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Thread: Vixen, Arduino, USB, and connectivity

  1. #1
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    Default Vixen, Arduino, USB, and connectivity

    I have about 20 feet between my control computer and my 2 Arduino based controllers. The computer is in the house and the controllers are in the garage. Just a bit too far for USB. I thought I had it all worked out by using a CAT5 USB extender, a powered usb hub in the garage, and the two serial adapters for the Arduinos in the garage, like this:
    [Computer] ==> [USB extender] ==> CAT5 cable ==> [USB extender] ==> [USB hub] ==> [2 USB/TTL adapters for the Arduinos]
    After about 4 songs the connection dropped between one of the Arduinos and my computer. I use sync characters (~!) in my sketch and Vixen, it wasn't a problem with losing sync. For whatever reason, one of the Arduinos thought the connection had died and went into a "random" mode (Victor's sketch, modified). Last night after some research I moved the two serial adapters into the house and just pushed the TTL signal across the CAT5 to the garage. It sort of works, I lost a lot of data and big pieces of the show just didn't play. One thought is to drop the baud rate from 57.6 to 9600, there are reports of 9600 baud working up to 50 feet on unshielded twisted pair.

    So I'm asking how people using Arduino based controllers connect their computers looking for ideas. Yes, my fall-back is I can move the computer to the garage, cutting the distance down to next to nothing, and I'll probably do that this year just to run the show. But for next year, there has to be a reliable way to link multiple Arduinos and computers over short distances.

    Thank you,

    Steve

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Vixen, Arduino, USB, and connectivity

    This is not the first issue I am hearing about wrt the victor code. I suggest disabling the idle detection code and see what is happening.


    2018 - Moving and going to visit my Daughter in New Zealand. Most likely I will be dark or nearly dark, Some static stuff that is simple to put up.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Vixen, Arduino, USB, and connectivity

    I'm more of a hardware guy so I'd be suspicious of the wired interface beyond the nominal USB cable distance of 16'. There are active USB cables that may solve your problem. See for example: https://www.startech.com/Cables/USB-...-M~USB2HAB50AC. You could bring your computer in the garage and connect it to your Arduinos with shorter USB cables to verify if it is a software issue.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Vixen, Arduino, USB, and connectivity

    I used active USB extenders from Monoprice.com a couple of years ago that worked great. I use the 32 and 49 foot lenghts.

    https://www.monoprice.com/product?c_...seq=1&format=2
    Kevin

    2017 - Pi3 w/FPP controlling 8 ESPixelsticks driving 1250pixels and 3 Arduino MEGAS communicating with ESP-01s driving 96 channels
    2016 - 184 channels of Blinking/Flashing using 4 Arduino MEGAs and cheap home-made props.

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    Default Re: Vixen, Arduino, USB, and connectivity

    I second the Monoprice USB extender. I installed one at work for a long run USB webcam and no issues.

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    Default Re: Vixen, Arduino, USB, and connectivity

    Quote Originally Posted by LightUp View Post
    I'm more of a hardware guy so I'd be suspicious of the wired interface beyond the nominal USB cable distance of 16'. There are active USB cables that may solve your problem. See for example: https://www.startech.com/Cables/USB-...-M~USB2HAB50AC. You could bring your computer in the garage and connect it to your Arduinos with shorter USB cables to verify if it is a software issue.
    That's actually the direction I'm going. I know it's too long for USB, and what I thought was my answer was a $90 USB extender. I'm currently loading Vixen on an old laptop and running the updates so it can sit in the garage this year and I'll figure out this distance issue next year. I live in a rural area and I'm minimizing what goes in the garage. Things around here tend to walk away if they're not nailed down :-/

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Vixen, Arduino, USB, and connectivity

    Quote Originally Posted by kev View Post
    I used active USB extenders from Monoprice.com a couple of years ago that worked great. I use the 32 and 49 foot lenghts.

    https://www.monoprice.com/product?c_...seq=1&format=2
    Nice! Thank you, I didn't know about those.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Vixen, Arduino, USB, and connectivity

    $10 USB to RS485 goes 1000' without a problem. USB extender is NOT the right answer.


    2018 - Moving and going to visit my Daughter in New Zealand. Most likely I will be dark or nearly dark, Some static stuff that is simple to put up.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Vixen, Arduino, USB, and connectivity

    While I disagree with Martin on this issue (USB extenders worked for me in 2016), last year I incorporated ESP-01 modules to go wireless. I created an Arduino shield that allowed the Arduino to communicate via E1.31. No more serial cables to worry about. You can read about it here - http://doityourselfchristmas.com/for...m-ESPixelstick
    Kevin

    2017 - Pi3 w/FPP controlling 8 ESPixelsticks driving 1250pixels and 3 Arduino MEGAS communicating with ESP-01s driving 96 channels
    2016 - 184 channels of Blinking/Flashing using 4 Arduino MEGAs and cheap home-made props.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Vixen, Arduino, USB, and connectivity

    I did not say the USB extenders did not work or had any sort of inherent issue, just that the $10 solution is more attractive to me than a $90 solution. Overall however, the ESP Pixel sticks are a great solution.


    2018 - Moving and going to visit my Daughter in New Zealand. Most likely I will be dark or nearly dark, Some static stuff that is simple to put up.

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