About Rainer Boettchers

Technical Writer and Editor at OSRAM GmbH, Paderborn, Germany. All wrongs reserved.

DALI? Salvatore?

DALI is an important communication interface for fixtures and controls. Compared to DMX it is much simpler with a restrichted functionality. Nevertheless, DALI is a market standard. There is a very good documentation available at DALI AG, which describes DALI in detail, but also with an overview and most important things to know. The manual is available in German and in English.

Sending RDM commands via e:script

This script shows how to reset a device via RDM to factory settings. All you have to know is the RDM address of the device, you don’t have to know the port or controller to which the device is connected, as the the reset command is sent via all ports that support RDM. And you don’t have to activate RDM. This is an easy and simple way to reset a device without a former RDM discovery. Even devices not answering to discovery requests can be reset. This is the procedure:

After declaring and initialising the necessary variables, an iteration run is executes over all controllers and corresponding ports. This includes ports that have no activated RDM. The key function here is SendRdmRequestByController.

// RDM reset script by Till Wiebke
// Traxon Technologies Europe, Paderborn
int controller = 0;
int port = 0;
int success = 0;

// Unique RDM ID of the target device.
string target = "4845:000002C6";
// The binary object block is needed for the custom RDM request.
int bobHandle = BobAllocate(0);

for (controller = 0; controller < GetRdmControllerCount(); 
                                                    controller++)
{
   for (port = 0; 
        port < GetRdmControllerPortCountByController(controller);
                 port++)
   {
      // Enable the controller if necessary.
      success = RdmPortIsEnabledByController(controller, port);
      if (0 == success)
      {
         success = RdmPortEnableByController(controller, port);
      }
      if (1 == success)
      {
         // Sending a "factory reset" (0x0090) 
         // set-request (0x30) to the root-device (0).
         printf("FACTORY_DEFAULTS to %s, controller %d,port %d.\n",
                                         target, controller, port);
         SendRdmRequestByController(controller, port, target, 
                                    0, 0x30, 0x0090, 0, bobHandle);
       }
   }
}
printf("Done.\n");

Video tutorials for LAS 6.x

LAS video tutorials

LAS video tutorials

We have created some new videos about the Lighting Application Suite. At the moment, there are six videos available. Select Downloads and then Tutorials. Be aware that the videos are in 720p resolution, so your wires into the Internet should not be too thin. The AVI versions are smaller, the FLV versions much bigger, but with a better resolution.

Stay tuned, more to come soon …

Available for download:
Lighting Application Suite 6.1

Since end of July 2013 available for download: version 6.1 of our Lighting Application Suite. Here is the link.

RDM Autotext in Action Pad

RDM Autotext in Action Pad

One of the main changes is the reworked RDM (Remote Devive Management) subsystem allowing more RDM, not only from e:sscript, but also as Autotext. Use RDM in the Action Pad, use e:script to automate RDM logging or watching. More info? Use the System Manual and Advanced System Manual for the LAS, also available for free download.

e:script

Various new RDM commands like GetRdmControllerCount, RdmDriverHasRdmSupport,
RdmPortEnableByController, SendRdmRequestByController, GetRdmResponseCodeDescription, GetRdmSubDeviceCount, GetRdmSubDeviceID etc. See the e:script Reference in the Programmer for details.

There is a new event, RDMEvent, that can be registered. More about events and RDM in the Advanced System Manual.

Autotext

There are several new Autotext functions for RDM. See the chapter about Autotext and the Action Pad for in the System Manual for details. See also the post about RDM Autotext below.

Device Manager

LCE2 Devices

LCE2 Devices

The Butler PRO is supported as DMX output device. The LCE2 I/O Interface is available as DMX/RDM input and output  and as terminal driver. Butler XT2, XT, S2 and PRO have a new RDM Discovery Mode definition. Discovery mode can now be defined as complete, discovery or off.

Blackmagic Intensity Pro (LCE2-fx)

In order to support the capture card Blackmagic Intensity Pro in the LCE2-fx the capture dialog in the Media Player was extended. For every capture device in the dialog the resolution in Hertz is now displayed as well.

Update Dialog

The Update Dialog is now just a topmost window and the Programmer will start as usual with the Update Dialog shown on the top.

