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ratroder

micro controllers ????

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has an one ever thought of using micro controllers in there display? Kind of on the same lines of a chase controller or something like the idea of the relays to double your channels.

for example you could program an 8 circut micro controller on a leaping arch. the controller would have the different programs on it (leap left, leap right, clap......) and then the controller would give the micro controller a command to run a certain program.

Or the use of one micro controller per affect. like channel one with micro controller does leap left, channel 2 micro controller 2 does leap right and so on.

any ideas on how this could be done, or has any one tried to do this before.

the relay idea is in this thread: http://forums.planetchristmas.com/showthread.php?t=16398

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Or the use of one micro controller per affect. like channel one with micro controller does leap left, channel 2 micro controller 2 does leap right and so on.

How would that work? Unless I'm missing something, you would need to hook each string of lights up to both controllers, which you can't do.

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From 1999 through the 2007 season, I had a standalone controller based around an Atmel AVR micro controlling our big Merry Christmas sign. I finally replaced it with another LOR controller in 2008.

All the "distributed controllers" (LOR/AL/DIY) are themselves microcontroller-based, so I'm not sure how much cost savings is out there-- might be better to look into DIY if cost-of-goods is the primary concern, since these controler boards are essentially numerous SSR circuits with a micro and communications capability...

You wouldn't need multiple micros to do the multiple effects-- you'd just need to have multiple inputs on the single micro (or some way to encode the program number -- I believe Galaxia does something like that, where you give the binary representation of the number in .1 second pulses or something like that)

Again, I think the complexity far exeeds the cost savings you'd realize...

Edited by tfischer

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How would that work? Unless I'm missing something, you would need to hook each string of lights up to both controllers, which you can't do.

well that route does require you to hook up the lights to a few diff. controllers which can be done. You would have to add more lead plugs or lines in to the light sets an include a diode in one of the two wires that feed the lights so the eletricity can then only flow one direction ( from the controller).

I had thought about what the price of this would be by the time all was said and done vs just doing it with the lor. I don't know how much the micro controllers would be and how much the lor boards ore going to be this year. I have to look into this further.

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well that route does require you to hook up the lights to a few diff. controllers which can be done. You would have to add more lead plugs or lines in to the light sets an include a diode in one of the two wires that feed the lights so the eletricity can then only flow one direction ( from the controller).

Be very careful about the use of a diode in this application. A diode does allow current to only flow in one direction....but we are switiching AC here for our lights. The diode would only block the positive or negative alternation, depending on the direction it was installed. It would conduct on the other reverse alternation.

Dennis

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im using a PIC based solution for my "equalizer tubes" that will be in my 2010 display.. 256 "channels" of LED's and costs a heck of a lot less than 256 channels for LOR.. and since i wanted it sound activated it much easier to "sequence" than LOR....

Micro controllersa definately have their place in our displays

-Christopher

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Frank A- yes that is what i was thinking of.

eldoradoboy - how are you using them to control the leds, do you have diagram or something, and how are you sequencing them?

dmoore - i looked into the lynx things, looks like a very good possibility.

Edited by ratroder
added more

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Actually, this is starting to become something that could have good potential.

In the "old" days, the AL controllers had something called 'macros', that would start some type of sequence of lights. I never could find a good way to use that capability, since the SW provided didn't ahve a way to trigger a macro.

But given that many of our displays are getting bigger, with lots of channels, it almost seems like it would be easier for us to be able to send 1 command to a set of arches, at the right time, than have to worry about doing it all in LOR or LSP or Vixen or ??.

So if I send a "leap right" command, it would just do it, and then wait. And then I could send a "leap left" command sometime later. This would make my sequencing easier and simpler. I wouldn't have to worry that I had the right intervals for my arches and the right intervals for my megatree during the same time period.

It's just a thought, and would require some changes in the sequencing software, but it's not that different than trying to program a DMX fixture on an iDMX to scan your yard.

Given the idea of the intelligent RGB pixels, where the microprocessors are embedded, and cost less than a dollar, paying an extra $20-30 for an "intelligent arch", rather than dedicate half a controller's worth of channels doesn't seem like a bad trade-off.

