Author Topic: Pixels, DLA gear and help!!!  (Read 3873 times)

Offline tractormike21

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Pixels, DLA gear and help!!!
« on: January 09, 2017, 08:18:53 PM »
Hello everyone,

------------------------------------------------------------Introduction!-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have been looking at this site for sometime but mostly due to the fact that I have been using the FPP for the last 2 years to run my show instead of LSP Schedule.  I absolutely love it by the way!  Thank you for making this a great little product.  NO issues in 2 years!  Can't say that for any other scheduler I have used!!!  :)

Anyway, some years ago I entered into this hobby using D-light controllers, then found DLA and started using expresses.  In my yard I still use and need about 15 Expresses which I assembled myself along with DLA Dongles, Etherdongles, Wireless, etc.  I also converted my D-light controllers to DMX.

I love all of it and it works fine.  Now to my problems.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Real Problem and help needed!!!---------------------------------------------
PIXELS!

About 4 years ago?  Maybe 3, memory is getting bad!  I purchased some smart hubs, SSC's, etc to start working with pixels.  First year I had over a 50% failure rate with the 1804 Rectangle pixels.  I put everything away and left it for a year.

Next year I built a Merry Christmas sign, and a candle off of the AusChristmas site.  Using the SSC's converted to V3 and set in test mode I had a much better time with my pixels and they worked.  I then tried to get rid of some flicker, etc.  Frustrated me and I put them away.

Last year I created some Pixel arches, 5 of them, tested and they seemed to work fine in test mode.   Did some testing in LSP, got frustrated and put them away!

Now this year!  I have the pixel gear out again and I am bound and determined to get something working.  I do not want to buy more gear until I have something working!!!

People on DLA have pointed out benefits to using the falcon software on the SSC's, and maybe even the Zeus8 and 16 i have.
Well, I wanted to start simple.  I used my pickit 3 to flash the falcon code to one of my SSC V3's.  I think it flashed, but since i couldn't find a checksum code on the site I am taking that on faith.


I installed the ssc, fired up the programmer, set it for the correct interface, selected etherdongle, starting address of 513, 47 notes, 1804 rectangle modules and hit program.

My ethernet port on the etherdongle flashed quickly and a message popped up asking me to only have 1 string plugged into the hub.  I only have one string plugged in.  I saw no flash of the pixels, no rainbow color, etc.

I also have the jumper off the SSC.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------ADVICE NEEDED----------------------------------------------------------------------

I am taking on some ambitious projects this year!  I want my RBG elements to be in the show next year and I want to switch to Xlights.  Both big undertakings considering the luck I have had with pixels.

Advice?  Am I doing something wrong?

My plan is to get my SSC's working.  Need them for some distance issues.  Once that is working, I might tackle my Zeus's.  I am also starting to look at Falcon hardware, but I want something working before I shell out more money.

I look forward to your responses!

MIke.



Offline tbone321

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Re: Pixels, DLA gear and help!!!
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2017, 08:54:50 PM »
You can have MPLAB confirm the write by comparing the input file to what is on the PIC.  That will confirm the write but not confirm if the file itself is not corrupt.  Make sure that the HUB is powered up and that both jumpers are on universe 1.  You can also put the jumper on the SCC which with the Falcon firmware will put the SSC in test mode.  Also make sure that you have the universes properly defined in whatever you are using to test the nodes with. 

Offline tractormike21

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Re: Pixels, DLA gear and help!!!
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2017, 06:33:26 PM »
I am bumping this thread hoping for some more feedback.

Offline taybrynn

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Re: Pixels, DLA gear and help!!!
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2017, 05:12:50 PM »
Make sure your using the correct Falcon firmware ... there is a version for the V3 and another for the V4.


I never personally had any luck flashing with the etherdongle, but I believe you need to have the hub set to Pixelnet Universe #1.


This year I did have luck using the falcon firmware, but I used the DLA DMX DOngle which was flashed with the Pixelnet Firmware, and then selected 'Serial'
option instead of etherdongle.


Did you check the 'Program all SSC on hub' checkbox?   I believe that the very first time you program a SSC --- that this needs to be checked, and still only connect one SSC at a time
to the hub.   I did that and it worked.   