MIDI Learn for Triggers

MIDI Learn for Triggers

Trigger Rule Dialog

The Trigger Rule Dialog has a new MIDI Learn button. When the button is pressed, the next MIDI input will be used to configure the trigger rule.

Cuelist Actions

Two new options to the Cuelist Actions have been added: Skip Forward and Skip Backward. The actions behave exactly like the Skip Forward and Skip Backward buttons in the Cuelist Dialog.

Show Export

The show export log view shows now, which triggers where exported and which could not be exported.

Versatile Masters setup

MIDI Learn for Masters

MIDI Learn for Masters

The Versatile Master configuration dialog now has a MIDI Learn button. The MIDI Learn button will only listen to MIDI control change input (cannot be added to a fader).

 

LCE2 Page Setup

You can create individual display pages for the LCE2 display. Actions can be connected to every display page. They are available in the “* Custom Menu *” by default. See the chapter Settings for details.

RDM with Butler XT2, XT, S2 and PRO

There is a new RDM Discovery Mode definition available. Discovery mode can now be defined as complete, discovery or off. Complete is the default mode in which all RDM devices are discovered and all RDM parameters and sensors are polled. Discovery means, that the devices are only discovered. So only their RDM unique ID will appear in the RDM Browser. Off means, that RDM communication is enabled if the port is enabled but no discovery communication will be performed. You can sent custom RDM requests per e:script in this mode.

Sequencer properties

The Sequence Properties dialog has two options now to adjust the amber/white level for
RGBAW, RGBWA or RGBW LEDs.

More performance, more universes, more flexibility

This is what the press reads:

LCE2 and Butler PRO

LCE2 and Butler PRO

Traxon Technologies, a global leader in solid state lighting and control systems, introduces two new high performance lighting control servers – Lighting Control Engine 2 (LCE2) and Lighting Control Engine 2 fx (LCE2-fx) – together with a new Butler PRO output engine for running large numbers of DMX512/RDM or e:pix universes. Featuring innovative technology, these important additions to Traxon & e:cue’s lighting control engine and software portfolio take control systems to new heights. They significantly enhance the flexibility, reliability, scalability and performance of lighting, media and show control programming.

The Lighting Control Engine 2 (LCE2) and Lighting Control Engine 2 fx (LCE2-fx) are designed to orchestrate fixtures, media, interfaces, and user terminals in medium to large lighting installations. Supporting a wide range of standardized and Ethernet-based control protocols, a variety of input and outputs and ports, the engines are designed specifically to act as the core of any complex lighting installation. With the Lighting Application Suite (LAS) software pre-installed, these high-performance servers succeed the successful LCE and LCE-fx with increased capacity to control sophisticated lighting projects and guarantee uninterrupted operation. Similar to the LCE2, but with dynamic real-time video capabilities and extended software tools, LCE2-fx is the ultimate solution for the most demanding projects including mixed media installation.

Butler PRO is a new DMX512/RDM or e:pix output engine that interfaces seamlessly with the Lighting Application Suite (LAS) and offered maximum control scalability. The Butler PRO DMX512/RDM version is the optimal choice for running a large number of DMX512 universes — up to 16 DMX512/RDM universes (8,192 channels) — with full RDM (Remote Device Management) capability for bidirectional communication, while the Butler PRO e:pix version – available Autumn 2013 – is running up to 16 e:pix universes (32,768 channels). Connected to a server via Ethernet, Butler Pro can be easily mountable in a standard 19-inch rack and accommodates wall mounting via rotatable 19-inch mounting brackets.

How to simulate the old Butler play mode

Butler S2 & XT2

Butler S2 & XT2

Sometimes people ask for possibilities to get back the old play mode in standalone mode for Butler S2 or Butler XT2. As the new versions play up to eight cuelists in parallel, the old Action ›Play > Next‹ is not useful anymore. The old Butlers always played only one cuelist at a time. The whole story is rather simple:

  • Place all relevant cuelists in one Mutual Exclude Group (Mutex Group), can be done with the Cuelist Directory in one step.
  • Create a Trigger rule ›On Initialization > Mutual Exclude Group 1 > Play‹, so cuelist 1 will be started when the Butler goes offline or into standalone mode.
  • Assign an ›Action Mutual Exclude Group 1 > Next‹ to the button. Done.

