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!

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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/

Jan 02

Google Drive Documents: blurry equations solution

Hey!

Whenever I’m requested to do some University group work, I always try to use Google Drive as a collaboration platform. Documents make it easy to work together in real-time, while chatting with your colleagues, building your report together from scratch to a final version.

But wait, have you ever tried to use equations in your document? Oh they look beautiful when you are editing, but as soon as you export your document to PDF………. OH NO! They look blurry as hell!

But wait, I found a workaround. Instead of exporting to PDF using Google’s online tool, I found that if you use your browser’s print utility, you can get your document out of Google Drive in PDF format, with a very decent resolution.

Currently I use Google Chrome as primary browser, so all you have to do is hit File – Print  and chose to print as PDF.

I hope you find this tip helpful, and if you are not using Google Drive as a collaborative platform, you should really give it a try, and maybe you change your mind :)

Permanent link to this article: http://ricardo-dias.com/2013/01/02/google-drive-documents-blurry-equations-solution/

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