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dnewman

LOR protocol ever been published?

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Has the LOR protocol ever been publically released? Reason I ask is that I'm often making little PIC and AVR based microcontrollers for various halloween and christmas displays (RGB LED lighting, sensors, odd sounds, servos). Presently, I trigger them with a LOR channel which then sends them juice via a relay (poor man's DIO board) which they then notice.

Would be more interesting and flexible to implement a subset of LOR and have them listen on the daisy chain. Lacking a spec for LOR, I can just as readily use my LOR <-> DMX converter and implement DMX 512.

Yeah, yeah, I could get DIO and ServoDog boards, but other than knowledge of the LOR protocol, I already build all of that myself and so do not have a serious need for them. (They ARE very neat and useful, I just happen to make my own point solutions for my specific needs.)

Thanks,
Dan

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Guest wbottomley

dnewman wrote:

Has the LOR protocol ever been publically released? Reason I ask is that I'm often making little PIC and AVR based microcontrollers for various halloween and christmas displays (RGB LED lighting, sensors, odd sounds, servos). Presently, I trigger them with a LOR channel which then sends them juice via a relay (poor man's DIO board) which they then notice.

Would be more interesting and flexible to implement a subset of LOR and have them listen on the daisy chain. Lacking a spec for LOR, I can just as readily use my LOR <-> DMX converter and implement DMX 512.

Yeah, yeah, I could get DIO and ServoDog boards, but other than knowledge of the LOR protocol, I already build all of that myself and so do not have a serious need for them. (They ARE very neat and useful, I just happen to make my own point solutions for my specific needs.)

Thanks,
Dan


As far as I know... it never has and probably never will.

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I understand that there are reasons why LOR wouldn't want to publish the protocol. But it would be great to have a SDK access to it, say perhaps with an advanced license. That would allow users to write scripts, web access without opening the door for competition (since you'd have to own an advanced LOR license anyway)

On the other hand, it seems the competition just reverse-engineers it anyway. I'm not interested in doing that (nor talented enough to pull it off if I wanted to), which is why I'd like something sanctioned by LOR that's callable as a dll or command-line utility or some such...

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Interesting idea, using X10 this way. Certainly hadn't occurred to me. There's plenty of implementations of X10 for AVRs and PICs and I've even used it in an AVR project. Rolling serial interfaces is no big deal if necessary. I may play around some with this but am already going down a LOR -> DMX 512A route as I already have an iDMX-1000 and it will also work from a controller playing from flash (or aux. SD card).

Thanks for the suggestion!

Cheers,
Dan

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I have just discovered PIC microcontrollers and loving it.
I would love to know the LOR protocol, for some of my little projects.
The next LOR board that I buy, I am going to reverse engineer it, So that I have a schematic for it.
One of the little projects i would like to do is Build a little "One-Channel wireless LOR board" (~$20 each board).


You could use a Serial Port Monitor/Sniffer And reverse engineer it. (If I could find a good Serial Sniffer that is free I would)



I too would like something sanctioned by LOR.

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I have considerable experience in reverse engineering protocols what with protocol design being part of my day job. However, being in the intellectual property business myself, I personally decided years back to only reverse engineer protocols when either my arm is twisted or it's for a protocol no longer in production and the engineering documents are lost to antiquity. (I don't include the normal sniffing one does when two implementations of a protocol don't interoperate as an exercise in RE.) So, while doing an RE on LOR is likely straightfoward, it's not something I myself would do.

And I do recognize this as a personal choice thing: I don't mean to be judging anyone who feels differently.

PICs are fun. I started using them back in the late 80's shortly after General Instruments sold off the division. These days I sort of favor AVRs since there's nice tool chains for the Mac, but they're both real fine choices. (Well, if I have to write in assembler, I'll pick an AVR any day over a PIC ;-)

Cheers,
Dan

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Jeff Millard wrote:

But, what would be the harm if you did it, after you legally paid for the system. As long as you weren't using it for anything other than your personal system. I'm asking a question here. Is it something that challenges Dan's business? Would it offend him? Would he even know? Would he be angry if we did it? Would you guys beat me up if I figured it out (which is highly unlikely... and what would I do with it if I did?)


