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Thread: PropController Serial Configuration

  1. #1
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    Default PropController Serial Configuration

    I've been thinking about different ways to configure the PropController to make it more user (and even developer) friendly. Since there are two flavors of the project (RS485/DMX and Ethernet) the only common communications method between them is the USB interface (which creates a virtual comm port on the PC side). So I've been thinking this might be good way to configure both devices.

    Items that might need configuration:
    Input/Output Configuration per connector (Dimmer, RGB Pixel, DMX, Renard...)
    DMX Start Address(es)
    IP Settings
    Diagnostics/Status Montiors
    Firmware version information

    There are two basic ways we could configure the PropController via serial, through a terminal interface like hyperterm, or via a custom serial protocol and an installable PC configuration application.

    The hyperterm option means writing a fair amount of code on the Propeller side to support all the different menus and options. The PC app option keeps the Propeller code lite but means that an application would need written and a communications protocol would need to be found or created.

    I'm sort of leaning toward the PC app with serial protocol. Thoughts, ideas, comments?
    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 Serial Configuration

    Perhaps a java app to do the configuration? I know next to squat about java but it would make it usable on different platforms.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: PropController Serial Configuration

    Quote Originally Posted by budude View Post
    Perhaps a java app to do the configuration? I know next to squat about java but it would make it usable on different platforms.
    While I know enough to be dangerous in a number of programming languages, I would need someone who is programmer to help with something like this...with that said it seems like a good idea.
    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: PropController Serial Configuration

    A Java or .Net (C# or VB.Net) should be a pretty easy application to write. If you use an existing protocol, there may be libraries available, making it even easier. If you have to create the protocol, it will be a little more work to do. I do C# development for a living and could help out. I also know my way around java pretty well too.

    Erik

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    Default Re: PropController Serial Configuration

    Quote Originally Posted by erm213 View Post
    A Java or .Net (C# or VB.Net) should be a pretty easy application to write. If you use an existing protocol, there may be libraries available, making it even easier. If you have to create the protocol, it will be a little more work to do. I do C# development for a living and could help out. I also know my way around java pretty well too.

    Erik
    Thanks Erik! Any protocol suggestions?
    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.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: PropController Serial Configuration

    Let me describe what’s in my head, I suspect that will influence the protocol that gets selected.

    What I'm thinking is that the protocol will be broken up into general categories to cover each part of hardware’s functional areas. There would be system level settings (like IP), and I/O level settings (for daughterboard).

    I'm thinking that the PC utility would poll for the PropController, in return the PropController would tell the PC app what it supports and provide a list of settings for each item. The best part about this model is that PC app doesn’t need to be constantly updated as functionality is added to the PropController.

    So imagine for a moment the PropController has firmware that supports DMX out, RGB pixel strings, SSR Dimmers, and input triggers. When polled the PropController would return strings describing each supported interface, a list of what interface each I/O is setup to use, and the available and current settings for each interface assigned to an I/O. At the system level the PropController would also report its input type (RS485 or Ethernet), protocol being used (DMX or sACN), and the available and current settings (IP, universe configurations, start address)
    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: PropController Serial Configuration

    No protocols are jumping out at me. I imagine just using the serial interface would be fine. Would there be any dependencies between the settings? I see the idea of having the PropController report back its status and capabilities, but tracking dependencies will be trickier.

    Erik

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    Default Re: PropController Serial Configuration

    I'd be up for the challenge as soon as i get my board in. I'm excited to get some code working.
    The protocol my robotics team has used before has been a somewhat simple one
    Start Byte, Command Byte, Data Byte(s), CheckByte (Sum or XOR), End byte.
    $A192.168.001.001(check)! might be an example, if the controller knew that A meant ip address, there's a real name for a protocol like this, I'll have to find my notes or ask one of the guys in the club, I think it's used with GPS satellites or something.
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: PropController Serial Configuration

    Note to self "read this thread"
    2010
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: PropController Serial Configuration

    Just jotted down in words what I think some people are thinking it'd look like.

    Propeller Interface Example

    $!!!

    PropController Ethernet V1.00x Firmware
    Ref: "Mega Tree Controller"
    IP: ###.###.###.###
    MAC: XX-XX-XX-XX-XX-XX
    Supported Features:
    Ethernet In
    DMX In/Out
    Pixel (WS2801, LPD6803)
    DC Daughter Cards (Model XX.XX)
    AC Dimming Cards (Model XX.XX)

    Current Configuration:
    Card 1: DMX Out Universe 1
    Card 2: DMX Out Universe 2
    Card 3: WS2801 Pixels Universe 3 (ch 1-300)
    Card 4: DC Dimming Daughter Card Universe 3 (ch 301-348)
    Card 5 (special): Inactive

    Please choose a command
    (1) Configure Ethernet In
    (2) Configure Outputs
    (3) Statistics
    (Z) Exit


    CONFIGURATION SCREEN


    PropController Ethernet V1.00x Firmware
    IP: ###.###.###.###
    MAC: XX-XX-XX-XX-XX-XX

    -Configure Ethernet-
    Current IP
    Current MAC

    Please choose a command:
    (1) Update IP
    (2) Update MAC
    (Z) Exit


    This way would have the Propeller managing most of it's communication and interfacing, I don't know what we have in terms of resources on it for doing something as nice as this, basically it would walk you through setting it up, and maybe even have an option for first time setting it up?

    I don't know if it'd need more EEPROM to be able to accomplish all of this data storage, I haven't worked with Propellers too much yet.
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