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Author Topic: Help Needed  (Read 5913 times)

Harris Epa

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Help Needed
« on: July 20, 2011, 07:32:58 pm »

Hi all,

I am a residential integrator and to be honest I am trying slowly to do some commercial work but it seems this is a whole different animal and it requires exteme knowledge and dedication. I hope slowly with the help of this forum to become better and start doing some commercial work.

This is for a project we are working on:

I need to control about 300 or more custom lighting fixtures for a commercial wide and long corridor. The catch is that each fixture should behave as an individual dimming circuit so that it can be integrated with the music system to allow the fixtures to "dance" along with the music in various dimming patterns. Another option other than the fixtures dancing to the music will be the fixtures following someone moving along the corridor which we can do using occupancy sensors.

I have Crestron lighting in the other rooms of the property but does not seem appropriate to use normal dimming lighting modules for the above room. The problems that I see with using normal resi Crestron lighting modules are the following:
1) the lighting modules are not designed to be constantly switching on/off and dimming for 10 or more hours every day
2) Each lighting fixture will only have one bulb and will consume less power than the required rating of the Crestron dimmer. I know we can add a booster on each circuit but still does not sound like the best solution.
3) Integration with the music system e.g 3-4 sources
4) Huge costs for 300+ individual dimming circuits

The custom lighting fixtures are supposed to be incandescent based but the designer can change to other bulb technologies if needed.

I am thinking that DMX is the solution here but I am not sure what is needed to achieve this result. I have done various resi DMX projects in the past controlled by different control systems but all were LED based and we used an interface to connect to a DMX-IN port on the LED driver. So here are more questions:
1) Can DMX control a normal incandescent light bulb? If yes, how? If not we can change the lighting fixtures to LEDbut how do we deal with the transformers and drivers and the adressing?
2) Do we need a DMX driver for each fixture?
3) How do I integrated this with music?
4) How do integrate this with the rest of the Crestron lighting and AV system ?

So the first problem is how to guide the designer to create 300 custom lighting fixtures that are DMX addressable. The second problem is how to make them dance to the music...

Thanks in advance for any help.
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James Feenstra

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Re: Help Needed
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2011, 09:55:34 pm »

1) Can DMX control a normal incandescent light bulb? If yes, how? If not we can change the lighting fixtures to LEDbut how do we deal with the transformers and drivers and the adressing?
yes, but it needs a dimmer...technically the dimmer is controlling the bulb though
Quote
2) Do we need a DMX driver for each fixture?
not if you're running off dimmers...you need a single dimmer with enough channels so each fixture can be on it's own channel
Quote
3) How do I integrated this with music?
some form of lighting control software, ie; grandma, hog, vista, avolites, light jockey, etc
Quote
4) How do integrate this with the rest of the Crestron lighting and AV system ?
although i don't know crestron overly well, i'd assume it has some kind of timecode or scene trigging abilities (+/- 12dv analog even), in which case you'd need a console that can accept that kind of input in order to recall scenes from whatever kind of lighting control you're using

Quote
So the first problem is how to guide the designer to create 300 custom lighting fixtures that are DMX addressable. The second problem is how to make them dance to the music...
you could go with custom addressed dimmers that do a single channel each, although it'd probably be a lot cheaper to get 300x1.2k dimmers (maybe even smaller dimmers, depending on the required wattage of the fixtures) and a small controller that does scene recall and is relatively easy to program...
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duane massey

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Re: Help Needed
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2011, 10:08:12 pm »

DMX is a control language that has become the entertainment industry. You would need 300 channels of dimmers controllable by DMX for incandescent control, or 300 fixtures that responded to DMX control. Controller could be any of several software-based systems or a simple stand-alone controller
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Duane Massey
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Houston, Texas

Todd Black

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Re: Help Needed
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2011, 10:25:52 pm »

Hi all,

I am a residential integrator and to be honest I am trying slowly to do some commercial work but it seems this is a whole different animal and it requires exteme knowledge and dedication. I hope slowly with the help of this forum to become better and start doing some commercial work.

This is for a project we are working on:

I need to control about 300 or more custom lighting fixtures for a commercial wide and long corridor. The catch is that each fixture should behave as an individual dimming circuit so that it can be integrated with the music system to allow the fixtures to "dance" along with the music in various dimming patterns. Another option other than the fixtures dancing to the music will be the fixtures following someone moving along the corridor which we can do using occupancy sensors.

