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Light Control Problem


dharker

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Hello, this is my second year and everything was perfect last year. This year I have added some new controllers and my first round of LED's (from CDI). I did a quick test tonight in my living room of all the controllers in series with some lights plugged into each channel, including one string LED string for each of my Mega tree channels.

When I ran through some songs some channels are staying on randomly or I think even turn on by themselves. For instance if my mega tree is to go on all red I may get all red and one white to turn on. It clearly has no white in teh sequencer- white is definitly OFF. Does not seem to happen to incandescents.

I don't know much about using snubbers but am NOT using them since my fades seemed fine when I tested. Could I need snubbers or any idea what the heck is going on ?

Version 2.8.10 standard and Controllers:

01- 4.3 02- 4.3 03- 4.4 04- 4.4 05 4.4

Thanks !!!!

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Two things:

1) Run another quick test with the hardware editor, and make sure the channels come on when asked to.
2) Run the LOR Verifier to see if it complains about any problems.

To me, it almost sounds like you have a channel duplicated in the config, thus the controller is getting more than one command at a time for that channel.

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Thanks Don- First if I stop and replay a section the results are not the same- well it always does what it is supposed to do but if it turns on an extra channel one time the next time it will not but 20 seconds later it may do something else weird...

I never used verifier or hardware util as I never had problems but here is what I got. Verifier ran 37 tests and came back 1 error just saying my show file does not exist which I did not create yet.

Hardware Utility- I think I needed to run the 'refresh' button first- right ? I did that and oddly about 5 different channels turned on. of the 5 controllers the list showed

02-CTB16D Ver 4.30 03-CTB16PC Ver 4.40 04- CTB16PC Ver 4. ?

05- CTB16PC Ver 4.4

So 01 did not show up and 04 had ver 4. ? in it ? ? ? I tried some tests and got weird results- sometimes all would turn on and off and other times 2 would stay on or one on a different controller would start blinking etc.

CLosed it and restarted the HW util, did a refresh and it found all 5 controllers and no question marks. But when I said fade controller 3 it did but also turned on 1 channel on controller 4. So something in the HW setup ? ?

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The verifier needs the schedule and show files. It looks at the schedule to know which shows to check, and it looks at the the shows to know which schedules to check. So without either of those items, your sequence will not get checked.

Also, any cfl bulbs in the display, or on the same circuits? If so, try without those bulbs on.

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Ok I'll try to get a basic show and show files in place tonight and run the verifier again. What does the verifier actually verify in the sequence ?

From what I found out last night- Hardware utility does not always grab all 5 controllers and version number everytime I hit refresh. Sometimes it shows Ver 4.? and a controller may be missing if I hit refresh it shows back up. I am also see the lights appear to go on on ALL 5 controllers including my old controllers from last year as well as LED and incadescent lights. Also have it happen to all sequences I tested including some from last year.

It would seem to me as a novice, this could be a CAT5/6 cord issue with one of my patches between controllers or one of my controller ID's or something did not take properly.. If I remember back from May I thought it was a real straightforward process to assign a unit ID to a new unit out of the box. Anything else to look at besides trying to get the verifier to work tonight ? Thanks

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It does sound somewhat like intermittent comm issues. You might check all your data connectors look clean, and that the data cables are as separated from power and other sources of emf as possible. As mentioned above, any CFL lamps on the controllers, or same circuits are a common source of comm issues.

The verifier will even look for things like channels in both background and musical sequences, which is nearly always a bad thing, as well as cases where one should have used duplicate channel to track, but instead a second identical channel was created in the other track. (always a bad thing)

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Ok I'll check the cables tonight as you suggest. Sorry to say but no CLF's in the house so that's out !

The verifier actually sounds neat, I'll try that tonight- All of my sequences except one is modified from some one else's but I do import my channel config into each song before I begin to modify. Certainly possible that my base for this year has another track or background pieces in it that I didn't realize, so far I only use 1 track.

I would think a good test would be to create a brand new blank sequence with say 48 channels and then just have channels 33-48 go on and off and fade etc to see if it does weird things or not.

I'll see what happens tonight- thank you

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Now it's driving me crazy- Don/klb I created a basic show with 2 songs and then ran the verifier. It ran 58 tests and seemed to warn on beat tracks that were blank and I also had a 6th controller in three but nothing on any of the channels. I went and deleted the beat tracks and all of controller 6. I then checked each of my 80 channels to make sure the mapped to controller and channel correctly and they did. So I ran verifier again and no errors and no warning with 58 tests.

