ETC Irideon AR50 DMX Control

Edrick

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So it seems these have a 5 pin connector, but I'm confused if they need a DMX Interpuator or if they speak DMX. The manual mentions something about one, however I'm not sure if that's in certian applications where you need a converter from ETCs Architectural protocol to DMX for these fixtures or if these fixtures just don't speak DMX.

Anyone familiar with these?
 

DavidNorth

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So it seems these have a 5 pin connector, but I'm confused if they need a DMX Interpuator or if they speak DMX. The manual mentions something about one, however I'm not sure if that's in certian applications where you need a converter from ETCs Architectural protocol to DMX for these fixtures or if these fixtures just don't speak DMX.

Anyone familiar with these?
They speak the Irideon protocol and need a DMXi [DMX Interpreter] to be able to run on DMX. Hopefully if you have the fixtures, you also have a DMXi or MCP to run them. I think we can blast code into a MCP to make it a DMXi.

David
 

Edrick

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Unfortunately we got these at a "Garage Sale" of equipment. So we just have fixtures, is it possible to still obtain the DMXi? is it even worth it cost wise?
 

DavidNorth

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Unfortunately we got these at a "Garage Sale" of equipment. So we just have fixtures, is it possible to still obtain the DMXi? is it even worth it cost wise?
Let me see if I have one and then perhaps we can work up a price that will interest you. These are getting hard to find.

David
 

macsound

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San Francisco, CA
Dredging up an old thread here but for good reason. I recently found a used AR50 and DMXi on eBay and was so excited to pick them up for what I thought was reasonable for a passtime "toy" since I have no intention on this thing being used in production, just a perfectly mini moving light that I've loved ever since I saw it around 1998 at Innoventions in Disneyland.

Anyway, I've connected DMX to the DMXi and wired the output into the AR50 but no go.
The DMX light on the DMXi unit flashes when DMX is present and doesn't when I unplug it, so I assume that part is ok.
The light itself seems brand new. No dust on the inside, no scuffs or scratches. It powers on when plugged in and does a self test. If I set the dials at 00 it runs through a self test, kind of a weird self test, but I don't know what its supposed to do, so can't tell if anything is wrong or not.

Anyone out there remember anything about these fixtures that could help?
I'm starting my troubleshooting with using different cabling. I just bought some XLR5 on amazon to try and save soldering time but wondering if they could be bad. Also I keep swapping the polarity of the DMX in and (irideon protocol?) RS485 out, because different documentation shows the + and - differently. Does polarity even matter with DMX? Never tried swapping it in real use.

Anyway, thanks!
 

RonHebbard

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Dredging up an old thread here but for good reason. I recently found a used AR50 and DMXi on eBay and was so excited to pick them up for what I thought was reasonable for a passtime "toy" since I have no intention on this thing being used in production, just a perfectly mini moving light that I've loved ever since I saw it around 1998 at Innoventions in Disneyland.

Anyway, I've connected DMX to the DMXi and wired the output into the AR50 but no go.
The DMX light on the DMXi unit flashes when DMX is present and doesn't when I unplug it, so I assume that part is ok.
The light itself seems brand new. No dust on the inside, no scuffs or scratches. It powers on when plugged in and does a self test. If I set the dials at 00 it runs through a self test, kind of a weird self test, but I don't know what its supposed to do, so can't tell if anything is wrong or not.

Anyone out there remember anything about these fixtures that could help?
I'm starting my troubleshooting with using different cabling. I just bought some XLR5 on amazon to try and save soldering time but wondering if they could be bad. Also I keep swapping the polarity of the DMX in and (irideon protocol?) RS485 out, because different documentation shows the + and - differently. Does polarity even matter with DMX? Never tried swapping it in real use.

Anyway, thanks!
Calling: @jfleenor
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

Malabaristo

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Wisconsin
Welcome to the club of people with weird old stuff for no good reason... They're definitely not very practical fixtures, but they're cute and they make good robot noises.

If you're looking at the manual, is it safe to assume that you have successfully set the address on the fixture (to #1) and picked the right mode in the DMXI? The polarity labels on the circuit board are correct. In this photo the DMX connector is on the bottom and fixtures 1-31 are the next header up with wires. Mine is set to "Standard16 8ch" for 16-bit pan/tilt, CMY, and either intensity or frost depending on the fixture. I don't remember the actual order of the parameters, but I think the profile exists in Eos. Let me know if there's anything else you want to see a comparison of.

16139591206226613278117161735406.jpg
 

macsound

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Jun 15, 2018
Location
San Francisco, CA
Welcome to the club of people with weird old stuff for no good reason... They're definitely not very practical fixtures, but they're cute and they make good robot noises.

