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Thread: NEW - PropController Project

  1. #1
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    Default NEW - PropController Project

    The PropController is an open source single-board hardware platform designed for lighting and prop control. Based on the Parallax Propeller microcontroller, the PropController has 24 I/O pins, can be powered by both AC and DC supplies. Some of things you could control with the PropController include AC Dimmers, Low Voltage DC LEDs, Pixel Strings, hobby servos, and even motors.

    There are two versions of the PropController, RS-485/DMX and Ethernet. The DMX version features a galvanically isolated RS-485 half-duplex interface. The Ethernet version features the WizNet WIZ812MJ, which makes communicating via Ethernet easy. In addition, both versions are designed to be compact and have 4 mounting holes allowing it to be mounted into any enclosure.

    Programming the PropController is easy with the on-board USB interface and Parallax's Propeller Tool (a free download from Parallax Inc). To give you a head start a Google Project site has been created to provide both pre-made hardware drivers and completed “program and play” projects. Since the PropController uses the Propeller microcontroller it is supported by a very active community of users at the Parallax forums. So if you have an idea but need help head over there.

    Get the code here

    HISTORY and PURPOSE
    I wanted to create a DMX/Ethernet swiss army knife for the DIY Christmas community. I wanted to make something that anyone could learn and customize. Because the Propeller's development environment is free and well documented I'm hoping that not only will people learn to develop with the propeller but also the community will start to create daughterboards (with drivers). This will allow other members to use these building blocks to create a custom controller/dimmer.

    This project is meant to be a development platform and not a finished product. What that means is you must either be willing to write the code for this device yourself or find someone who will. As finished projects are created I will post them to the google project site for others to use.

    APPLICATIONS
    • Holiday lighting displays
    • Special FX and props
    • Show Control and automation

    FEATURES
    • Parallax Propeller 8 core microcontroller
    • RS-485/DMX or Ethernet Interface
    • 4 General I/O headers (4 data pins, 5V, 3.3V, Vin, Gnd)
    • 1 Special I/O header (4 data pins, 5V, 3.3V, Vin, Gnd, I2C, TTL)
    • USB Programming Interface
    • On-board Zero-Cross sensing
    • Bicolor Status LED
    • Low Voltage AC and DC power input (6 to 9 V)
    • Screw Terminal Power connectors
    • Molex KK I/O connectors
    • 3.3V and 5V voltage regulators
    • 5V regulator provide 1 full amp of power for external hardware
    • Compact size: 5.25” x 3.00”
    • Free Development environment

    POSSIBLE USES
    • Forward or reverse phase Dimming
    • LED Dimming
    • Servos
    • Motors
    • Relays
    • Ethernet to multi-universe DMX node or protocol converter
    ...and any combination of the above.



    Propeller Resources
    http://www.parallax.com/tabid/407/Default.aspx
    http://www.parallax.com/Portals/0/Do...nBook-v1.1.pdf

    Latest Code and Files
    I've moved everything to a central location so as to avoid cluttering the forum with posts. Code and schematics will live at http://code.google.com/p/propcontroller/.

    PCB Availability
    I have a small number of boards left over from a recent order. If you are interested in this project and would like boards please PM me.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by DynamoBen; 03-14-2015 at 12:30 AM.
    DMX, RDM, ArtNet, sACN, and RDMnet...the future of DIY Christmas.
    Designer of the PropController an open source single-board hardware platform designed for lighting and prop control.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: PropController

    In regards to code and daughter boards.

    There is DMX code already available through the Parallax Object Exchange but I'm working on adding RDM. Once I have tested this code I will post it (its slow going because I'm writing it in assembly not spin).

    DMX code: http://obex.parallax.com/objects/233/
    Last edited by DynamoBen; 09-12-2010 at 04:51 PM.
    DMX, RDM, ArtNet, sACN, and RDMnet...the future of DIY Christmas.
    Designer of the PropController an open source single-board hardware platform designed for lighting and prop control.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: NEW - PropController Project

    32 Channel Dimmer Module

    This is a 32 channel forward-phase dimmer module based off the Helix. I've attached a schematic, PCB, and code.

    I have some code for selectable dimmer curves that could be incorporated in the future.

    Dimensions
    4" x 2.5"

    Latest Code and Files
    I've moved everything to a central location so as to avoid cluttering the forum with posts. Code (and potentially schematics) will live at http://code.google.com/p/propcontroller/.
    Last edited by DynamoBen; 01-03-2011 at 09:29 PM.
    DMX, RDM, ArtNet, sACN, and RDMnet...the future of DIY Christmas.
    Designer of the PropController an open source single-board hardware platform designed for lighting and prop control.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: NEW - PropController Project

    There is some LED dimming code (via TLC5940) here http://www.brilldea.com/product_LEDPainter.html that could be adapted to work on the PropController.

