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Very weird controller issue question


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I had a very strange event, or events tonight and hope this may help someone else, and maybe someone can explain it to me.

 

I have 9 controllers controlling my house and an ELL that controls the singing trees at my neighbors across the street. All has been working well for 9 nights now with no issues, then tonight I walked outside to check on everything and see my Mega Tree is not lit, then I see the lights for a lot more are not lit, then they come back on for seconds then off. Just about every controller is showing issues, except I don't believe my singing trees had any issues.

 

Of the 9 controllers I noticed definite issues with at least 6 of them, My buddy across the street said he noticed my house had some issues an hour before I noticed but he thought it had cured itself or I had fixed it. So I am guessing it had been going on for at least an hour or two. Lights would go off for seconds and or minutes, then come back on with no idea of any pattern.

 

Troubleshooting I opened every control box and found a status light blinking green, I removed and reinstalled all the cat5 cables one at a time on each controller, as I did the status light never changed, every controller I opened it would be blinking and after cat5 cable reset it was still blinking when I closed the door. I did all the controllers and the failure was still there, lights coming on and off in no sensible order.

 

So I disabled my show and rebooted the laptop controlling the show, after the laptop had restarted I enabled the show again and the controllers came back up not all at once as usual but within a couple minutes they were all working and now working normal. I watched all the lights for a while and the issue or issues were gone, I kept an eye on the show until normal shutdown time and all is well again, so I guess it was the program, laptop, software, I don't know but was hoping one of you know and may help someone else. All the controllers are CTB16PC gen 3 controllers 1-5 years old and my software and license is as signature says.

 

Thanks for reading and appreciate any thoughts, Keith

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8 hours ago, Brian Mitchell said:

I usually get similar issues during the month the show runs. Something gets corrupt. Rebooting the show computer always solves it.  One boot is all I’ve ever needed. 

Thanks Brian, I hope the one reboot fix's it for the season, if it does I will be very happy, sure didn't like what I saw last night.

 

Keith

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I have had something similar ,kinda.   I used show on demand.   Sometimes the music will play but no lites, or the lites pop on few seconds later , or nothing and I have to reboot the computer and that fixes the problem, it's happened twice . The dell lap top I use is only used for the show and is not connected to the internet.  Once it's up and running no problem.    

I do have a funny problem, I have a controller that has a lot of new net lites from wally world, on couple of channels.  when the music stops or I turn off the computer and with power still going to the controller the net lites stay on very very dim.  This one controller is four years old this year.  Yesterday I did a factory reset.  It works fine and last night I noticed that the net lites seemed to be brighter than before, But when I shut down the show and with the power still on to the controller the nets are still on very dim.   I remember some one else having this problem, any one got a clue?

David

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20 minutes ago, DLH lites said:

I have had something similar ,kinda.   I used show on demand.   Sometimes the music will play but no lites, or the lites pop on few seconds later , or nothing and I have to reboot the computer and that fixes the problem, it's happened twice . The dell lap top I use is only used for the show and is not connected to the internet.  Once it's up and running no problem.    

I do have a funny problem, I have a controller that has a lot of new net lites from wally world, on couple of channels.  when the music stops or I turn off the computer and with power still going to the controller the net lites stay on very very dim.  This one controller is four years old this year.  Yesterday I did a factory reset.  It works fine and last night I noticed that the net lites seemed to be brighter than before, But when I shut down the show and with the power still on to the controller the nets are still on very dim.   I remember some one else having this problem, any one got a clue?

David

If your controller does NOT have a Green status LED, you need to add an external 'snubber'  load. I hear folk use Glade plugins, a Incan Nite Light.  It can be anywhere safe on the channel (EOS, )

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I've got a bunch of ELL's that I no longer use. This is because they work on 900mhz but here, someone or something is transmitting a signal that interferes with the ELL's. I would see strange things happening during the show and even when the show wasn't running, anything connected to ELL's would be doing their own thing during the day. Changing the ELL settings and channels, did nothing to stop it from happening therefore they are no longer being used.

I regards to rebooting, I shutdown my computer every night and reboot each day. 

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2 minutes ago, DLH lites said:

I do have a funny problem, I have a controller that has a lot of new net lites from wally world, on couple of channels.  when the music stops or I turn off the computer and with power still going to the controller the net lites stay on very very dim.  This one controller is four years old this year.  Yesterday I did a factory reset.  It works fine and last night I noticed that the net lites seemed to be brighter than before, But when I shut down the show and with the power still on to the controller the nets are still on very dim.   I remember some one else having this problem, any one got a clue?

