s the video clip:

 Posted by at 4:57 pm

RS-232 DMX Engine – New Firmware

 DMX, RS232  Comments Off on RS-232 DMX Engine – New Firmware
May 052014
 

redboxsmallbuy-now-blue

We’re pleased to release firmware 4.85 for the RS-232 DMX engine.

Among other new features, this firmware introduces simultaneous, massively parallel command processing.  This means  that each DMX channel now has its own fading engine.  Any channel can be set to any level, at any fade speed, at any time.  The system no longer waits for a command to finish executing before processing a second command.

This allows a great deal of flexibility and creative control.  More detail, including PDF documentation, can be found here.  This firmware build can be purchased from our online store (scroll down) for only $15 as well.  It will run on all previously-shipped equipment.

 

 Posted by at 6:30 pm

Easy DMX Control of Lutron Graphic Eye 3500s

 Case Study, DMX, RS232  Comments Off on Easy DMX Control of Lutron Graphic Eye 3500s
Feb 282014
 

newgraphicA theatre in the Pacific Northwest contacted us a few weeks ago.  Their space was set up with a pair of control systems running in parallel:  a DMX console and dimmers handle the theatrical lighting while a pair of wall-mounted 6-channel Lutron Graphic Eye 3500 architectural dimmers drive the house lights and some backstage fixtures.

Users on or near the stage can easily recall presets and adjust the lighting levels of the 12 connected circuits.

prg

In the lighting booth, an ornery Windows XP platform runs Grafik Eye Liason software.  Liason provides a GUI for remotely recalling stored presets and adjusting individual dimmer levels.  This machine is in turn connected to a Lutron GRX-PRG interface, which talks with the wall controllers mounted near the stage.

The somewhat awkward end result is that the lighting designer has to use two separate systems to drive all the lights in the space. To this end, they asked:

“Would it be possible to remove the computer and drive the Lutron system directly from our lighting console?  Running both systems all the time is a drag.”

We’re pleased to report that the answer is an emphatic yes.

What We Did

Research revealed that the GPX-PRG receives RS-232 data from the XP machine, massages it a bit, then sends it to the Graphic Eye dimmers via a balanced RS-485 system. More germane to our situation, this RS-232 protocol is well documented.

DecaBox - Laser Etched

We proposed replacing the large, slow and inconvenient Windows XP computer with a DecaBox.  The new system would receive DMX, impersonate Liason and drive the GRX-PRG (and by extension, the downstream Graphic Eye boxes) as if the stock installation had never been touched.

The theatre approved our design, so we shipped up a DecaBox containing this custom firmware.

It took two or perhaps three minutes to connect the new hardware and set the start channel.  The custom firmware we provided worked instantly and flawlessly.  12 consecutive channels of DMX are monitored.  Any time one of them changes, the appropriate control string is sent to the -PRG interface.

Et voilà!  The lighting designer has complete and convenient control of every fixture in the space.

And in the client’s own words:

“We run a small community performing arts center in an old historic fire station and needed a way to have our DMX light board communicate commands with our RS-232 based house lighting.
The DecaBox was the solution we needed. We called, outlined the situation, ordered  and received the unit in a few days and had it up and running perfectly in no time. I was surprised at how a seemingly insurmountable problem was dealt with at such a reasonable cost with so little effort. Thanks so much for the quality product and service Engineering Solutions!”All the Best,~Matt @ The Firehouse Performing Arts Center

Need something similar?  Let us know.

 Posted by at 4:54 pm