Apparently, after the initial programming, you can reprogram an SSC without that 'program all ssc on hub' checkbox being checked ... and then it uses the old start channel # for the SSC to reprogram the new starting channel # with. 

Offline tractormike21

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Re: Pixels, DLA gear and help!!!
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2017, 08:40:31 AM »
thanks for the reply.

I have seen threads that say the etherdongle works better, but you have better luck with USB.  I will try this later.  I will also check the settings on the programmer too.

I am still curious on the programming on the PICS.  Does anyone have the jumper settings that are correct for the J1sys boards?

MIke.


Offline jnealand

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Re: Pixels, DLA gear and help!!!
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2017, 08:42:54 AM »
There may be a newer file, but this is the one I use.
Jim Nealand
Kennesaw, GA all Falcon controllers, all 12v Master Remote Multisync with Pi and BBB P10 and P5

Offline taybrynn

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Re: Pixels, DLA gear and help!!!
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2017, 02:23:47 PM »
I should note, I used a pickit2 and v2.61 software for the falcon fw flash.   It complains about the file, but the flash still writes and verifies fine, didn't have a checksum, so just went for it and it worked.


I've been wanting to try this on a Zeus v1 and Zeus v2 next, just to see if it works.  I've heard it does.

Offline tractormike21

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Re: Pixels, DLA gear and help!!!
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2017, 03:28:10 PM »
Jim,

That document is very handy, thank you!

Mike

Offline tractormike21

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Re: Pixels, DLA gear and help!!!
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2017, 09:40:46 PM »
I have a little update!

Tonight was the most successful night I have had with RGB Pixels in a long time!

Thanks to Jim providing the jumpers for the J1Sys boards, I actually set everything correctly and was able to install the SSC V 1 2 3 V1.0.11.hex file to 5 different SSC's that I had converted to V3's.
By the way, on PIC3 software i was getting a consistent checksum of 8423 on every PIC.  Not sure if that means anything, but I thought I would share.  I also had not problems with the programmer and the file.

Next it was on to the SSC programming tool.  Worked absolutely fine thru my ehterdongle and DLA SmartHub out to my SSC's

The other thing was since that was running properly, for the first time every I was able to get output from my Xlights program!!!! 

All in all a great night. 

Oh, did I mention.  My Merry sign doesn't show any flicker on all white 100% now.  That was a bonus tonight.

I will keep running thru my SSC's and put the Falcon firmware on them.  I have had more success tonight with the SSC's then ever before!

I did have 2 that don't seem to work and will have to dig into them later, but.....

I am a happy camper.

Thanks for all the help.

I might actually get my RGB elements in the yard next year and get converted from LSP to Xlights yet!

Mike.


Offline taybrynn

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Re: Pixels, DLA gear and help!!!
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2017, 07:22:03 AM »
Thats great!   THanks for sharing what worked.   I'm glad the etherdongle works.

Quote
Note: I suspect the reason why my etherdongle didn't work was
that it was flashed with etherdongle firmware for universes 64-96
and it probably would have worked using the ED firmware for universes 1-32

Offline zwiller

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Re: Pixels, DLA gear and help!!!
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2017, 08:09:25 AM »
You beat me last night...  But congrats! 

Some thoughts.  If you have a bad run (we all do) and things are not working like you expect, get back to basics.  Make sure your hub fuses are all good.  Dedicate a working SSC to test mode.  Label it, connect lights, and check all the hub ports.  From here, anything that doesn't work, use test mode on it.  I don't recall if Falcon test mode jumper works on V3 (I thought it does) since all my spare V3 are not working but that leads me to the next point.  The SSC is like $10, if it ain't working, throw it in a box and move on.  I rack it up to cost of doing business and remind myself how much I saved over LOR.  ETD was always more stable for me for some reason. 

PS flickering all white is classic voltage drop/low power.  I bet you're using a shorter cable now, right? 
Sam
 Last year's video: https://vimeo.com/150560653

Offline tractormike21

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Re: Pixels, DLA gear and help!!!
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2017, 10:04:23 AM »
thanks for the feedback guys!

