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Controlling DMX Lights using Output Tasks

Artnet DMX Lights Output Tasks

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#1 jonasf

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Posted 28 November 2016 - 05:51 PM

Hello,

 

I have 102 DMX lights that I have setup to be controlled using Output Tasks.  I am using dmxLAN Node 1s on Artnet.  I can control all lights with no problem.  My issue comes in when some groups of lights (in example, hallway lights) needs to be continuously turned on.  When I play the next output task (another set of DMX channels), the current running task/lights will flicker OFF for 2 seconds before it goes on again.  In a nutshell, say, DMX 1 and DMX 2 will turn off for a while when i turn on DMX 3.  But DMX 3 wont turn off when I play and light that has a lower DMX value.  I hope i made sense.  Here's a test visualizer I have done to explain this issue further:

 

 

Is this a known issue within Watchout or do i need to look at other hardwares that might be causing this issue?  Hoping to get some thoughts on this.  Cheers.



#2 jfk

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Posted 28 November 2016 - 10:12 PM

What specific version of WATCHOUT are you running?

There were some issues like you describe in the past, but they should be corrected.



#3 jonasf

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Posted 29 November 2016 - 12:44 AM

I am using watchpax with watchout v6.1.3

#4 jonasf

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Posted 29 November 2016 - 05:47 AM

In addition, I tried to delete some dmx channels from my output. I had it turned on manually from a lighting board. But when I click on the other tasks, the dmx channel that's not even on my program, is being turned off even without me sending out any dmx value.

#5 jfk

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Posted 30 November 2016 - 04:35 PM

I am using watchpax with watchout v6.1.3


Some of the earlier v6 variants had DMX errors, I do not think v6.1.3 was one of them,
but to be safe, Please update your system to 6.1.4

In addition, I tried to delete some dmx channels from my output. I had it turned on manually from a lighting board.


So that is revealing, please describe the physical DMX signal path
that allows you to control one universe
from both your lighting board and WATCHOUT?

But when I click on the other tasks, the dmx channel that's not even on my program, is being turned off even without me sending out any dmx value.


That may be the nature of DMX.
DMX does not allow you to send a level to a single channel (unless it is channel 1).
To send a level to a channel, you must send the level for every channel that precedes it.
i.e. To send a level to channel 5, you must send the levels for channels 1-4 as well.
So WATCHOUT would have to specify values for undefined channels,
and it is going to set them to 0.

Technically you must continue to send the values to maintain the setting.
Granted, some fixtures have a setting that allows you to retain the last value received,
but that is not part of the DMX specification, it is device specific, it is just as possible
to encounter fixtures that will drop level to 0 if the DMX signal is lost.

Also, I am not sure how WATCHOUT deals with
higher channels that are unused / undefined in WATCHOUT.
It could truncate at the highest channel defined or it could pad higher channels to 0
and send a complete 512 channel frame. I think it is the former, but I am not sure.
Either method is valid within the DMX specs.

#6 jonasf

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Posted 30 November 2016 - 05:25 PM

Thanks for the reply. I had updated to 6.1.4 but I'm getting same results.

For argument sake, I did a new show with just 3 dmx channels. DMX1, DMX2 and DMX3. Each dmx is on its own auxiliary timeline task. Inside is a fade in and fade out. I have a pause after the fade is completed, and when I toggle play, it moves to fade out and back to zero position. Basically, one task is an ON and OFF switch. I turn ON DMX2. I turn ON DMX1, DMX2 goes off for 2 seconds then turns back ON. It's weird way to have WATCHOUT send signals that way.

My light fixtures are set to take and maintain the last action to take precedence (LTP). I did the same setup with my lighting desk and it does what I intended to do. I would use my lighting desk if it wasn't a permanent install and I because I had to use WATCHNET because the main plan is to control everything on an ipad with the custom UI etc. So in general, I will have 1 button to turn on light 1, another button for light 2 etc. I also have a button to turn ALL ON and ALL OFF. Even on the task that simply turns off all 102 channels, with the same fade in and out, they don't fade out all together but instead quickly does a chase effect that turns off DMX102 down to DMX1. It would be nice if I'm doing a light show, but for a museum, it shouts programming error.