    Another option might be the PCA9635, I haven't found an existing code object yet but I will add this to the list.
    Last edited by DynamoBen; 01-03-2011 at 09:30 PM.
    DMX, RDM, ArtNet, sACN, and RDMnet...the future of DIY Christmas.
    Designer of the PropController an open source single-board hardware platform designed for lighting and prop control.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: NEW - PropController Project

    I am working on a propeller project as well. It's a DMX to RGB LED strip controller, capable of driving up to 16 of the 2801 or 6803-based RGB LED strips. Right now it's setup for either 1 or 2 DMX universes coming in, but I am interested in other protocols more suitable to the large number of pixels.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: NEW - PropController Project

    Quote Originally Posted by jstjohnz View Post
    I am working on a propeller project as well. It's a DMX to RGB LED strip controller, capable of driving up to 16 of the 2801 or 6803-based RGB LED strips.
    Are you thinking about posting code and schematics here? Maybe this is something we can add as a daugtherboard.

    Right now it's setup for either 1 or 2 DMX universes coming in, but I am interested in other protocols more suitable to the large number of pixels.
    If you want to get it down to 1 wire I would suggest ethernet. The easiest protocol would be Streaming-DMX E1.31. While its still universe based, if you wrote some fast code you could grab 4 universes at a time. The other protocol is ArtNet (I created some demo code a while back), its a be "fatter" but could do the job.
    DMX, RDM, ArtNet, sACN, and RDMnet...the future of DIY Christmas.
    Designer of the PropController an open source single-board hardware platform designed for lighting and prop control.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: NEW - PropController Project

    Quote Originally Posted by jstjohnz View Post
    I am working on a propeller project as well. It's a DMX to RGB LED strip controller, capable of driving up to 16 of the 2801 or 6803-based RGB LED strips. Right now it's setup for either 1 or 2 DMX universes coming in, but I am interested in other protocols more suitable to the large number of pixels.
    This sounds much like AussiePhil's Protocol Bridge board - it's not Prop based but as I recall it takes in DMX and spits out 2 or 4 lines of pixel protocol. Not sure if you were of this project and of course it doesn't mean you shouldn't proceed with your own design!
    Brian

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  8. #8
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    Default Re: NEW - PropController Project

    Quote Originally Posted by budude View Post
    This sounds much like AussiePhil's Protocol Bridge board - it's not Prop based but as I recall it takes in DMX and spits out 2 or 4 lines of pixel protocol. Not sure if you were of this project and of course it doesn't mean you shouldn't proceed with your own design!
    I have seen that one. What I am trying to do is have a single controller that will control a full display element such as a mega-tree or bellagio fountains.

    Here are the specs at present:

    16 strip outputs, arranged in 4 clusters of 4 strips.
    Each cluster has parameters for # active strips (0-4), logical pixels per strip (1-170), controller type, RGB order, and repeat count (1-100).

    Total pixels, 170 with a single DMX input, or 340 with 2.

    For example, with 1 DMX input you could drive a 16-strip mega-tree. Each strip would be defined as 10 logical pixels, with a repeat count of 5, for a total of 160 pixels or 480 DMX channels. So you would have a tree with 16 horizontal pixels and 10 vertical pixels. If both DMX inputs are used the tree could be 16x20 pixels.

    You could have a single strip defined as 1 pixel with a repeat count of 50, and control the whole strip, obviously as a single color, with 3 DMX channels.

    All string are clocked simultaneously, the refresh rate is about 300 hz.

    The RGB order param allows having the strings always defined in the controlling software as R-G-B, even if the physical color order of the actual strips is different.

    It's on a breadboard right now but I have some PC boards on the way to build up this wekend.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: NEW - PropController Project

    Quote Originally Posted by DynamoBen View Post
    Are you thinking about posting code and schematics here? Maybe this is something we can add as a daugtherboard.

    If you want to get it down to 1 wire I would suggest ethernet. The easiest protocol would be Streaming-DMX E1.31. While its still universe based, if you wrote some fast code you could grab 4 universes at a time. The other protocol is ArtNet (I created some demo code a while back), its a be "fatter" but could do the job.
    Hardware-wise it's pretty simple, I'm using 1 cog for each DMX input, and 4 cogs driving 4 strips each, each cog has 4 data lines and a common clock line.

    I can post code at some point if you won't be too hard on me, this is my 1st prop-based project.

    I have just started looking into ethernet-based protocols.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: NEW - PropController Project

    Quote Originally Posted by jstjohnz View Post
    Hardware-wise it's pretty simple, I'm using 1 cog for each DMX input, and 4 cogs driving 4 strips each, each cog has 4 data lines and a common clock line.

    I can post code at some point if you won't be too hard on me, this is my 1st prop-based project.

    I have just started looking into ethernet-based protocols.
    No worries everyone has to learn at some point, if it works its good code. Also the nice part if you post is folks like myself can improve upon it. If you want help on your device I would suggest a separate thread. If you are interested in me porting this to PropController PM me and I will give you my email, I will make the edits, and then post.

    I'm not doing any more on the ethernet side until I get my ethernet boards out the the board house (next couple of weeks), and Halloween is over. After that its full steam ahead, hopefully others will jump on board with daughterboards.
    DMX, RDM, ArtNet, sACN, and RDMnet...the future of DIY Christmas.
    Designer of the PropController an open source single-board hardware platform designed for lighting and prop control.

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