The V3's from what I can tell do not do the test mode for Falcon Firmware.  I do have one flashed with DLA code that does let me test and it seems to work fine.  I bring up the strings and connect them to that SSC for testing the nodes.

As far as setbacks, I would work on them to the point of frustration and then put them away until I could work on them rationally:)

This year though, I really wanted my RGB elements to go in the display.  I didn't succeed, but I decided to stick it out and work thru items.

I new that my Smarthub was putting out power and DMX, so I assumed PIxelnet was being sent out the ports.  I even had a 4 port dumb hub that power would go out and I assumed Pixelnet would also.  That was on my bench Smarthub.

I didn't mention that when I moved to FPP I connected it to an etherdongle to a smarthub and then pulled DMX off of it for my show.  It has been working fine in that mode for 2 years.

My problems have always come down to the SSC's.  I have a large yard where they would be very handy to put some smaller elements in the yard at disperse locations.  Arches, Candles, Candy canes.  I just could not get the SSC's to work properly and I really was having trouble figuring out if it was the SSC or the pixels at first.  Then I purchased new pixels and other than being in a different color order, my problem with those seemed to go away.

I spent several days on the DLA site going thru posts and asking questions.  The common thread was to flash the SSC's with Falcon Firmware.  Everyone raved about it.

Then I started asking questons here.  At first, responses were slow, but it was right at Christmas time so I was not surprised.  As soon as I bumped the thread after New Years, I started getting responses.

As I started to flash PIC's I kept getting errors.  I had the wrong jumper settings on the J1Sys boards.  This thread got me the answers I needed!  Thanks!

Then I moved on to doing some work.  So far i have 5 working properly and 2 that were not.  Not bad!

Now I am finding one of my elements has some flaky pixels that need replaced, but I can work on that.

Having SSC's that are actually working consistently and properly is a huge sigh of relief.

From a flicker perspective, I originally tested with a shorter cable, but now have the original one that I was working with and I do not see any flicker except occasionally and that is at 100% brightness on white for a period of time.  I can live with that.

Now I have a base to work from and can make sure all my elements are working and programmed.   Once that is done, I have some major re-numbering and changes to my setup for next year that is going to be some work on the sequencing side.  Oh, and although LSP has worked very well for me, I am tired of waiting for the rewrite so I am going to try out Xlights.  The RGB stuff makes sense to me, but I have quite a few Express controllers that I need to figure out how to add!

Should be fun!

You will see more posts from me here!

Thank you all!

Mike.


Offline zwiller

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Re: Pixels, DLA gear and help!!!
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2017, 01:21:24 PM »
SSC's are a finicky item IMO.  I have lost about 2 dozen in the past few years and replaced pics (most common issue I had) on another 2 dozen as well.  I do not remember who gave me the idea but if forced to guess I'd say Steve Gase but he said SSC do not belong anyway near the ground and I agree.  As soon as I got rid of them there I was solid.  Anything near ground gets a F16 or Zeus port.  Best move I ever made.  In fact, I plan to remove the last of the SSCs from the house now that distance to first node is basically a non issue.  Pigtails are showing wear and I need to change channels around a bit. 

I use XL often as a tester but I can't seem to get a good start on sequencing with it.  I will never stop using LSP but would like to learn XL so I can share some sequences. 

Not sure if you have floods, but twooly's aethers are still in the for sale area as no one here seems to know what they are and are perfect fit for someone running DLA. 

Offline twooly

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Re: Pixels, DLA gear and help!!!
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2017, 01:36:27 PM »

Not sure if you have floods, but twooly's aethers are still in the for sale area as no one here seems to know what they are and are perfect fit for someone running DLA.

Thanks Sam.  Yeah its a shame my house really isn't made for floods like your house.  Probably best to let someone have fun with them vs just sitting here.

Offline taybrynn

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Re: Pixels, DLA gear and help!!!
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2017, 02:23:11 PM »
I haven't lost a single SSC yet ... I did have corrosion on the cat5 connection once, but that was it.   I just HATED soldering those tiny boards and the wires onto them.

 

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