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Feature Request: Power Use Utility


Tim Herberger
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Tim Herberger

Another request: Power Use Utility

While figuring out how many more controllers I am going to order this summer and doing some load per channel calculation's,I started thinking about a power use utility would be a great addition to LORII.

Maybe under the channel property grid there could be a column for the amp load on each channel .Then when running a sequence in the editor you could open the "Power Use" window and there would be a bar graph for each side of all your controllers that would move like a VU meter with a peak hold function as the sequence was playing.

It would help a lot, especially when running near or maybe even over the limit. On several of my controllers with all channels full on pull 16.5 amps per side, but when the show is running they bounce around between 6-12 amps. I know that there are some out there that are running much higher loads per controller or even a couple of controllers per 15 or 20 amp breaker, the Utility would certainly save some time and maybe some ceramic fuses by seeing the peak power use before the show is up and running and allowing you to make changes while programing

Tim H.

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In case you haven't used it yet, there's a great spreadsheet on the Quartz Hill Christmas Site that was created for Light O Rama controllers. It's a great tool to calculate load balancing on controllers, amperage requirements and the total number of lights. You can then assume worst case when all of your lights are on at 100% intensity and use this to figure your electrical requirements.
Here is the link:
http://www.quartzhillchristmas.com/resources/Light+Controller+Calculator+MASTER+25+vC2.2.xls


Mark

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Agreed. The spreadsheet is a nice tool, but both Vixen and AL have had a wattage estimator for a while now. As a non-programmer, it seems like such an easy thing to add....

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I highly agree and would like to see some kind of power management system built into LOR as well. This has been brought up before in another thread too. Now while I would love to see something like this the more I think about how it could be done the more skeptical I am to it being as easy as it sounds. Keep in mind the hardware has to accommodate the software for which it is being written for. What I mean by that is the controllers are designed to control lights. Their very well might not be a way for these controllers to monitor power consumption just from doing a software upgrade. These controllers are daisy chained together by CAT5 cable which in turn is connected to your computer. So these controllers would have to be built to be able to monitor power consumption and transmit that data back via CAT5 since your computer is not directly connected to the power source of each controller just the data ports. I don’t think these controllers are equipped to do such actions since they were made to do certain functions such as to control lights, not monitor power. It would almost be like taking a Kill-A-Watt putting a RJ-45 jack on it and trying to control lights with it. It is made to meter power consumption not control lights no matter what kind of software you built to connect to it. Now while it is a great idea and I would love to see it as well. You can get the same results you are looking for the old fashion way by just using a Kill-A-Watt and take readings by each controller one at a time. Now while it isn’t very convenient and time saving it is effective. That is why the best you can do as of now is planning your design out on the spreadsheet and take readings. That is pretty much the safest and cheapest way to do this. Now I don’t know the schematics or the circuitry of how these controllers are built so who knows, maybe it is possible from just from a software enhancement to achieve this. Hopefully I am wrong because I would like to see it as well. It has been brought up before but no one as of yet from LOR has addressed if this is possible or not that I have seen.

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michael.farney

I thought Tim was referring to telling each channel how many lights it has at what amp rating per light or string. It's the same basic calculation done in excel, so it would be easy to program. As far as graph, data in an excel format is meant for graphing. But, don't forget that putting a light on at 50% intensity does not mean it uses half the amperage. While the amperage is less, it's usually quite a bit greater than the light intensity setting.

I'd agree that true live feedback from the controllers would be amazing, but I doubt it's currently supported in the firmware. At any rate, it would nice to calculate loads in LOR much the same was we do in excel today if live feedback from the controllers isn't possible.

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michael.farney wrote:

I thought Tim was referring to telling each channel how many lights it has at what amp rating per light or string. It's the same basic calculation done in excel, so it would be easy to program.


That way could probably be possible but it would only be an estimate base on the figures you input for the lights you are using. Then the software would be making the esitmate based on what what channels are turned on at what time on the numbers you input. That could be done through a software upgrade most likely. You would still need to take a manual reading from your light strands or elments to be able to input that data for it to estimate. You would have to enter this information for each channel and light type then qty.
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But the estimate would be a lot more useful than the spreadsheet method, since it would give the max for the entire sequence and the max per controller,bank(1-9/10-16).

In its simplest form, you would manually enter the amps for each channel. This would be kind of a pain, but you would only enter them once, from something like the quartzhill spreadsheet. You would need a kill-o-watt/watts up ... to obtain accurate measurements of everything in your inventory.

Then LOR II would calculate what the MAX(SUM(amps_this_second())) for the entire sequence and by controller,bank. I've mentioned this in the other thread. It would also display the time which each maximum occurred at. This way, if you really wanted to lower you peak demand, you would know where to look within the sequence. I would venture to say that this utility would not consider the effects of fade-in, fade-out, intensity ... it would just look for any form of "lights on" and count it as a full power use for that channel ... so still an over-estimate (at times), but much closer to reality than taking the worst case of everything on that the spreadsheet is limited to. And better yet, it considers the net effect of whats going on across all the controllers, not just one at a time (per second, say).

Then I suppose you would want to examine this report for ALL sequences to determine what your maximums for all sequences would be.

But the main thing is that this utility gives you a certain ability to monitor power usage ... and the programming should be pretty straight forward. Summarizing each second of the entire sequence by summing that channel*power_usage for each channel with any form of 'lights on', whether it be ON, fade-up, fade-down, etc.

If you take the concept further ... say in LOR III ... then you create a full fledged inventory ... and map that inventory into channels and one of the inventory attributes would be the power consumption of items that require electricity. You could even determine the usage of static combinations as well.

