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Thread: Remote / timer control of entire show

  1. #1
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    Default Remote / timer control of entire show

    Hello all,

    I really didn't know where to put this, but a unique situation had arisen. After being dark for two years I wanted to resurrect my show at my old location which is my parents house. I want to be be able to control the show from a remote location or put it on a timer. While I have an idea of how to do this partially some questions have come up.

    This is what I have:

    Dell Dimension 4600 running Vixen version 2
    Renard 24 channel controller.
    Renard 48LSD RGB controller.
    Signstek ST-05B FM transmitter.

    For the latter three items I know I can easily just hook them all up to a standard outlet based timer and turn it on before the show starts and turn it all off when it ends.

    The problem lies in controlling the computer. While I know a schedule can be set up for Vixen the issue is that I do not want to have the computer running day and night. I think Vixen can be set up to shut the computer down at the end of the show, but what about turning it on? Could a computer be set to put itself into a suspend mode at a certain time and then turn itself back on at a certain time?

    While I do like the idea of remote control over a timer, I don't know of the complexities of going this route. My main concern is inclement weather and if a severe storm is predicted, I would like to have the ability to tell the show to NOT turn on. Fortunately, I do have Z-wave control capability at the remote location, but again, this would only take care of the controllers and the FM transmitter, not the computer (I don't want to just snap the power off on the computer as I know that is bad for the operating system). I know a quick way around this problem is to just turn off the controllers and the FM transmitter and just let the computer run its course and shut down on its own as per timer control above. So it would be timer run but with the option to remotely turn the system off. Again, this end I would have taken care of since the house is already Z-wave control ready.

    So basically what I am looking at is a way to timer control the computer and to have it turn on and shut down properly.

    Any ideas or suggestions would be appreciated.

    Thank You,

    Geo
    Last edited by jukingeo; 12-02-2017 at 02:45 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Remote / timer control of entire show

    There was a post that DIRK had that outlined a very solid (and fairly low-tech) way of doing this. If I recall he used some BIOS settings to wake the computer up and then that Triggered a Large Relay. If its safe, you can leave controllers and lights powered at all times. Mine would occasionally leave a few lights on after the last show, so then I created a Sequence that was 30 seconds of darkness. I ran it after the the last show cycle and then did a shutdown after that.

    Look for Dirks post, I couldn't find it.

    Edit: For additional remote setup, use one of the Sharing/Remote Control apps like VNC or Teamviewer to control the computer remotely. I had also had a simple Web Cam that allowed me to see the display via the web. That way I could tell if the show was running. Its not necessary, but it was to have. I restarted my show quite a few times while I was away and no one was home to restart.

    Kelly

    Edit again: I was looking for a Post started by Dirk. (Still may be one, but couldn't find it) Here is his reponse to someone else asking about "Automating Startup" http://doityourselfchristmas.com/for...218#post132218 See post 11 later in that thread. He mentions the relays. I only ever controlled the PC and left power to display on all the time, but I did get a 2 pole relay (from an old air conditioner) wired up. Message me if interested, I may be able to dig it up. Yours for the cost of shipping. It was ugly , but it worked in testing. Basically 5 volts in (from USB port) switched smaller relay that switched 2OvAC (I think) to trigger Air conditioner relay and and power two individual 15 AMP outlets. Cost me about $8 to make.
    Last edited by kychristmas; 12-02-2017 at 04:02 PM.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Remote / timer control of entire show

    I'm usually not home when my display turns on and off and I'm using Vixen 3 with the scheduler. I have 35,000 incan lights and it would be quite expensive if for some reason if the program messed up and the display ran all day while I was at work so I have an industrial timer that controls the branch circuits that run the show, that way I know for sure that the power is off before and after the show. I have it set to turn on 10 min before the show start and stay on 10 min after.

    As for my computer... it stays on day and night. It goes to sleep when not in use and I don't believe it uses much power when idling. If you think about it most people leave their personal computers on now days and just put them to sleep when not in use. My office computer hasn't been re booted in weeks and is always ready with the shake of a mouse.
    I personally wouldn't worry about the computer, I would just shut off the monitor when your not there to also conserve on power.

    Dale P.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Remote / timer control of entire show

    Like to see what you come up with..
    FB @ langleylights

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Remote / timer control of entire show

    I use FPP to run the show via schedule, and IRIS Smart Plugs to control power via built in timers.....Turn the timers on 5 minutes prior to show.
    IRIS units are accessible via my cell phone. They are not outdoor rated, but I do run in protected outdoor areas.

    https://www.lowes.com/pd/Iris-Plug-1...lug/1000135207
    (Get this Iris Smart Switch for $14.99, a $25 savings, when you buy any Christmas tree.)

    I've used WeMo, tp-link and a couple China versions. I feel the IRIS no hub Smart Plug is the best

    Caution to one of the China design; it switches the neutral leaving Hot Live to kill.
    Says it is UL, but no way with a switching neutral design.

    Here is a picture of the bad one - I took off the brand name so whatever brand, if it looks like this one, it is a killer.
    s-l1600.jpg
    In Lights Therapy

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Remote / timer control of entire show

    I saw a recent post that suggested putting vixen in the computers start up section. This way when the computer boots up it will start vixen which would start vixens timer. You can also add a shut down script to the end of the show that would shut down the computer. And as others suggested timers on each controller.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Remote / timer control of entire show

    I seem to remember a post by WAYNE J about using the TASK SCHEDULER on your computer to start and turn off. I am talking about in accessories / actions on the computer not the scheduler in VIXEN by the way.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Remote / timer control of entire show

    I use some static lights in my yard that I wanted to be able to turn on and off automatically to have the whole show automated.
    I got a "Latching" relay and wired it to control two outlet boxes that have all of my static lights plugged into. Ten minutes
    before my show starts, I have one Renard SS controller send a turn on voltage to the relay for about five seconds. This "latches"
    the relay in closed mode and turns on the lights. At the end of the night, ten minutes after the show stops, I send a turn off voltage
    to the other side of the relay that unlatches it. It has worked great for two years. Maybe you could do something like this with your
    setup that would turn on everything.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Remote / timer control of entire show

    I used to use two 20A industrial timers. Worked great.


    2019 - Just moved into a new home (yet another change of plans). Will be dim but not dark. Too much to do at the new place to leave time for a show.
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyX...ttrsZNARkUce0Q

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Remote / timer control of entire show

    I used Dirk's document to fully automate my entire show.

    Computer boots with BIOS "Turn On" setting
    Power on computer enables a bank of 4 40A crydom SSRs (each with 3 GFCI's)
    Task scheduler Starts Vixen (vixen start-up batch file - it checks for Vixen already running)
    This repeats every 5 minutes in case Vixen crashes or fails to start.
    Vixen (2.1) Schedule launches Show Program and repeats until schedule time is done
    Scheduler task runs batch file that closes Vixen, HI_FMT.exe (vast FM radio) AND Forces Shutdown.
    This repeat every 15 minutes for next two hours just to make sure.
    Power off on computer kills the crydom relays and the entire show powers down.

    (I DON'T use the Vixen Auto-shutdown feature - it fails to shut down. POSSIBLY because it needs to be run as administrator.)

    This has worked very reliably for the past two years, but this year I had some issues until I cleaned up my system.

    This allows full automation - I don't even have to be there for the show to run. But I also have a cloud-enabled webcam watching the show so I can verify that it is running from anywhere (in the world!).

    However - there are lots of little pieces that all have to be connected/set up just right for it to work.

    Jimboha
    Last edited by jimboha; 12-05-2017 at 06:05 PM. Reason: Fixed some types and other errors.
    Springville, Utah

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