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Showing content with the highest reputation on 03/12/2017 in all areas

  1. As of a few minutes ago I am able to run my LOR landscaping show on my server instead of a dedicated show computer - the goal being to reduce my electric bill by not running a second computer full time. Getting here has been a little bit of a challenge and I wanted to tell the story. First a little background. I have run a year round landscape lighting show for six years in addition to a Christmas show for the last five years. For the landscape show, I am using interactives and E1.31 which mandated running on a computer rather than a director. Ever since the beginning, I have used a dedicated show computer, even though I had a server that runs 24 x 7 already. About five years ago I had attempted to load the LOR software onto the server that I was using at the time, but found that the S3 software would not even load on Windows Server 2000. That server finally died a couple years ago, and was replaced with an ancient Dell server that I loaded with Server 2012 R2. That computer was not expected to be used long, but it had been given to me at a time when I really did not have the money to buy something better, so it was far better than nothing. After I received my tax refunds in 2016, a newer server was purchased and put into service in June - also running Windows Server 2012 R2. Although the server was used as a file server for all the LOR files, I had not made any attempt until early 2017 to actually run the show from it. After Christmas was torn down a couple months ago, I started the project to see if I could run the landscape show from it. So here's the story... One of the limitations I had was that during the winter, the landscape show is already running by the time I get off work, so I could only work on this over the weekends. With Server 2012 R2, I had no issues loading the LOR S4 software. To make things a little easier, the server already had a network connection on the dedicated LAN for the E1.31, and the LOR Show computer and the server are both in my data cabinet and are all of six inches apart. This would make it FAR easier for cabling the LOR networks. The three USB cables for three LOR networks are nicely dressed in, so I had to come up with a way to get the three cable plugged into the server without having to cut a bunch of ty-raps in order to make the swap, and still have it look decent. The solution was to add a four port USB hub that sits next to the show computer and is connected to a port on the server. Issue number one. There are only four USB ports on the server (two on the back and two on the front), and both back ones were already in use. No problem, get a three foot USB extension cord, and use one of the front USB ports. I go up to my local Staples for some other stuff anyway and sure enough, they had six foot USB extension cords, but wanted $20 for them. Gotta be able to do better than that. Across the parking lot was a Best Buy, so I tried there. They also had six foot USB extension cords, and they wanted $25 for them. First off, I really did not want a six foot extension, and I knew I could get a better price. Monoprice.com had three foot cables for just over a buck. Ordered a couple cables. Next weekend. Hooked up the three foot USB cable to my four port hub and plugged in the three USB cables from my RS-485 adapters into the hub. The Windows Device Manager did not recognize any of the adapters. Issue number two. My first assumption was that the installation of the LOR software did not result in the USB driver software, so I downloaded the driver software from the LOR website and ran that. Still could not recognize the RS-485 adapters. I did test the USB hub by plugging in a thumb drive and the server immediately recognized the thumb drive and I was able to read files from it. Next I assumed the issue was that I had violated one of my own policies in having a STRONG preference for powered vs un-powered USB hubs - and this was a un-powered hub. Dug around my pile of stuff and found a four port and a seven port powered hub that I have used for years, but could not find the power supply for either of them. OK fine, I'll just order a powered hub from Amazon. I lucked out and found the power supply for the four port hub before I ordered a new one. Swapped hubs and all of a sudden, all three USB to RS-485 adapters were found. Did some testing with the Hardware Utility and was able to control lights, and the Input Pup was working. Great! Let's see if I can run my show. Because of some timing issues, my landscape show is actually a musical show although the music is really four minutes of silence. Therefore, I did not need to worry about audio cabling - or so I thought. First tried to run a show and the LOR software could not start the show player because Windows Media Player was not installed. Remember that this is a server OS, and there are quite a few thing that are normal on user computer Operating Systems, but are not included on a server OS because there normally is no real need for them on a server. Issue number three. A quick Google search revealed how to enable Windows Media Player on Server 2012 R2. Tried to run the show and this time it complained that there was no sound device installed. Again, this is a server and there was no sound card, nor a sound device installed on the motherboard. Issue number four. OK, I have a few old sound cards that I have pulled out of computers and one of those should work, but it's end of the weekend and the show is already running so have to wait until the the next weekend. Yesterday, I shut down the server and open it up only to find that both of the old audio cards I have are a different bus type than the new server has. Issue number five. Went onto Amazon and found a five dollar USB sound device that I could have next day with my Amazon Prime. Today the USB sound module arrived, and plugged it into one of the ports of the four port powered USB hub and Device Manager immediately recognized that it was there. Great, moved the three cables to the RS-485 adapters over to the other three ports on the hub and the Device Manager was only seeing two of them - ARGH! Issue number six. Did a little testing and found that one of the ports on that four port USB hub was dead. OK, moved the three cables to the RS-485 adapters to the three working ports on the hub and the USB audio module over to the last USB port on the computer. Device Manager said that everything was there, and test with Hardware Utility showed it all working! Last test was to run a show on demand, and it worked perfectly. Even the Windows Command that sends me an E-Mail when the show starts worked. Since this looks like it will work, I shut down the LOR Show computer. This will be nice in reducing my already high enough electric consumption. Not only the power for the computer, but also the extra load on the air conditioner for the data cabinet. On the server I set the LOR Control Panel to launch at startup and enabled the schedule. Status display looks right, so hopefully in about four hours my lights will come on from the server! So there is my six week story. I hope you enjoyed reading it...
  2. I suggest he should just leave it alone. My impression is he is not qualified. Maybe he should sub-contract it out. If he is in the St. Louis area Try reaching out to a company called Upstaging Lighting & Trucking. They are one of the biggest if not the biggest trucking and all types of stage lighting in the music entertainment industry along with doing lighting for the likes from American Idol to The Voice along with many Holiday lighting for many cities. Heck I know of these fellows and talent seeing for 30 years I was lighting Director for the music group Journey.
  3. plasmadrive

    Rope light

    I also need to replace the warm white, not so bright rope lights on my tree topper stars that I got from Christmaslightshow.com.. The warm white just doesn't stand out enough..
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