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The Quartzhill spreadsheet gives you the worse case estimate for each channel, side and overall controller given that the lights are full on. So you know the max output already before you hook up your controllers. Since this is only taking an estimate from what data you enter it would be no higher then what you would see on the spreadsheet because you are not getting a real time power estimate from the contollers itself. So basically the peak would be never go higher then what you enter, it will only read up to that max that the amps add up to which you already know from Quartzhill.

So if 1-8 is 12.32 amps and 9-16 is 10 amps that is 22.32 amps for the controller. Since you entered the the data for these lights to monitor it will never go over 22.32 amps because it is monitoring off the raw data you enter so it will just bascially be telling you where the power is used the most and when but you know it won't peak or go over because you know that already.

Does that make sense? Don't get me wrong I love the idea of a power utility function but no sense to re-invent the wheel.

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michael.farney

There is one main benefit I see from this coming from LOR. Yes, it would be the exact same as the QH spreadsheet (thank you Rick!) But, the excel can't do over limit warnings very well. In some of our applications, we have the boards (intentionally) overloaded, and we are careful not to turn on to much at once. Sure, the excel can tell you that you have 25 amps plugged into a 15 amp controller -- but it can not tell you when you've accidentally exceeded 15 amps in your sequence. I'd much rather see the LOR software throw an over the limit error rather than pop the fuse on the board (or fry it.)

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michael.farney wrote:

There is one main benefit I see from this coming from LOR. Yes, it would be the exact same as the QH spreadsheet (thank you Rick!) But, the excel can't do over limit warnings very well. In some of our applications, we have the boards (intentionally) overloaded, and we are careful not to turn on to much at once. Sure, the excel can tell you that you have 25 amps plugged into a 15 amp controller -- but it can not tell you when you've accidentally exceeded 15 amps in your sequence. I'd much rather see the LOR software throw an over the limit error rather than pop the fuse on the board (or fry it.)


Have you downloaded the new Quartzhill Spreadsheet? You can set over limit warnings in the new one and it gives you a color warning when you are close and when you have gone over. The QH would not tell you anything more then what the LOR would be able to. If you use the QH spreadsheet correctly you should not accidentally exceed anything because you know what you have before you connect your lights to your controller. If you know you have 15-20 amp fuse per side and you set your loads up correctly you will know what your peak is going to be at full on. Then you will know what not to exceed. The QH allows you to set between 30 or 40 amp controller.

I undertand what you are saying though. You want to be able to overload your controllers purposely and see where in your sequence it is maxing out at so you can get the most out of your controllers and know where to cut back when programming. If that is the case I wouldn't think LOR would do something like that where you are intentionally overloading your controllers. See what I am saying? Not saying it is a bad idea or anything but if people are going to use it to knowingly abuse the controllers then try to get warrenty work because of it when it gets fried. Then it wouldn't be in thier best intrest to add something like this. Not saying you or others would do that, but their are some that would probably try. I am all for a power utility feature of some sort though. It would have to be practical though.
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So if 1-8 is 12.32 amps and 9-16 is 10 amps that is 22.32 amps for the controller. Since you entered the the data for these lights to monitor it will never go over 22.32 amps

I know that Quarthill excel sheet gives you an accurate 'worst case' ... but I was thinking that perhaps, you might never really turn everything on (on all controllers) at the same time in a sequence ... or in any sequence ... so I was thinking that LOR could tell you what the worst case really was based on all your sequences. So, if there is a moment where everything IS on at the same time, then we should have the Quartzhill (worst case) number.

But say, we really never do have it all on ... then couldn't LOR give us what the worst case really is and when and where it occurs? Perhaps this is an ill-concieved idea on my part.

Another variation on this would be to have LOR be smart enough to evaluate the load on the fly when you sequencing ... so if you were nearly at the limit for a sequence in a certain spot ... and if LOR knew the additional amps your were trying to add (on a new channel) would exceed that limit, then it could pop up a warning box saying that the addition of this new track would exceed ... and maybe prompt you whether to go ahead and add it, skip as needed, or undo the add alltogether ... or just color code it to warn you of the load situation.
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michael.farney

Texan78 wrote:

michael.farney wrote:
There is one main benefit I see from this coming from LOR. Yes, it would be the exact same as the QH spreadsheet (thank you Rick!) But, the excel can't do over limit warnings very well. In some of our applications, we have the boards (intentionally) overloaded, and we are careful not to turn on to much at once. Sure, the excel can tell you that you have 25 amps plugged into a 15 amp controller -- but it can not tell you when you've accidentally exceeded 15 amps in your sequence. I'd much rather see the LOR software throw an over the limit error rather than pop the fuse on the board (or fry it.)


Have you downloaded the new Quartzhill Spreadsheet? You can set over limit warnings in the new one and it gives you a color warning when you are close and when you have gone over. The QH would not tell you anything more then what the LOR would be able to. If you use the QH spreadsheet correctly you should not accidentally exceed anything because you know what you have before you connect your lights to your controller. If you know you have 15-20 amp fuse per side and you set your loads up correctly you will know what your peak is going to be at full on. Then you will know what not to exceed. The QH allows you to set between 30 or 40 amp controller.

I undertand what you are saying though. You want to be able to overload your controllers purposely and see where in your sequence it is maxing out at so you can get the most out of your controllers and know where to cut back when programming. If that is the case I wouldn't think LOR would do something like that where you are intentionally overloading your controllers. See what I am saying? Not saying it is a bad idea or anything but if people are going to use it to knowingly abuse the controllers then try to get warrenty work because of it when it gets fried. Then it wouldn't be in thier best intrest to add something like this. Not saying you or others would do that, but their are some that would probably try. I am all for a power utility feature of some sort though. It would have to be practical though.
Rick's spreadsheet is a lifesaver. I actually beta tested it for him before it went public. :D It's a fantastic utility--although I recoded mine to add some extra features I wanted.
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