I had the exact same problem with a set of net lights that I bought from Home Depot.  From far away it wasn't real evident, but once I got within 10 feet of them, I could see that they were very dimly lit even when the show wasn't running.  I wasn't sure if it was a problem with the channel on that controller or a problem with the net lights, but it didn't really bother me too much since you couldn't even tell the net lights were dimly lit from far away.  I had the exact same set of net lights on a different channel on the same controller, but did not experience that same issue.  I opted for a smaller setup this year and I'm not using those net lights, so I don't know if the issue still exists.  (It probably does, and I won't find out until next year if I do my normal full setup.)

Since rebooting PCs has resolved some weird issues, I think that points to the PC itself as the cause of the issues.  I've seen pending/uninstalled Windows updates cause computers to slow down, and software act glitchy until the updates are installed and the computer is rebooted.  If a computer doesn't have enough RAM, sometimes it gets to a point where almost everything slows down until the computer is rebooted.  So upgrade to the maximum amount of RAM if possible.  And obviously, running multiple software/programs simultaneously can cause slow/glitchy performance.  I suggest rebooting weekly (and maybe even a few times a week) to possibly prevent issues/glitches in your light shows.

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18 minutes ago, dgrant said:

I've got a bunch of ELL's that I no longer use. This is because they work on 900mhz but here, someone or something is transmitting a signal that interferes with the ELL's. I would see strange things happening during the show and even when the show wasn't running, anything connected to ELL's would be doing their own thing during the day. Changing the ELL settings and channels, did nothing to stop it from happening therefore they are no longer being used.

I regards to rebooting, I shutdown my computer every night and reboot each day. 

935MHz is a very common frequency set aside for LOCAL use. My Weather Station, Wireless Security Devices, older cordless phones and many more.

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1 hour ago, Speedster said:

Since rebooting PCs has resolved some weird issues, I think that points to the PC itself as the cause of the issues.  I've seen pending/uninstalled Windows updates cause computers to slow down, and software act glitchy until the updates are installed and the computer is rebooted.  If a computer doesn't have enough RAM, sometimes it gets to a point where almost everything slows down until the computer is rebooted.  So upgrade to the maximum amount of RAM if possible.  And obviously, running multiple software/programs simultaneously can cause slow/glitchy performance.  I suggest rebooting weekly (and maybe even a few times a week) to possibly prevent issues/glitches in your light shows.

I use this laptop only for LOR, during the year I sequence with it and come Thanksgiving I use it exclusively for the show, it is not hooked up to the internet except when I have to download a song from Amazon for a new sequence. I have not let it update or use the internet any other way, so the way I read you Speedster is I should connect to the internet and update then reboot. It is about 3 years old and running Windows 10 with I think 8GB Ram.

 

Keith

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4 minutes ago, Kapkirk said:

I use this laptop only for LOR, during the year I sequence with it and come Thanksgiving I use it exclusively for the show, it is not hooked up to the internet except when I have to download a song from Amazon for a new sequence. I have not let it update or use the internet any other way, so the way I read you Speedster is I should connect to the internet and update then reboot. It is about 3 years old and running Windows 10 with I think 8GB Ram.

 

Keith

Since your laptop is dedicated to LOR and not even connected to the internet or used for other purposes, then rebooting regularly (probably weekly in your case) might be all you need.  (My show runs on a MiniDirector, but if I used a computer I'd probably reboot every afternoon before a show starts because I'm paranoid about show glitches that might be avoidable by simply rebooting.)

A 3-yr old laptop should be new/powerful enough to run your show, but if your sequences are complicated, and having 9 controllers and an ELL, maybe 8 GB of RAM isn't enough.  If you can increase the RAM, go for it.  Can't hurt. 

It's possible that connecting to the internet to perform a Windows update might resolve an issue that you're experiencing that doesn't get resolved by rebooting.  But with Microsoft's propensity to push updates and hotfixes that cause more problems than they actually fix, I suggest doing a Windows update as a last resort.  One of my PCs got really messed up from a Win 10 update a few yrs ago, so I delay installing updates as long as I can lol.

