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Lights can't keep up with the show and other hardware issues


mhammond1
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I am having a problem (go figure). I've attached my layout, but it's nothing too crazy. 9 LOR showtime boxes, laptop controlled, two ELL's. My lights can't keep up with the laptop. It misses events. I would think it was the ELL's but the show is missing lights even on the first controller after my laptop. In the hardware utility, everything works great. chases, fades, up's/downs/ blink, twinkle. EXCEPT, after random amounts of time, the last three boxes will shutoff, or after 5 minutes, all goes out. Last night I kept the hardware utility on, and it worked fine from 5pm until 10:30pm without issue.

for the only sequence, I've got 1770 events, and less than 144 channels in use. All the boxes and ELL's are the defaults as they shipped.



last years show of 7 boxes and no ELL's went great. Adding the ELL's, three more boxes and a new song is wreaking havoc.













Attached files michaelLOR.pdf

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it appears the more channels I remove from the sequence, the better the music keeps up. some people have 500+ channels out there, why is 140 having a problem?

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Unless I missed it in the PDF, you don't mention what connector you are using between the computer and the first Showtime unit.

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I used the beat wizard. I'm thinking it must be too quick. I'll upload a copy of the file. that's probably best...

Attached files 2008Scene.lms

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Few things come to mind.
1) I would check the quality of the cable between your computer and your first controller. If it's the slightest bit flaky, then you may have problems.

2) Dan or someone from LOR may have to chime in here, but I wonder if a USB485B would help in your situation.

3) You mentioned the last three boxes shut off at random. That would indicate to me the wireless is losing communication with each other. Sounds like you've taken care to mount them properly, but I'd just double check that you've followed recommended mounting procedures, just in case. (I'd also verify the cabling between the wireless and controller.

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Thanks for the reply. 

The setup from the laptop->usbcable->USB-RS485->cat5e is actually the same as last year.  In fact, (and my wife wasn't too happy all year), it didn't even move from Jan1st 2008 to now.  I left it up all year.   I could swap out that cable anyways..  it's worth a try...

Last night after I posted, the other side of the street went off again.  So, I moved the source side ELL even higher, and ran the sequence again.  It still didn't work correctly. 

I keep wanting to think it's my sequencing, that there are too many events to keep up, but the lights go out after 5 minutes, or 2 hours. This was with the HWU up. So I think it rules out a sequencing issue....

I'm going to create a new sequence tonight that just does the same as the HWU chase, but from box1.1 to box 9.16, in .5second intervals and see how it goes. If that works, I'm going to resequence my 12 minute song. Nothing like cramming in everything.

 

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I have a HP pavillion zd7000 laptop, single core P4, 2.66ghz, 1gb ram, Windows XP SP2. When running the sequence, CPU util averages 4%, peaks at 7%. Memory for LORSequen.exe is around 220mb. The system has 350mb free physical memory of the 1gb in the system while the sequence is running. 3.35gb free disk space on c:.

I am not running the Holiday light designer, (as I saw it jumps CPU to 100% if running it on the same PC as the LORsequencer).

when running the sequence, I do not have the "view animation" up either. This laptop is used only for LOR, and has been for 3 previous years w/o incident.

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I am not running the Holiday light designer, (as I saw it jumps CPU to 100% if running it on the same PC as the LORsequencer).

Do you just mean that you aren't running HLD, or have you also unchecked "Control Holiday Lights Designer" in the "Play" menu? If you haven't done that, please try it.

Other things to try, to similarly try to narrow down the problem:
  • Turn off "View/Waveform"
  • Turn off "View/Timescale"
  • Turn off "View/Animation"
  • Set "View/Fades" to "Ramps"
  • Turn off "Play/Move Grid with Play"
  • Turn off "Play/Vary Color of Channel Buttons"
  • Turn off "Play/Highlight Current Event"
  • Turn off "Play/Highlight Current Time"

If none of those help (and they don't help if you try them all at once), please also try turning off "Play/Control Lights", and seeing if that helps. Obviously that's not a "solution"; I just mean that you should try it to help narrow down what the problem is.

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bob wrote:

I am not running the Holiday light designer, (as I saw it jumps CPU to 100% if running it on the same PC as the LORsequencer).

Do you just mean that you aren't running HLD, or have you also unchecked "Control Holiday Lights Designer" in the "Play" menu? If you haven't done that, please try it.

Other things to try, to similarly try to narrow down the problem:

  • Turn off "View/Waveform"
  • Turn off "View/Timescale"
  • Turn off "View/Animation"
  • Set "View/Fades" to "Ramps"
  • Turn off "Play/Move Grid with Play"
  • Turn off "Play/Vary Color of Channel Buttons"
  • Turn off "Play/Highlight Current Event"
  • Turn off "Play/Highlight Current Time"

If none of those help (and they don't help if you try them all at once), please also try turning off "Play/Control Lights", and seeing if that helps. Obviously that's not a "solution"; I just mean that you should try it to help narrow down what the problem is.



Bob,

Thanks for the suggestions.... Control HLD is not checked. I normally don't do wave forms, but the others I do leave on, so I'll shut them off tonght when it gets dark to give it a go. I'm also going to try my .5 and .25 second chase scenes to see if those work. I'm hoping that gives me any clues.

