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How do I program a show to play from an SD?

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Greetings fellow light fanatics!

 

I'm new to the LOR family, having just made the plunge last month.  I bought the ShowTime Central package, which gives me access to the basic-plus version with SuperStar Demo, thinking that this gives me everything I need to get started.  I also splurged and bought the Plug-N-Show pre-programmed SD card, in case I ran out of time and didn't get to build my own sequences.

 

I shouldn't have worried...  In less than two weeks, I've got three sequences completed that will provide an awesome 10 minute show using just the dumb LED light strings that I've been collecting over the past several years.  I'm now considering buying an input pup, so that I can have the entire house lit until someone drives up to start the show (I live on a cul-de-sac that gets some drive-by traffic during the holidays, but I don't want to give any of my neighbors an epileptic fit with lights flashing all night long during December).

 

So here's my question:  How do I program an SD card with my show to use in my ShowTime Central controller?  I've read through what I found online that looked like applicable documentation, and watched several helpful videos about setting up and checking hardware.  I've launched the schedule editor on my PC, set-up a schedule to display the sequences, and it runs just fine... on my PC.

 

The step I'm missing in all this is actually programming the SD memory.  Does the show scheduler need to see it plugged into the PC to figure out it needs to update the SD memory?  Or is there a secret command hidden somewhere that I'm missing?  Or, is it as simple as just copying the sequences to the SD card and building the show from there?

 

A little about me...  I'm an EE/CS engineer that has been building, and programming, everything from single-board computers to artificial intelligence applications on distributed computing environments, so even if this were rocket science - which it's clearly not - I could probably figure it out.  Actually, I'd probably figure it out on my own if I just continue to tinker with it, but it occurs to me that if I'm having problems with this, there's probably at least a couple of other newbies that will benefit from my having asked the question.

 

Thanks in advance for any help or insight anyone has to offer...

 

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Easiest way I programmed mine was in the Hardware Utility {HWU}, just click on the LOR MP3 tab. find the sequences for your show and add them in via the Add Sequence button.  Set your show start and end times{St Schedule option} and save it to the SD Card{write to SD Card}.  And you should be good to go.

 

I think you stated you only have the basic option, if I recall, you can't have a start up or end sequence in basic, to really get the most out of your software, you really should upgrade to the highest license level available.    Sure it costs a bit more, but believe me, you'll be much happier in the long run.  because on the lower levels you may start asking questions about how or why can't I do this, whereas if you had the highest license level available, many times it all just falls into place.  Sure you may still have questions, but you won't be frantic ovr trying to figure out why something isn't or doesn't work.

 

It's why many of us upgraded to the higher licensing, as your display grows, you'll start wanting those added features that just isn't there in the basic license.

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Thanks, Don!   I missed that document during my online searches yesterday.

 

There were two things about the Simple Show Builder that I found confusing yesterday when I was playing around with it, trying to figure this out on my own.  The first was a mismatch in the options available on the SSB opening screen, where you select where the show will be played from, and the hardware I got with my STC package.  The show director that shipped with my package is a "uMP3G3", and the only option on that configuration screen that even remotely resembled it is labeled "mDC-MP3" - which, when shown out of the PVC package, isn't immediately obvious that it's the controller inside the PVC shell (see screen snap below).

 

SSB.Screen1.PNG

 

The second thing I found confusing was the Select Files for the Show screen (see below), and this is why I didn't get further into the SSB to program my SD.  On this screen, the only files available to select for the show  are the ones that came with the basic-plus software package.  My confusion here comes from the fact that there's (apparently) no option to add other .las files to the Available menu.  Since I opted to build my show in a directory completely separate from the default directory, it would have been nice to be able to tell the SSB where to look for show files.  Instead, it looks like I have to copy my show files into the default directory for SSB to find them.

 

SSB.Screen2.PNG

 

 

Anyway, the document reference is very helpful!  I'll look through it and reply again if I have additional questions.  Thanks for the pointer!

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The only sequences that will show in the SSB are those in your default sequence folder.

My advice? Use the HWU to do the programming of the SD card. You'll have greater control of the process.

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I, too, am new to this.  I am working on my first show for halloween.  I used the HWU to write the show to the SD card.  I have 4 songs/sequences.  When i started the show, the first song quits about 15 - 20 seconds before the end and completely skips the second song.  I am going to delete all the files off the card and re-do it.  Any other suggestions?

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#1 - Run LOR Verifier (look in your LOR Tray ... the light bulb in your task bar) and see if that sequence shows any errors.

#2 - If you run a newer version of software, check the 'strip headers' option in the HWU->MP3 Tab.

#3 - Worst case, run it through Audacity and make 100% sure it's 128K.

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I think I got it.  I didn't check the "Lock Step" box.  I re-read the instructions and then re-wrote the show to the card with the box checked.  It seems to have solved the problem.

 

Thanks for the quick reply and the suggestions.  I appreciate the helpfulness and generosity of everyone that has been at this for a while.