If you're looking at the manual, is it safe to assume that you have successfully set the address on the fixture (to #1) and picked the right mode in the DMXI? The polarity labels on the circuit board are correct. In this photo the DMX connector is on the bottom and fixtures 1-31 are the next header up with wires. Mine is set to "Standard16 8ch" for 16-bit pan/tilt, CMY, and either intensity or frost depending on the fixture. I don't remember the actual order of the parameters, but I think the profile exists in Eos. Let me know if there's anything else you want to see a comparison of.

View attachment 21565
I'll start over with my wiring and make sure polarity is copesetic.
They're super cute and surprisingly bright for a 35w lamp and really nice color. Really wish something like it was still manufactured.
 

macsound

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Jun 15, 2018
Location
San Francisco, CA
Ok, so I've checked polarity and continuity all the way from the DMXi into the fixture and where I can trace the DMX wires (purple and white twisted) end up, on the arm's PCB. Still no DMX function.
Not sure if I've mentioned this before two baffling points.
1. The self test will run when the two dials are at 00, but as stated in the manual, once the test starts, I should be able to change one dial to make it do one particular self test only (like just cycle the cyan) and the other dial to change how fast that test runs. If I change either dial after the self test starts, the self test just finishes its current step and stops.
2. The self test switch on the DMXi doesn't trigger the self test to run on the fixture.

My conclusion is twofold, since I only have one DMXi and one Irideon fixture.
The DMXi is not properly spitting out Irideon protocol OR the Irideon fixture may have botched firmware.

The only way I can better figure this out is to figure out how to send straight RS-485 to the fixture (which is my understanding of what it actually speaks based on the manual and one youtube video I can't find anymore where a guy controls one of these lights with a RaspberryPi.

Does anyone know where I would start trying to figure out what RS 485 the light is looking for or how to create a sample bit of data to see if the light responds? Part of me would prefer this because I'm never going to use the light in a show, just for fun, and not needing the DMXi would be great. It's twice as big as the light itself.

My other thought is to find another one of these lights... Which there is one of on eBay currently...

Anyway, any thoughts at all would be delightful. Thanks!
 

Malabaristo

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Location
Wisconsin
There's one more step in the chain that could be a problem: bad DMX input on the DMXi. With the full chain intact, the "COM" LED on the fixture should be blinking rapidly. Unfortunately, breaking the chain either between fixture and DMXi or between DMXi and your DMX source gives the same result of a slow blink, so you can't really tell from that where the problem is. The transceiver chips used for DMX and Irideon protocol are the pretty standard 75176B, but they're soldered rather than socketed, and surface-mount to boot. An oscilloscope would be really helpful for identifying whether they're working... but I'm assuming if you had one you would have already mentioned that. :)

As a very rough approximation, you might be able to use your true RMS multimeter to sort of test.... it's the kind of thing where failing the test is a sign that it might be bad, but passing the test doesn't necessarily mean it's good. First, DMX input: you should get at least 1VAC between pin 1 of the DMX input transceiver (U4 on mine, but it might be labeled differently...closest one to the DMX in header) and ground. I used pin #1 on the input header for ground. The actual value may be higher depending on the DMX levels being sent from the console. I was getting about 1.1VAC with all channels at zero. Next, fixture output: Irideon refresh messages are sent much less frequently than DMX, so this clunky approach to checking for a signal isn't sensitive enough to detect them unless something is actively changing. So, you'll have to connect your meter across pins 1&2 or 1&3 of the fixture output header and then move a fader back and forth on your console. While the fader is moving, you should see it jump up to about 1VAC. When idle (or presumably when not working) it's more like 50mV. You'll see something similar at the fixture on pin #1 on the input transceiver (to ground). On mine that's U3 on the board inside the arm.

I couldn't remember whether the self-test works as described, so I retrieved one from my basement and plugged it in. The behavior of the address wheels does indeed match the manual, so it seems there might be something off with your fixture. There's one stupid sounding, but easy thing to try if you've already popped the cover off the arm: the processor is socketed and sometimes that type of socket can have some oxidation build up on the pins. Pulling it out and plugging it back in is enough to scrape away that oxidation. There is, of course, a proper tool for this, but some careful prying with a couple of small screwdrivers can work in a pinch.

Reverse-engineering the Irideon protocol is tricky because you need a working DMXi in order to inspect the output. If your DMXi is working, then you don't really need to make your own controller.... unless you want to just for fun. To do that you'll need something that listens to RS-485. A USB serial port plus an RS-485 to RS-232 adapter would work (although you probably could also find that all in one device). I don't have one handy, but at a glance on my oscilloscope it looks like you'll want to start with a baud rate of 38,400, 8bit, no parity, 1 start, and 1 stop bit. Use a serial port monitor program that lets you see the raw hex values and watch what happens as you move different parameters. I'm kind of assuming it's not terribly complicated, but it is a little different from DMX. Instead of a continuous repetition of all the values, it should be individual commands like, "Pan to X position at speed Y". If you're serious about making your own controller, I could probably be convinced to cobble something together that would let me capture some of this information for you.
 