#7 ken

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Posted 01 December 2016 - 03:22 AM

Attached File  dmx_test.watch.zip   10.25KB   231 downloads

 

My tech team has put together a simple 3-spotlight program for you to test with your hardware setup.  Please see if your reported errors reappear.



#8 Miro

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Posted 01 December 2016 - 11:59 AM

Hey, I just spent some time testing DMX by setting up two WATCHOUT production computers, where one sends DMX outputs to the other's DMX inputs and the other way around. I could reproduce similar glitches when changing universes while beeing online. However, if you restart WATCHOUT and go online again then the problems are gone. Obviously, something isn't cleared properly when switching universes and will be fixed in 6.2.

 

A tip is to run this software to monitor your DMX network to see which device is sending what: http://www.lightjams.com/artnetominator/

 

Best Regards,

 

Miro



#9 jonasf

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Posted 02 December 2016 - 03:57 AM

attachicon.gifdmx_test.watch.zip

 

My tech team has put together a simple 3-spotlight program for you to test with your hardware setup.  Please see if your reported errors reappear.

Thanks Ken, got it.  Although your setup looks like it's meant  for a single fixture, the principle is the same.  Results also same, giving me the same issues.  Say Task R, G, and B are ON.  If I ONLY turn OFF B, Tasks R and G turns OFF for a while and then turns back ON.  If someone is at the toilet having a shower with their lights ON, I'm sure they wouldn't want their lights to flicker OFF overtime I turn OFF my Living Room Lights.  

 

I hope we can resolve this issue.

 

Hey, I just spent some time testing DMX by setting up two WATCHOUT production computers, where one sends DMX outputs to the other's DMX inputs and the other way around. I could reproduce similar glitches when changing universes while beeing online. However, if you restart WATCHOUT and go online again then the problems are gone. Obviously, something isn't cleared properly when switching universes and will be fixed in 6.2.

 

A tip is to run this software to monitor your DMX network to see which device is sending what: http://www.lightjams.com/artnetominator/

 

Best Regards,

 

Miro

 

Hey Miro,

 

Thanks for the reply.  I have restarted my Watchout a few times with same results every time.  I am just using 1 universe for the 102 DMX Channels I have as I don't think having multiple universe is necessary.  When I control my light fixtures using my lighting desk and EasyRemote App, it works seamless with no glitches.  But when I use Watchout to ON and OFF fixtures, I get these glitches.  It appears like a higher DMX channel takes precedence when I think each channel should behave individually.  i.e. when I click DMX 1, it shouldn't affect any other channels at all whatever state they are in.  

 

Thanks for the DMX monitor, I am also using a similar program with visualisers as shown on the above youtube link.  I hope we can fix this issue as I have already handed over my project to my client.  I wouldn't get a chance to test things from here onwards.

 

Here's another video using the actual fixtures onsite.

 

https://youtu.be/lHJxQEFKLIw

 

Cheers,

 

Jonas



#10 Thomas Leong

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Posted 02 December 2016 - 07:33 AM

Hi Jonas,

 

As previously mentioned by message, I'm a nube at DMX so not sure if this will work for you or whether it is 100% relevant to your situation. Try using DMX Channel 1 as THE catalyst/partner for the other DMX channels, eg. 1&2 to control DMX 2, 1&3 to control DMX 3, etc.

 

I just managed to get my Sandbox Artnet unit working with a single strobe light using the above method. Not sure if it was due to the peculiar character of the strobe light, but DMX 1 alone, or DMX 2, or 3...would not work. Only by using DMX 1 as 'the partner/catalyst' would the strobe work.

