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Control/Dimming Need Help! Control software for unknown board (pics inside)

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by JackGeorge, May 5, 2009.

  1. JackGeorge

    JackGeorge Member

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    Hello, and thank for anyone that can help on this problem.

    I have a client that recently switched to my company to provide lighting solutions for there club. They have an old stage with a set of controller cards inside. I thought they were DMX due to the 3 pin xlr connections, but i tried all my dmx hardware on them with no luck. The the client brought me there old computer w/ a rs-232 to 3pin xlr plug. The computer had died some months back (before i was a vendor.) It was some type of software that handled dance floor controlling. I tried to salvage the hard drive in it with minimal luck. the most i could come up with is the old software package was named "MSI" or "ONEALSO".

    Pics of the controller boards.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Sony

    Sony Active Member

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    3 Pin is actually not always DMX, in fact...true DMX should always have a 5-Pin XLR connector. Only the cheap DMX units come with 3 pin connectors because they are cheaper.

    The only thing that I know of that uses 3 Pin XLR for lighting is NSI/Leviton's MicroPlex a.k.a. MPX, but I am sure there are others. Someone else may know more!
     
  3. NickJones

    NickJones Active Member

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    Looks safe.... This could be any type of el'cheapo Chineese brand, your chances of finding any info on this is minimal, but then again, you have CB's 5000 members to help. As for the software, MSI is a large hardware manufacturer, try sticking a boot CD like BartPE into the computer, that way it will boot, then trawling through program files to find the software.
    If you need more help with this PM me.
    Nick
     
  4. len

    len Well-Known Member

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    If I were you, I'd trash the whole thing.

    1. Whatever it is there's probably no support for it.
    2. who knows how long before it goes down again, and then it becomes YOUR problem.
    3. Even if it works, anything you replace it with will be so much more advanced than whatever that is.

    You can get a cheap pc and any one of the software based lighting controllers for far less than the aggravation you'll collect working on that thing.
     
  5. NickJones

    NickJones Active Member

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    True, but I can restore files in about 10 mins, and when you first takeover a venue, they wouldn't be to happy if you have to go out and spend heaps of money strait away.
    Getting back files is not hard.
    Nick
     
  6. church

    church Active Member

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    The boards look like a self assembled kit, the artwork used for the boards is not particularly good. However more importantly the lamps look to be wired directly into the pcb through the screw clamp connectors. If this is the case and this is handling mains voltage you are dealing with an unapproved installation which should be disconneceted. The electrical code in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. (Not sure which comuntry you are in) all require the use of approved enclosures (or enclosures manufactured from a minimum thickness of steel with no holes larger than a specified diameter) for use as housings of control circuits, switches etc. This is mounted on a wooden panel with all the circuits exposed.
     
  7. Chris15

    Chris15 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Um, I would guess it's running RS232 onto the XLR.
    Boards look custom.
    Depending on the client, would the msi they refer to be a .msi installer?
    I doubt those boards are carrying mains, there are no visible triacs etc that would actually carry mains volts and the cabling is too skimpy.

    Is there a power supply board not in shot? Any chance of higher res photos?

    What do these controllers connect to?

    Sorry not many answers and more questions...
     
  8. epimetheus

    epimetheus Well-Known Member

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    I agree, probably RS232 over the XLR connection. The first board there with the XLR connectors looks like it is the controller board with one or both of those large IC's being microcontrollers. The second board, with the cabling attached, looks like it has PWM chips that are being controlled by the first board. I bet the lights are DC. If you could get some higher res photos maybe we could identify the chips. Also, does the floor actually power up and light up? If it does, could you measure the voltage of one of the lights?
     
  9. JackGeorge

    JackGeorge Member

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    OK, Some answers to questions you all had.

    A: Computer hard drive is shot, i do a lot of computer work and could only salvage a few files. I did a low level. It was running win 95'.

    A: I wanted to put a new system in (scrapping this one) but they haven't moved on any of the quotes i gave them (go figure) I was going to put in a LED system (doesn't need to be bright)

    A: The bulbs are 110v (Location New Mexico, USA) There are small boards in the center of each cluster that takes a voltage from the main board (in pictures) and switches over the 110v. Didn't look like a triac but of course i didn't get pics of that.

