As the Big Movie Time Sink Winds Down

As the big movie time -sink winds down, I find myself less interested in the Wheels project and more interested in a quicker, less innovative project: A DMX Tester/Playback machine.  I talked to Matthias a few times over the course of this hiatus from Electrical Engineering projects where I focused almost entirely on my day job (as a rigging electrician on a prominent, 200 million dollar sequel to a famous franchise that I cannot currently talk about).

My friend, Eric has this device, which I have used a few times to test rigs on this movie.  He said he paid $1400 for the device.  Though I love the device, I figure that I can actually make my own for around 200 dollars total.  I could even make it open source and user-modifiable.  So, while the Hurricane Wheels project is currently on my radar, I think my free time is more wisely invested in something that a few coworkers would buy off of me.  I want to basically do exactly what the Fleenor device does, but also add in some advanced features and some hardware fader pots to allow it to be used for cues.

The fleenor design is ingenius because you can type “1 thru 512 at 100%” and it transmits a signal to turn all lights in one universe to 100 percent.  You’d think a device like the Swiss-on would be able to do something this simple in a few keystrokes, but you’d be dead wrong.  On the Swisson, there is no option for 1 through 512, which in my opinion, is totally dumb.

So far, I have made some enhancements to the fleenor idea in that you can assign channels in more advanced ways.  For example, say I want to select hundreds of lights without selecting a certain light in the sequence.  I could type “1 through 512 minus 52 through 332” and I would have each light from 1 through 512 selected while excluding channels 52 through 332.  That is powerful because the Fleenor is the cheapest way to currently achieve this and, as far as I know, it doesn’t allow this kind of “subraction” of channels.

Right now, I am thinking about only the intial features and electrical design of this box.  Here are some of the features that should reside in the beta version:

  • control of 1 universe (512 channels of DMX)
  • internal, rechargeable lithium polymer battery
  • RDM communication
  • programming language type channel assignments (1 thru 512 minus 22 thru 56)
  • ability to increment channel assignments (Image 85’s have a Hi/Lo 9th channel on each light, the programming language would have the ability to exclude or include these special channels into another submaster)
  • ability to record cues from a more advanced board and play them back (edit them eventually once I get more advanced at DMX/RDM)
  • no wireless due to FCC regulations 🙁
  • chases and pre-programmable sequences
  • LCD screen
  • 4 faders with LED, OLED, or E-INk display for each
  • Controls/Buttons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0, Ent, Thru, Minus, @, Fader 1, Fader 2, Fader 3, Fader 4, play, pause, stop, record, Up, Down, Left, Right, Clr, Every, Light