 

Thomas



#11 Morgan Wong

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Posted 02 December 2016 - 02:17 PM

Hi Jonas,

 

here's the video i test with dmx_test.watch project.

https://youtu.be/-DKs4i2k5Qo

DMX light Channel 1: Intensity (always on), 2:Red, 3:Green, 4:Blue, 5:Effect, 6:Flash rate

in the right hand side, is the artnet monitoring program.

you can see the change is very smooth.  no flicker / sudden change at all.

and the LED light is perform very normal and following the watchout program.

 

I am not sure what actual problem is since i am not on the site to do the test.

I know you already test directly control with lighting console, so shouldnt be the DMX dimmer problem.

 

so my question is:

-Any other artnet program/ device on the same network?

 

-Did you try another DMX box?

 

-How about use another PC/laptop do the program?

 

-and How about the connection path?  just dmxLan node direct to the dmx dimmer? or have other device on the network?

 

 

Cheers,

Morgan.



#12 jonasf

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Posted 08 December 2016 - 12:35 PM

Hi Jonas,

 

here's the video i test with dmx_test.watch project.

https://youtu.be/-DKs4i2k5Qo

DMX light Channel 1: Intensity (always on), 2:Red, 3:Green, 4:Blue, 5:Effect, 6:Flash rate

in the right hand side, is the artnet monitoring program.

you can see the change is very smooth.  no flicker / sudden change at all.

and the LED light is perform very normal and following the watchout program.

 

I am not sure what actual problem is since i am not on the site to do the test.

I know you already test directly control with lighting console, so shouldnt be the DMX dimmer problem.

 

so my question is:

-Any other artnet program/ device on the same network?

 

-Did you try another DMX box?

 

-How about use another PC/laptop do the program?

 

-and How about the connection path?  just dmxLan node direct to the dmx dimmer? or have other device on the network?

 

 

Cheers,

Morgan.

Thanks Morgan,

 

Your settings work within your single fixture.  Our fixtures are only using 1 DMX Channel (dimmers).  As per video above, the flickers do exist and a bug is still out there.  This has to be fixed for everyones sake.  

 

My Watchpax is Brand New fresh from delivery so I didn't try using another unit as I don't see there was I need to.  It's straight from dmxLan Node 1s to the dmx dimmers.  

 

Hi Jonas,

 

As previously mentioned by message, I'm a nube at DMX so not sure if this will work for you or whether it is 100% relevant to your situation. Try using DMX Channel 1 as THE catalyst/partner for the other DMX channels, eg. 1&2 to control DMX 2, 1&3 to control DMX 3, etc.

 

I just managed to get my Sandbox Artnet unit working with a single strobe light using the above method. Not sure if it was due to the peculiar character of the strobe light, but DMX 1 alone, or DMX 2, or 3...would not work. Only by using DMX 1 as 'the partner/catalyst' would the strobe work.

 

Thomas

 

Thanks Thomas, I believe your setup is different from mine.  As mentioned above, my fixtures are only using 1 DMX channel.  There is no need to partner it with other catalyst as I am only controlling light intensity and not colours.  

 

I hope dataton addresses/fixes the bug as it is still out there.  



#13 Morgan Wong

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Posted 09 December 2016 - 10:43 AM

Thanks Morgan,

Your settings work within your single fixture.  Our fixtures are only using 1 DMX Channel (dimmers).  As per video above, the flickers do exist and a bug is still out there.  This has to be fixed for everyones sake.  

 

My Watchpax is Brand New fresh from delivery so I didn't try using another unit as I don't see there was I need to.  It's straight from dmxLan Node 1s to the dmx dimmers. 

 

I had a project use 7 set of this dimmer, total 7 x 12= 84 channel.

controlling lights for about 10 different zones without any problem.

 

 

dimmer.jpg

dimmer_back.jpg

 

I know your setup have problem.

that's why i ask you to test with different hardware.

to find out what actual problem is.

 

but you can not reach the site now,

so it is no way to check & fix it.

 

good luck,

Morgan.