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Speedster

 

Appreciate your advice, I will look into increasing the Ram, I had hoped that by not using the laptop for everything else would have prevented problems, but might not have, as far as issues this has been the only one this year, last year I remember rebooting maybe only once during show season and I will just have to watch closer for a while, I probably won't delay a reboot as long as I did last night, I probably will just jump on it first if this occurs again.

 

Keith

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I have had similar issues once in a while. I am currently using an older netbook to run our show, Win10 Pro and not much else on it, used exclusively to run the LOR show.  A week or so ago when the show started up it ran all kinds of crazy! Things randomly turning on and off. A reboot, that took a long time!, fixed the issue. I think somehow the WiFi got enabled and windows was doing some sort of updates... I normally have the WiFi switch off. 

I rebooted the computer today after using the hardware utility to test and repair some light strings. When the show got to the 3rd or 4th song it glitched and shut everything off for a few seconds! After that sequence finished and the next one started everything has been fine. 

 

I am in the process of rebuilding a newer laptop just to run the the show, something with a faster processor and more ram, still waiting on parts... 

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Two years ago I had the same issue where the controllers would start blinking and not connect to the network correctly.  I found 2 solutions and haven't had any issues since. (Well, this issue anyway.)

1- I reboot the computer at least once a week.  I set up a command so it would do it on it's own.

2- I found one RJ45 connector in one of the controllers was bad.  I don't know what it was doing exactly, if it was shorting or crossing the lines, but it was sending noise across the entire line.  I found it by trial and error.  I used a Cat5e Female to Female adapter to bypass each controller starting at the first one, then the next until the blinking became steady.  Found it 4 controllers in.  It is now the last controller in the run with a piece of tape over the bad connector.  Being the last one, it only needs one Cat5e cable connected to it.

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31 minutes ago, Little_b said:

Two years ago I had the same issue where the controllers would start blinking and not connect to the network correctly.  I found 2 solutions and haven't had any issues since. (Well, this issue anyway.)

1- I reboot the computer at least once a week.  I set up a command so it would do it on it's own.

2- I found one RJ45 connector in one of the controllers was bad.  I don't know what it was doing exactly, if it was shorting or crossing the lines, but it was sending noise across the entire line.  I found it by trial and error.  I used a Cat5e Female to Female adapter to bypass each controller starting at the first one, then the next until the blinking became steady.  Found it 4 controllers in.  It is now the last controller in the run with a piece of tape over the bad connector.  Being the last one, it only needs one Cat5e cable connected to it.

Little_b

 

When you bypassed the controller to find the bad connector I am assuming all the controllers had blinking status lights, or were there only one or a few? Last night I had all controllers status lights blinking, which is why I went to the reboot, figured it had to be the source. I was wondering if you have a bad RJ45 connector or bad Cat5 cable what would the status lights be doing. Does the whole system blink or just the bad one and ones downstream from the problem.

 

Keith

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If I remember correctly, they would all blink.  I started by replacing the Cat5e cables, but that didn't work.  At the first controller I unplugged the cable going to the next controllers, and it would go solid, so I continued down the line.  The first couple times I did it, I didn't find the culprit right away.  It took a few times to narrow it down.  I did most of it during the day and I would unplug one or more controllers and let the show run for a bit before disconnecting again.  Sometimes they would start blinking right away, other times it would be fine for a while.

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downstream all blinking, means the chain is broken (or very poor). If any are good, the chain is more than likely not the main issue.

I had bought some long CAT5 from Amazon. The wire WAS NOT true CAT5 (I cut the cable open), even though it made my VDV tester happy. The Blue (what LOR uses) and brown pairs  had barely any twists per foot.

(10/100 Ethernet uses Green and Orange pairs). I'm still a fan of proper RS485 termination. The above case would have a Solid LED then start flashing when the 120 ohm was added.

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In the show editor, when you clicked on the "Options" button, did you select the load before or load as needed option? Did you use compressed sequences?

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2 hours ago, dgrant said:

In the show editor, when you clicked on the "Options" button, did you select the load before or load as needed option? Did you use compressed sequences?

dgrant

Is this question for the OP or someone else, if for OP I never remember using the options button. And I don't believe I use compressed sequences but I wouldn't know unless  it is spelled out somewhere.

 

Keith

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I always recommend using Compressed Sequences to minimize loading time. Check the option to turn it on in the Control Panel right click menu. I also suggest using the Load as Needed option in the Show Editor. Both of these options are designed to help with file loading time between songs.