Good question(s).

I've wanted the ability to control my LOR hardware from within my own applications ever since I gave up on my homegrown approach and switched to LOR. I don't want to replace the LOR program, and I have no desire to distribute anything. But I like being able to control things myself, and there is a feature that I had in my program that is not supported in LOR.

I had sent an email to LOR back in 2007 asking about this before I switched over. The answer I received was "We have an ActiveX control that allows applications to communicate with the controllers". I replied that I found the ActiveX control and asked for info on how to use it. But I never received an answer.

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I ran into this same thing from AL when i used them... I had found the activeX control they used and actually had it working sort of..

you can always use an object browser and drop the activeX in the Visual studio project and be able to figure its various properties and methods...

I would love to do this as I would Like to use LOR controllers for more than just christmas lights.. they cost a HECK of a lot less than a crestron or lightolier system for Home lighting.. X-10 is too unreliable and too slow.. its 300 Baud.. cant do much with that....

from what I understand the LOR protocol is an implementation of MODBUS RTU, however I have not put my sniffer on the network to see if it really is...

makes sense because MODBUS RTU is very robust and lightweight.. however in general protocol cracking is not particularly Hard, its just time consuming...

and for my christmas lights the LOR software is beautiful so I have no need right now to go after it...

allowing access to the ActiveX is both a possible win-win and a lose situation for LOR.. opening it up offers the possibility that LOR controller sales go up because of other software applications written... it also offers the possibility that other software packages would come out and trump LOR's own.. and from my experiences software development costs a HUGE amount more than hardware development.. so until they make back their development costs I couldnt see them opening this up too much...
although I wish they would because there would be more controllers in my future that would never see a christmas tree...

PC controllers for my lights
Servo controllers for my HVAC dampers and PTZ cameras...
CCR controllers to drive the multi-color recessed accent lighting..
just to name a few
-Christopher

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This is why I proposed tying an SDK to an advanced license. Anyone who would want to use your potentially "competing" software would have to have an advanced LOR license anyway. So LOR is still getting your money.

And like most people, I have zero interest in cloning LOR controllers for my own use, much less selling stuff to other people. I would, however, like things like LOR does not offer, such as the ability to control LOR from a midi device, the ability to write a web app that controlled LOR channels directly, etc. Much of these things would be used off-season and not for my Christmas display. My LOR controllers sit up in an attic 11 months of the year, which is a shame when they are so powerful...

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I totally agree mine do the same thing.. and they have so much potential to do more than just light up my christmas tree....

if I wrote a program that can control my advanced HVAC system, I can surely write a program that use my LOR controllers to handle my home lighting..

and save a lot more $$ than a crestron
-Christopher

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Jeff Millard wrote:

PS Reg, we need to talk. Make sure you attend this summer...

I'm looking forward to it. I had a great time this year :)

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Tim Fischer wrote:

I understand that there are reasons why LOR wouldn't want to publish the protocol. But it would be great to have a SDK access to it, say perhaps with an advanced license. That would allow users to write scripts, web access without opening the door for competition (since you'd have to own an advanced LOR license anyway)

On the other hand, it seems the competition just reverse-engineers it anyway. I'm not interested in doing that (nor talented enough to pull it off if I wanted to), which is why I'd like something sanctioned by LOR that's callable as a dll or command-line utility or some such...



Tim, I know you were around for this, but others might get a kick out of this thread from back in the day:

http://computerchristmas.com/ForumBoard/read.php?f=4&i=2612&t=2600&v=f

Basically this was the early days of reverse engineering the protocol, where Dan gives a little help. Darryl from DLight also makes an interesting comment, I don't remember if he had finished decoding it yet at that point.