#14 jonasf

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Posted 16 December 2016 - 10:35 AM

Hi All,

 

Thanks for all the inputs and help.  We are still experiencing the same issue.  We have done another setup at our warehouse using another Control Server, another type of lighting fixture and another type of DMX node.  We are still experiencing the same issues.

 

Here's another video of what we are encountering.

 

 

Cheers



#15 Thomas Leong

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Posted 16 December 2016 - 03:52 PM

jonasf,

 

Your latest seems to be using LEDS versus your original which you said was going through dimmers (which may be a different kettle of fish). Is it a single fixture with 3 coloured LEDs, or 3 separate fixtures?

 

Re your latest test, I notice from the Watchout screen, you have only DMX 1,2 and 3 Outputs specified running from the Main Timeline. Have you tried Morgan's test dmx file? In Morgan's case, DMX 1 controls the Intensity (which, in my own initial ignorance, called 'catalyst/partner' channel), and DMX 2 = R, DMX 3=G, DMX 4=B. Like Morgan, my own tests with my LED fixture does not exhibit the fade down anomalies that you have.

 

However, in the case of my small made-in-china DMX fixture, I use the same 4 channels as Morgan with the exception that when DMX 1 has a value of 1-61 or 95-100 this controls the steady-state intensity of my fixture, and when DMX 1 has a value between 62-94, it controls the flash rate of the fixture. The dip switches of my fixture are set to 1 and 10 on, where 10 is the DMX Control (off for dip switch 10 means manual control).

 

Essentially, my conclusion is that each fixture has its own personality. Therefore, in the absence of specs from the manufacturer, experimentation is essential to finding its personality and the DMX channels that will work with it.

 

So how are you connected to this latest test: direct from Artnet DMX to fixture, or via a dimmer? What settings are available on the fixture (dip switches? if yes, which switches are on/off), and dimmer? What is the dimmer (manufacturer, model)? Are you daisy chaining your fixtures, or dimmers? If daisy-chaining, are your dimmers intelligent enough to auto apply a termination to the last fixture, or do you not have termination? Without termination, I understand that the data could flow back down the channels and cause the lights to behave in an unexpected manner.

 

Thomas



#16 Thomas Leong

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Posted 16 December 2016 - 05:11 PM

My analysis of your demo video is that you have your understanding of your fixture's DMX channels all wrong. I fell into the same hole when I first started.

 

You will notice that when you lowered DMX 1 by a small amount, it triggered Blue to literally cut out, and nothing happens thereafter between values 90-10 or thereabouts. At about 10% or less, Red cuts out.

Next nothing happens when DMX 2 is lowered, until at about value 0 and Green cuts out, even though DMX 3 is still at 100%. This seems to imply that Green is not DMX 3 or if it is, because DMX 1 is at 0, DMX 3 will not react.

Next, when DMX 3 is lowered, Blue immediately flashes on to 100%, then slowly fades down following DMX 3 value. This may imply that Blue has a DMX address of 3, but see below.

 

It is very rare that a fixture would have only 1 DMX channel these days, unless you are using fluros or incandecents in which case, you would need a dimmer.

 

So in the case of your latest illustration, using LEDs, I think that fixture has at least 4 DMX channels, maybe 5 (Morgan's seem to have 6; mine has 4), where -

DMX 1 is Intensity (and in my case, strobe/flash rates as well depending on the value)

DMX 2 is Red

DMX 3 is Green

DMX 4 is Blue

 

The DMX Address to set on the fixture is 1. It is implicit in the 'language of DMX control' that DMX 2, 3 and 4 are tied to this fixture when DMX 1 is set. This means, the next fixture down the chain will have a starting address 5 (and if the same type of fixture, occupy addresses 6, 7, and 8 as well). The 3rd fixture will have starting address 9, etc. Doing it any other way will result in unexpected behaviour as shown in your video. This assumes your fixture has 9 dip switches numbered 1-9. Mine has 10 where no.10 is DMX control when ON. For some other fixtures, it may be numbered 0 for DMX Control.

 

So try this -

1. DMX 1 value = 10%

DMX 3 value = 100%

Only Green should light up if your fixture follows the normal order of RGB.