So I played the show and got the same sporatic lights going on and off ! ! Went into hardware utility and did refresh. Interesting just the discovery process it did turned on about 8-9 random channels. First time found 4 controllers, second time 5, then 3, then 5, then 4, then 4 then 3 then 5.... Sometimes the versions were 4.? on 1 or 2 again... Is this inconsistancy normal ? Not sure what else to check.

I decided to disconnect ALL lights and move all power cords away from the ethernets etc. So I had just 5 controllers in a line. Took and plugged 1 controller at a time into PC and did a refresh. It found each controller and said the right number and correct version. So I connected them all back up and did a refresh and got the same random discovery of controllers 3,4,4,5 etc. Many times it wasn't even finding controller 1....

So now I am just lost, only thing I can think of that I have not done is replace the ethernets so I'll do all 5 tomorrow and see if it can consistantly at least discover all 5 on a refresh- Any other HELP ????? Thanks

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Unless you have two controllers at the same ID, the hardware discovery should be pretty solid. You do have a com problem somewhere. You can probably make some progress by checking various combinations of controllers to try and figure out what cable, or controller is causing your problem. It is most likely a cable, but occasionally you find a damaged, or defective jack.

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yep I agree with klb.. I would use the HU to check each controller ID singlely.. have just one plugged in at a time to verify their unit number.

Second, make sure the Cat cord is firmly plugged into each socket.. sounds like there might be a flaky one in the bunch. When you do verify each unit # (above), do it twice, swapping Cat sockets btween each, to see if one's not fully seating the plug..

Lastly, use the Verifier for duped channels/units..

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Ok- went nuts last night trying just about every combination I could. Since it is somewhat of an intermittent problem it was a painful process. Finally close to 1:00 I Think (and pray) I found a bad cable between controller 1 and 2. I did about 20 tests and had no issues. Tonigh I will test some more then put the old cable back see if it acts up then put the new back to see if I can really confirm this is my issue, but think I am almost there with all your help- thank you !



boy I could have used those 8 hours programming instead !

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A bad Cat cable? Man, that never happens ;)

btw, I'm a Somerville boy, we Jersey Boys (hey, I like the sound of that.. would make a great name for a hit show :) ) gotta help each other out :)

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TJ Hvasta wrote:

A bad Cat cable?

I have learned a few things about Cat5 cable in a Christmas light display:
  1. Don't scrimp. Yes, the LOR network will work with flat telephone cable, and some do, but I went with UV proof black outdoor Cat5 cable and I'm glad.
  2. Don't leave the network connections exposed. One local LOR user builds all his controllers with 2 short lengths of Cat5 cable extending a few inches and crimped with the supply cable in the center strain relief. He then uses those female-to-female RJ45 connectors to join them to the main network. It makes installation easier and takes the strain off the connectors on the controller boards, but he always complains of "green goop" collecting in the connectors and causing the network to fail. Instead, I use these outdoor RJ45-ECS connectors: RJ45-ECS.jpg
  3. Sometimes it's unavoidable to run the network and power together. That was causing trouble on our network, until I installed a RS485 terminator at each end, as I documented in this post.
  4. The LOR network only uses 2 of the 4 pairs in the Cat5 cable. I use the spare pairs to run audio to outdoor speakers mounted in the trees.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I know this is a stale thread, but, boy, I need to chime in here.

I was fighting a problem exactly like the OP had.

I have 35 boxes, and Hardware Utility would always discover a different number: 34, 25, 28, 30, 25, and occasionally 35. During the discovery phase, I would see channels randomly bllinking as well.

It turned out to be CAT5 runs that were in parallel with extension cords.

I fixed it all by starting with exactly one box in the chain and separating the cables, testing that box was seen in HU, and then adding one more and doing it all over again. After just a few of the boxes (that previously were intermittantly seen or had lights flasing), that this was going to work. Not only did I separate the CAT5 cables from power, I have them off the ground, coiled at one end or the other. My total CAT5 length this year is about 1500'.

When I finished, none of my channels were blinking during the discovery phase. I have a theory about that, BTW. I imagine that when you do a refresh, a signal is sent to all boxes that puts them into a "diagnostic" mode. I think the blinking channels is due to some boxes missing this signal and remaining in a "run" mode, so the refresh signals are actually being interpreted as show signals. And the refresh stream probably contains all of the box IDs, so any box that is not in Diagnostic mode, will see signals that it thinks are addressed to it.

It's really interesting that I was fighting this just this year, since the cabling was just as messy the past two years and I never had it happen.

And by the way, all of my CAT5 connections have the RJ45-ECS connectors shown above.

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