View Poll Results: Interested in Helix SSR Daughter Board

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  • Not Interested

    2 13.33%
  • Interested in 1 board

    1 6.67%
  • Interested in 2 boards

    5 33.33%
  • Interested in 3 boards

    3 20.00%
  • Interested in 4 or more boards

    4 26.67%
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Thread: Helix 32Ch SSR Daughter Board

  1. #11
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Default Re: Helix 32Ch SSR Daughter Board

    To try to clear things up, I'm not making any changes to the basic functionality of the Helix system. The interface to this new daughter board is identical to the original daughter board. All I did was put SSRs directly on the outputs of the 4094 chips instead of an RJ45 jack. Almost all of the changes I'm planning on making are to help with assembly, troubleshooting and to save money. The only change that I'm considering that is not compatible with the original boards is the addition of the miniRDS port. Even this could be scabbed on to the original boards if necessary.

    All of the firmware/software changes I'm planning are fully backward compatible with the existing boards, with the exception of the aforementioned miniRDS port. You will be able to save the new firmware files to the microSD card and be fully functional. I'm developing the updates to the Network Supervisor in conjunction with the updates to the firmware so it will be fully compatible also.

    So in short, if you have an existing Helix system it will be fully compatible with the updated Helix Main boards and this new 32Ch SSR Daughter Board. The only reasons you would need to get the new main board is if you want more channels or the miniRDS interface; however, as I said in the post about the planned upgrades, the miniRDS interface is a long range goal. I'm adding the port now with the plan to add the firmware interface at some point in the future.

    Greg

    Quote Originally Posted by 51fordf2 View Post
    I'm rather with Tom - I like the Helix, enough that I have 4 complete systems. But, not being able to control it directly from Vixen, was a disadvantage for a first-year display - I didn't want to change out 4 microSD's with every change to the program. And, I figured there would be a LOT of changes. So, Mode two originally was what I was planning on using, if at all possible. Then there was talk about Mode 3, which, to me, was ideal (and still preferable, if I understand it correctly). I was really hoping Mode 3 would become reality before Christmas, especially with Greg and Brian U (budude) working on Mode 3. But, without Mode 2 or 3, I ended up using two Firegod systems, for 256 channels, and didn't go across the street as originally planned. But, now I'm concerned that I am basically back to the emphasis on Mode 1, for all intents and purposes...and now with "outdated" First-Gen boards, and what I really want/need is Mode 3.

    I'd really like to know, Greg, which of the changes are definitely planned to be backward-compatible with the 1st-Gen boards, and which WON'T be, and are going to require the new 2nd-Gen boards.

    Also, if the 32ch SSR's are totally compatible with the old systems, and the old Field Modules compatible with the new system, I would probably like at least a couple, and would have a few of the old FM's, available to people who want the new system.

    And lastly, if the new controllers will work alongside the old controllers? And, in what configuration? New Supervisor, old nodes? Old supervisor, new nodes? etc, etc...

    I am sure I would be interested in a couple of them, at least, and willing to test...hey, I got a whole year left, almost!



    Roger

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Default Re: Helix 32Ch SSR Daughter Board

    Thanks, Greg, for the quick response.

    It appears, with the ease of changing shows, starting and stopping shows, and test sequences, the need for Mode 3 might be greatly diminished. It addresses my fears of using the Helix, at least on the first year's display.

    The added plus of having it run LEDTricks, is very nice - I didn't get my Tricks up this year, because I needed to get the LTC running, and I am really weak (!!) with the programming end of things. I'm assuming with the ability to control LEDTricks, you could synchronize it with your sequences, so you could show what song you were broadcasting, as you did it?

    Guess I'm getting off topic a bit, sorry, but really think some of these questions might determine what others might do. I still like the Helix over all, and hope to use it next year. But, I was really disappointed in not feeling comfortable using it this year...

    Thanks again,

    Roger
    [IMG]http://crbest.com/vixenlogo02.jpg[/IMG]

    Roger Phillips
    Oxford, IN
    256 channels of blinkin', dimmin' bliss...
    "[B][I]The road goes on forever, and the party never ends!![/I][/B] [I]Robert Earl Keen[/I]

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Default Re: Helix 32Ch SSR Daughter Board

    I think I'm in the same boat as Roger - I switched over to my Lynx because I already had built up the 32 SSROz for the Helix and was hoping to use it in Mode 2. I am planning to go to 300+ channels next year so re-adding the Helix back in would be a goal. Since I've reused the SSRs elsewhere, I may be interested in 1-2 of these boards to replace them. I agree that RDS should be a lower priority item - while it's nice to have I would be pressed to say it's necessary.

    Thanks for continuing support/added features for the Helix Greg!
    Brian
    [COLOR=#000080][B][I]Brian[/I][/B][/COLOR]

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  4. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Default Re: Helix 32Ch SSR Daughter Board

    My gaffs with the Helix are well documented... :oops:

    I can honestly say 95% of my problems were just that; MY problems. I understand Roger's concerns regarding a first year show - however, they are not shared in my experience with the Helix. Of course I went full bore with Mode 1 and never wanted to look back, tho, I might have looked at things differently if I had used two or more devices and had to swap the cards multiple times...

