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Gremlins in the Network!


Severex
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Hi All,

Every night during testing, a different channel starts misbehaving. Tonight, it's controller OC Channel 16. For the whole song it's set to 40%. What is does, is do random un and down ramps and every few seconds flashes full power.

What I've done / what I know:

Changing the sequence in other areas makes the channel behave differently.
I have checked my channel config (using Chuck-o-Rama) and there are no conflicts.
I have 8 new LOR PC controllers and I learned about phasing the two power inputs last week. All controllers are either the same phase or on the same circuit.
The offending channel always tests perfectly in the hardware utility.
When I refresh the network, all 14 controllers come up but a random number of the new CTB16PC controllers display Rev 4.? instead of 4.02
Tried this in both the sequence editor, and as a show. Same problems.
Tried a faster Vista computer, same problem.
I have disconnected the network downstream of the offending channel, no effect.

What I don't know:

I'm a good troubleshooter, but I do not understand serial communications protocols. I use CAT 5 network cable with a lot of RJ45 union connectors. Does this sound like noise on the line? I have less than 200 channels total with about 20 running off a DO card in the PC. It seems that different songs causes different channels to wig out. I have found a bad pigtail cable and some corroded connectors, but I live in California and it's been 70 degrees every day with no rain in sight! The network cabling is not getting abused.

What I might try:

Using the offending sequence, run a dedicated line to the offending controller and take out upstream controllers and cabling as well. That should tell me something.

What I need:

HELP! Maybe someone can suggest a few other things to try?

Thanks!

Dave

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Update:

Plugged the laptop into just that one controller. Same problem. It's not the network. After standing there staring at it for over 1/2 an hour, I realized that all channels were goofed up. This sequence runs a lot staggered fades up and down. The one channel was hi-lighting the problem because it was set to a solid 40%. Turns out all of them were choppy and a little flashy compared to another controller running the same routine.

Appears to be some sort of noise/cross-talk in the controller. Varying power levels seem to be affecting other channels. Anybody have any suggestions on that front?

Dave

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Dave - is this happening on more than one sequence, or is it always the same sequence?

D.T.

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So far, I have only noticed it on variations of the same sequence. Lots of power fades in this particular sequence. We tested about 7 different sequences last night and I didn't notice anything. But as you know, our displays are so big, if you don't focus on something it could be messed up and you might not even notice it.

My plan is to swap with another controller that isn't exercised so heavily to see if the problem moves with the controller (or goes away).

Dave

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LightORamaDan

Severex wrote:

So far, I have only noticed it on variations of the same sequence. Lots of power fades in this particular sequence. We tested about 7 different sequences last night and I didn't notice anything. But as you know, our displays are so big, if you don't focus on something it could be messed up and you might not even notice it.

My plan is to swap with another controller that isn't exercised so heavily to see if the problem moves with the controller (or goes away).

Dave



Dave,

If the problem is the controller then let us know so we can replace it. If it does not move with the controller, send use the sequence to us so we see if there is something about it that is causing a problem. Send info to support@lightorama.com

Dan
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Well, I seem to have the same situation with 2 of my controllers too.
Both were used last year with no problems. It seems that fades and
shimmer have issues and sometimes they miss off events. The seem to work
fine on the strictly on-off stuff, but fades and intensity settings seem
to "jitter" I'm wondering if the firmware update I did in the summer
is the reason.. The show is running now, so I'm going to do more
troubleshooting tommorow. I checked all the network cables, and the downstream
controllers work fine. All controllers are single power input. Need to check FW tommorow. Channels look ok.. but I'm very tired right now....

the setup is this
USB-485B ---->CTB16D_Blue---->CTB16K_Green---->CTB16K_Green---->CTB16PC_KIT


The first two are having the issue... Even disconnecting everything and connecting up 1 at a time produces the problem.... Help ?

Tim

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Tim,

This does sound similar to my problem, although my issues have been with the new 16 channel PC controller kits (I haven't tried any of the older controllers with the offending sequence). I swapped another PC-Kit controller into the same location and had the same exact problem. Note that both controllers were running off a laptop at the site of the issue with the controller being tested the only one on the network. Power was supplied to both power inputs via the same circuit. The controller at max power is pulling 11 amps and 5 amps at min power. 14 channels were doing staggered power ramps and one was set to a constant 40% intensity. The 40% channel was being "influenced" by the ramping of the other channels. Since this channel was one of three banks of icicles, it looked really bad with one bank of icicles doing its own little dance. I had to move the 40% channel to a different controller.

I have been talking to Dan B. via email at support@lightorama.com and after things settle down on both sides, I'll run some more tests. If repeatable, I'll send the sequence and power loading info to Dan for more testing.

My current theory is that the problem is caused by a mix of heavy power loading and heavy sequencing. I am pushing the controller pretty hard....

Good luck with your troublshooting! Let me know if you learn anything. My Opening Night is tomorrow, so this problem is on hold for a little while.

Dave

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Well. the preliminary diagnosis is bad fades and intensities.
I redrew the fades and intensities on some of the offending sequences
and it appears that it corrected the problem. I think it was caused by timing adjustments that were made to the sequence after the events were drawn.
It's hard to tell in the daylight but it seems to look better.
I'll update again when I know for sure.

Tim

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Well, I thought the problem was bad sequencing.. no such luck.
One controller is really bad with fades and intensities.
The other has a noticible jitter in fades. I swapped the
controller with another one and it the sequence works fine.
I'm thinking one or both of these controllers has issues. :D

Time for an email to Light-O-Rama..

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Ok, Problem Solved.

One channel on controller #1 had a transformer driving a relay for my radio.
Well that transformer blew out a diode and was causing some sort of feedback
to the controller. I replaced the transformer and BINGO. all the fading and intensity
problems dissapeared. I gotta say, this drove me crazy.

Good luck chasing down your issue.

Tim

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I have had the same problems with 14 controllers too. Everything I've tried hasn't helped, I have replaced all the cables twice, moved all my power cords, nothing works nothing. I'm dead it the water for this year, a year of work and planning gone.

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