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Thread: A DMX controller for multiple RGB pixel strings

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    Default A DMX controller for multiple RGB pixel strings

    Updated Sep 14, 2011

    Updated the E680 board user documentation pdf file.

    Updated Aug 21, 2011

    Firmware version 2.20 is attached, see post #653 from this date for details.

    Updated Aug 14th, 2011

    The v2.17 eeprom file is attached. This is primarily for the folks who have their own prop plugs. It adds support for the TLS3001 pixels (chip type 8), and adds the comand to set the gamma correction: GV a.b where a.b is the gamma from 1.0 to 3.0 in steps of 0.2.

    Updated July 13th, 2011

    Recent news re the project: A new version will be offered sometime next month, the E681. For details, see the related thread in this forum. The E680 isn't going away, the two boards are essentially identical in terms of how they control the pixels, the E681 is more of a "pro" configuration. As a result it's a significantly larger board, and will be somewhat more expensive.


    This has become a long thread, and the project has evolved quite a bit, so for those jumping in for the first time, I thought I'd give a status report as to where we are with the project as of mid-April, and maybe save you from having to wade through hundreds of posts to see where we are.

    The project is a small circuit board called the E680 that inputs up to 4 universes of DMX data using an ethernet connection, with a protocol called E1.31 aka streaming ACN, or SACN. This allows large numbers of channels to be controlled without having to string multiple dmx cables, and deal with multiple dmx dongles on your PC. In fact, you don't need *any* dongles!

    Basically, you plug an E680 into your LAN and you are good to go. The controller will drive up to 16 separate strings of RGB pixels. It can control up to 680 individual pixels, or more if some of them are controlled in groups.
    A typical configuration might be 12 strings of 50 pixels each, or 16 strings of 42 pixels each. You can even mix different sizes of strings if you want.

    Several different pixel types are supported (2801, 6803, 1804, and GE), and you can have several different pixel types attached to the board, and they can be 5 volt, or 12 volt, or some of each. These pixels are available, primarily from Chinese sources, at as little as $0.60 each plus shipping.

    Strings attach to the board with 4-pin connectors that provide power and data. All you need for a complete setup is a controller, a power supply, and some pixels.

    This controller is compatible with Vixen, Light Show Pro, Madrix, and basically any software package that supports the E1.31 protocol. And if your favorite software doesn't support E1.31 yet, it probably will soon as it is rapidly becoming the protocol of choice for large channel count displays.

    Configuration is done via a built-in web server. It allows you to set all of the board's configurable parameters including number of strings, lengths of strings, types of pixels, whether controlled individually or grouped, the order of the colors ie RGB or BGR, etc, and several more.

    A few users began testing the boards a couple of months ago. Right now there are about 80 boards out in the field, some I'm sure not assembled yet. There is no official group buy for the project at this time, but I do have available PC boards and pre-programmed eeproms that I have been selling for $15, starting about 3 week ago. The remaining parts can be purchased online from several sources.

    We're starting to get more and more comments from folks who have assembled their boards, so far all pretty favorable.

    Attached here are an assembly manual, and an operating manual, as well as the schematic. Software coming as soon as I get it into a presentable format.

    Feel free to ask questions or post comments here in the forum, or you can contact me by PM or email at the address in my signature.

    For now, I'd suggest jumping ahead to the last few pages for current updates rather than wading through the 1st 30 pages, a lot of which has been obsoleted as the project has evolved.

    Also in the works is a board to input E1.31 and output it as standard DMX, that project has it's own thread.

    If you're interested in these projects you should also check out Ben's propcontroller threads here, a similar project but using a common motherboard and purpose-specific daughterboards. That project does pixels, e1.31->DMX, and can also control lights other than pixels with the proper daughterboards.