    A: HIGH RES pictures. 10mp 2.5mb/each
    Picture 1
    Picture 2
    Picture 3



    Pinout, if that helps:
    RS-232 --> XLR 3pin
    pin 3 --> pin 2
    pin 5 --> pin 1+3



    Thanks for all that have chimed in!
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2009
  10. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    Sure looks like custom boards to me, from a prototyping place. May be RS-232, may be something completely different. Most certainly not any standard lighting protocol.

    Now, what I would do if I were building that old system, is put the power devices (triacs, SCRs, whatever) in the backboxes and just run control wires to them from the PWM (if it really is dimming) or whatever the second board is. It could be latches, shift registers, whatever.

    Also of interest, there are a lot of empty sockets on there.
     
  11. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Barco/High End Systems would probably disagree with you.
     
  12. lighthouse

    lighthouse Member

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    Reminds me of some of the "Christmas Light Sequencer" homebrew projects I've seen. You'd need to reverse-engineer the code in the eeprom to figure out what commands to send it if you don't have the original software.
     
  13. epimetheus

    epimetheus Well-Known Member

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    They're latches (74LS374). The left chip on board with the XLR connectors is an EPROM chip and the right chip is the micro controller. I think the folks above are right about this being a custom job. Those PCB's look like crap. It sounds like the power devices are in each cell and they're driven by low voltage signals from the controller. I'm not sure what you could do to get this working. The controller is a Rockwell R6501AG and the Memory is AMD AM2764-2DC. I wouldn't even know where to start trying to figure out how to get this thing working.
     
  14. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    LS374 - 8x D-type tri-state latch. I had it in my mind that a 374 was a bus driver, but no, it's a latch. That means that definitely what's coming out on those multi-conductor cables is TTL control for driving SCRs or relays or something.

    Pretty certain there are relays or SCRs in those backboxes.

    Good chance the interface is RS-232. I can think of ways to do it at a lower level, but with UARTs and microcontrollers as readily available as they are, I don't see why you'd want to. Unless you're a geek like me who does it for the challenge and because you have (most of) the parts already.
     
  15. fredthe

    fredthe Active Member

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    The microcontroller does have a built-in UART, so yes, it's probably a serial (RS-232) interface.

    You might connect a PC up to the serial line,fire up your favorite terminal emmulator, and try throwing various characters at the controller, at various baud rates.... and see if anything blinks. It may be a very simple protocol, with direct bit-mapping of the lights to the characters sent, in which case you might be able to salvage something.

    If throwing random data doesn't get you anywhere, you're probably best off installing a new system... it'll be cheaper than paying someone to reverse-engineer the microcontroller code.

    Edit: I took a closer look at the controller board... it looks like it was originally designed to take some type of differential serial signal (such as DMX) but was modified to take something like RS-232. So, even if you could figure out where the design came from (like out of a magazine somewhere) it's been modified.... adding to the argument that if you can't get a response to random serial characters, start from scratch.

    -Fred
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2009
  16. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    My first guess for the interface syntax would be one of these two:
    - a square number and a value, where the value is a 3-bit color.
    - a lamp address and a value, where the value is boolean.

    In any event, an address-and-data kind of asynchronous setup, as opposed to a synchronous blocked setup like DMX.
     
  17. n1ist

    n1ist Well-Known Member

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    It looks like the board originally took RS485 - the 75176 is a differential to single-ended converter. They are feeding it with RS232 TX on one side and ground on the other to avoid needing a '485 converter on the PC. It has been modified - I see one trace at the 75176 cut and tied low, maybe the enable on the diff RX. The empty sockets on the board in picture 2 were drivers for the barrier strips on that board, maybe something like an LS04 hex inverter? From this board, a ribbon cable carries either GPIO or a data/address bus over to the third picture. Thiis board is pretty straight forward; the '374 octal latches hang on a common bus with a '138 acting as an address decoder. Oh, and a very overheated voltage regulator.

    While you *could* pop the EEPROM and disassemble the code, I would rather recommend scrapping it all and starting over. The idea of using one of the Christmas light boards is not too bad an idea (LOR or the new Renard SS boards would work well and most of the new stuff there runs on DMX). Most are limited on their channel output current capacity to 4A or so, but it looks like you just have one 10W bulb per channel so that's not a problem.
    /mike
     
  18. JackGeorge

    JackGeorge Member

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    Ok, have been going through all the files i recovered. The only thing i can find that states a app name is "T1000 V3.0 6/11/94"

    and got this app to work (not the full but it's something)

    [​IMG]
    and
    [​IMG]


    Does that help?
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2009
  19. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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  20. JackGeorge

    JackGeorge Member

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