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I Hate Eating Crow - but humble pie isn't too bad...


George Simmons
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For the past week I've had an issue with channels randomly acting up - even when LOR isn't running. Over the years, I've seen that mentioned a lot this time of year - and most often by newbies. The canned advice for those types of issues is to check comm cables/connections. Hey - I'm an old timer, I mean veteran, so I know that, right? And I always check comm cables with a tester before deploying them to the yard.

About four years ago when Sharon finally had enough of tripping over comm cables, I installed a semi-permanent cable to the garage. Never had an issue with it. So confident am I that I don't even bother checking that one. I mean, heck, it hasn't moved an inch the past four years. If you can't see where this is going, then you should be collecting stamps or something...

Today I replaced the comm cable after days spent fretting over almost everything else. Guess what? Issues went away.

So, the lesson learned, both to newbies and to arrogant old timers, I mean veterans, like myself is:

ALWAYS SUSPECT A COMM CABLE when you have things happening in the yard which shouldn't be happening.

I repeat - ALWAYS SUSPECT A COMM CABLE WHEN THINGS GO SCREWY IN THE YARD!

First, of course, is to double check your channel assignments. And then change the damn comm cable leading to the first controller that's causing issues. Don't think about it - just do it!

Happy lighting, all!

Edited by George Simmons
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I needed this last week when i posted that unit 1 wasn't working but the rest where. Some how the info was passing to the other controllers but wouldn't light the first one.

Lesson learned...check comm cable first.

Guess you missed my post George!!! :)

Guess if you old dogs could keep up with all the new dog questions "ISSUES" you would have reminded yourself........LOL :lol:

Thanks So Much To All the OLD DOGS........

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George - OK, you had a bad cable, you replaced it and life is good again; did you ever figure out WHY the cable was bad?

Chipmunks or other critters maybe? Or an errant staple?

Just curious.

I won't be able to physically remove the cable until spring - it's partially underground. But i'm okay with that - just happy to be running error-free again.

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"I always check comm cables with a tester before deploying them to the yard."

Two questions:

1. How do you "check" the comm cables with a tester?

2. I'm having several boxes misbehave. I took the laptop out there and hooked them directly---same issues are occurring. Does that eliminate all the comm cables except maybe the one connected directly to the laptop?

I've had to get creative in order to make the show work. It's so frustrating...

Thanks,

Janet

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I got my tester from Monoprice.com - the same vendor I get cables from. They cost about ten bucks. The cable tester is a two-part device. You plug one end of the cable into the body of the tester and the other end of the cable into the detachable part of the tester and it checks the continuity of the cable. You can use it easily on cables that you've already deployed, as well as those waiting to be deployed. IMO, a tester is an Indispensible item in your Christmas toolbox.

As for your #2 question, I'd suspect the cable from the PC based on what you describe. In most cases, the problem cable is the one just before the first controller that's misbehaving. Any controller downstream from a bad cable will be subject to irregularities.

Yes, comm cables can be frustrating to diagnose. But once you've found the problem and replaced the bad one, it's actually quite liberating to see things working error-free.

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I ordered this morning. Thank you so much for the info. The first cable is a store-bought one. The rest are homemade, so I am going to suspect one (or more) of the homemade. My cables are very long (some over 200 feet), so there could easily be a break somewhere. I also use another cable just for testing, which is small. That one doesn't go into the show, and yet, the same issue occurred when I hooked it directly to one of the boxes in question. It's really frustrating. I've even gone as far as to erase (everything off) the entire channel for a song, just to see if it lights up anyway (no random lighting--everything stays off). Then, I paste the programming back--random turning off and on recurs. I sit there and watch my programming on the computer as the song plays, and the stupid channel just keeps doing what it wants to do, not following my programming. The other stumper is that it appears to go on and off at the exact same place every time. It's like its losing the signal in exactly the same way every single time--It's driving me crazy. The tester is supposed to ship today with arrival hopefully by Friday or Saturday. I really hope it's a multiple cable failure and that it can be fixed. Otherwise, I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I have 17 boxes up and running, and only 3 are misbehaving (two are LOR boards and one is a d-light board). Both of the LOR boards were partially used last year (some channels weren't needed yet), and I didn't have this issue last year. The d-light board has been used for at least 6 years, and I think that one is probably a bad triac? The channel stays on even after the show shuts down for the night.

Thank you for any additional input.

Janet

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So George,

Was the faulty cable causing the face on your house to wink inappropriately at the neighbor ladies?

No, I'm afraid that's a faulty sequencer. But the ladies tell me it has the virtue of being unique.

Janet - It sounds like you've mostly eliminated the cable possibility, although it's still something you should check for the peace of mind. Theres only a couple other things I can think of. There could be small blips in the sequence - orphaned remnants of an old fade perhaps - that are so small they're difficult to see. Or, and IMO more likely, there's something screwy with channel assignments. Sounds more and more like there's a conflict - two channels trying to control the same lights. Have you run the Verifier? If not, you should. I think you might see the problem reported there. Good luck. Keep us posted.

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Well, I ran verifier this morning. I had quite a few warnings and 2 errors, but when I looked at them, they all had to do with the fact that I play music during the day before the show starts at night (4035 'no channels' warnings issued for the music-only shows). The 2 errors were missing media files on the same daytime music. So it looks like the programming is doing ok. I will look closely at some individual songs today and see if I can find anything. The tester shipped last night, so maybe I'll have it by Friday. I also talked to LOR help desk and they are planning to send some triac replacements for the box that has two stuck channels (staying on). I hope that's the only solution needed for that issue. I backed up the firmware (older version) on the d-light board that was giving trouble, and for the most part, it's behaving much better. This is so much fun!~)

Janet

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Hey George, how many recipes you want for Crow? B) And welcome to the club. :P

BTW: Sounds like maybe you may have had a mole bite through your underground cable. Don't know if you have those critters where you are, but they can sure mess up some underground cabling or power wires.

Edited by Orville
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Update:

I received the cable tester in the mail today, and all homemade cables "passed." Cool tester. When I checked the only store-bought cable, it came back as "crossed." I guess it's a crossover cable, and I didn't know (it's green, not yellow). Anyway, I went out and purchased a brand new one, tested that to be sure, and installed. Then, when the show started, I was sure that all my problems would be solved. NOT! I'm still having issues with channels doing their own thing. I have studied my programming, and am convinced that the Grinch is trying to mess with me! Now it appears that two more triacs are bad (will replace this weekend), or something even worse. One channel won't come on at all, and the other won't turn off. One thing strange that I've noticed, most of my issues occur on channels that have rope lights plugged into them (non LED). They're the ones that seem to do their own thing instead of following the program. Has anyone had this problem?

Thanks again for all the help,

Janet

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