While LOR may not officially endorse reverse engineering the protocol, it seems clear that Dan is the type who understands why someone would...

J.

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pretty wild.. like dan I also enjoy hacking protocols.. ive done quite a bit of it over the years for various reasons...

including hacking the communication protocols used for mini split air conditioners so that I could interface my computer control to them to set temperatures, system modes etc...

those were bit banged pulse distance encoded protocols..

although id hope we could get some info on an SDK rather than having to hack dan's protocol..

one thing I can say for sure is I surely like LOR's system SO MUCH better than I did the AL system.. yeah the controllers are missing some features (like setting the shimmer rate.. setting a blink rate, and variable twinkle) but most of those features can be emulated in sequencing.....

to some from the outside world that look at my display say "wow you paid what for each controller??" but in reality what all these controllers and software do.. used to be you had to pay many many thousands for a stage production lighting system to even get close to what you can do for hundreds with LOR...
-Christopher

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my intent totally is to be aboe to use LOR controllers for more than just christmas lights... dont get me wrong I dearly love christmas Lights... ive been putting them up since i was 7 years old and over the years have grown into computerizing my display and such...

however looking at my house you walk in the front door the wall mounted touch screen greets me with the the weather, the top news events.. the lights are on.. the heating system is pushing out just enough heat to warm up the area of the house im using(it knew i was on my way home via GPS).. a note flashes on the screen from my roomate that he wont be available for lunch tomorrow.. he simply texted from his phone..

you get the idea... Lighting has always been a passion of mine .. creating effects inside the house with lighting... of course our wonderful governments see it differently.. lighting effects in their eyes will be a thing of the past when we are all forced to have cold CFL bulbs in every light..

enter LED.. the idea that I could eventually adapt LOR DC and AC controllers.. write some code and be able to control the lights in my house in a far better fashion than i do now.. face it X-10, Z-wave, Insteon.. none of those have the capability of driving multi-color LED can Lights... LOR can do this....

the Blower in my furnace as well as the fans for exhaust and intake on my HVAC system are driven by Dual-TRIAC controllers... maybe another LOR product in the future?? (Dual TRIAC off-phasing eliminates motor buzz on capacitor driven motors with an aux winding)

I and many other people use Homeseer software for home automation.. I could easily write a plugin for homeseer that would talk to LOR controllers..

my intention is never to hack dan's protocol and try to undermine what he does oe steal his business.. if anything id like to help his business by seeing other uses for the technology..

I am not new to microcontrollers, code, or circuitry but i see no reason for me to design and build my own boards for Lighting control when there is a perfectly good product already being produced at a very reasonable cost...

so i hope you realize my purpose in this discussion is not to hurt or damage LOR in any way..

Im just a dateless Single Geek that likes to build stuff and do things others havent done and find new uses for products thats all...
-Christopher

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Jeremy Wiles wrote:


Basically this was the early days of reverse engineering the protocol, where Dan gives a little help. Darryl from DLight also makes an interesting comment, I don't remember if he had finished decoding it yet at that point.


Darryl rolled out D-light at PLUS 2005 (which was in July, I think) so he would have had to been done by that post, I think...

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Jeff Millard wrote:

Jeremy Wiles wrote:
....the early days of reverse engineering the protocol, where Dan gives a little help. Darryl from DLight also makes an interesting comment, I don't remember if he had finished decoding it yet at that point.

While LOR may not officially endorse reverse engineering the protocol, it seems clear that Dan is the type who understands why someone would...

J.


Have you considered that the result of this discussion might have been what caused Dan's current stance on the public release of his proprietary code?

Jeff


I draw a big distinction from reverse engineering "code" vs. decoding a communications protocol. We have the hardware and there is no agreement on how we decide to communicate with it...

Personally I love the LOR sequencer. In 2006 Dan announced an SDK, but it never was released. I would also love to see that come out. Not that I want a different sequencer, but since the LOR missing controller alarm hasn't come out yet, I would love to see someone write it...