I have Crestron lighting in the other rooms of the property but does not seem appropriate to use normal dimming lighting modules for the above room. The problems that I see with using normal resi Crestron lighting modules are the following:
1) the lighting modules are not designed to be constantly switching on/off and dimming for 10 or more hours every day
2) Each lighting fixture will only have one bulb and will consume less power than the required rating of the Crestron dimmer. I know we can add a booster on each circuit but still does not sound like the best solution.
3) Integration with the music system e.g 3-4 sources
4) Huge costs for 300+ individual dimming circuits

The custom lighting fixtures are supposed to be incandescent based but the designer can change to other bulb technologies if needed.

I am thinking that DMX is the solution here but I am not sure what is needed to achieve this result. I have done various resi DMX projects in the past controlled by different control systems but all were LED based and we used an interface to connect to a DMX-IN port on the LED driver. So here are more questions:
1) Can DMX control a normal incandescent light bulb? If yes, how? If not we can change the lighting fixtures to LEDbut how do we deal with the transformers and drivers and the adressing?
2) Do we need a DMX driver for each fixture?
3) How do I integrated this with music?
4) How do integrate this with the rest of the Crestron lighting and AV system ?

So the first problem is how to guide the designer to create 300 custom lighting fixtures that are DMX addressable. The second problem is how to make them dance to the music...

Thanks in advance for any help.

Is this in the USA? NEC (unless you are in one of the few places still on an older edition) now requires all luminaries (light fixtures) to be 'Listed' which means listed by UL or another NRTL. It could cost into five figures to get your custom fixtures listed.
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Harris Epa

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Re: Help Needed
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2011, 10:27:26 pm »

James and Duanne,

thank you for your answers. Each lighting fixture (channel) will only have one bulb (20-30W) each and the designer prefers this to be incadescent. With the Lutron and Crestron dimmers we usually use a dimming circuit (channel) costs about $150-200 to be dimmed. What is the average cost for a channel of a very good quality commercial dimmer?

The only reason I mentioned DMX was to avoid the cost of the dimmers but this means we have to go with LED fixtures and I am now not so sure the designer will accept that. If he does accept LEDs do you have any recommendation for a generic addressable LED driver we can use?

Regarding music integration can this happen automatically? i.e can I tell the software/controller that I have 2 long rows of 150 lighting channels and then it will automatically switch on-off/raise/lower individual channels based on the kind of music?
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Harris Epa

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Re: Help Needed
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2011, 10:31:20 pm »

Is this in the USA? NEC (unless you are in one of the few places still on an older edition) now requires all luminaries (light fixtures) to be 'Listed' which means listed by UL or another NRTL. It could cost into five figures to get your custom fixtures listed.

Todd, no we are in Europe and at the moment they allow this - at least in our country...
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duane massey

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Re: Help Needed
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2011, 10:44:28 pm »

You can find dmx-controlled dimmers for less than $100 per channel. Elation makes a 12x10a that MAP's for around $1k, Pulsar makes some stuff, and I'm sure there are others out there. There are any number of DMX-controlled LED fixtures that could be purchased for less than $100, but the actual performance/look of the fixture may not be appropriate.
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Duane Massey
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Houston, Texas

Ray Cerwinski

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Re: Help Needed
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2011, 11:26:04 pm »

http://www.dfd.com/dmx24dim.html

13 of those will give you 312 channels of DMX control over a small load.
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Ray Cerwinski

duane massey

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Re: Help Needed
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2011, 11:03:45 am »

http://www.dfd.com/dmx24dim.html

13 of those will give you 312 channels of DMX control over a small load.

Great find, Ray, I haven't visited their website in a while.
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Duane Massey
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Houston, Texas

Harris Epa

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Re: Help Needed
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2011, 05:54:36 am »

Thank you all so far, I have learned a lot about this the last days and the posts in this thread has help me a lot.

Some more questions:

1) Which brands are considered the "best" for commercial entertainment dimmers? I am looking for 230v wallmount ones that include breakers and at least 24 channels. Some brands I found from my research that look good are the following:
ETC, Zero88 and Strand.