    The 595 I used on my first year show was more troublesome with regards to proper parallel port settings, cable length, proper Vixen plug-in configuration, etc... than the Helix was, and I haven't even discussed last year with TWO 595 boards and the issues with that. They are good boards, don't get me wrong (so good and reliable that I'm not selling my last one), but, working with the Helix was MUCH more enjoyable.

    I certainly like the new features for daily showings and look forward to the added functionality. I do not know if Greg left his Helix plugged in all the time. I did not. I made a tour 1/2 hour before show time to check on things and then plugged everything in at 10 til. After 10pm I;d go back out and unplug everything - just kind of anal about leaving electrical devices plugged in all the time. At any rate, the Helix never failed start and stop as programmed. Unless I get a wild hair and build a Tricks or other props that will require Vixen interaction during the show, I doubt I'll switch from Mode 1.


    I've rambled enough.... ;)

    Brian
    Oh... I guess I'm not leaving the hobby. Just re-tooling.

    On order:
    Helix V3 - 32ch SSR daugher board & (2) standard daughter boards
    (4) DirkCheapSSR units

    In the process of building:
    (2) Ren24 SS boards

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Default Re: Helix 32Ch SSR Daughter Board

    Quote Originally Posted by random_rodder View Post
    I understand Roger's concerns regarding a first year show - however, they are not shared in my experience with the Helix. Of course I went full bore with Mode 1 and never wanted to look back, tho, I might have looked at things differently if I had used two or more devices and had to swap the cards multiple times...

    Brian
    I will be using the Helix, from now on - as I said, my biggest fear, was not having ANY idea, whatsoever, what my show would look like, the first night. I had 4 different sequences, with 10 different songs (several "mixed" together in each sequence), and was afraid I would have to switch and swap, and remove sequences right and left, as well as make changes to the sequences themselves. I did do it, several changes, but not NEAR as many as I thought I would. So, I would really have been fine with the Helix. But, since I didn't have all my "props" done, and knew I was only going to use 225 channels, or so, I decided to go with the FireGod. But, I was very, VERY close to going with the Helix. And, the changes Greg is working on, incorporate everything I would want - starting and stopping from the Network Supervisor, test routines, and multiple shows nightly, auto config, and re-association (my biggest shortcoming!!) - oh yeah, and music between shows, another biggie in my book. And, running the LEDTricks would be the ice cream on the pie!

    Already looking forward to NEXT year!!

    Glad yours worked out so well, Brian! I knew it would work well, just not under MY wing!

    R
    [IMG]http://crbest.com/vixenlogo02.jpg[/IMG]

    Roger Phillips
    Oxford, IN
    256 channels of blinkin', dimmin' bliss...
    "[B][I]The road goes on forever, and the party never ends!![/I][/B] [I]Robert Earl Keen[/I]

  6. #16
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Helix 32Ch SSR Daughter Board

    Quote Originally Posted by 51fordf2 View Post

    Glad yours worked out so well, Brian! I knew it would work well, just not under MY wing!

    R
    I think you're selling yourself short, Roger, I think you'd have been fine.

    I only used one of the Helix controllers this year, so, after my multi controller experience last year, I can certainly understand any hesitation about trying to use a NEW controller design for the first year of doing a show. And there is something to be said for being able to change sequences on the fly within Vixen. And I definitely agree with the music between shows - I did miss that this year.

    It would be really nice if there was a way to use the X-Bee radio to move show data between the PC and Helix without removal of the cards. I'm sure Greg could give a yes or no on this possibility, but, I doubt it's feasible at all...
    Oh... I guess I'm not leaving the hobby. Just re-tooling.

    On order:
    Helix V3 - 32ch SSR daugher board & (2) standard daughter boards
    (4) DirkCheapSSR units

    In the process of building:
    (2) Ren24 SS boards

  7. #17
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Norman, OK
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    Default Re: Helix 32Ch SSR Daughter Board

    Quote Originally Posted by random_rodder View Post
    ...It would be really nice if there was a way to use the X-Bee radio to move show data between the PC and Helix without removal of the cards. I'm sure Greg could give a yes or no on this possibility, but, I doubt it's feasible at all...
    Brian,

    Roger and I were just talking about this possibility last night off line. On the surface I think it could be possible. It would be slow though, so it would only be useful for updating the Schedule file, the Show files and the Sequence files. It would take about 30 secs per minute of song per controller to update a Sequence file. So if you had a four minute song running on four controllers it would take 8-10 minutes to update the sequence. The other two types of files are much smaller and only on the Network Controller so they would be much faster to update. The actual MP3s are about 1MB per minute so they would take about 2.5 minutes per minute of song to update the MP3s.

    There are two main obstacles, the Helix file system itself and the reliability of the XBees for large data throughput. The current Helix file system has the capability to have three files open at the same time for read access only but it can't write to the microSD card. I would have to work on the write functionality. The reliability of the XBees is my main problem with getting Mode 2 to work.

    In summary, it is something I'm thinking about and may try to do some tests, but no promises at this time.
    Greg

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Default Re: Helix 32Ch SSR Daughter Board

    I know I'm coming late to the party here, but I'm very interested in getting one of the Helix controllers during the next coop, and one of 32 ch ssr daughterboards. This is going to be my first foray into animation, so I'm going to start small and just animate my megatree at first, and once the dear wifey is enamored with it, then she won't mind me expanding my display and budget. ;-)

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