As the cuelists are now in a Mutex Group only one cuelist will run at a time. When switching to the next cuelist, the previous cuelist will be stopped, due to the Mutex assignment.

Persistent data in the Programmer

When running in User and respectively in Kiosk Mode, an e:cue Programmer show is considered as persistent with unchangeable data. This is for safety reasons, in case that you want to grant users limited control over a lighting installation (in most cases via the Action Pad) but nothing more than that. Nevertheless, there might be the need to save some status information even in User/Kiosk Mode. As an example you control several rooms using Action Pad faders and you want the lighting values to persist after system shutdown/reboot without making changes to the show file itself.

The e:script language features a set of commands to write variables into an XML file for later use. First, you have to use XmlBegin to specify a filename and if you want to read from or write into the particular file. The next step is to use the command XmlExchange to read/write certain variables (this depends on what you specified with XmlBegin). To close the file operation, call XmlEnd. You can use XmlExchange multiple times inside such an XmlBegin-/XmlEnd block to read or write multiple variables from or into one file.
Please note that a write operation will completely erase the previous contents of the given file. So be careful to use the correct filename. If no file with the given name exists, a new file will be created.

As a filename, you can either specify a simple filename (in that case the file will take its place in the Programmer’s main directory) or a complete path along with the name of the file. To use the My Documents folder of the current Windows user you can write $(MyFiles) followed by subfolders and the filename. When specifying a complete path, you must not use single backslashes as a separator because these are interpreted as control characters. You can either use a double backslash or a single slash as a separator.

Masters as XML

Masters as XML

Fader values exist in the file and of course, are already declared inside the macro. In the special case when you read out an array, the array that was declared has also to be of exactly the same size as the array that was saved into the file before.

When you write a variable into a file, the particular variable must exist, of course. The command XmlEnd finishes a read/write operation. Please note that a write operation will only occur when you use XmlEnd.

When saving masters as values, 4096 relates to 100% and indices of masters begin with 0.

Example: Saving and recalling fader values

To save the position of Action Pad faders we have to query the status of the associated Versatile Masters and save the particular values into a file.

Assume that for our purpose it is sufficient to save the values of the first 12 Versatile Masters. The corresponding code is very short and easy:

int vmaster[12];
int i;
for (i = 0; i < 12; i++)
{
   vmaster[i] = GetSpeedMaster(i);
}
XmlBegin(“$(myfiles)\\vmasters.xml”, 1);
XmlExchange(vmaster);
XmlEnd();

As you can see, an array named vmaster is declared in order to hold the values of the Versatile Masters. The values are received using the command GetSpeedMaster inside a for loop. The contents of our array are then all together written into the file vmasters.xml inside the current users My Documents directory. What we have to do now is to write a macro that restores the Fader values from the XML file. This is quite as easy and looks very similar to our previous code snippet:

int vmaster[12];
int i;
XmlBegin(“$(myfiles)/vmasters.xml”, 0);
XmlExchange(vmaster);
XmlEnd();
for (i = 0; i < 12; i++)
{
   SetSpeedMaster(i, vmaster[i]);
}

We first read out the contents of our XML file (note the 0 as parameter for XmlBegin) into the array. These values are then applied to the particular Versatile Masters using the command SetSpeedMaster.

Using a function for complex data exchange

For simple variable storage and restore operations involving only a few variables, the example above works just fine. However, if you want to exchange a big set of variables, maybe even several times, it comes in very handy to write a function for the data exchange operation. This simplifies the code and prevents errors like forgetting a variable in an exchange operation as well. The following macro code shows an example function exchanging some sample variables:

function DataExchange(int do_save)
{
   XmlBegin(“vars.xml”, do_save);
   XmlExchange(int1);
   XmlExchange(int2);
   XmlExchange(int3);
   XmlExchange(array1);
   XmlExchange(string1);
   XmlExchange(string2);
   XmlEnd();
}

The above function DataExchange has one parameter named do_save. This parameter specifies if you want to save or load the particular variables. As for both kinds of operation the same function is used, it can never occur that a variable is forgotten. To save the set of variables specified inside the function, call the function as follows:

DataExchange(1);

To restore a set of saved variables, write:

DataExchange(0);

Email for you

Since early versions of the LAS it is possible to send email via e:script. Up to version 6.0 this email distribution was handled with an e:cue server as gateway. From LAS 6.0 SR1 on a direct SMTP interface is available to send mail. Sending an email is helpful when systems run unattended or headless, so there is no way to alert somebody if something strange is going on. You could, for example, combine the script for RDM checking with this  email function to notify somebody about problems with some fixtures.

