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Author Topic: Backup for software controller  (Read 874 times)

Jeff Lelko

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Re: Backup for software controller
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2018, 03:27:43 pm »

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

Yes, but I still like to help as I can...

Dave, I didn't say that what you're using is bad.  There just isn't an easy answer to your question that will work in every given situation and being cryptic doesn't help. 

At the most basic level, something like the Pathway #1017 DMX/RDM Merge will do exactly what you want, but there are trade-offs to consider.  Given that it's only a merge unit, you'll need a second source of DMX to failover onto.  Ideally, this would be a second identical console taking cue commands from the primary console so that a failover would be completely transparent.  This works if you have complex control needs but comes at the cost of having a second complete console on hand and running. 

Alternatively, this unit (along with some of the others mentioned) have the option to hold their last command for a period of time during a failure, so you wouldn't necessarily need a second unit to fallback on.  That's all fine and good so long as you're okay with a static look during a failure, but if you have equipment with special needs that you don't want getting stuck "on" (fog machines, high-intensity strobes, etc.) this is not a truly acceptable solution.

Other units such as the Doug Fleenor PRE10-P, a few software dongles, and others have the ability to fallback on internal programming should their DMX (or USB) input fail. 

All of this works fine if you're running the same show every night, hence I was questioning what the consistency of your rig is.  If you're using a different set of fixtures for each show it becomes more difficult to do this due to the number of backup programs needed to cover all possible lighting combinations.  Using more than one universe also makes things more complicated. 

That said, you really need to sort out why your software is crashing in the first place.  While the options outlined above will work to varying degrees based on the needs of your system, they're not particularly cheap nor would I consider it a professional way to handle the problem that you're having.  TJ's advice is spot on - get everything working in a stable configuration and only update as absolutely necessary - and only when you have time to debug following an update.  I ran a PC-only console (MagicQ) for nearly 10 years without a single crash.  Good Luck!
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Don T. Williams

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Re: Backup for software controller
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2018, 03:59:51 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.

Scott, that's a great item.  Thanks for the resource.
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Backup for software controller
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2018, 04:25:04 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.
A dirty secret of these devices is that depending on how your controller dies, they may not detect that the primary controller is down.  All a DMX merger sees is whether they are still receiving DMX frames or not.  If the DMX timing is done by the hardware interface, it may continue refreshing the last DMX frame from buffer memory indefinitely even if the software is dead, which the merger will see as valid input.
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Backup for software controller
« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2018, 07:11:33 pm »

A dirty secret of these devices is that depending on how your controller dies, they may not detect that the primary controller is down.

Exactly, which is why I mentioned further up that the viability of this depends on the exact behavior of the interface during a failure.  The Pathway unit offers connections for an external switch to select between inputs, so while it may not behave as a true failsafe at least it can be activated manually in case of imminent failure.  Still not the way I'd vote to solve this problem, but knowing nothing else it's the best I can do! 
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James Feenstra

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Re: Backup for software controller
« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2018, 02:30:31 am »

Depending on the software platform youíre using, you may be able to implement a tracking backup solution. Many of the larger console provided implement this natively where you simply have additional consoles on the network that take over in the event of a failure on the primary desk
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Dave Guilford

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Re: Backup for software controller
« Reply #15 on: June 05, 2018, 07:56:06 am »

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.

Ya exactly.  This is what Iím after.  Now link me to a basic XLR source switcher, but for dmx (reversed ends from audio).

Iím not trying to buy another laptop and sub/dmx box.  Just the actual device thatíll let me quickly switch between dmx sources. 

You guys are making too big of a deal on this.
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Dave Guilford

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Re: Backup for software controller
« Reply #16 on: June 05, 2018, 07:58:22 am »

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

Giving me information that doesnít help?  He addressed a completely different set of questions - which I didnít ask - and now you guys are upset?

Itís enough to make mye toss my hands up and say ďI give up!Ē
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John Fruits

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Re: Backup for software controller
« Reply #17 on: June 05, 2018, 09:17:17 am »

Quick to the point answer
A/B Switch

Unasked for stuff, yep, that's what happens when you want free advice, you sometimes don't get the advice you want.  The people responding above know their stuff and in my opinion were trying to clarify exactly what you needed. 
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Scott Hofmann

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Re: Backup for software controller
« Reply #18 on: June 05, 2018, 09:34:40 am »

One could probably make your own DMX switch quite cheaply by getting a generic data switch like shown below and either making RJ45 to XLR adapters or better yet replacing the RJ45 jacks on the box with XLR's and doing a little rewiring. Even if the RJ45's are mounted to a pc board, looks like plenty of room to mount XLR's next to them.
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Scott Hofmann

TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Backup for software controller
« Reply #19 on: June 05, 2018, 09:58:15 am »

Giving me information that doesnít help?  He addressed a completely different set of questions - which I didnít ask - and now you guys are upset?

Itís enough to make mye toss my hands up and say ďI give up!Ē
You've gotten about 8 different good ideas from this thread.  Forgive me for the lack of sympathy if you are displeased at the method in which you received your free help.



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