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Not-so-Elegant Interactive Display solution


Mark Steele
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I continue to be intrigued by the potential for a jukebox type show selector to allow spectators to choose their favorite sequence. I know this feature is forthcoming next year with the full release of LOR II, but I was determined to come up with some type of alternative for the time being. While experimenting with the show scheduling, I realized I could copy the weeksched.lsc file while the shows are enable and the schedule would be dynamically updated within 10 seconds or so. So I created two versions of the weekly schedule - one that only had my static animation and the other contained a few musical sequences. I re-named them to weekly.music and weekly.static. I wrote a small Basic program that would prompt for either static or musical display and copy the appropriate file and overwrite the weekly.lsc file. This in effect allowed me to call up the music show on demand. I expanded on this by creating additional weekly schedules that contained a single musical sequence. I could now play any of my six sequences on demand – at least from a computer.

I now needed a quick and dirty interface so I could build a type of kiosk that would have a button for each of the songs. I remember playing around with game ports and joysticks many years ago, and a since my show computer has this port available, I figured I’d give it a try. There are four button inputs available on this port – two for each joystick. I modified the program to poll these ports and use this to trigger the file copy process. So now I could select up to four different sequences using buttons. For additional buttons, I used the analog ports which determine the positions of the X and Y axis on the joysticks. By using a few trim-pots set to different values, I had three more inputs available on each axis. I now have the capability of selecting up to 10 songs, which could easily be expanded to 20 or so if needed.

Unfortunately I got a very late start this year due to work conflicts and family obligations, so I’m using this in a limited fashion now due to a lack of musical sequences. Like I stated in my thread title, this is sort of a back-door approach and might be considered a ‘hack’ by some. But I always enjoy the challenge of doing things a little differently. And of course the interactive show feature next year will pretty much render this obsolete. But it works for now. Any comments or questions will be welcome.



Mark


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Jeff Millard wrote:

So when your schedule file is renamed the show player reacts within ten seconds and restarts with the new show, or does it complete the current loop before it begins the new selection?

Jeff

BTW... did I just post in the duplicate thread?!?B)



I'll have to check on that tomorrow. My static show is a one minute animation, so I'll put a couple of flashes 10 seconds into it so I can trigger the new sequence and time the delay. I'll let you know the results.

Mark
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Jeff Millard wrote:

So when your schedule file is renamed the show player reacts within ten seconds and restarts with the new show, or does it complete the current loop before it begins the new selection?

Jeff




I just verified it starts consistently in the 10-12 second range regardless of the position in the currently running animation loop. However it seems to act differently when a musical sequence is playing and the schedule is changed. It waits until the current song is finished before utilizing the new schedule. I take advantage of this behavior to switch back to my static animation after the selected song is finished. My program waits approximately 20 seconds after the musical sequence starts and then copies the static schedule back. The status window shows the currently activity as ‘playing song xxx,(waiting for finish)’ and the scheduled activity show the normal static animation schedules times. Initially I programmed in the length of each song and waited that length of time before copying the static schedule back, but soon discovered it didn’t matter as long as I was only playing one song at a time.

Mark

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I dunno.. I like the idea.. did some playing last night with some batch files and easy to do. Gonna go to the park early tommorrow and do some serious testing. That has been the ONLY ONLY ONLY thing that I could have said about LOR that could have been improved. I Love the times stuff in the scheduler, but what I need is a big "START" Button. I have a show that first turns off the streetlights, then plays my sequences, but after my show, I go to a static show with the street lights on. Then I have to run one song with the street lights on. So I got 3 different shows, that I have to be able to start and stop on a moments notice. I can build 3 different shows, and use a batch file to shuffle them around. Gonna give it a try and then see what happens...

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Ok.. using batch programs, I can flip between all 3 conditions.. if switching from a musical to static, the change runs at the end of the song. Which ever song is playing. My static sequence is a 20 minute sequence with multiple loops to last hours at a time. If I switch from my animated sequence to a musical sequence, nothing happens UNTIL I disable and then re-enable shows.

While not perfect, it is a whole lot better than what I was having to do before.. which was shut down my show, open the sequence editor, and run my animated sequence straight from the editor.

Mark, I thank you for the idea... never would have thought about running it that way, but it is much easier now.

