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All lights go off for a 4-5 seconds


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I'm a newbie here and this is the first forum to which I've ever posted. My question concerns a momentary dropout of all channels at what seems to be a random time during a song in the show. All 80 channels from 5 16D controllers just drop out for about 4-5 seconds and then come back as if nothing is wrong. It's never any longer than this. I've tried checking and replacing the data cables. The date cables are securely attached in the controller box so they don't move in the wind. The utility finds all 5 controllers every time and all of them test out okay. 3 of these boards are kit boards but they all went together without incident. It appears to act like the controllers all get a reset signal or something and then restart where the music is at. The music plays fine without the dropout. The show can run for 15 minutes or longer before anything might happen. Of course, it's always when others are watching. I'm using an AMD Athlon 2400 with as many processes shut down as I can and the Task Manager runs about 4-5% CPU load with no peaks registered during the dropout. The scheduler, show editor and sequence editor all seem to be working fine. I have updated all 5 16D controllers to the latest 4.01 firmware with appropriate files based on blue or green boards and am running 1.6.1 software. Any ideas out there would be greatly appreciated. Otherwise, everything has been great for the first year up and running. (What a blast! this has been. Whoopee!)

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You don't mention what device you use between the computer and the controllers. Almost sounds like the device you are using is losing contact with the controllers for a few seconds.

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If you are using the USB485 adapter, I remember a few people posted the USB connector was loose where it plugs into the computer. If you are using the USB485 adapter check to be sure it is secure at the computer or possibly try another USB port for a tighter fit.

Future Information:
The USB485 (Virtual Com Port VCP) adapter supplied by Light-O-Rama has an updated driver on the FTDI Chip web site. You can find it HERE.
You probably want one from the second section down if you are using Windows-XP. Not the x64 version.

Good Luck!

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As mentioned by Don, it sounds like a pause in communications. I am not sure what is causing the pause but even with such a powerful machine you could have somehting that spikes for a few seconds....

We are going to increase the fail-safe timer in the firmware. Currently if communications is lost for (about 2 seconds) the controllers shut down. This is to prevent lights from sticking on in the case the PC hangs or a com wire is cut, etc...

The problem is that it takes the controllers a few seconds to re-sync with the host and during that time the lights are off. Although I am not sure what is causing LOR to hang for that short time, the change to the fail-safe timer should help the situation. The display will pause BUT the lights will stay on and then jump to the correct settings.

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Thanks, Don. I forgot that little tidbit. I'm using the standard serial port connector. I have the data cable run under the computer so it won't wiggle. I once again loaded up the utility and started a chase sequence for 3 channels I can see from my window. I wiggle the serial adapter and cord at the back of the computer but the lights continue to chase without interruption. Some of the observations I noted were: When I disconnect the data cable, the last light turned on remains on for about 2 seconds and then drops out. As soon as I plug in the cable, the chase immediately resumes with no discernable delay. I think I will again check the cable connection at my first controller. Even though they are secured in place, I guess there could still be a marginal connection. Thanks

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Thanks, Griswold. I'm using the standard serial adapter. Been wanting to get the USB adapter. so I could try using a laptop but just haven't done it yet. Buying another controller was a higher priority. :] Also wanted to mention, the first data line length is about 80 ft on cat 5 cable. I figured this length is well within reason. Thanks.

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Posted: Wednesday December 27th, 2006 10:53 am

As mentioned by Don, it sounds like a pause in communications. I am not sure what is causing the pause but even with such a powerful machine you could have somehting that spikes for a few seconds....

We are going to increase the fail-safe timer in the firmware. Currently if communications is lost for (about 2 seconds) the controllers shut down. This is to prevent lights from sticking on in the case the PC hangs or a com wire is cut, etc...

The problem is that it takes the controllers a few seconds to re-sync with the host and during that time the lights are off. Although I am not sure what is causing LOR to hang for that short time, the change to the fail-safe timer should help the situation. The display will pause BUT the lights will stay on and then jump to the correct settings.



Thanks, Dan. I can't believe how quick everyone responds here. The support here is just fantastic. I will check my data connections again and get back with what I find.

I'm looking forward to adding more channels for next year. I think I'm also starting to figure out some of this posting stuff, like copying and pasting comments back into replies. :] Maybe there's hope for this old dude, yet
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I had this problem last year. It turns out that I changed my network speed to the slowest setting (under Sequence Editor -> Edit -> Preferences -> Network Preferences). Try changing it to the average to fastest setting. It may make a difference...it did with mine.

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I had this problem last year. It turns out that I changed my network speed to the slowest setting (under Sequence Editor -> Edit -> Preferences -> Network Preferences). Try changing it to the average to fastest setting. It may make a difference...it did with mine.





Thanks, Wayne. I checked, and the network setting was at average. I quickly programmed up this little animation file I called "chaos" with all channels fading and twinkling in staggered events, a sort of "throw everything you've got" type of file and ran it through a show. The lights just happily blinked away like the system was loafing. I'll try bumping up the speed to fastest and see what happens tonight. I also rechecked my cable connections at the first and second controller and they seem solid with no dropouts while running the utility in chase mode. Maybe it's just a tiny piece of dirt that dislodged as soon as I touched the connector. Those intermittent things can really be hard to track down. :)

I also checked my comm1 and comm2 settings. Comm1 is set for 115200 with maximum input-output buffers. Comm2 ( which I use for X10) is 9600 and has been working fine. I don't know if this has any affect on the performance but I included the data here in case it does.

