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Windows computer advice

Discussion in 'Computers, Cabling & Other Miscellaneous Hardware' started by PERydell, Aug 4, 2015.

  1. PERydell

    PERydell New Elf

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    I've been driving my show with a junky old Windows XP desktop and Lightorama for a few years. Works great.


    This year I'm planning on Vixen with a few different controllers and about 2,500 pixels.


    So I think it is time for a new Windows machine.


    I haven't bought a Windows machine for 10 years so am lost. Would a laptop have enough horsepower and good enough network card to drive a complex show? Any advice any one has about CPU, memory, network card for driving a show?
     
  2. AAH

    AAH I love blinky lights :) Community Project Designer

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    Just about the best way to drive your shows these days is using a Raspberry Pi running Falcon Player (FPP). There are a number of posts about Falcon Player around as well as info in the wiki. The Pi is a $35(ish) 1 board computer that is about the size of a packet of cigarettes. As long as you stay under about 50,000 channels this little beastie has the power to run your entire show. You can export from Vixen to Falcon Player and it means your seuencing machine isn't tied up while your lights are running.
     
  3. scamper

    scamper Senior Elf

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    I admit I haven't added pixels yet, so I can only go on what I have.
    I decided to dedicate a computer to my show last year.
    I run vixen 3 and have (up until this year) all dumb strips, running roughly 300 channels through a j1sys controller.
    I went down a bought the cheapest laptop I could find, at $350, and it ran fine with no hiccups at all.
    Like I said, I use the laptop as a dedicated xmas light machine, so don't load any software that is not required.
    I am going pixels this year, so will see if it is still up to the task.
    I have bought a Pi this year, so if I work that out, that is what I will be using.
     
  4. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    I largely agree with AAH except that you'll almost definitely need a new computer so that you can do your sequencing. I actually don't know if the Raspberry Pi can output DMX but off the top of my head I don't think it can. This means you'll also need an E1.31 to DMX bridge if you want to keep using your LOR controllers. Also consider the BeagleBone Black which is still in development stage. It is similar but has more processing power and you can run HUGE numbers of WS2811 compatible pixels directly from it if you get a PixelBone. The downsides are that the BeagleBone Black may have issues with audio, it's harder to install Falcon Player (should be fixed soon) and you need to add a clock for show scheduling (the PixelBone has one).

    I'm using a Windows 8.1 laptop with an i7-4710HQ processor and 8GB of ram. This computer isn't even close to struggling with Vixen 3.1 despite not having a solid state drive. I'm sure 2500 pixels would be a walk in the park but don't have that many myself.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    PERydell

    PERydell New Elf

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    That is a cool idea about doing it with one of those boards. I do want to use my existing LOR controllers. Since people seem to have success driving the shows with laptops I think that is probably the route I'm going to go. Especially could be nice with the Vixen previews while editing sequences in the front yard.
     
  6. AAH

    AAH I love blinky lights :) Community Project Designer

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    A LOR USB dongle will work as an "open dmx" dongle and will plug directly into a Pi. LOR boards work in dmx mode so you could run everything pretty much as you had before if you want.
     
  7. adski

    adski Dave Brown

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    Best advice I can offer .... if you have any "Tim the Christmas Toolman" tendencies, you'll soon be looking for
    • MORE PIXELS!
    so don't skimp on compute power - buy the fastest computer with the most memory that you can justify to (or hide from) the finance minister ::) . A Raspberry Pi will meet your show time playback requirements, but you first have to create the sequences. This can be frustrating on a wimpy PC.

    I'd look for an i7 with 16G of RAM - you'll get by with less, but you may regret it one day.

    Dave
     
  8. gerry

    gerry Senior Elf

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    You may wish to consider xLights (besides looking at Vixen) .

    Have been sequencing about 15,000 channels on an i5 4gb laptop with no problems at all < 2 secs to render each model and about 30 secs to render all and save the largest seq , natively into fseq which is what the FP uses.

    Also works on a MAC and folks have started using on Windows 10

    I can also test output go the P10 panels directly ie without even saving the files .
     
  9. XYrZbest

    XYrZbest Apprentice Elf

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    If your still looking for a machine and you want an awesome system, you could build your own its very very simple compared to what some of the people of this forum are doing for pixels and such and it will be much faster than any dell you can buy and it is very cheap. I'm an expert in the PC community so if anyone needs any help building a system or looking for parts recommendation, just ask me. I'm always looking to help. I don't always know what to get for these pixels or this control board, but PC hardware is my specialty.
     
  10. smeighan

    smeighan Dedicated Elf

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    For the show player , I also use the raspberry pi.

    There are 3 versions
    Model b, 700mhz, 512mbyte. 2 USB ports, std sd card, composite and hdmi 1080p video
    FPP can drive 120,000 channels

    Model b+ . 700mhz, 512mbyte, 4 USB ports, micro sd card, composite and hdmi 1080p video
    FPP can drive 120,000 channels

    Model pi2, 1500mhz, 4 threads, 512mbyte, 4 USB ports, micro sd card, composite and hdmi video
    FPP being tested now to 400k to 500k channels.

    U can also have one master and thousands of slave fpp's, each driving &gt; 100k channels. Last year I ran one master and two slaves. Each slave had a video projector attached.

    U can control the software from your phone or iPad.

    All 3 of the above can drive
    USB lor dongle (no need to switch lor hardware to dmx)
    USB dmx
    USB open dmx
    USB pixel net
    USB Reynard
    USB dlight
    E1.31

    Although lor protocol dongles work it is recommended to switch lor hardware to dmx if your channel count is higher

    Again, I did not have anything to do with the pi player (Dave Pitts, mykroft, capt Murdoch, materdaddy are the developers), I am just a very satisfied customer

    Download FPP software from www.falconchristmas.com
     
  11. XYrZbest

    XYrZbest Apprentice Elf

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    what would you use to control from your phone? Is it integrated in FPP? or is a stand alone remote desktop control app that you run in addition to FPP on the Pi.
     
  12. Habbosrus

    Habbosrus New house (again) 2017

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    I bought the PI b in 2013 for my very first show and accessed it from my phone and ipad via the web interface. Mine is a small show but the PI, FPP worked great. No problems accessing FPP via wifi from the front yard. Kids (& adults) would request their favourite sequence and I could accommodate their requests.
     

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