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that is what i was thinking when i had thought of this. the only problem is that it is generic, it really couldn't be used to the timing of the song (the time that it is programed to take is the time it takes)

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I completely understand what you are saying and think it would work well, with a few changes. You basically are creating a stand alone controller that has preprogrammed sequences that are done over and over. You are using channels from existing controllers to trigger those preprogrammed sequences. Here is your problem...you are doing double the work. You are using a controller that could be used to control these lights, to trigger another controller to control them. Extra money and effort for no reason. You also are setting yourself up for speed restrictions.

What you should do is create a DMX universe with a DMX based controller. Have those sequences programmed into the IC. Than use the DMX channel values to call up the sequence, at a certain speed. This will allow you to do away with controller triggering your channels.

You could use channel values as follows:

1-32: Left Leap

33-45: Right Leap

46-56: Clap

57-75: Skipping

76-256: Speed settings

Of course I just made that up, but you get the idea. You have 1-256 values in the DMX universe to allow it to do something. This is how DMX lights basically work. Instead of calling up colors or calling up gobos, you are calling up sequences with their speeds.

The beauty behind the DMX universe is you can use a bunch of different software packages and control them with just two channels (one for the sequence and one for the speed). You could also use a PIC based system or an AVR based system to do this. If you really wanted to get technical, you could create RGB strips or strings and control their color via the control as well.

It would take a bit of work to design but could be done with a little effort.

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so you are saying program the ic(s) to use 1-8 for leap left, 9-17, leap right, and so on? now could this all be achieved through the same ic or would multiple ics have to be used. i am new to dmx this year so i am not to up on the functions.

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ratroder: the system im using for the specific purpose of the "equalizer" tubes.. its not a "sequenced" system.. it weill be completely sound activated from the audio feed.. the only control will be one LOR channel connected to a relay that will turn the unit on and off... each channel (frequency) has 16 levels.. and there are 16 frequencies.. to do that with LOR would be cost prohibitive.. my EQ will cost me less than $500 total when its done... probably a lot less depending on the cost of the LED's I use...

-Christopher

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ratroder you are thinking way too much into this. The IC is just like the processor in your computer, just much smaller (in capacities sake). It has all of the programming already in it. You than use DMX, which is a protocol much like LOR's protocol, to tell the IC which sequence to display, for how long, and than another channel would tell it the speed.

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Actually, this is starting to become something that could have good potential.

In the "old" days, the AL controllers had something called 'macros', that would start some type of sequence of lights. I never could find a good way to use that capability, since the SW provided didn't ahve a way to trigger a macro.

But given that many of our displays are getting bigger, with lots of channels, it almost seems like it would be easier for us to be able to send 1 command to a set of arches, at the right time, than have to worry about doing it all in LOR or LSP or Vixen or ??.

So if I send a "leap right" command, it would just do it, and then wait. And then I could send a "leap left" command sometime later. This would make my sequencing easier and simpler. I wouldn't have to worry that I had the right intervals for my arches and the right intervals for my megatree during the same time period.

It's just a thought, and would require some changes in the sequencing software, but it's not that different than trying to program a DMX fixture on an iDMX to scan your yard.

So I am working on a few things right now and thought I would share. I used to use the AL macros in my display for things but again no way to trigger them I would lose a whole controller to something not needing 16 channels. So as I moved away from that in drops my new found love, the Arduino. :-)

I am working on NorthPole lights v5.0 (super high octane turbo charged joshschaf version) which contain RGB leds that I can do pretty much anything with. The first thing is that I want them to be White during most songs, then Red on a few songs, then Green on a few others. So I started to look into how many AL channels I need for 3 colors in 8 lights and decided that it would start to add up quickly. Since I have a AL DMX 64 channel converter, I thought "What if I had a DMX control of my Arduino that controlled these lights in different patterns, etc." So I am almost done building a DMX shield and code for my Arduino that will take 6-8 DMX channels and do different things. I haven't decided how manhy channels I want to give up to these but at least 6. As I said, channel 1 will be white, 2 red, 3 green, 4 red/green alternate colors, 5 chase, etc. I can then trigger these in my AL show whenever I want.

It is basically what mschell said above. Fun little project and so far outside of the $29 for the Arduino, its going to run me about $20 to build the DMX shield.

I'll start a thread when I finish the solder and start doing the actual DMX call tests. Here is a quick video of just some Arduino code running the RGB leds.

-jds

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