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Big Bang times 4 - creating new universes

Discussion in 'DMX, E1.31 & Networking' started by sunstream, Oct 30, 2015.

  1. sunstream

    sunstream New Elf

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    Still a Newb and struggling to put it all together.
    Running 16 channels LOR AC plus 120 DC DMX channels via S3 software. Currently computer outputs to LOR's USB/RJ45 dongle. >>>> LOR 1 >>>>> LOR2 >>>>> 30 ch DMX Controller >>>> 30 ch DMX controller >>>>> 30 ch DMX Controller.


    Need to add 4 new features which will occupy 4 universes of DMX (one universe each)

    How do I add universes? Much of the info I have found refers to stage lighting and lighting consoles with multiple DMX outlets. Do I need to split the USB signal from the computer and feed each to a separate dongle and /or controller/universe.
     
  2. ecbailey

    ecbailey Full Time Elf

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    DMX controllers do not know what universe they are on, as such each DMX output (or in your case, USB Adapter) can only handle one universe of output.


    What are you adding that is using so many universes? If it is pixel based you will probably use E1.31 and then hence you don't need to worry about DMX universes.


    When you come to a situation where you need multiple DMX universes for DC control, there are a couple of solutions. 1) more adapters, 2) E1.31 to DMX Bridge (e.g. PixLite 16, which has 4 DMX outputs) or using pixel data based DC control boards stringed together.
     
  3. AAH

    AAH I love blinky lights :) Community Project Designer

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    Each usb dongle is configured either as a LOR network or a usb network. The dmx devices attached to the usb-dmx dongles have no awareness of what universe they are on as dmx only sends out the 512 channels worth of data with no universe info attached.
    If you really do need 4 additional universes then you will need either an E1.31 to DMX bridge (J1 SYS and Advatek have options) or else you will need 4 more USB dongles (I sell some cheap ones). In the network configuration page of LOR you would assign either the dongles or the E1.31 device to the additional universes.
     
  4. OP
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    sunstream

    sunstream New Elf

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    Thanks for the replies. I think it is slowly sinking in.

    One of my problems is that my computer has only 2 USB ports. I have come up with an idea of how to connect but not sure i it is the right way to go.
     

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  5. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    I really want to help you but there are problems here.

    I disagree with the suggestion of multiple USB dongles.


    I had intermittent issues with just one USB dongle and I have heard there were more cases of the same problem. Although my computer was very old, the simultaneous E1.31 output continued to work even when the USB dongle and software weren't talking properly. That said, I don't know if increasing the number of dongles increases the chance of issues but the chance certainly won't decrease. I don't understand why you're avoiding E1.31 as it would do a better job of solving your issue. It allows thousands of universes to share a CAT5 cable and leaves much more room for expansion. 4 universes is nothing. Only reason I could think of is if your computer doesn't have an ethernet port. There is a very big user base for E1.31 here too.


    Another problem with your planned setup is that those DMX to pixel converters are highly uncommon here so you're unlikely to be able to get much help with them. You won't need them in an E1.31 setup because E1.31 to pixel controllers typically support thousands of pixels each.


    Also check that your DMX devices actually work with the LOR dongle if you've already bought it. I am not sure that they will and you'll need a crossover cable if they're going to at all. You'll probably need a non-LOR product as your source of DMX; many options take E1.31 in and give you DMX out.


    There are surprisingly few lights that work with 240V controllers too.


    I'm concerned that you might be trying to rush into this and get computer control this year without the background knowledge. I suggest taking more time to learn first; you'd sacrifice computer control this year but you may not even get it working anyway. Regardless, taking more time would pay off and reduce the number of mistake purchases. It is also a bit unclear which items you have and which you're planning to buy.


    Anyway keep asking questions and learning; it is best to get the knowledge you need before buying anything.
     
  6. OP
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    sunstream

    sunstream New Elf

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    Thanks i13
    I have been working on this since February when I purchased two LOR controllers which were to run a basic 240v lights setup with what I already had but bought more ropelights to go with them.

    Also built 4 animated Christmas tree faces (similar to holiday coro) using dumb pixels (each 300 pixels in 8 strings controlled by a 27 channel DMX controller and power supply)

    Initially when ordering the "dumb pixels" I pushed the wrong button and got 1200 "smart pixels" instead. So what to do with them? I like the effect of leaping arches or stars so that was to be he next step as I have not got room for a mega tree or similar.

    So in summary:
    I have LOR USB - RJ45 dongle, 2 LOR controllers, 4 animated trees using 27ch controllers with individual power supplies as well as various cords, lights and items from static displays.

    plus 1200 ws2811 smart pixels, 20m ws2811 pixel strip, LDPE tube for four arches and due next week - two DMX to SP1 converters.