Edited by doakra

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Lock Step probably isn't going to help the issue, as what you are seeing is most likely a firmware bug.  Turning off Strip Headers may make performance worse.

 

Ensure your MP3 director has the latest firmware installed on it.  Some versions of our firmware had a nasty bug that would randomly cut a song short.

 

If you do have the most recent firmware on the controller, do as Don said and ensure the MP3 is 128kbps CBR.

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Lock Step probably isn't going to help the issue, as what you are seeing is most likely a firmware bug.  Turning off Strip Headers may make performance worse.

 

Ensure your MP3 director has the latest firmware installed on it.  Some versions of our firmware had a nasty bug that would randomly cut a song short.

 

If you do have the most recent firmware on the controller, do as Don said and ensure the MP3 is 128kbps CBR.

So . . . How do I check the firmware version?

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Check the manual for your uMP3 director for instructions on how to update the firmware.

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Thanks to everyone for your inputs on this topic, and please accept my apologies if the questions I'm asking are in the documentation somewhere... there's just so much stuff here that some of the subtleties are difficult to find.

 

Okay, tangential question:  Is there a way to have a LOR program start with all channels on (i.e. everything lit), then override and run one pass through the interactive program when an input is received from an external input PUP (a visitor presses the big red "Start" button), then go back to the default "everything on" mode after the interactive program completes?

 

The confusion I'm having is because - while I have a fairly awesome, 10 minute musical program that uses all 16 channels of my single controller - I only want the program to play one time through when someone triggers it.  Otherwise, I want all the channels "On" to have a static display illuminating my home.

 

I'm looking at the LOR Advanced Show Editor, and I have my sequences set-up as a Soundboard in the Interactive tab.  No problem there. I also have no concerns with creating a 1-minute (or longer) Animation sequence that has all channels on. What isn't clear to me is, where do I put the Animation sequence so that it stops when the Interactive program is activated? 

 

The Background tab doesn't seem appropriate, because I don't want this animation to run for the entire show, unless the Interactive program interrupts the Background program.  Otherwise, when the Interactive program is triggered, I'd have music, but it seems to me that the light program would be overridden by the "everything on" background sequence.

 

Nor does the Startup tab, since that appears to only run once and shut off.   The sequences in the Animation and Musical tabs also don't seem to be appropriate, since they repeat forever - while the show's is playing - and, like the Background tab, would override the sequences in the Interactive section.

 

Hopefully, I'm over-thinking this, and it's not that difficult.  I'd appreciate any advice anyone has to offer.

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Or, maybe it's as easy as unchecking the "Turned used lights off at the end of each sequence" option on the interactive group?...  If the behavior of that option is to turn everything back on after the last sequence in the goup plays, that would provide the static display I'm looking for.

 

Guess I'll try it and see...

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Greetings fellow light fanatics!

 

I'm new to the LOR family...  ...I'm now considering buying an input pup, so that I can have the entire house lit until someone drives up to start the show (I live on a cul-de-sac that gets some drive-by traffic during the holidays, but I don't want to give any of my neighbors an epileptic fit with lights flashing all night long during December)..Thanks in advance for any help or insight anyone has to offer....

Welcome aboard. It can get crazy.

Here's my $0.02 about your "static" until button is used thought process:

I work on my show all year, so I want as many people to enjoy it with me as possible. Well, without advertising, etc. I don't need to have traffic jams or news media, but I want people to enjoy it. I think you should have your show playing continuously. Static lights are boring and that's why we do the LOR blinky-blink in the first place. I'd rather see 16 channels programed and dancing than 100,000 lights just "on". If you don't have a big flashing light pointing to the big red button, people will drive on past anyway thinking, "boy, that David has a lot of bright lights. Yeah honey, but they just sit there. Lets drive on over to _______ coz their lights are freaking cool & are synchronized to music!" 

I even found out last year that one of my neighbors across the street took a radio into their front room and tuned it in to my show broadcast channel. He said his 2 boys would sit by the front window and watch and listen all evening. (This year I'm adding 2 songs to my show that his boys picked out for me...)

Just saying, if I had a button to start the show, I'd have missed the blessings of hearing about his kids enjoying the show for hours every night.

I say - if you got 'em -

Blink 'em hard & fast!

 

Good luck,

Daniel

Edited by Mega Arch
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I have to agree with Daniel.   I saw a home that apparently used LOR to control their lights a couple years back, when I got to the house everything went STATIC, the show did not repeat for an hour, they apparently had theirs set up to play the show on the hour, when done, everything went static, when it did, we waited about 5 minutes to see if the show would start up again, they used an FM transmitter, but no message about the duration of the "static lights" section.    So we drove around the neighborhood looking at other "static" and "semi-static" light displays, managed to drive back down the street on the hour and the show started up at the initial house that had caught our attention.