2) In the above dimmers what does the DMX protocol commands allow to do to each channel? i.e how extensive is the protocol?

3) Any guidance for a generic DMX dimmable LED driver and compatible bulbs? This might be another option for the custom lighting fictures.

4) Regarding music integration it seems everybody uses the Light Jockey mentioned above or similar hardware from grandma, hog, vista, avolites again as mentioned above. The problem wil all these is you have to create the lighting effects manually and you have to time sync it with the music. In our case though we need something that will create the effects automatically i.e tell the software/controller that I have 2 long rows of 150 lighting channels and then it will automatically switch on-off/raise/lower individual channels based on the kind of music. Does something like this exist?
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Help Needed
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2011, 09:38:22 am »


2) In the above dimmers what does the DMX protocol commands allow to do to each channel? i.e how extensive is the protocol?
The DMX protocol can be simplified to two items - a "channel", and a value.  There are 512 DMX channels per "universe" - basically an organizational term describing the things that are plugged in together.

 A simple dimmer channel would be controlled by one DMX channel, and receive a numerical value on that DMX channel from the controller.  Multiple devices are usually addressed sequentially - if you have 2 12 channel DMX dimmers, the most common way to set up would be pack one on channels 1 - 12, and pack 2 on channels 13 - 24.

More complicated fixtures such as moving lights, multicolor LED fixtures, etc, would use more than one DMX channel and assign them for different functions.  For example, a fixture with pan and tilt capabilities may use the first DMX channel for intensity (dimming), the second for pan, the third for tilt, etc.  These DMX values would then be interpreted as a positional value for the light in this case, or other parameters such as zooming, iris, shutter, and others, again depending on the fixture's capabilities.

In other words, the DMX protocol is very simple - 512 channels each with an 8-bit value.  What you can do with this depends on the controller and the fixture.  Most dimmers are simple devices - one DMX channel per dimmer channel, and the DMX value correlates to dimmer brightness.

4) Regarding music integration it seems everybody uses the Light Jockey mentioned above or similar hardware from grandma, hog, vista, avolites again as mentioned above. The problem wil all these is you have to create the lighting effects manually and you have to time sync it with the music. In our case though we need something that will create the effects automatically i.e tell the software/controller that I have 2 long rows of 150 lighting channels and then it will automatically switch on-off/raise/lower individual channels based on the kind of music. Does something like this exist?
Someone may know of somthing that does exactly what you want, but what you are looking for isn't a common implementation.  Lighting usually breaks down into two categories - show lighting where fixtures are programmed by one of the controllers mentioned above to produce specific effects and controlled by a lighting designer for the whole show, and DJ type setups where the controller has sound activation and "macros" - pre-recorded chases and sequences that operate at least somewhat automatically. 

What you are looking to do - independent control of 150 lights with specific programming requirements but automatic operation seems to cross both disciplines.
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Randy Pence

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Re: Help Needed
« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2011, 06:22:31 pm »

Thank you all so far, I have learned a lot about this the last days and the posts in this thread has help me a lot.

Some more questions:

1) Which brands are considered the "best" for commercial entertainment dimmers? I am looking for 230v wallmount ones that include breakers and at least 24 channels. Some brands I found from my research that look good are the following:
ETC, Zero88 and Strand.

2) In the above dimmers what does the DMX protocol commands allow to do to each channel? i.e how extensive is the protocol?

3) Any guidance for a generic DMX dimmable LED driver and compatible bulbs? This might be another option for the custom lighting fictures.

4) Regarding music integration it seems everybody uses the Light Jockey mentioned above or similar hardware from grandma, hog, vista, avolites again as mentioned above. The problem wil all these is you have to create the lighting effects manually and you have to time sync it with the music. In our case though we need something that will create the effects automatically i.e tell the software/controller that I have 2 long rows of 150 lighting channels and then it will automatically switch on-off/raise/lower individual channels based on the kind of music. Does something like this exist?

i think the E:cue software would work for your control.  It can generate all sorts of sequences based on music impulses, has architectural integration options and can react to other external controls.  Get the multimedia (there are several dongle options and you need the one allowing the audio dsp and midi in to be unlocked) dongle, excite dmx output dongle if using incandescents, butler if needing a second universe (butler also has standalone operation availability, and ethernet connection).  I have no affiliation to the company, just used it at a former job site some years ago.
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Harris Epa

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Re: Help Needed
« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2011, 07:58:18 pm »

i think the E:cue software would work for your control.  It can generate all sorts of sequences based on music impulses, has architectural integration options and can react to other external controls.  Get the multimedia (there are several dongle options and you need the one allowing the audio dsp and midi in to be unlocked) dongle, excite dmx output dongle if using incandescents, butler if needing a second universe (butler also has standalone operation availability, and ethernet connection).  I have no affiliation to the company, just used it at a former job site some years ago.