In any case you need access to an SMTP server as a MTA.

Programmer SMTP configuration

Programmer SMTP configuration

First of all  set the necessary parameters in the Application Options of the Programmer:

  • Name: Set the sender’s name for the FROM field.
  • Email address: The sender’s email address, the FROM address.
  • Server name: The address of the SMTP server
  • Port: The mail port of the server, depends on connection type and is set to values when the connection type is defined. Most servers accept  port 25 („smtp“), newer servers also port 587.
  • Connection security: The security type of the connection. If only notifying about something basic connection security should do.
  • Authentication method: The encryption level for the connection.
  • User name: The user name used to login to the SMTP server.
  • Password: The password for the SMTP server login.

After configuring your SMTP connection you can send email from e:script:

// Generate mail content
int hMailObject = CreateMail(“user@example.com”, 
          “Hello World!”, 
          “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”);
AddMailTo(hMailObject, “user@example.com”);
// Schedule mail and remember the message queue ID
int nMessageQueueID = SendMail(hMailObject);
DestroyMail(hMailObject);
// Wait for message being processed
RegisterEvent(Frame, OnFrame);
Suspend();

function OnFrame()
{
   if (MailIsValidID(nMessageQueueID) == 0)
   {
      alert(Unknown mail ID!\n”);
      exit; // shutdown suspended macro event
   }
   // Is message being processed?
   if (MailIsProcessed(nMessageQueueID) == 0)
   {
      printf(“Waiting for message being processed ... \n”);
   }
   else
   {
      printf(“Message was processed.\n”);
      // Is a response available?
      if (MailIsResponseAvailable(nMessageQueueID))
      {
         // Check if sending was successful
         if (MailIsTransmissionSuccessful(nMessageQueueID) == 1)
            printf(“Sending mail successful.\n”);
         else
            alert(“Sending message failed!\n”);
      }
      exit; // Shutdown suspended macro event
   }
}

More MIDI, please

There are some other new features in the LAS 6.1, one is an addition in two places to simplify the use of MIDI sources for Masters and Triggers in the Programmer. It is a learning function which listens to a MIDI channel and recognizes channels and channel values. Not that complex, but very helpful.

MIDI for Masters

MIDI control for Masters

MIDI control for Masters

Either in the Master’s context menu (right mouse click) or in the Master’s properties dialog (Grand and Versatile Masters) there is a Learn entry or button. For Masters, only MIDI Control Changes are recognized, and they are only possible for Masters, not for Faders. Simply click the Learn button or select Learn from the context menu, move or turn the control knob or fader on a MIDI keyboard or MIDI console and the right channel  parameters get inserted as MIDI source for this Master.

There is an additional checkbox in the dialog for feedback. Feedback means that in case of a change of this Master in the Programmer (and even in the Action Pad!) the Programmer sends out MIDI control changes to the physical MIDI source to reflect the change on the fader. Perfect for MIDI consoles with motor faders.

Now MIDI for Triggers

MIDI Learn for Triggers

MIDI Learn for Triggers

Using MIDI notes from a keyboard as Triggers in the Programmer is not new. But this gets much easier with the MIDI Learn button in the definition dialog for the Trigger. Open the Trigger list, add a trigger and press MIDI Learn. Now use a key on the connected MIDI keyboard or a button on a MIDI keypad and the note will be used as MIDI value to trigger the Action. Define the proper Action and you’re done.

Famous last words

When ever using MIDI sources, do not forget to insert a MIDI driver in the Device Manager of the Programmer. Open the Device Manager, choose to add a driver and use the Generic MIDI driver for MIDI cards or USB-to-MIDI adapters. The configuration of the MIDI device usually gets done by an automatic Windows driver update.