    So the big decision is do I / can I run it on USB / DMX or do I need to go to go to E131 .

    Suggestions please.
     
  7. ecbailey

    ecbailey Full Time Elf

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    E1.31 would be the preferred (and much more expandable in the future!) way to go. Also avoid numerous cables coming out of your house from your computer and allows usage of show players (e.g. Falcon Pi Player) in the future.


    If you have two DMX -> SPI boxes you're good for ~340 pixels, which isn't anywhere near the amount you have purchased.


    Consider the location of the pixels in your yard and then determine whether a centralized controller (e.g. PixLite 16) is best, or whether it'd be easier to have multiple smaller controllers (e.g. PixLite 4) located closer to your fixtures. Remember you can't have too far of a distance between pixels (I think 5m maybe) or you can have data signals that degrade and give you issues. The other option is the PixLite 16 Long Range controller that has a main control board and then small receiver boards that connect to the main board via ethernet. As far as I can see you still need to have power connected to each of the receiver boards individually, the ethernet cable is only for data.


    My suggestion would be to work out which PixLite controller suits you best (16 can do 4x DMX and I think has jumpers to switch between LOR and ESTA DMX Pinout on the current revision, 4 can do 1x DMX) and then run your LOR and any other controllers of this.


    The DMX -> SPI converters can be used to run something that has a small pixel count and connected to the DMX output of a PixLite.


    The other advantage of the PixLite16 over the 4 is the 16 has ethernet and screw ports to connect into, where as the PixLite 4 only has screw ports (which is fine for say, their Vortex DC controller which has screw ports, but a little annoying otherwise).
     
  8. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    Wow now I understand your situation. You had an achievable goal before you hit the wrong button. Sorry if I was being a bit pessimistic. In the long run this error could turn out to be a good thing; individual control can't hurt and it's not that much more expensive.

    ecbailey is spot-on. I want to add that you can put an extra pixel in the middle of the distance between your display items and/or the controller. This is called using a null pixel to increase the distance you can have.

    You would need 9 USB to DMX dongles to control that many pixels. E1.31 overcomes this hurdle but it will take a bit more knowledge to set up (but then your converters probably would too). I wouldn't use a USB to DMX dongle other than for testing purposes especially if you're going to have E1.31 as well. Those converters that are on the way might still come in handy if you can work out how to configure them. This is because they can be a long distance from the DMX source. I don't know if your 27 channel controllers will work with the LOR dongle but I suspect they won't. They'll need a crossover cable if they're going to work with it.

    The PixLite controllers are not the only option however they do have a good reputation. Every controller has its downsides and the PixLites have no speed selection. It is very unlikely but you might not be able to get your pixels working without speed selection. PixLites only support one pixel type per controller. This means you CAN still have strings and strip together but they all need to be compatible with the same signal type (in your case 2811).
    The advantages of the PixLites are that they are easy to set up and use and the price is pretty good. There are much cheaper options but they require more technical knowledge. There are more configurable options such as the J1sys controllers but you have to pay more to control the same number of pixels.
    If you want extra good value for a large controller then wait for the next F16v2 group buy (no guarantee that there will be one).

    Simply put, the computer would send E1.31 signal to the PixLite controller (you might or might not need a network switch). The PixLite controller would directly run your pixels (smart lights) and send DMX data to your 27 channel controllers. You could use the LOR dongle but my personal preference would be to use a crossover cable and run the LOR controllers with the DMX signal - that one's entirely up to you as it would work either way.

    From memory I think you will need to have the advanced version of LOR software for E1.31 unless you want to try a different sequencer. Your computer needs to have an ethernet port too.
     
  9. OP
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    sunstream

    sunstream New Elf

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    Thanks ecbailey,
    The 1200 smart pixels was a mistake but I may as well make a plan to use them. The pixel strip was more of a "wonder what this is like" moment.

    The display space is small being onlyabout 10m x 5m on ground plus cable runs on about 10m to get on roof.

    Looking into the future with my cloudy crystal ball I can see more lights. more pixels, animatronics more ... more... Slowly brings self under control. Sorry, it is addictive.

    I have just been reading up on E1.31 and thinking I should go that way but...
    • I need to run my LOR controller so would need a DMX output to them as I believe they will work of native DMX input. I guess I can still daisy chain up to one universe of items.
    • If I add other smart pixel items I will need more universes. Do I then need E1.31 to to SP1 outputs.
    • Are these available on the one controller but the WIKI neatly packages them up as E1.31 to DMX and E1.31 to SP1.
    • Now there seems to be multiple outputs so do I need a switch.
    • Lastly, I am running LOR S3 software. Will I need to change to another product to sequence and run the show?
    Being a slow typist I see some of the above have been addressed while i was writing this but will post anyway.
     