Randy, thank you for the recommendation, I will surely give them a call on Monday. I had a brief look on their site and it seems the software is extremely powerful. Regarding my application though I only found this in the features: "Orchestrate sound-to-light using Audio DSP Create dynamic lighting sequences based on sound from music or other audio source." Maybe it can do what I want, I am not sure if it will do this automatically, I will research this more.

Basically we do not want to do any programming. We just want to tell the controller that we have 2 very long rows of lights and it should create various effects based on the beat of the music.

Any other similar products like the e:cue on the market? I am finding hard to believe that something simple does not exist that can do what I want - but maybe I think that this is easy, while it is in fact very complicated...
« Last Edit: July 22, 2011, 08:01:10 pm by Harris Epa »
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James Feenstra

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Re: Help Needed
« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2011, 02:57:56 am »

Basically we do not want to do any programming. We just want to tell the controller that we have 2 very long rows of lights and it should create various effects based on the beat of the music.
this very seldom works the way you want it too...

usually you'll end up with a bunch of lights flashing on and off randomly with no particular method

you'll have to do SOME programming no matter what, as if you don't all the lights will just flash on and off (all together, likely) really fast- probably not what you're looking for

the easiest way i could see to get a decent looking 'show' would be to program a variety of scenes, and have the scene changes run off midi or timecode generated from the playback. Assuming it'll be the same music on repeat, this wouldn't take more than about an hour to set up.
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duane massey

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Re: Help Needed
« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2011, 03:09:59 am »

There is a small market for sound-to-light applications, and even then only small simple displays. What you are looking for may not exist, but you can probably find a skilled programmer to use your platform of choice. Back in the 70's we would custom-build color organs with as many as 60 different channels that would each respond to a different frequency, but I haven't seen such a creature in decades.
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Duane Massey
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Harris Epa

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Re: Help Needed
« Reply #15 on: July 24, 2011, 03:46:49 pm »

you'll have to do SOME programming no matter what, as if you don't all the lights will just flash on and off (all together, likely) really fast- probably not what you're looking for

the easiest way i could see to get a decent looking 'show' would be to program a variety of scenes, and have the scene changes run off midi or timecode generated from the playback. Assuming it'll be the same music on repeat, this wouldn't take more than about an hour to set up.

James, I do not mind doing some programming but this has to be kind of generic and to apply to any music. Is this possible? What I mean is that at the beginning they might have 5-10 cds or 100 songs on repeat - player will probably be an ipod or a commercial mp3 player - later they might want to add 100 more cds or 100 more songs. Can we create a show that will adopt to any song/music?

By the way I found two more interesting options and competitos to e:cue:
http://www.madrix.com/en/home/products/madrix/input/audio-analysis.html

http://pro.ambx.com/index.html

The ambx is a very interesting controller and it even has audio inputs.


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James Feenstra

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Re: Help Needed
« Reply #16 on: July 24, 2011, 04:40:30 pm »

you'll have to do SOME programming no matter what, as if you don't all the lights will just flash on and off (all together, likely) really fast- probably not what you're looking for

the easiest way i could see to get a decent looking 'show' would be to program a variety of scenes, and have the scene changes run off midi or timecode generated from the playback. Assuming it'll be the same music on repeat, this wouldn't take more than about an hour to set up.

James, I do not mind doing some programming but this has to be kind of generic and to apply to any music. Is this possible? What I mean is that at the beginning they might have 5-10 cds or 100 songs on repeat - player will probably be an ipod or a commercial mp3 player - later they might want to add 100 more cds or 100 more songs. Can we create a show that will adopt to any song/music?

