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Author Topic: Backup for software controller  (Read 811 times)

Dave Guilford

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Backup for software controller
« on: June 03, 2018, 08:32:11 pm »

Iíve been using dmx software for a while now, and the newest update crashed my laptop twice now, once in the middle of a show!

I want to bring along an backup controller (not software), and keep some
Type of lightning quick change system in case it crashes again.

Suggestions?
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Backup for software controller
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2018, 08:48:45 pm »

Hi Dave,

What's the complexity of your system, and how consistent is it? 

If your expectations aren't terribly high and your system is consistent from show to show there are a number of self-contained playback units that might work nicely in a pinch.  If you routinely vary your rig or have a need for complex control these may not work as well.  For what it's worth I operate the other way around - hardware console for primary control and a laptop/software for backup.  Both run the same software though so in theory the changeover should be seamless, however since I mostly busk I much prefer the console.  Good luck! 
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Dave Guilford

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Re: Backup for software controller
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2018, 11:32:15 pm »

When the software crashed, all the lights went down. Blackout in the middle of a song.  8-10 seconds before software reboots.  Feels like an hour. 

Iíd envision basically an A/B switch with dmx connectors , which allows me to hit that button to a preprogrammed filler type scene thatís just running all the time. 

Something to buy me 8-10 seconds.  Possible?  Any thing weird to consider when buying a switcher like that? Or ... ??
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Backup for software controller
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2018, 12:13:23 am »

There are ways to do failover-type setups, yes, but returning to my first questions if your rig isn't consistent and/or has complex control needs this becomes more difficult (expensive) to do.

What's the software and interface in question?  I'd address the problem at its source and figure out why your software keeps crashing.  Depending on the exact behavior of the interface during a crash you might be able to get away with something much less elaborate if all you need is a few seconds to reload a program.  I'd still try to figure out the software problem first though.
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Dave Guilford

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Re: Backup for software controller
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2018, 08:11:37 am »

Iím comfortable with what I have. Just asking if anyone has seen / knows about a device Iím asking for.

So letís just tackle that question.  My rig is of little importance. I know my addressing and programming, so Iím not worried about whatever you think youíre getting at. 

I donít mean to be rude, just like Iím sure you donít mean to be unhelpful.  Letís just stay on course. 

If anyone else has suggestions - please chime in.
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Backup for software controller
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2018, 08:47:29 am »

Iím comfortable with what I have. Just asking if anyone has seen / knows about a device Iím asking for.

So letís just tackle that question.  My rig is of little importance. I know my addressing and programming, so Iím not worried about whatever you think youíre getting at. 

I donít mean to be rude, just like Iím sure you donít mean to be unhelpful.  Letís just stay on course. 

If anyone else has suggestions - please chime in.
Dave, the easiest backup is another of what you already have - whether software or hardware.  A different style device won't have the same programming - either capabilities or the effort you have put in setting your gear up the way you want it.  Laptops are cheap.  I carry two.

The better way forward is making your existing system more resilient.  Software updates - ether the program itself or Windows - are the only trouble I've ever had with software-based lighting systems.  The solution - don't update until you have downtime to run your rig through it's paces with the new software to make sure it's reliable.  If that doesn't sound like something you want to do - then don't ever update.  As long as you keep your lighting PC off the internet, you'll never need the Windows Updates, and as long as the existing version of your lighting software does what you want, you'll never need software updates for that, either.

If you really want to do what you're suggesting, it is probably possible to do a passive DMX A/B switch with a DPDT switch in a box and a couple in XLRs and an out.  Will it be reliable?  No idea, but it could work.  If you have lots of money, active combiners exist (you can't just Y-together multiple controllers), however you need to make sure they work the way you want.  Some are HTP-based systems, meaning whichever input is higher for each channel wins, and that's not going to do what you need.  You could use a Raspberry Pi as a static snapshot controller for a backup.
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Don T. Williams

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Re: Backup for software controller
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2018, 10:45:52 am »

Jeff, It just makes you want to throw your hands up in the air and say "I give up" doesn't it!
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Dave Garoutte

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Re: Backup for software controller
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2018, 12:19:47 pm »

Maybe a redundant wireless dmx system.
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Lance Hallmark

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Re: Backup for software controller
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2018, 02:41:56 pm »

You could create some scenes on any hardware dmx controller, just make sure all of the fixture channels are identical in both system's programming. If your software went down, you should be able to move the dmx cable to the controller and run those scenes. That would still take a minute or two though. You could also wire up a few washes to a power strip and turn it on when needed, you would at least have stage lighting until the computer restarts.
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Scott Hofmann

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Re: Backup for software controller
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2018, 03:04:16 pm »

The Northlight DMX merger will do what you want pretty cheaply:
http://northlightdmx.com/dmx512merge.htm
From the description:
Backup mode passes universe A and blocks universe B until universe A signal is lost, then outputs B.
If DMX B is not available then the recorder scene is used for backup.
Record a "scene" from DMX B for backup mode.

So you don't actually have to have a second controller for DMX B if all you need is one backup scene to carry you through the rebooting process.
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Scott Hofmann
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