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On 12/14/2020 at 8:22 AM, Kapkirk said:

dgrant

Is this question for the OP or someone else, if for OP I never remember using the options button. And I don't believe I use compressed sequences but I wouldn't know unless  it is spelled out somewhere.

 

Keith

Sorry, Yes for the OP. My thought was that if he was trying to load all before playing and his computer was running out of ram, then it would certainly be an issue. I would expect an out of memory error notice  popping up but who knows. I run an older Dell T5500 with 72gb of ram, so I'm not limited in anyway. Oh yes, don't forget that the Windows 10 Home, I think, can only use 4Gb of ram. Must go to Professional to get access to more ram. Just popped into my head so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

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On 12/9/2020 at 10:39 AM, Kapkirk said:

it is not hooked up to the internet except when I have to download a song from Amazon for a new sequence. I have not let it update or use the internet any other way, so the way I read you Speedster is I should connect to the internet and update then reboot. It is about 3 years old and running Windows 10 with I think 8GB Ram.

Since you are in my lane, MS will download updates as soon as it see an internet connection... There has never been found a definite way to prevent this with Windows 10... 

MS is still offering Free Windows 10 Upgrades from Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 - thus not need to purchase Windows 10 License...

Been working with the Windows OS for a long time - the 32-Bit (x86) OS has a 4GB Ram limitation - 32Bit can not address the memory above that. Also you will  soon find 32Bit support will end and everything will be 64Bit only..

So Yes, windows 10 has it's faults & Yes, MS is good for pushing them "Forcing them" upon you...

So reboot and allow Windows 10 to do its thing - it will help solve a lot of issues - else it will cause a few more - that is how MS rolls these days..

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2 hours ago, dgrant said:

Sorry, Yes for the OP. My thought was that if he was trying to load all before playing and his computer was running out of ram, then it would certainly be an issue. I would expect an out of memory error notice  popping up but who knows. I run an older Dell T5500 with 72gb of ram, so I'm not limited in anyway. Oh yes, don't forget that the Windows 10 Home, I think, can only use 4Gb of ram. Must go to Professional to get access to more ram. Just popped into my head so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

It is a 32 v2 64 bit thing. Not a Home vs Pro. for the 4G (3.2G) limit. Pro has some additional features. When the 7 or 8 upgrades, it keeps your level, but you can click and BUY a level upgrade (the link is at the bottom of the System  info page)

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1 hour ago, KYHI said:

Since you are in my lane, MS will download updates as soon as it see an internet connection... There has never been found a definite way to prevent this with Windows 10... 

MS is still offering Free Windows 10 Upgrades from Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 - thus not need to purchase Windows 10 License...

Been working with the Windows OS for a long time - the 32-Bit (x86) OS has a 4GB Ram limitation - 32Bit can not address the memory above that. Also you will  soon find 32Bit support will end and everything will be 64Bit only..

So Yes, windows 10 has it's faults & Yes, MS is good for pushing them "Forcing them" upon you...

So reboot and allow Windows 10 to do its thing - it will help solve a lot of issues - else it will cause a few more - that is how MS rolls these days..

My way of thinking and MS way of thinking just don't match up.

My way- if its not broke lets not fix it (keeping it nice)

MS way- If it works lets make it no longer work.(once again being really nice)

If I was a millionaire firstly I probably would be here typing this but secondly I would seek action for MS invading my computers. They messed up my sequencing computer in an update, of course MS reps blamed in on Dell and Dell blames it on MS. Yet two years later I still have a $1700 laptop sounding like a tin can.

My Sequencing laptop did have an awesome Bose sound system, now it sounds like a radio in a tin can. Been like that for almost 2 years. I kept getting a MS sound update, kept closing it until one day MS decided to install it on its own.

I have been getting the same message on my show Alienware (Dell) laptop for about a year now, so that one stays offline until show time.

JR

Edited by dibblejr
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Thanks to you all for the help, I am surely computer deficient, I will look after Christmas at a lot of your recommendations, but everything is working right now so I am not going to do anything, I am performing some sequence updating during the day and feel that is as much of a risk I want to take. I have been looking at replacing this laptop for next season and also looking at upgrading to S5.

 

If I was comfortable that S4 would be around and supported for at least another 3-4 years I would probably not even consider S5, but I am so terrible at the computer thing I think I better at least look at S5, I may just put S5 on the new laptop and move sequences over and see how it goes, and definitely keep the old laptop untouched if possible to keep as a backup that I know works.

Appreciate all the help, Keith

 

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