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macsound

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Jun 15, 2018
Location
San Francisco, CA
There's one more step in the chain that could be a problem: bad DMX input on the DMXi. With the full chain intact, the "COM" LED on the fixture should be blinking rapidly. Unfortunately, breaking the chain either between fixture and DMXi or between DMXi and your DMX source gives the same result of a slow blink, so you can't really tell from that where the problem is. The transceiver chips used for DMX and Irideon protocol are the pretty standard 75176B, but they're soldered rather than socketed, and surface-mount to boot. An oscilloscope would be really helpful for identifying whether they're working... but I'm assuming if you had one you would have already mentioned that. :)

As a very rough approximation, you might be able to use your true RMS multimeter to sort of test.... it's the kind of thing where failing the test is a sign that it might be bad, but passing the test doesn't necessarily mean it's good. First, DMX input: you should get at least 1VAC between pin 1 of the DMX input transceiver (U4 on mine, but it might be labeled differently...closest one to the DMX in header) and ground. I used pin #1 on the input header for ground. The actual value may be higher depending on the DMX levels being sent from the console. I was getting about 1.1VAC with all channels at zero. Next, fixture output: Irideon refresh messages are sent much less frequently than DMX, so this clunky approach to checking for a signal isn't sensitive enough to detect them unless something is actively changing. So, you'll have to connect your meter across pins 1&2 or 1&3 of the fixture output header and then move a fader back and forth on your console. While the fader is moving, you should see it jump up to about 1VAC. When idle (or presumably when not working) it's more like 50mV. You'll see something similar at the fixture on pin #1 on the input transceiver (to ground). On mine that's U3 on the board inside the arm.

I couldn't remember whether the self-test works as described, so I retrieved one from my basement and plugged it in. The behavior of the address wheels does indeed match the manual, so it seems there might be something off with your fixture. There's one stupid sounding, but easy thing to try if you've already popped the cover off the arm: the processor is socketed and sometimes that type of socket can have some oxidation build up on the pins. Pulling it out and plugging it back in is enough to scrape away that oxidation. There is, of course, a proper tool for this, but some careful prying with a couple of small screwdrivers can work in a pinch.

Reverse-engineering the Irideon protocol is tricky because you need a working DMXi in order to inspect the output. If your DMXi is working, then you don't really need to make your own controller.... unless you want to just for fun. To do that you'll need something that listens to RS-485. A USB serial port plus an RS-485 to RS-232 adapter would work (although you probably could also find that all in one device). I don't have one handy, but at a glance on my oscilloscope it looks like you'll want to start with a baud rate of 38,400, 8bit, no parity, 1 start, and 1 stop bit. Use a serial port monitor program that lets you see the raw hex values and watch what happens as you move different parameters. I'm kind of assuming it's not terribly complicated, but it is a little different from DMX. Instead of a continuous repetition of all the values, it should be individual commands like, "Pan to X position at speed Y". If you're serious about making your own controller, I could probably be convinced to cobble something together that would let me capture some of this information for you.
Thanks for giving me so much information.

When you describe the way the lights flash on the DMXi, that does get me wondering. When DMX is connected, the light flash is completely different, faster, maybe in some grouping like 5 fast and then a pause. Not exactly sure.
But if I have DMX disconnected and the light connected, the lights on the DMXi and the AR50 don't change at all. When I turn on the self test from the DMXi, the DMXi's lights do the same sort of pattern as when DMX in is connected, but no change on the light.

I found another fixture and bought it, so I'll give that a try when it arrives, I'll also look at removing the chip and re-seating it. Deoxit you think or just remove and re-seat?

IMG_8045.JPG

Also, there's a youtube video and one post on CB by Jerry Musselman. He's created a purpose-built controller that outputs old Vari Lite protocol, so works for the AR50, VL5, VL6 etc. Very exciting stuff. I'm going to send him my DMXi in a little while so he can figure out the DMX conversion and include it in his microprocessor driven controller.
 
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Malabaristo

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Jul 11, 2008
Location
Wisconsin
Deoxit wouldn't hurt, but just re-seating it will have the desired effect (if that was actually the problem). The "COM" LED on the fixture should be doing the fast blink when DMX is present, so it does sound like your problem lies in the connection between the DMXi and the fixture. It could still be either the output of the DMXi or the input of the fixture that isn't working. Getting that other fixture should let you more confidently identify which end is bad.
 

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