It's all about the blinking...
See a comparison of the hardware used to run the displays between 2007 and 2019.
The upgrade to the housing for the controllers for the pixel matrix was completed this week. 2 Masters boxes were replaced with a single smaller box, as well as a bit of work done to strengthen the screen housing as well.
The above image is the two masters boxes. Each contained a P2, fuses and PSU.
A view of the 2 masters boxes open. While the boxes are not packed, there was no room for anything else in each box. Add to that the boxes were bolted to a piece of bar screwed to the back board, this made for a fairly unweildly and ugly lump on the side of the screen.
The above image shows the base for the new box bolted to the side of the screen. Holes in the base for the 2 lots of power and data cables, 240V Power in as well as cat5 network cables are already in the base.
Here is the new box, filled with the 2 P2's, 2 fuse holders and 2 PSU's. It's a very tight fit, but it cools fairly well, and may get an additional 12V fan mounted on the velt if I think it will help (They are yet to arrive from eBay).
Painted, with vent installed. This was given a test run for 4 hours running a P2 output test and the case barely got warm.
I noticed that hanging the screen up for an extended time (Off season) the top of the case bowed up. 2 additional metal braces were installed, as shown above, to hold the top and bottom equidistant apart. Clips were also added from the front MDF panel to stop it bowing out for any reason, and these clips were attached to the bracing.
A small update showing the update to the 27 channel controllers that are done here. This allows the controller to handle more than 15A in total, and when combined with a second power injection point, the boards have been tested in excess of 30A total.
This is the initial board, which has been cleaned and the 2 solder tracks where the wire are to be added have had additional solder added.
The completed board. 2.5mm copper wire, twisted tighter using a battery drill before tinning, was used to bulk up the copper.
Quite a bit has been done in the last few weeks, including re-stringing the rose garden lights from the original 4 sets of 85 up to 4 sets of 168 LED's. This required a modification of the supply box to include some additional power injection points.
In order to test the modified rose garden setup, a rough mockup was completed in the shed and run through its paces. This upgrade will increase the lights from 12 vertical strings up to 32 strings making it look much fuller this year. The lights were modified from damaged Stellascapes ones used in the trees in previous years.
The tests were run for a few hours to ensure no lights have failed, and the upgrade went OK.
I struck an issue this year with LSP and the Megascreen matrix, and the easy fix has been to multicast the data instead of Unicast it. The issue there is that the data is sent to each and every controller, rather than being routed to just the destination. In changing to Multicasting, the downside is that I will need to split the show PC off from the rest of the house network, but this is no great issue. The other disadvantage is that my E16, which drives the megatree, does not like masses of data multicasting on the network, so it fails regularly. To fix this issue I am replacing the E16 with a brand new J1Sys P12S controller.
This is the old E16 in a case made back in 2011. 16 outputs were run to the 16 sets of 85 LED's (The E16 only supports 84 LED's though), totalling 8 universes.
This is an early part of the upgrade to the box. Just 8 outputs will be used to drive the 8 universes of lights (Requiring a modification to the light strings themselves), and a further 4 outputs will be added to the box for later use. I will also add 8 power injection points for the Megatree lights this year. I still have to add the fuse block for the injection and the injection output points. There are also 2 DMX Output points on the box, but they probably wont be used this year.
Completed the updates for the megatree lighting strings, as well as the final P12S box upgrades. The lights have been put up in the shed to allow further testing, and this week I have spent a few days trying to work out the issues with LSP, e1.31 and various controller configurations without luck.
Basically the issue has been that I often will test a controllers output by turning it on during testing. LSP has already been started and is outputting, and switching on the controller sometimes works, and other times it causes the network traffic to grind to a halt, thus stopping the "Show". At the moment this is not a critical thing, but is annoying during testing when controllers are turned on and off regularly.
At the moment I have worked out I have something like 13,500 channels in the shed, hung up ready for testing, and they are regularly being tested to ensure there will be no "Suprises" this year in the show, as well as to see what certain effects really look like on the items themselves.
A lot of testing, including load tests have been carried out on boxes and cables, plus a few controllers have been modified to run on 5V, rather than needing to run pDMX to those boxes, as this really makes cabling much simpler.
Due to storage of sequences from the 6 years, plus this years sequences, I ended up buying a NAS Box which will live somewhere in the shed once I get some drives to put in it, probably in the new year.
Testing, testing, testing.... LSP is looking great so far, and the new scheduler is simply brilliant, and should fix almost, if not all, the issues I had last year with pausing, stuffering and halting of the show.
A small upgrade to a Gigabit switch for the show will eliminate any possible bottlenecks from the switch end as well, so that should help a bit too.
The LED faces, built a while ago are looking great, and 2 songs will use them this year. Testing has shown that the songs and face keep perfect timing, so I am happy. I tried LSP 2.5 and it struggled with the same sequence so 2.8 seems like a winner here.
A few more minor cables made for the DMX side this week too.