Control System for misters and LX

GroundedSound

Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2019
Location
Hobart,Australia
Hi All,

First time poster here. Hope this is in the right place and of interest to some.

I am working on a large scale permanent art installation in Tasmania Australia. The artwork is a large metal structure with about 1200 misters on it split about 40 control zone (final design still tbc)
I had originally been looking at using a PLC to activate the solenoids controlling the misters. This system, though of solid industrial grade, was looking to be difficult to interface with given the flexibility the artist required for adapting and changing the program sequence of the misters.
We have recently added an LX element to the work and would really like to be able to control the misters (solenoids) and the lighting using the same system. The first thing that sprung to mind was DMX controlled relay switched which then output a voltage to the solenoids controlling the misters.
I read an old thread on here where a fella wanted to control a water cannon using a DMX controlled solenoid. This idea was met with fierce resistance by many on here as DMX's lack of error checking, or any other safety features made it unsuitable for that use.
My mist control system would in essence work the same way as this water cannon but without any inherent danger of a misfire causing injury to anyone as its only mist falling from many metres above the audience.

This sequence would run automatically every day of the year, foreseeably for ever, so reliability and longevity are essential.

Any thoughts on the most ideal control system for this applicatin would be much appreciated.

Thanks

Tim
 

chausman

Chase
Fight Leukemia
Joined
Jul 11, 2010
Location
Spokane, WA
Without any idea of the skills or budget available, I might suggest looking into Weigl hardware and VenueMagic software. The solenoids for the valves will determine what kind of IO you need to have available. VenueMagic allows for controlling and sequencing the solenoids in the same environment as the lighting, and can be set to run shows automatically, on a schedule.

Another alternative if you want to go with a PLC is to use Beckhoff IO and their DMX module, which would (with the right PLC program) allow for it to map DMX addresses to outputs. You could also build logic for some external signals for enabling outputs/testing. This would be more complicated, although more flexible.

Either way you do this (and for other people looking in the future), safety has to be considered at all times. Like the other thread brings up, DMX has no error checking and is not ever guaranteed to have the receiving device do what the controller is expecting. Just running outputs through a PLC relay also does not make them "safe". That's a whole other subject, and something that requires experts on site and a risk assessment to properly develop a plan and design.
 

DrewE

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2019
Location
Vermont
As chausman alluded to, DMX512 is entirely unsuitable for anything safety-critical: for any application where an error in receiving or interpreting the data would cause or contribute towards a dangerous situation. If, as it seems to me would often be the case, there is no danger from the misters failing to mist or misting too much or at the wrong times, then I can't see why your ideas of DMX-controlled relays would be unsuitable. However, the question of safety does always need to be considered and analyzed and not merely assumed.

(Along those lines, it would behoove one to take proper extra care in making sure the electrical systems, particularly those parts that are at line voltage, are protected from the water and vice-versa, regardless of what control system is used.)
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Hi All,

First time poster here. Hope this is in the right place and of interest to some.

I am working on a large scale permanent art installation in Tasmania Australia. The artwork is a large metal structure with about 1200 misters on it split about 40 control zone (final design still tbc)
I had originally been looking at using a PLC to activate the solenoids controlling the misters. This system, though of solid industrial grade, was looking to be difficult to interface with given the flexibility the artist required for adapting and changing the program sequence of the misters.
We have recently added an LX element to the work and would really like to be able to control the misters (solenoids) and the lighting using the same system. The first thing that sprung to mind was DMX controlled relay switched which then output a voltage to the solenoids controlling the misters.
I read an old thread on here where a fella wanted to control a water cannon using a DMX controlled solenoid. This idea was met with fierce resistance by many on here as DMX's lack of error checking, or any other safety features made it unsuitable for that use.
My mist control system would in essence work the same way as this water cannon but without any inherent danger of a misfire causing injury to anyone as its only mist falling from many metres above the audience.

This sequence would run automatically every day of the year, foreseeably for ever, so reliability and longevity are essential.

Any thoughts on the most ideal control system for this applicatin would be much appreciated.

Thanks

Tim
Calling @jfleenor
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

Amiers

Renting to Corporate One Fixture at a Time.
Joined
May 28, 2009
Location
Phoenix, Az
We had a Gilderfluke system at my old job that ran a water show. Their boxes can do lights sound and voltage. Definitely give them a call and describe what you are trying to achieve and they will tell you what you need.
 
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RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
We had a Gilderfluke system at my old job that ran a water show. Their boxes can do lights sound and voltage. Definitely give them a call and describe what you are trying to achieve and they will tell you what you need.
I'm sure technology has moved on. ~30 years ago, a company I was with removed a Gilderfluke control system from a 'dancing waters' fountain control system. The Government of Ontario's complaint was: Could not be programmed in real time; they could not play a new tune and program lights, sound, solenoid actuated pneumatic and water valves IN REAL TIME while listening to their newly selected track.

We postulated, variable speed pumps were essentially dimmers for water. Compressors, chiller / driers, and solenoid actuated pneumatic and water valves were basically Non-Dim's for their various purposes; the dimmers for the lights were, of course, "dimmers". An old PC retired from the Casino's offices ran @Rob 's lighting control software and all went swimmingly.

