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Serious controller issues


cetacea
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I am at a loss here. I had these issues last year, but not anywhere near as bad. I have channels randomly coming on. Sometimes it is a channel that just comes on, sometimes it flickers, sometimes it blinks on and off. This isn't on any one controller either. I have 9 controllers and it happens on any of them. It makes the display look pretty crappy and it is getting worse. My controllers are CTB16PC's and I have had them for 4 years now. I just upgraded the firmware yesterday from 3.02 to 3.32 and honestly I think that made things worse. I have arches that have channels stick on, I have my mega tree with a section or sometimes 2 or more sections come on when they aren't supposed to, etc.

I figured it was a comm issue, so I went to each and every controller today and replaced every single network cable connector. I made sure each network cable is only as long as it needs to be to go from one controller to the next. I have also tried (as best I can) to keep the network cables away from power cords. The display is running right now and the random channels are just as bad as ever. I have tried resetting all controllers, I have unplugged all controllers, I have reboot the computer, I even reinstalled the LOR software (not a fresh install, just a repair), but I am using the latest version of LOR and just installed it on the show computer about 10 days ago. As a side note, there are no CFL bulbs in the display, but there are some inside the house. However, it still happens even when the inside lights are turned off.

Does anyone have any ideas what this issue could be? I'm thinking it is probably a comm issue because it isn't happening to only one controller, but I have tried everything! Please help!!!!!!

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It appears from the Virtual Comm Port web site that the drivers are probably a later version (11-16-2010) than you have with the native drivers supplied with Windows-7.
Wouldn't hurt to give them a shot. Just be careful selecting the 32 or 64 bit drivers.

http://www.ftdichip.com/Drivers/VCP.htm


You can also make your own filtered USB cable using these Radio Shack ferrite chokes. Wind a couple turns of the USB cable around the choke and snap the filter shut. Use one on each end of the cable keeping them close to the ends of the cable.
http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2103222

What happens when you use the Hardware Utility and run a 16 channel chase on each controller? Do they respond correctly?

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No, that is another thing. The HW utility acts very strange when I try to run a chase test on any controllers. Sometimes it messes up when I just turn on all 16 channels too, but not as bad as if I try a chase. Sometimes they will all turn on but one channel, sometimes none turn on, it is really sporadic when using the HW utility on anything other than just a single channel.

I'll try the drivers and put chokes on my usb cable adapter.

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Is it possible to bring one controller in next to the show computer and connect it with a short CAT-5 cable and run the Hardware Utility there and see what happens.
It's time to eliminate some things.
Having the controller next to the show computer should indicate if the problem is down the data cable that connects to the outside and possibly picking up stray interference.

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Try changing the order of your controllers. Try the chase against only individual controllers plugged directly to the adapter? Wondering if you have a bad RJ-45 jack, or bad solder point, affecting the controllers down stream.

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That might be a little tricky, the first controller is about 35 feet away from the show computer. The computer is in the garage so I would have to move it into the garage and run all 16 extension cords from the elements into the garage. It isn't impossible to do though.

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Hi

This year I too am seeing some channels sticking and suspect a comms issue. I am wondering whether I am pushing the limits of running a single network. I am running some 350+ channels + a CCR. Mixed controller types CTB16D, 16PC, but mostly DC boards. I am also running a small interactive animation - push a button and get some extra flashing lights when you donate. I am running from a com port using the RS232 to 485 adaptor. All coms are cat 5 cable and I try to separate this from others where possible. Total network length would be about 130 metres.

The first problem was that at a few parts of the sequence, the interactive animation would self trigger. Usually within a particular section of the sequence, but not at identical times, or the number of triggers or which of the two channels would trigger (or both). At some other parts of the sequence, some channels would occasionally stay on (or shimmer). This happens on different boards both AC and DC, but always clears the next time that channel is activated. The channels are often number 1 on the controller. I tried the 3 different network speed settings and did not really see a difference in the responses. While my problems are annoying, most viewers don't notice, so while the show is running, I decided to leave well alone and investigate after Christmas. My first thought was going to be to split the network.

Does anybody know of a way of checking the level of network activity? or whether you might be getting close to a network limit? Any other suggestions would be welcome

Regards Geoff

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Any motors in your display?

I had weird things happening (lights going on at the wrong time and for reason) when I had accidently plugged my animated deer motors into a controller.

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I apologize if you've heard this already, as I've posted this before, but I also had a problem with some channels coming on randomly. My solution was to install an RS485 terminator at each end of the network.

Read this post to see how I built the terminators.

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Here is what I came up with after doing some extensive testing today:

The first controller on the network works perfectly when I do a chase of all channels in HW Utility. When I connected the second controller in line, it also worked perfectly. I added the third controller and things started messing up big time in HW Utility. No matter which other controller I connected to the second one, it messes up. So then I ran a line from the computer directly to one of my mega tree controllers and it works perfectly. I tried to connect a second one and it immediately stated messing up. Then I noticed something strange, as soon as I hooked up a second network cable to the controller it would start to mess up even before I connected the other end to a controller. But then I tried a premade cable and when I plugged it in, nothing messed up and it continued to work perfectly. Ok, so I thought maybe a bad network cable and made a new one, but as soon as I plug it in, it messes up. I built a third cable, messes up. I plug in a premade cable, works perfectly. I have never had problems with my network cables working on a computer network, but for some reason LOR doesn't like my cables. I don't know if it is the type of connector I am using or if my crimper is crimping too hard or what. At this time, I have to assume that a good majority of my network cables are bad or at least bad to LOR. I have CAT 5 cable that I am using to make them and I also tried making a CAT6 cable with my spool of that, but it will still mess up as soon as I plug the cable into the controller. I checked for continuity between to two ends of the cables and each pin is working and the LOR controllers show up on the network and even work with the sequence, but those dang channels randomly come on and off.

I am at a loss here and don't know what to do next besides go out and buy a bunch of premade network cables. The problem is, I have some runs that are probably 50' or so.

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Well I don't have one of those, maybe I should go out and get one. I spent all day installing new connectors on every single cable and then making new cables today and they still don't work. I'm wondering if there is something wrong with my crimper. They look perfectly fine when I'm done with them, but LOR sure doesn't like them.

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John,

If he was making crossover cables. Then nothing would work at all. Now if he is splitting a pair, that would have some effect on picking up noise.

OP, I have a question for you. You sound like someone that knows something about making Ethernet cables. So, this is not meant to be a question to insult you, but just to cover all angles. You are splitting a pair between pins 3 and 6, right? Not putting the wires like this are you? 1 pair pins 1 & 2, 2nd pair on pins 3 & 4, 3rd pair on pins 5 & 6, and 4th pair on pins 7 & 8? That would be the wrong way and would produce the split pairs. This would allow noise to develop on pins 3 & 6. And at this minute I am not sure if that is the Rx pair or Tx pair for the controllers.

Dang this sure does sound like a hum dinger. But sounds like you are getting close.

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Well this is how I'm doing it which is how I have always done it (not saying it is right):

Pin 1 and 2: striped blue and solid blue
Pin 3 and 4: solid orange and striped orange
Pin 5 and 6: striped green and solid green
Pin 7 and 8: striped brown and solid brown


That is how the picture shows it on the back of my crimper.


In reality, does it really matter as long as both ends are the same? I guess in answer to your question, I do not split a pair and perhaps I should?

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