# lighting on a computer

#### nez

##### Member
hey i was wonderin i have a laptop and is there away to make and run cues off of it if so wat do i need to get and wat do the computer specs have to be for the things to work

##### Well-Known Member
Do a search, this is a fairly popular topic here.

#### hogMA

##### Member
To run a show from a laptop, you usually need to have a dedicated laptop beacuse other programs can interfere and cause problems mid show. The new Hog III PC software is available for free from http://www.flyingpig.com but in order to actually run a show from it you must by the widget which converts DMX to USB and plugs into your computer

#### jfitzpat

##### Member
hogMA said:
To run a show from a laptop, you usually need to have a dedicated laptop beacuse other programs can interfere and cause problems mid show. The new Hog III PC software is available for free from http://www.flyingpig.com but in order to actually run a show from it you must by the widget which converts DMX to USB and plugs into your computer

It's not a bad idea to dedicate a laptop, since adware, etc. can bring a system to a crawl. However, rather or not it is an absolute necessity probably depends largely on what hardware and software you use. For example, I've cue'ed up and run quite a few shows on my every-day laptop (email, web surfing, office apps, and, of course, development tools).

Similiarly, I personally know a fair number of users who take the same laptop they run us on back to the hotel at night for checking email, hitting the web etc. and they don't seem to have any trouble running a big show on it the next day.

Granted, desktop OS's are not RTOS's, but DMX is not exactly a demanding real time activity. How sensitive something is to other applications depends a lot of arch. and implementation. Consider the first Windows iPod player version. Based on that one could argue that Windows can not run an MP3 player well because it will stutter when apps are switched, the explorer bar animates, and so on. But we know from WMP and WinAmp (as well as the more recent iPod versions) that this simply is not true. It actually takes quite an effort to get WinAmp to stutter on a relatively new machine, and that can easily be more data in 'reasonable time' than many DMX universes - and it still does not saturate most modern machines.

In fact, I've run an 9 universe show from my laptop (an older 1G Sony) and used Windows Media Player and a playlist for the audio track for most the rehearsals. Toggling back and forth, using Word for show notes, checking email via the Venue's wireless net, and even some coding and compiling on something new, all without missing a beat. Of course, for showtime I left lighting control front and center, but crashing or slowing down never occured to me as a legitimate worry during rehearsals. So, if you can't afford a turnkey machine (or in my case, only do shows occassionally), my advice would be:

2. Stay away from crappy device drivers (probably second only to insidious BHOs for making a Windows system unstable)
3. And, of course, use a well written, good quality, control product...

-jjf

#### hogMA

##### Member
I agree with all of that, it think it is necessary to run a dedicated laptop if you are regularly running shows from it as it reduces the risk of it crashing dramatically because all you have to worry about is Bill Gates and the software you are running. If your running a show every now and then it is not essential because then its a waste of money

#### nez

##### Member
now were do i get the widget which converts DMX to USB and plugs into my computer

#### soundlight

##### Well-Known Member
It depends on what program you're gonna use. Each program has a widget that it works with.

#### eamon

##### Member
hi

one or two choices spring to mind

there is lanbox
www.lanbox.com
This is mac orientated program ustilising a usb-dmx convertor. They do accommodate the PC user too. But the main program is mac original

www.freestyler(dmx?).com
not sure if that is the proper site but google will tell. not used it but have read good reports

http://www.enttec.com/
This another site. Have heard good reports but nothing personal

Theses should be enough for you to get working with it.

eamon

#### jfitzpat

##### Member
nez said:
now were do i get the widget which converts DMX to USB and plugs into my computer

Pick the software first. The better packages all use their own adapters. Partly as a 'key' of sorts, but largely because the low end adapters are really, really, crappy. If a search here does not turn up a lot of options to look at, you could check some other forums.

For example, www.blue-room.org.uk keeps a FAQ that now includes a bunch of PC based products. www.ukslc.org does reviews. The subject comes up a lot on prosoundweb's forums, and so on.

The reason I say pick software first is two fold. First, there is an every growing number of packages that are, believe it or not, even crappier than the low end dongles. If something is hard to install, hard to use, and crashes without a dongle, there is no reason to expect a seperate computer, dongle, or whatever to make things better. Second, even among the handful of products that I would trust to run a show, there are differences in approach. Some packages are easier for some users to understand, some features are better suited for certain types of shows, and etc.

Lanbox is probably a good example of this. It is quite a different approach from most higher end consoles. Like Jands Vista, users tend to either really like it or downright hate it. I work for a vendor (not LanBox or Jands), so my opinion is biased - but I do know that I'm not the only person who thinks that much (most?) of the free stuff is worth less than you pay for it (unless you like grief, chronic showtime failure, and frustration).

-jjf

Fight Leukemia

#### nez

##### Member
well 36 channels would give me 36 individual lights or say 74 lights double up so that is probly all i will need at the moment

#### soundman1024

##### Active Member
Do you intend to buy for now or later?

If you are buying for the future and cost isn't that much of an issue I would choose the widget for the HogIIIPC with hesitation. In addition to offering 512 channels on the widget one can add more widgets. Though you may not see the need for 100 channels now there may be potential for several in the future. Moving lights eat up channels faster than you would imagine.

#### jfitzpat

##### Member
nez said:
well 36 channels would give me 36 individual lights or say 74 lights double up so that is probly all i will need at the moment

FWIW, it is not just a matter of 'how many' but also 'how well'. The Enttec Open DMX dongle is a pretty poor design. For example, adapters like ours or a Hog Widget handle low level DMX framing and refresh directly - the Enttec Open DMX dongle not only does not handle this, it doesn't even put the operations in a device driver, but instead leaves it up to the application.

This has three immediate consequences, first it seriously limits overall system capacity. Second, it pretty much assures that some non conforming packets get sent. Many developers new to DMX who experiment with the Enttec stuff wrongly conclude that DMX is touchy with respect to speed, this is false - most small consoles send packets dramatically faster than the Enttec dongle with much greater reliably. The core problem is things like, no way to properly generate 'MAB', etc. Finally, it means that the interface is a lot more sluggish than a good console, or even a really cheap board.

-jjf

#### nez

##### Member
soundman1024 said:
Do you intend to buy for now or later?

If you are buying for the future and cost isn't that much of an issue I would choose the widget for the HogIIIPC with hesitation. In addition to offering 512 channels on the widget one can add more widgets. Though you may not see the need for 100 channels now there may be potential for several in the future. Moving lights eat up channels faster than you would imagine.

o believe me i know we have 3 of them at my school aud ahahah

#### nez

##### Member
ok see the thing is im only doin this right now to earn some money and further my self with lights i will not be getting any moving fixtures because the are to costly right now and i only have one full year before i move to colleage so it is not a big deal as well as i only have so much that i can spend for this as well as still being able to buy the lights so i will keep my eye out for better stuff but until it is lower price i will have to go with lower grade stuff

#### lightguy2k6

##### Member
our high school has a dedicated lighting desktop PC and we use Horizon. It works with no problem at all. It runs at about $2/channel. So 512 channels costs$1024 for the basic system.

#### soundlight

##### Well-Known Member
If you're just doing this for a little part-time deal, just get a cheap AMDJ board. It'll run you a little more, but you won't have to run your laptop around and you won't have to worry about the software not cooperating. Go to some place like www.bulbamerica.com and get a cheap DMX board and some Parcans...mebbe PAR46's. You can put eight of them on a 2.4kw standard circuit if you have the right bulbs. By 2.4kw standard circuit I mean a wall plug. But each wall plug you use has to be on a seperate circuit, or else you will overload the breakers.