    Source code archive attached 05/02/2011. The archive is just the source code, with the propeller tool attached the archive was too large. You can download the propeller tool from Parallax here: http://www.parallax.com/Portals/0/Do...1.2.7-(R2).exe

    Attachments:

    Vers 2.20 firmware eeprom file
    The ISO-xxx file is the schematic diagram.
    E680doc_2 is the general documentation
    The vers 2.06 Archive is the source code
    E680 Assembly Instructions is just that, and parts lists and vendor suggestions



    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    (obsoleted text deleted)
    Last edited by jstjohnz; 09-14-2011 at 01:47 AM. Reason: Updated doc file

  2. #2
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    Default Re: A DMX controller for multiple RGB pixel strings

    Code and schematics might be nice, then we can give you a bit more informed feedback.
    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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    Default Re: A DMX controller for multiple RGB pixel strings

    Multiple controlled RGB pixels are the future of our shows.
    I would love to hear more.

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    Default Re: A DMX controller for multiple RGB pixel strings

    Have you read about the TP3212?

    http://forums.auschristmaslighting.c...oard,34.0.html

    Phil just closed the first bulk buy.

    Matt

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    Default Re: A DMX controller for multiple RGB pixel strings

    Quote Originally Posted by dowdybrown View Post
    Have you read about the TP3212?

    http://forums.auschristmaslighting.c...oard,34.0.html

    Phil just closed the first bulk buy.

    Matt
    This is pointed out in another thread, if memory serves jstjohnz said his device was similar but Propeller based.
    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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    Default Re: A DMX controller for multiple RGB pixel strings

    Quote Originally Posted by rcouto View Post
    Multiple controlled RGB pixels are the future of our shows.
    I would love to hear more.
    They already have a pre-built, ready to go 4 output 6803, 2801 controller, with cables for about $45 over at aussie christmas lights. The bulb buy is open just a short period of time (day or two?) even though it says it's closed. You would need to make a post and send the payment now. You could have them in your display this year.

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    Default Re: A DMX controller for multiple RGB pixel strings

    Quote Originally Posted by DynamoBen View Post
    This is pointed out in another thread, if memory serves jstjohnz said his device was similar but Propeller based.
    They look to pretty much the same as far as features - is the propeller unit going to be cheaper?

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    Default Re: A DMX controller for multiple RGB pixel strings

    Quote Originally Posted by dmoore View Post
    They already have a pre-built, ready to go 4 output 6803, 2801 controller, with cables for about $45 over at aussie christmas lights. The bulb buy is open just a short period of time (day or two?) even though it says it's closed. You would need to make a post and send the payment now. You could have them in your display this year.
    While I'm sure the stuff at aussie Christmas would work jstjohnz is looking to make his own version. In fact he already has a working prototype built. His version will allow for users to customize their code since its propeller based (like my PropController).

    This thread should focus on his project not others.
    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.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: A DMX controller for multiple RGB pixel strings

    Quote Originally Posted by dmoore View Post
    They look to pretty much the same as far as features - is the propeller unit going to be cheaper?
    I can't speak for the costs of this specific project verses the other but here are the highlights for any prop based device.

    Customizable: The IDE is provided for free via Parallax, and programming is done via serial (typically usb to serial interface). There also is a large community of users for help via Parallax's forum.

    Portable Code: Instead of one giant file the propeller uses individual objects. Which means code produced by this project is portable and can be used on my PropController with some minor tweaks. Further parallax has a large library of ready to go code objects which makes creating something a lot faster.

    Powerful: The propeller is 8 processors in one, literally. If you are familiar with the renard, imagine all the separate IC's all in one package.
    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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    Default Re: A DMX controller for multiple RGB pixel strings

    Quote Originally Posted by DynamoBen View Post
    I can't speak for the costs of this specific project verses the other but here are the highlights for any prop based device.
    So even if it were functionally the same as the TP3212 and at a higher cost, you'd still do the project? I'm thinking it can't be made any faster than something that has already been developed, tested and is ready for purchase. Just sayin'

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