max/msp based show control system

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Originally we were tasked with automating a DMX board, and syncing some of its functions with audio.  There are literally zillions of ways of doing this, especially if your pockets are deep.  One option was to use a Gilderfluke or Alcorn-Mcbride product-- a programmable show controller, and interfacing it to an expensive lightboard like ETC or Horizon.  However, we had the hardware lying around to change a mac mini, into a full show control system with lightboard function and gui. This is nothing groundbreaking, but it's still fun.  Most of all, we didn't have to source a lightboard.

The i/o interface was the Phidgets 0/16/16.  This was convenient since it was usb based and provided a total of 16 inputs and 16 outputs, all opto-isolated.

The DMX interface was the Entec DMX usb pro, utilizing a purchased copy of dmxusbpro by Olaf Matthes. 

Everything was then tied together in the max/msp programming environment.  The "under the hood" was covered up with a nice interface for the general user.  The prize-winning max object on this one was "col."  It essentially allows a user to program cues via text files (which is nice if you are programming 12 cues at a time to a fixture), without knowing a thing about max/msp.

In the end, for a little under $1000 we have a mini show controller with these features:
-control 1 DMX universe, 512 channels, via GUI.
-trigger events on a schedule for complete automation
-16 digital triggers
-16 digital outputs
-audio and event playback via trigger
-programmable and expandable cues/events
-diagnostic panel (power, status, connection, etc)
-nifty interface

It was mostly a rush job, and a lot of sweat was poured when nothing worked, at all.  The manufacturer's manual for one of our DMX devices, was written so that a lot of guestamation had to be used.  A contractor had also done some funny stuff with dmx to microplex adapters, ensuring that failure was imminent. In the end it was a success.  if i had more time, i would have added a log feature and terminal access.  The "exciting" bit is that the entire system can be tweaked to interface with shell scripts.   

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This page contains a single entry by admin published on January 31, 2011 6:27 PM.

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3 computers, 1 console: sync'd HD playback. is the next entry in this blog.

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