Thanks, Wayne.
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  • 3 weeks later...
I had this problem last year. It turns out that I changed my network speed to the slowest setting (under Sequence Editor -> Edit -> Preferences -> Network Preferences). Try changing it to the average to fastest setting. It may make a difference...it did with mine.





Thanks, Wayne. I checked, and the network setting was at average. I quickly programmed up this little animation file I called "chaos" with all channels fading and twinkling in staggered events, a sort of "throw everything you've got" type of file and ran it through a show. The lights just happily blinked away like the system was loafing. I'll try bumping up the speed to fastest and see what happens tonight. I also rechecked my cable connections at the first and second controller and they seem solid with no dropouts while running the utility in chase mode. Maybe it's just a tiny piece of dirt that dislodged as soon as I touched the connector. Those intermittent things can really be hard to track down. :)

I also checked my comm1 and comm2 settings. Comm1 is set for 115200 with maximum input-output buffers. Comm2 ( which I use for X10) is 9600 and has been working fine. I don't know if this has any affect on the performance but I included the data here in case it does.

Thanks, Wayne.



Just thought I'd wrap up this thread. When taking down my display this last week (early January), I came across a razor slice in the data cable. On closer observation, I discovered that one the wires inside was actually severed and another was exposed. It was amazing that the display worked at all. The exposed copper showed oxidation in a couple of areas (from the wet weather I believe). I'm really sure this was causing the problems and thus I have learned I need to do a better job checking my cables. How the slice got there is a mystery, however. I hope it wasn't a neighbor annoyed with the traffic. Thanks again to everyone for assistance on this. All in all it was great fun, a terrific experience, and we are looking forward to another year, etc.
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Your slice was probably a rabbit. They do this often. In fact, I caught one on my camera. I doubt you have a bad neighbor.

Lucky, it never got my data line.

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Your slice was probably a rabbit. They do this often. In fact, I caught one on my camera. I doubt you have a bad neighbor.

Lucky, it never got my data line.




Thanks, Roadrat. I never thought of that. It's possible, I guess. I'm just a bit suspicious since the slice was about an inch or so long and and ran at a slight angle almost parallel to the wire. The other possibility is that the cable was at one time coiled in a loop with a wire tie holding it together and perhaps if I used a razor knife to cut the wire tie, I may have gotten a bit careless. I will sure pay closer attention to these cables next season. The problem was so hard to trace down since it seemed to happen only once or twice an evening. The slice was only about 16" from one of the controllers and was securely attached to other cords in that area. That probably kept the problem to a minimum. It was also located out in the open on the ground so I sure can't rule out a rabbit. Shoot, and I thought he was enjoying the show. :laughing:
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Or it could have been a Squirrel! I had some squirrels chew through a C7 string last year , it was quite awkward when you saw most of the house lit and then a section out for no reason at all until you find out why!

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Or it could have been a Squirrel! I had some squirrels chew through a C7 string last year , it was quite awkward when you saw most of the house lit and then a section out for no reason at all until you find out why!



Thanks, Jeremy. We have quite a few of them running around the place. A year or so ago we parked our car on the grass just overnite, and the next morning it wouldn't start. I traced it to chewed up wires under the hood. Maybe we parked it on top of some squirrel's buried stash of food and he got upset about it. :] This all happened in less than 24 hours.

Now you've got me worried about all those cords laying around the yard. I chose to leave the power always on to my controllers during the time the lights were up so that moisture would be less likely to condense inside the box. Fortunately all the main power cords had heavy insulation or we might have had fried squirrels laying around the yard. I couldn't say that about the channel cords. Some of them were recovered from a local dumpster because they were twisted up or had the ground pin missing. I just hate to see good material go to waste. :]

This has me thinking I should check ALL my cords before I put them away. Yeah, they are still cluttering up the garage. Besides, who has room to park their car in the garage anymore?
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B-rad wrote:

Or it could have been a Squirrel! I had some squirrels chew through a C7 string last year , it was quite awkward when you saw most of the house lit and then a section out for no reason at all until you find out why!



Thanks, Jeremy. We have quite a few of them running around the place. A year or so ago we parked our car on the grass just overnite, and the next morning it wouldn't start. I traced it to chewed up wires under the hood. Maybe we parked it on top of some squirrel's buried stash of food and he got upset about it. :] This all happened in less than 24 hours.

Now you've got me worried about all those cords laying around the yard. I chose to leave the power always on to my controllers during the time the lights were up so that moisture would be less likely to condense inside the box. Fortunately all the main power cords had heavy insulation or we might have had fried squirrels laying around the yard. I couldn't say that about the channel cords. Some of them were recovered from a local dumpster because they were twisted up or had the ground pin missing. I just hate to see good material go to waste. :]

This has me thinking I should check ALL my cords before I put them away. Yeah, they are still cluttering up the garage. Besides, who has room to park their car in the garage anymore?
HAHAHA!! no kidding! Our garage is still full of stuff from teardown! and not everything is down yet! If I were you I would examine the cords! I think I am going to now come to think about it! I also had a set this year that about 5 bulbs smoked and then blew up and burnt out on the C7 sets too.. it was wierd.. I wonder if the squirrels had a link to this too?
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