 

2. DMX 3 = 0

DMX 2 = 100

and Red should light up.

 

3. DMX 2 = 0

DMX 4 = 100

and Blue should light up.

 

4. Leave Blue on at 100.

Now vary DMX 1 from 10% upwards slowly and see if the behaviour of Blue changes - gets more intense? flashes? Note the value(s) at which the intensity is steady and bright. For your installation, if you do not want flashes, you would set DMX 1 to this steady state for EVERY color/fixture of this type.

 

5. You may try DMX 5, 6, 7, etc to check if this fixture reacts to these other channels. If no reaction, then you have 4-channel fixture. If it reacts to channels 5, etc, then the next fixture's address is the channel number after that last reaction.

 

Similarly, if you have different type of fixtures in an installation, you need to discover the personality of those other fixtures in order to map your channel assignments properly for the whole install.

 

Thomas



#17 Thomas Leong

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Posted 16 December 2016 - 06:09 PM

One more, probably most important, aspect is that I see an ELC logo in your video, and on checking your first post, notice that we missed out on the fact that you are using an ELC dmxLAN Node 1S controller with Watchout. Though this product converts dmx to Ethernet and vice versa, nowhere in the brochure is 'Artnet' mentioned.

 

Artnet is a protocol (not to be confused with Ethernet). Watchout uses the Artnet protocol, so I doubt if your dmx controller is compatible with Watchout, and is probably the source of all your mentioned problems with Watchout.

 

Please try with a compatible another Artnet DMX Controller like Kissbox, Sandbox, Enttec ODE, etc.

 

Retraction:

I downloaded and installed the ELC config software v4.2 for their boxes, and Artnet is provided as a choice under Preferences for the network type. Though the brochure does not mention Artnet compatibility for the Node 1S unlike the brochure for the dmXLAN Buddy model, the unit appears to be. Therefore the corrections above. However, I do not have a unit to apply the config software to confirm.

 

If the Artnet protool is being used, the anomalies in behaviour illustrated in the videos are not being experienced by Morgan and myself.

 

Thomas



#18 Thomas Leong

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Posted 18 December 2016 - 04:07 AM

jonasf,

 

I can assure you that Watchout is not broken where dmx output is concerned.

 

If you are absolutely certain that your setup is compliant in terms of cabling, addressing, artnet, etc...then, rather than looking at the differences between our setups, perhaps we should look at the common factors between your 2 setups - the one at the museum, and the one back at the office. At a guess, it would be the Production PC/laptop being used.

 

So, with Watchout v6.1.4 -

 

1. Try using another Production PC/laptop (different brand and model)

 

2. Windows 7, 8.1 or 10? Ensure operating system version is different between 1st and 2nd PC.

 

3. Ensure the PC is tweaked in accordance with Dataton's guidelines:

http://forum.dataton.com/topic/1886-watchout-technical-notes-2015/

 

Not tweaking the PC accordingly can cause unexplained problems such as what you are experiencing.

 

4. Look hard at manufacturer's bloatware that comes pre-installed with the laptop. I had one or two of these with my Lenovo that affected my network connection between Production PC and Display PCs until I uninstalled it. If you do not need it installed, uninstall it!

 

5. Look at other applications you have installed in the PC that you do not need when using Watchout, in particular ones that need a network connection of some sort - updates, etc. Un-install one-by-one and test. If you find a culprit, please share the info.

 

I'll add more clues if the 7 ounces of mud above my shoulders clears up some...

Thomas



#19 Fredrik Svahnberg

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 03:26 PM

I know this is an old thread, but I know forum members are constantly searching the forum for advise and solutions and sometimes the hit is an "oldie".

 

So, regarding this topic, we had exactly the same problem, using exactly the same interface - the ELC Buddy. And it was indeed the ELC buddy which caused the issues described above. Swapping interface to a standard ENTTEC ODE solved the problem.







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Artnet, DMX, Lights, Output, Tasks