 

However MOST FOLKS will not even wait out 5 minutes with NO ANNOUNCEMENT telling them what is going on, secondly most folks will only DRIVE BY SLOWLY to view a home that is lit with static lights and NOT hang around or get out and look for a button to start a show.  Most won't take a second look the same night, they may drive by another night, but if the lights are static, they won't have the same interest in your display as one that is active and lights dancing to the music.   So you may lose repeat viewers by doing a static light display until someone presses a button they may not even realize is there, and some that see it, still may be reluctant to press it, thinking it may be a "joke" that may do something else.  Sadly in today's society with some of the sicko's we have out here, someone could wire a button like that to give the recipient that presses it a nasty jolt{shock}.     So it really is best to animate your lights and not use or ask viewers to press a button to start a show.   Just something to think about.

 

So as Daniel said, it's best to just allow the show to run continuously for the duration of your show times, i.e. starts at 7pm and ends at 10pm, then goes static for an hour or two, then either lights are all off, or use an animation file and cycle the lights overnight, which is what I, and some others do here as well.

 

But you'll miss a lot of viewers to your show if you are having them press a button to start your show, unless you have a "walk-through" display, using a button to start the show may become quite pointless and useless to those visiting your display, as again, not many are going to get out of their vehicle to start a show, they expect it to run on its own.

 

So you may really want to rethink that static option until a button gets pressed by a viewer, which in all probability may not happen.   And believe me, running the show and NOT keeping lights "STATIC" also cuts down on your power and even your power bill!

.

Edited by Orville

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Thanks to both Daniel and Orville for their inputs, and yes... the idea of leaving the show run continuously from start to finish has occurred to me.  As I mentioned in an earlier message in this thread, my home is located on a fairly quiet cul-de-sac.  We don't generally get a lot of traffic through the community, and even less on my street.  We do, of course, get the occasional "drive-by" looking at lights in the neighborhood, and that traffic flow tends to increase as we get closer to the holiday.

 

Also, my home has been - for several years now - the only one on the street (and probably in the entire subdivision) that is entirely decorated in lights for the holidays.  Yes, there are others that put up a few strings of white/clear "icicle" lights along the roofline, or wrap a tree (or two) and put out net lighting on the shrubs for ground lighting.  But, my home has become the "illuminated gingerbread" house in the community during the holidays, with all the gables, windows, and ground lighting glowing from a multicolor LED display that always garners praise.  And, the LEDs don't consume a lot of power at all.

 

The thing that concerns me about having the lights blinking non-stop from 6pm to 11pm every day of the week is that there are several families with small children on the street that have bedroom windows where the kids will stay awake to watch the lights instead of hitting the sack, and school is in session for at least the first two weeks in December.  There are also dogs on the street that will bark at flashing lights - mine being two of them - and I don't want to cause too many headaches for the neighbors.  One option to resolve these concerns is to limit the show to 6-8pm during weekdays, then run a static display from 8-11pm, and shut the lights off entirely after 11.  But, that means that weekday visitors after 8 (or 9, or whatever the shutoff time ends up being) don't see the show.

 

So, in my mind, a better alternative is to provide a means of turning on the show "on-demand". That way, I can have the show run continuously in the early evening, then whenever someone wants to see it after the kids have gone to bed.  In any case, I'm going to need a sign in the front of the house telling people what frequency they need to tune their FM radios to in order to hear the music, so the idea of having a "glowing", big red button in the center of the sign (similar to the button seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Y1DHmHHygQ) that kicks-off the display still appeals to me.

 

As far as attracting attention, I'm pretty sure that after a few "drive-by" visitors see it in late November, word of mouth will attract additional visitors in December.

 

But, that still leaves my original question:  Is there an easy way to set-up a show so that lights are on until someone pushes the button, and then on again after the show until the next button push?

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To use the button method you will need to set up an animation sequence that keeps the lights on static, and you will need to create an Interactive Show, selecting SoundBoard where you would put the musical sequences you want to run for the "Press Button" to run show and turn off static lights.  You would use the LOR Show Editor to create the show, but if you want all sequnces to for the musical aspect of your show to play, say you have 4 songs, you may have to combine the 4 songs into ONE LONG sequence for this to work.   Otherwse, each press of the button would play the next musical sequence, so if 4 seperate sequences, that would require the button to be pressed 4 times.  Also note, the SoundBoard plays in round robin style and the sequence already playing WILL NOT STOP to start the next sequence in succession, the sequence must complete before you can play the next sequence in line.

 

I've not used this option, but from playing around with it, creating a show with it, and reading the little info in there about it, this would seem to be the method you'd need to use.

 

It sounds more difficult than it really is.   It seems to be a very simple thing to do, but it probably can confuse a first timer trying to set something up in the Show Editor to accomplish it.

 

Once you have all that done, then all you have to do is set up the schedule for the show{s} to run in the LOR Schedule Editor to select the time you want the show to run.    The show file will be the one you created in the Showe Editor, Add it to the show editor, select your start and end times, day of week you want it to run, save and you're almost done, then when you're ready, clcik on the red LOR bulb in your task bar and select "Enable Schedule", now your system is set and ready for the show to start operation at the appointed start time and end at the appointed end time.

 

Hope this may help some.

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