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Thread: Driving LEDTriks with Helix

  1. #1
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    Default Driving LEDTriks with Helix

    From what I recall the Propeller should have extra CPU power available even after taking care of sequencing chores. I have a 2x LEDtriks (and Triks-C) panel display (in 2x1 format) and it would be great if we could find a way to drive it from the Helix taking place of the PC/Vixen when in Mode 1. At a minimum there needs to be a way to keep the two in sync in some way (whether directly or through some trigger mechanism). If not, I will always need a PC to drive the LEDTriks and would probably end up sticking up with Mode 2 for the Helix to keep them synced...

    Any thoughts on this?

    Brian
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Driving LEDTriks with Helix

    Brian,

    I've had similar requests from other Helix users also, namely to drive a Renard board. I have a couple of other things I need to do with the Helix first but it is something I've thought about a lot. The Helix Network Controller, the first main board in a Helix network, uses all eight cogs and all but one I/O pin. So my initial thoughts are to replace one of the Daughter boards with a dongle that would allow the Helix Main Board to interface with either a Renard or LEDTrix. This would free up one cog and reuse the I/O pins. The daughter boards are already driven by RS-422 which is compatible with RS-485. From what I've been able to research at this time I believe the Renard uses RS-485, but I'm not sure about the LEDTrix. The dongle would be necessary to change the pinout for the Daughter Board port to the Renard/LEDTrix port. The Propeller chip is capable of immulating a serial port at up to 115,200 baud. So it should be possible to write a "plug-in" for the Helix that will send the Renard/LEDTrix signals.

    If the overhead is too great for one cog to handle I could always make this an option on a Helix Network Node board. These boards don't need to drive the MP3 player so they already have a free cog. This would allow me to devote two cogs to this effort.

    My biggest hurdle with developing this interface (besides time) will be the fact I don't have a Renard or a LEDTrix board. If this is something that the community really wants I can look into getting a Renard. However, a LEDTrix is a little out of my range at this time. It would take too much time and money to build one this year.
    Greg

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Driving LEDTriks with Helix

    Hi Greg -

    The LEDTriks-C card drives the LEDtriks parallel interface card (which in turn drives the LED panels). The Triks-C uses the 65LBC179 chip which provides an RS-485 interface. Only a single port is required with multiple panel sets (up to 4) as the Triks-C's can be daisy-chained.

    I wish I was a 'Prop' head so I could lend support in some way towards this. I think giving up a daughter board (or perhaps a portion of one?) to drive the Triks panels would be a good compromise over being stuck with Mode 2 and having a separate PC. It might be possible to put in some hooks on the Triks-C side to make things more compatible which runs the Atmel Tiny2313 controller.

    Assuming you had the time, I would offer up my Triks/Triks-C for you to borrow (I will have two sets) but guessing you would be too busy for that.

    Anyway - more to think about I guess...

    Brian
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Driving LEDTriks with Helix

    Hi Greg,
    Hows the development of this going? has there been any more progress on this?

    Im thinking of using my helix to drive a grinch like board. This is a serial board using similiar chips to the 74HC595 which also have the ULN2004 driver chip inbuilt to drive LED's each of these panels have 4 olsen 595 equivelent boards attached to them driving 64 LED's each board. it is arranged as 8 columns X 24 rows. I have 4 of these boards put in series to make a 32 columns X 24 row Panel



    http://www.youtube.com/v/-5L6_TQPKnY

    At the moment Im driving the display pannels using a Trix-C modified by TimW to drive it.

    It could provide a basis for driving Grinch / Olsen boards

    What do you think? Do I need to learn Prop to get started?

    With the Prop driving the Ledtrix could just interface the LedTrix board directly allowing you to not have to use a Trix-C as well. it just uses serial/data pair and select lines (binary) to select which panel to write to. it would need 8 lines from the prop to drive it directly (4 rowselect/data lines, clock, strobe column and strobe row). for a grinch / olsen you would need 3 lines (data, clock, latch)

    I might be wrong with below but from quick analysis of the Schematics

    LedTrix protocol,
    Inhibit starts High

    1) Inhibit set High
    2) output data bits for up to 4 panels on ROW_A,ROW_B,ROW_C,ROW_D (panel 1,2,3,4)
    3) Pulse the clock high then low,
    4) repeat 2-4 for however many columns there are (48 columns)

    5) output next row number ROW_A,ROW_B,ROW_C,ROW_D (Binary 0 - 15)
    6) Strobe_R pulsed High then low
    7) Inhibit Low to enable outputs (selected Row of LED's Shows)
    8) hold for X miliseconds
    9) repeat 1-8 for however many Rows (16)
    10) repeat whole process again for next frame


    Grinch/Olsen595 protocol, (could drive up to 4 grinch/olsen boards)
    0) Get Renard data from serial data (channel data / intensity)
    1) Latch High
    2) Counter set to 0 (0-255)
    3) output data bits for however many Grinch Boards up to 4 panels on ROW_A,ROW_B,ROW_C,ROW_D (board 1,2,3,4) (output high if Counter < Intensity of channel) I think there is a slight modification here with one of the intensity levels?
    4) Pulse the clock high then low,
    5) repeat 2-4 for however many columns there are (64 columns)
    6) Latch Pulsed Low (Outputs now show frame)
    7) Increment counter (Max 255)
    8) Repeat 3-7 until counter =>255 else step 2
    9) next frame until changed
    10) Synchronize 255 bits to 50/60 Hz if driving mains powered gear

    Is this possible?

    Wombat
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Driving LEDTriks with Helix

    Looks good to me. Can you have it ready by Thanksgiving up here? That gives you 48 hours -- shouldn't be a problem, right? :???:










    Seriously.... looks like a pretty cool idea!

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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Driving LEDTriks with Helix

    Wombat,

    The issues with the timing side tracked any further developement on the LEDTriks interface for this year. I believe this issue has been solved. If everything goes well this season then this interface will be high on the list for early next year.

    I haven't looked at the LEDTriks C protocol very much but from what I understand it uses a 56kbps RS-422 serial interface from the computer. I know the Helix can easily support a 56k data stream and it uses RS-422 to drive the daughter boards so it should be able to drive a LEDTriks C.
    Greg

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