J.

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I would assume that now the controller accepts DMX-512 that you could do the basic on/off that way. So just do DMX instead of trying to reverse eng the protocol.

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Leo Nichols wrote:

I would assume that now the controller accepts DMX-512 that you could do the basic on/off that way. So just do DMX instead of trying to reverse eng the protocol.

I looked into that, but it sounds like DMX uses a non-standard Baud Rate (250K).

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The DMX512 baud rate is 250kbps. I don't know who defines "standard", but your PC serial port won't handle it natively. A PC-combatible serial port tops out at 112500bps. Many companies make USB to DMX dongles.

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Thanks, that's an option but I really didn't want to use additional hardware. That would require switching back and forth when I jump between my application and LOR. I really wanted it to be as easy as switching between the hardware utility and the sequence editor (shut one down, start up the other).

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I also agree I would really like some system that will allow me write custom programs for LOR.

Don't get me wrong the LOR programs are good, but being a programer, I can always come up with things, I wish a program had.

What about some form of command line LOR program that would send commands to the controllers?

Then we could create our own programs that will interface with the command line program. You could even make this command line program cost extra.

Personally my favorite way for this would be some forum of cross platform library, Maybe a java class?

I use Mac for most of my computing needs (only pc I have is a net book). I would really like a program that would run on my Mac. Also a linux version would be good, since allot of people run there shows on older computers, and linux is fast and small.

Coming up with some form of way the community could create custom programs, or scripts, especially for mac or linux could probably really benefit every one, by allowing for the community to help full in some of the wholes.

If the protocol was completely opened up, and some sales of the LOR program were lost, there is also the possibility that sales of controllers could increases, from people liking other programs that might get created, and purchasing LOR products.

Even if all we could get is some type of windows only SDK library for the pro version of the software, it would be a steep in the right direction.

Being LOR has a big following of tech users this could really have a positive impact on the community. I know I am big fan of open source programs, and if I knew we had other programs who would be interested on working on LOR programs I would make any thing I could create through supported ways open source.

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Guess I'll add my voice to the discussion. I heartily agree with the comment that it is a sad thing to have these controllers on the shelf for 11 months out of the year due to a lack of options.

I have seen many a time where I would have liked to be able to use the controllers for lighting control in a 'live' environment, but have been unable to since the software as it currently exists does not lend itself to this mode of operation.

One might observe that you can have a level of 'live' control via the hardware utility console, but only on one controller at a time and in a fairly limited fashion.

I would love to see a utility/program/software that could be operated similarly to a 'standard' (if there is ever such a thing) 'intelligent' lighting console, where you could operate multiple controllers and create scenes, triggers, and shows as well as have 'live' control.

Would think the availability of this functionality would not only keep the controllers from residing on the shelf for long periods, but might generate some additional interest/sales as well.

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jwilling,

As of firmware 4.30, you can operate a deluxe LOR board using DMX512 and your favorite live console. There's wiring instructions on the LOR webpage. I plan to do this spring for a show I'm working on.

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Jeff Sand wrote:

jwilling,

As of firmware 4.30, you can operate a deluxe LOR board using DMX512 and your favorite live console. There's wiring instructions on the LOR webpage. I plan to do this spring for a show I'm working on.

Was peripherally aware of that, but the idea was to be able to leverage existing hardware and resources rather than to have to go out and purchase a console.

While not as convenient in all situations as a physical console, a 'soft' console; properly done would be of great use I would think, and provide access to the additional functionality available in the LOR controllers where a normal DMX console would not. And if one has a touch screen available, well... :cool:

BTW: a quick peruse of the LOR website did not turn up the wiring instructions you referred to. Mind posting the direct link?

Ah; no mind... not on the 'LOR website' as such, but in a document I located at:
http://lightorama.com/Documents/DMX-DOC.pdf

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