Aug 14

Presenting RD/MPCTools

Martin M-PC is a new free software that can be used in stage lighting productions, compatible with the ENTTEC USB-to-DMX interfaces.

Being able to use a free software that is compatible with my home-made USB-DMX interface is very appealing. The M-PC Graphical Interface is user-friendly, but developed to be easy to use with touch-screens! Because I don’t have one, it becomes very difficult to go live with just a keyboard and a mouse.

Although Martin M-PC can connect to any MIDI device, it doesn’t allow the user to assign the faders from the controller to bank’s faders. This is where I came across the idea of building an application to solve this issue: RD/MPCTools. Interfacing with the faders was possible through OSC (UDP commands sent by network devices). MPCTools makes use of this feature to receive MIDI commands from USB and translates them to OSC to send to M-PC.

I’m currently using M-PC with a BCF2000 flawlessly in several light shows.

It’s free do download if you want to try it for yourself!

Go to RD/MPCTools page

Permanent link to this article: http://ricardo-dias.com/2013/08/14/presenting-rdmpctools/

Jul 19

Repairing a Behringer BCF2000

BCF2000 is a good, cheap MIDI controller manufactured by Behringer. It can be used (and in fact is widely used) in live music industry, either by light technicians, DJs or musicians.

bcf2000

bcf2000_problems

So one day I got a request to do lighting in a live show and needed my BCF2000 that was idle for a couple of months. Surprisingly, I came across a strange issue: some buttons were triggering other ones, causing multiple MIDI commands to be sent to the computer when I pushed a single button.

After tearing it down, I searched for bad capacitors but with no luck. Everything inside looked cool. The next step was to search for schematics online. Again, no luck for me. There are no electronic schematics available for these desks.

With multimeter, oscilloscope and a solder iron, let’s do some reverse engineering on the unit!

Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://ricardo-dias.com/2013/07/19/repairing-a-behringer-bcf2000/

Mar 29

DMX512 Protocol at Low Level

dmx512header

DMX512 (acronym for Digital Multiplex 512) is a serial protocol widely used to control lighting equipment. It was created to define a common communication standard between all the lighting devices, regardless of the manufacturer.

Before robotic lighting appeared, lighting in shows was based on simple projectors, with color filters placed in front of them to create different environments. Each projector can be controlled with a single DMX channel – if you have 24 projectors, you only used 24 DMX channels of the 512 – each one defining de projector intensity.

However, a more “intelligent” fixture may require several channels (usually one for each parameter) – pan, tilt, color, gobo, etc… The 512 after the DMX is just the number of control channels used in one “universe” (in case you are guessing, yes, it is usual to drive multiple universes when you deal with hundreds or thousands of lighting fixtures). Usually, a live show or concert can live with a single universe. Each channel ranges from 0 to 255.

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Permanent link to this article: http://ricardo-dias.com/2013/03/29/dmx512-protocol-at-low-level/

Mar 04

RS bluePi give-away

Fresh news. If you are thinking of getting a RaspberryPi, try your luck before “wasting” your money. In order to celebrate Raspberry’s first anniversary, RS Components (one of the two main distributors) is giving away a limited edition of a thousand blue Raspberry Pis.

Here is everything you need to know: http://www.designspark.com/eng/blog/limited-edition-raspberry-pi

The competition ends on Thursday 28th March 2013, so hurry up!

Permanent link to this article: http://ricardo-dias.com/2013/03/04/rs-bluepi-give-away/

Feb 06

CAMBADA Robocup 2013 Qualification Materials

This year, RoboCup will be held in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Me and my colleagues at the CAMBADA team have already submitted the qualification materials. Here is our 1-minute video describing the robot’s abilities.

Check out the team website to learn more about the robots.

Permanent link to this article: http://ricardo-dias.com/2013/02/06/cambada-robocup-2013-qualification-materials/

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