  10. ecbailey

    ecbailey Full Time Elf

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    I shouldn't play favorites however I have had 0 issues with any of the PixLites I have thus far. I think they automatically select the speed or similar? Anyways, in order for your questions
    1. I have LOR boards which run on Native DMX out of my PixLite, so yes, you still need DMX, however many E1.31 - SPI Controllers also output DMX to support DC boards without having to use another device
    2. If you want to use more than 340 pixels you are going to need an E1.31 controller (or more DMX-SPI and associated adapters, but this is not recommended
    3. PixLite is both E1.31-> SPI and DMX, as i13 mentioned there are also other options that do both however I've only used the PixLite 4.
    4. If you had multiple E1.31 controllers you would need a switch, these can be bought for very little $$. There is a little bit of configuration work to do to make everything talk happily however once you've done it once it is simple.
    5. LOR S3 Advanced will output DMX/E1.31, however I only use it to run the show and sequence my DC lights. For the pixels I have models setup in XLights and then export from Xlights as a LOR file and have this setup as a sub sequence (probably not the best method, but it hasn't given me any issues thus far). There has been a big upgrade to Xlights this year which probably eliminates the need for LOR.

    If you're setting up singing faces or similar, XLights will help you out with sequencing these too.
    LOR S4 may also be worth some investigation, I haven't looked into it thus far however I think they aimed to make it more pixel friendly.
     
  11. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    ecbailey I can't see how the PixLites would automatically select a speed. I'd strongly suspect it is just a single preset value because the pixels don't send any signal that I know of back to the controller.


    Answering the dot points (ecbailey beat me to it but I've left my answers that were different):

    First dot point: You are correct but you're likely to need a crossover cable. Another option (I think) is to use the LOR dongle alongside the E1.31 but I don't know if it has reliability issues the same as DMX USB dongles.

    Second dot point: Yes. Most E1.31 controllers take E1.31 signal in and directly control your pixels instead of the converter. You'll need to do it this way even with the number of pixels you already have.

    Third dot point: ecbailey beat me to it.

    Fourth dot point: If you're only using one E1.31 controller then you might or might not need a switch depending on whether it happens to work without one. If you use more than one E1.31 controller then you will need a switch. A router is another option and I think a router makes it easier to find forgotten IP addresses however I've never used a router this way and my networking knowledge is not very extensive.

    Fifth dot point: Answered by ecbailey better than I could answer it because I don't use LOR software. There are free alternatives worth considering but it is a bit last-minute to change sequencer easily.

    You've taught me something too; I did not know of the term SPI and had to do a wiki search.
     
  12. OP
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    sunstream

    sunstream New Elf

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    Thanks guys,
    So if it has finally sunk in....
    I can use LOR advanced software to run the show.

    As the majority of cable runs are small (<7m) I should be able to use a single controller, such as a Pixlite 16, pehaps coupled with a "Pixlite long range receiver" where I have one long run of 10 - 15m.

    Only one controller so no switch required.

    One DMX output from the Pixlite to the LOR then daisy chained to second LOR then to the four faces. End of universe for the moment.

    Use some other SP1 outputs to control smart pixels in leaping arches or similar.

    If this is correct I just need to track down a controller and put it all back together again. When is Christmas?
     
  13. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    7 metres is pushing the limit with that pixel type but you can add a null pixel (pixel that stays turned off) half way to reduce the effective data distance to 3.5 metres which should be ok. Voltage drop is another separate issue.

    You might need a switch. For example I found my J1sys P2 controller works without one but my BeagleBone Black doesn't. I have no idea whether a PixLite will work without a switch. The guys at Advatek (the sellers) will probably know.

    You can have the 27 channel controllers on the same DMX output as the LOR controllers if you want to but you'll probably need a second crossver cable unless you put the LOR controllers furthest from the PixLite. The controllers all see the same data and they don't know what order they'reconnected in; channel 1 can be on any controller. Remember to have termination; termination is very simple.

    It's not hugely straightforward once you have the controller because you need to get it talking to your computer (ethernet port required). I suggest using multicast for a simpler setup as you're only using one controller and it won't be sharing your home network. Multicast increases the processor workload when you have multiple devices on the network.
     
  14. ecbailey

    ecbailey Full Time Elf

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    You cannot mix long range and local outputs with the PixLite. It is either a normal controller or one that uses only the long range receivers.

    Have a look at the advatek website and see what makes sense for you. As mentioned, many people need to use a null pixel as a data repeater to span the distances required and don't bother with long range. The long range is a new addition to their lineup.
     

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