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Brad Bilger wrote:

Ok.. using batch programs, I can flip between all 3 conditions.. if switching from a musical to static, the change runs at the end of the song. Which ever song is playing. My static sequence is a 20 minute sequence with multiple loops to last hours at a time. If I switch from my animated sequence to a musical sequence, nothing happens UNTIL I disable and then re-enable shows.




I'm glad you're able to use the concept Brad. I'm not sure why it doesn't work going from the static to the music without re-enabling the shows? My static sequence is one minute looping 360 times. As I stated in my previous post answering Jeff's question, when starting a music sequence I verified it switches in 12 seconds regardless of the current position of the static animation. Do you have any other components in the static animation such as the background, statup or shutdown tabs? I'm not sure if this would make a difference, but try removing these if they curently exist.

Mark
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Jeff Millard wrote:

So if there were more than one song in a show, it would probably wait until the loop of songs in that show finished before it started the new animation....

I was considering bugging you to share it :cool:

Kudos on the success you're having with it. Pretty smart stuff I think!

Jeff


Jeff,
I sent you a PM regarding this.

Mark
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Mark Steele wrote:



I'm glad you're able to use the concept Brad. I'm not sure why it doesn't work going from the static to the music without re-enabling the shows? My static sequence is one minute looping 360 times. As I stated in my previous post answering Jeff's question, when starting a music sequence I verified it switches in 12 seconds regardless of the current position of the static animation. Do you have any other components in the static animation such as the background, statup or shutdown tabs? I'm not sure if this would make a difference, but try removing these if they curently exist.

Mark


I think that the differance is on my static routine, I used to have to run it under the sequence editor. I started out with a one minute routine looped many many times, like yours. But running it in the sequence editor, I got an annoying blink at the end of every loop. So I had to change it to a 20 minute routine that is looped so that the blink only occurs every 20 minutes. No to worry tho, this is far easier than bouncing back and forth between the Show, to the sequence editor and back to the show again.

My static routine doesn't have anything in the background, nothing in the start up.. just one routine in the animation section. My show routine has 6 songs and 1 animation in the background to turn off my street lights. Then my After parade routine has 1 song then goes to my static show with nothing in my background to kill my street lights.

While not elegant, it is functional
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Guys,

I find this thread very interesting. As I read through the thread I got to thinking about how the animation sequence is being played.

In this thread http://lightorama.mywowbb.com/forum80/15629.html the talk is about playing an animation sequence under the musical tab. I know you cannot use loops in a musical sequnce so that might limit. But it may be worth experimentation to see if it keeps from having to disable and enable the shows after the batch files are executed.

Please excuse if I am jumping in needlessly. Just a thought I had and wanted to share.

Chuck

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just wanted to update the status on this for those that are interested. I added the ability to start the show at any time with a telephone. At first I set up an X-10 telephone controller at my house, and connected an appliance module to a 110 volt relay. The relay then closed one of the gameport circuits and initiated the show. I hade an announcement looping between shows that gave the instructions for starting the show by phone as well as regular show times. I only had one option for the caller to start my main show, but could have easily added additional X-10 modules to allow them to choose specific songs. The X-10 approach, while it worked seemed a little Rube Goldberg-ish. What I really wanted was an affordable automated attendant type of system. I finally found a relatively inexpensive program from an Australian company - NCH Swift Sound. Their IVM auto attendant software http://www.nch.com.au/ivm/index.html has the ability to write out a text file containing the keys pressed by the caller. The callers would hear the message “Thanks for calling our light show request line. Press 1 for Carol of the Bells, 2 for …. , 5 to hear the entire show”. After they made their selection, the resulting text file contained a single number – their chosen song. This was all I needed since my program basically loops looking for either a game-port event from the kisok or the existence of this text file. It then copies over the appropriate schedule file and within 10-15 second the sequence started. Overall I was very pleased with the performance and reliability and the users enjoyed the flexibility of not having to return at a scheduled time.
As I stated earlier, I got a late start so some things weren't exactly finished. The 'kiosk' was nothing more than a single button mounted on a small platform. But it worked pretty well for me this year and has motivated me to work on new sequencing throughout 2008 so I'll have more variety for the spectators. I also need to construct a nice kiosk with maybe 8 to 10 buttons, or come up with a weatherproof touch screen.

Mark

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Guest wbottomley

I love the telephone interface. The problem I have, I use the mp3 director card. So I would need some board that could be programmed the same way with relays on it. When a number is pressed, that would connect a relay then the input trigger for that relay would be connected playing that song.

It's something to explore.

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