The fountain was in the Casino's 10 or 11 story lobby and ran 24 / 7 / 365; "Raucous" (noisy) performances 'til 2:00 a.m. then settling down to pleasant burbling with the subtle sounds of pneumatic frogs leaping from lily pads and rocks into the pool 'til day break.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 
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macsound

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 15, 2018
Location
San Francisco, CA
I'm sure technology has moved on. ~30 years ago, a company I was with removed a Gilderfluke control system from a 'dancing waters' fountain control system. The Government of Ontario's complaint was: Could not be programmed in real time; they could not play a new tune and program lights, sound, solenoid actuated pneumatic and water valves IN REAL TIME while listening to their newly selected track.

We postulated, variable speed pumps were essentially dimmers for water. Compressors, chiller / driers, and solenoid actuated pneumatic and water valves were basically Non-Dim's for their various purposes; the dimmers for the lights were, of course, "dimmers". An old PC retired from the Casino's offices ran @Rob 's lighting control software and all went swimmingly.

The fountain was in the Casino's 10 or 11 story lobby and ran 24 / 7 / 365; "Raucous" (noisy) performances 'til 2:00 a.m. then settling down to pleasant burbling with the subtle sounds of pneumatic frogs leaping from lillie pads and rocks into the pool 'til day break.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
Ron you have great stories and a great writing style. Particularly "subtle sounds of pneumatic frogs". That's literary gold!
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Ron you have great stories and a great writing style. Particularly "subtle sounds of pneumatic frogs". That's literary gold!
@macsound MMS (MacLean Media Systems) neither designed the fountain, nor took the contract for its upgrading. Westsun took the contract and basically sold all the new gear, including supplying and replacing / installing new, compact, EAW surround sound speakers to replace their water-logged predecessors. Darrell MacLean's MacLean Media Systems subcontracted to Westsun and removed / replaced / installed / finnessed the rack of programming and control electronics in a 3rd level basement directly beneath the fountain itself. Gregory Cross and myself handled the bulk of the installation and Westsun called in @Rob to answer any specific queries for either the casino's staff, or Greg and I.

You mentioned the "subtle sounds of pneumatic frogs". Many aspects of the fountain involved three 'horfin' big water pumps, a large / butch air compressor and TWO large pressure-rated tanks to store a sufficient volume of air so, in conjunction with the high-speed and volume 'screw style' compressor and its associated cooler / drier, a sufficient volume of compressed air was available to complete a 4 - 5 minute performance prior to exhausting the compressed air on hand. Every performance began with two fully pressurized tanks, within minutes the compressor and its cooler / drier would wind up and begin replenishing the tanks. By show's end, the compressor would run for a further ~5 minutes to fully pressurize the two tanks for the next performance.

Back to the "subtle sounds of pneumatic frogs"; the little pneumatic frogs were a fabulous example of an elegantly designed / engineered / installed / executed concept illustrating the old adage / truism: Simple is best.

The frogs operated 24 / 7 / 365, expended absolutely MINIMAL compressed air, yet kept the sound of the otherwise 'sleeping' fountain alive and happening all night long from 2:00 a.m. 'til 7:00 a.m.

Pneumatic frog detail (for those playing along at home)
Short lengths of copper or brass (rust resistant) pipe, maybe 1/2" I.D. x 2 or 3 inches long, set at varying off-vertical angles within the poured concrete bottom of the pool. The open upper ends of the tubes were situated barely below the pool's surface level when the pool was 'sleeping' and not making waves and ripples due to firing its water cannons.

24 / 7, a row of approximately a dozen and a half solenoid actuated pneumatic air air valves would open for ~1 second (Max.) and fire / launch a 'slug' of pool water, up in an arc (due to being canted off vertical) returning with a gentle plop / subtle splash within a few feet of a collection of lilly pads. By the time you heard the "frog", all that remained were a few circular ripples radiating outwards from wherever the frog landed and re-entered the water.

The 'frogs' consumed so little compressed air, the two tanks could power the frogs for a couple of hours before calling for the compressor and chiller / drier to replenish their air.

Simple; maintenance free, used EXTREMELY little air, and @Rob 's software ran a pseudo random chase leaving the 'frogs' to their idyllic overnight activities.
There you have it @macsound "subtle sounds of pneumatic frogs" in a 'nutshell' by a 'nut' in a retirement home. Hmmm I'm in Waterdown; Freudian or? Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard. Hey! @GreyWyvern How're we doing, is this one up to snuff??
 
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GroundedSound

Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2019
Location
Hobart,Australia
Hi All,

Many Thanks for all your replies and experitise on this control system.

I will definitely have a look into the Wiegl and Gliderfluke systems they sound very interesting.

This is a fairly large budget project so we have potential to invest in a pretty serious system. Using a system that works with standard protocols is very appealling as it keeps our options open as to what kind of source data we want to use to provide the on off messages to the system

We will ofcourse be assessing risk across all aspects of the project.

Thanks again for your input.

Cheers
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Hi All,

Many Thanks for all your replies and experitise on this control system.

I will definitely have a look into the Wiegl and Gliderfluke systems they sound very interesting.

This is a fairly large budget project so we have potential to invest in a pretty serious system. Using a system that works with standard protocols is very appealling as it keeps our options open as to what kind of source data we want to use to provide the on off messages to the system

We will ofcourse be assessing risk across all aspects of the project.

Thanks again for your input.

Cheers
@GroundedSound Definitely keep Alcorn McBride in mind as well.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

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