Out of curiosity, what would I be looking for if I turn off "Play/Control lights"? I understand what it will do, but not sure why I would uncheck that as part of the troubleshooting. What were you thinking? Or were you responding to the part about HLD being 100%?
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Maybe I've misunderstood. This is during the show, as opposed to when you play it in the Sequence Editor?

I was thinking that this was happening while you played it in the Sequence Editor. Most of them won't have any effect during the show (with the possible exception of "Control Holiday Lights Designer").

But if it's during the show, then I would suggest trying it out in the Sequence Editor, including the "Control Lights". What you would look for there is (after turning things like "Move Grid with Play" back on) whether or not stuff like the grid/channel buttons/animation/etc. keeps up smoothly with the song when you have "Control Lights" on, or whether it is "jumpy". Then check the same thing, but with "Control Lights" turned off.

If it keeps up smoothly when "Control Lights" is off, but falls behind or is "jumpy" when "Control Lights" is on, then it's probably some sort of issue where the actual commands sent to the controllers are too many for the communications speed to handle. In this case, there are some things we could try to help out the situation.

edited to clarify how the Sequence Editor will likely behave if it's a comm speed problem

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bob wrote:

Maybe I've misunderstood. This is during the show, as opposed to when you play it in the Sequence Editor?



It's in the sequence editor. I havn't even tried it in the show yet. I'll try to explain it better here. When I play it in the sequence editor, the laptop music and the bar that scrolls across is smooth and keeps up fine with the music. But, if I look outside, the lights are all out of wack. Some lights don't turn on at all when they should, and once they do, they don't turn off until 5 or 6 seconds later.

In the HWU, I can turn all the lights on/off/twinkle/fade/sparkle correctly.
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bob wrote:

edited to clarify how the Sequence Editor will likely behave if it's a comm speed problem

My gut says it's a comm speed problem, but I'm not running that far out. I'm probably only 600' out of the 4000' I should be able to go, right? And only ~140 channels out of thousands others have.
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Sorry, I'm not really familiar with the hardware, so I don't know how far out it normally goes. But it could be any of many comm speed-related things, even if it is supposed to (and normally does) support the range you're at, and even if you have less channels than other people have successfully used.

For example, there could be a flaw in some piece of hardware that you have.

Or your sequence might be such that, instead of saying things like "fade down from 100% to 0% for a second", it might say things like "fade down from 100% to 99% for 2 centiseconds", then "fade down from 98% to 96% for a centisecond, then...". Enough of those will overwhelm any comm speed.

Or you might need to split your channels into multiple LOR networks, which a lot of people with many channels do in order to get their comm throughput high enough.

Or a bunch of things.

So I think it would be best to first just narrow it down: Is it a comm speed problem or isn't it.

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Ok, good news. It appears to be working tonight. Unfortunately, I made a few changes, so I don't know which one was the "solution", but here's what I did:

1. raised the ELL higher by 2 feet

2. redid the entire 12 minute melody sequence with .25 grid's and only adding what I needed for space. I've finished redoing 4 of he 12 songs in the melody. I now have 1200 timings instead of 1770. It's still going to be a LONG night.

3. Went to the 5 neighboors houses and any plugs they were not using, removed them completely from the channel property grid. (not sure if this helps, but it made it easier to program because more fit on the screen)

4. I did the suggestion of removing all the play features while running the sequence and it worked, so as an easy test I turned them all back on except for "Control Holiday Lights Designer" & left the fades as ramps. This had no effect either way, so I'm pretty confident it wasn't this issue.

So, it was probaby number #1 or #2.

I greatly appreciate everyones help.

Question: If I'm running the squences via the PC, do (should) I need to "Delete Extraneous Timings"? Does that help/hurt?

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redid the entire 12 minute melody sequence with .25 grid's and only adding what I needed for space. I've finished redoing 4 of he 12 songs in the melody. I now have 1200 timings instead of 1770. It's still going to be a LONG night.

Question: If I'm running the squences via the PC, do (should) I need to "Delete Extraneous Timings"? Does that help/hurt?

Timings have no effect on the commands that are sent out to the controllers (with one minor exception, mentioned below). The only thing that matters are the effect events themselves.

So, for example, if you have a "on" event from 10.00 to 11.00, it doesn't matter (with respect to the commands sent out over comm) whether you have no timings at all, or only a timing at 10.00 and one at 11.00, or if you have those plus a timing at 10.50, or if you have a whole bunch of timings at 10.00 and 10.01 and 10.02 and ... and 10.99 and 11.00.

In all of these cases, the number of commands that are actually sent to the controller will be exactly the same.

You can check on this by selecting a cell, and then doing "View/Cell Info". It will tell you the times at which the cell starts and ends - i.e. the time of the two timing marks that bound it - but it will also tell you the times at which any events that are at least partially in that cell start and end.

So in the above example, if you only had timings at 10.00 and 11.00, it would tell you something like "cell from 10.00 to 11.00; on effect from 10.00 to 11.00".

But if you had timings every centisecond, it would tell you something like "cell from 10.37 to 10.38; on effect from 10.00 to 11.00".

Now, the minor exception that I mentioned above:

If you stick a loop into your sequence, then any effect that starts before the loop starts but ends after the loop starts will be split into two effects; the split will be at the start of the loop. This may (or may not) result in an extra command being sent out to the controller. And since you must have a timing wherever you want to add a loop, this is an exception to the rule I said above.
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