By the way I found two more interesting options and competitos to e:cue:
http://www.madrix.com/en/home/products/madrix/input/audio-analysis.html

http://pro.ambx.com/index.html

The ambx is a very interesting controller and it even has audio inputs.
short answer is no

long answer is also no, unless it's an incredibly generic show (ie. all on or off, or a couple groups of lights changing)

for 300 lights syncing up to any kind of music, you need a full time programmer doing a separate program for each song.

the *best* option would be to get like 20-30 songs, program stuff for those, and when they get bored of those songs get the programmer back in to do a new show for a new group of songs.

if they're changing the music every day they'll need to change the programming.

for this particular application you're looking at a lot of programming no matter what, there isn't an easy solution for it to work the way you're asking.
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Randy Pence

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Re: Help Needed
« Reply #17 on: July 24, 2011, 07:10:14 pm »

Randy, thank you for the recommendation, I will surely give them a call on Monday. I had a brief look on their site and it seems the software is extremely powerful. Regarding my application though I only found this in the features: "Orchestrate sound-to-light using Audio DSP Create dynamic lighting sequences based on sound from music or other audio source." Maybe it can do what I want, I am not sure if it will do this automatically, I will research this more.

Basically we do not want to do any programming. We just want to tell the controller that we have 2 very long rows of lights and it should create various effects based on the beat of the music.

Any other similar products like the e:cue on the market? I am finding hard to believe that something simple does not exist that can do what I want - but maybe I think that this is easy, while it is in fact very complicated...

Well, you would still have to do some programming, but it can be somewhat generic.  i used hte software to do lights in a dj oriented club.  A behringer bcr2000 was used for manual control of various led matrices.  i had knobsy dedicated to overall brightness of specific groups,, buttons for pages, and knobs for activating specific cue sequences.

In my programming, I used the audio dsp to create chases based on a specific frequency band.  ENough eq 12 energy content and a certain chase woudl occur if that cue list was active.  While performing, I would manually adjust threshold levels if i did not want to deactivate a certain cue list  but wanted even more energy content in its programmed band to set it off.

A downer was that teh range of each eq band was not musical.  16 bands, should have been good enough to dedicate bands to types of instruemtns, but eq1 went up to 300 hz or so (so a kick and bassline cannot be separated), and several bands covered a hihat.  The audio dsp has been reworked, but I have not had a chance to explore it yet.  The software can be downloaded for free, but a dongle is necessary to even simulate the dsp and i have not had the time to experiemnt when ive had a dongle available (im more fo a sound than light guy)

PC Dimmer and a couple other freeware software controllers might have similar audio dsp, but a deeper option would be to use a modular programming environment like pure data or vvvv or something from cycling 74 to custom build an audio dsp and send midi commands to lighting software to trigger dmx sequences.  VVVV can do some very clever routing and is somehow used for hte current Plastikman live show.  Check for various videos on you tube.  The video is synced to music clips, but the result is undoubtedly from a lot of work and the music is known in advance (altho sequenced live).  Follow actions in whichever software up to the task would keep monotony down with minimized programming, but you are looking at some programming time regardless.
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duane massey

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Re: Help Needed
« Reply #18 on: July 25, 2011, 02:48:07 am »

This thread had gotten me thinking (bad thing, I know). I'm going to do some digging to see if there might be a generic workable solution.
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Duane Massey
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Houston, Texas

Harris Epa

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Re: Help Needed
« Reply #19 on: July 25, 2011, 02:39:59 pm »

Again I would like to thank everybody above for the help and the suggestions.

I had a preliminary talk with ambx and they think the XC can do this job with minimum programming and it will "adapt" to any music. Maybe they might need to adjust some of the modes since they were mostly designed for colour changing effects but they say it can be done. I really like the audio inputs on the controller, this will make integration easier.

http://pro.ambx.com/index.html

Anybody has experience with ambx?

 
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duane massey

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Re: Help Needed
« Reply #20 on: July 25, 2011, 09:52:35 pm »

Interesting product, but it will take some serious programming or re-working to work with several hundred individual fixtures, unless the "random" effect is suitable for your application. Just guessing, as the website gives very little useful info, other than the fact that it seems designed to operate RGB, RGBW, etc fixtures.
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Duane Massey
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Houston, Texas
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