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Thread: Computer Controlled Firing System - Bueller?

  1. #1
    Member Array Kevin13's Avatar
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    Default Computer Controlled Firing System - Bueller?

    I'm kicking around the idea of whether to build a wireless firing panel or a computer controlled firing system. Has anyone here built a computer controlled firing system and can shed some details regarding interface between the panel and the computer, etc. I've seen Continuity's system and it's great, but too "high dollar" for what I want. I was interested in Barefoot Pyro's, but it seems to have gone nowhere. Any info. is appreciated.

    - Kevin

  2. #2

    Default Re: Computer Controlled Firing System - Bueller?

    I've just started thinking about what it will take to do this, as well. Please make sure you post anything you learn - I'll do the same.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Computer Controlled Firing System - Bueller?

    check this thread im gonna start posting some more info on that system and another one that im planing to make
    "Fireworks is artwork that use the sky as a canvas"
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Computer Controlled Firing System - Bueller?

    nm ill just share the stuff here. from what i see midi is the best way to go, iv seen midi things that have 128 cues on them and im sure you can make them have more just look up on the web a midi decoder for an organ for around $250 give or take $100 depending on how many cues you want the price is abit much for me but if any of yall get one id be willing to help make a program to run it
    "Fireworks is artwork that use the sky as a canvas"
    [color=green]Nightflyer Fireworks
    Computer Firing systems page

  5. #5

    Default Re: Computer Controlled Firing System - Bueller?

    I am a little unclear as to how this type of system works. Do you just hook up a MIDI controller to your computer ? How does the signal translate to the firework?

    Sorry i just dont not have any knowlege of this system
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  6. #6

    Default Re: Computer Controlled Firing System - Bueller?

    I think that i have a better idea after reading these two sites;
    http://www.iguanalabs.com/midi.htm
    http://www.iguanalabs.com/midi.htm
    Celebration Fireworks, Inc. The best in 1.3g! And for you 1.4g guys try Joe @ spectacular fireworks
    Pennsylvania Pyrotechnic Artists
    BATF permitted

  7. #7

    Default Re: Computer Controlled Firing System - Bueller?

    yeah i dont know much about midi also but i found this so http://www.sound-research.net/midi_decoder.html
    it takes about alot of the work

    also from what i can tell big firework cos use midi also
    "Fireworks is artwork that use the sky as a canvas"
    [color=green]Nightflyer Fireworks
    Computer Firing systems page

  8. #8

    Default Re: Computer Controlled Firing System - Bueller?

    Quote Originally Posted by pikoko
    yeah i dont know much about midi also but i found this so http://www.sound-research.net/midi_decoder.html
    it takes about alot of the work

    also from what i can tell big firework cos use midi also
    Wow! Thats something I could work with.

    I do a bit of side scripting as part of my job, but I'm not what I'd call a programmer, but there are ton's of midi control programs out there which I could use or modify.

    A control board and a couple of relay boards, a few cables would give me 64 computer controlled queues within my abilities for $500 which is something I could shoot for by next july 4th!.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Computer Controlled Firing System - Bueller?

    Hmmmm...

    I looked at the specs on a 128 note controller.

    http://www.gemhut.com/hmeproducts.htm

    It's capable of generating 35volts/500Ma, is that enough to pop a homemade efuse without need of a relay controller?

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Computer Controlled Firing System - Bueller?

    I have not had a chance to read thru everything. You guys snuck this in under my radar!!! I have been researching this issue off and on for a few months and more aggressively since the 4th is over....

    This is not a simple I want to do it and it is cheap project thing. I am going to look into this midi thing as well, it may be a hair cheaper. But that is relative. Think about, the last thing you want to do is risk blowing a component on the midi or parrallel port board you just spent $$ on. The best plan is to put relays of some sort in the system and have the PC board control those. This will also make it very simple to put in the required deadman's switch as required by law. The switch can simply not allow power to the output side of the relays. That way the PC board can signal them and remain operational, but nothing will fire.

    The set-ups I was looking at were $500+ before case, wires, connectors, that is just for the electronics. Mind you that was to add on to my big system as a piggyback.

    All the parrallel board things I was able to find were limited to like 8-16 outputs, if you guys find something that can handle 50+ outputs let me know. There were also serial systems, but many new laptops and computers (mine included) seem to not have serial ports, so I did not pursue it further

    Remember, using a Zastrow style system you do not need an output for every cue!! My 504 cue system only needs 50 channels....

    I will go thru some of these ideas and let you all know what I find...
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Computer Controlled Firing System - Bueller?

    Quote Originally Posted by lamrith
    .... The best plan is to put relays of some sort in the system and have the PC board control those. This will also make it very simple to put in the required deadman's switch as required by law. The switch can simply not allow power to the output side of the relays. That way the PC board can signal them and remain operational, but nothing will fire.
    ...
    Thats the nice thing about the board I linked, controller power and output power are seperated, and you can have the output power shut off.

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    Default Re: Computer Controlled Firing System - Bueller?

    Yeah that board does look very nice and they have various numbers of channels also. Remember that 64 channel can build a BIG system if you use the slat switching concept joe zastrow outlines on this site.

    Does anyone here know more about Midi?? I have a few concerns/questions...

    1. how you get the signal from the PC to these units?? Is there a way to do USB? Parrallel and serial connectiong I think will eventually go away..

    2. How do you synch these midi files to music? If you have the music be the midi, then you will have cues firing all over the place? Or you could have winamp run music and another program grab timecodes from winamp to trigger the midi channel to fire...?

    3. Can more than one note/channel be active at a time? Meaning one channel for slat selection and others for cues?

    I think these may very well be the inexpensive way to go!! Anyone with Midi experience please speak up!!
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    Default Re: Computer Controlled Firing System - Bueller?

    Guys,

    I have been shooting my shows with MIDI for the past few years. I use a different approach which incorporates the theatrical lighting protocol DMX-512, but still references MIDI for timing information. (MTC)

    -MIDI can easily be generated by a PC over USB with a generic MIDI adapter... I have used M-Audio's Midiman with no issues. Be aware that the MIDI specification limits MIDI cable runs to 50', so you would want to keep that in mind when designing the system. (Of course they do make signal amplifiers and such if you really need 50+ feet)

    -Using MIDI to shoot cues in the way you guys are describing would make scripting shows a breeze. Basically, you would need to aquire software which will generate MIDI notes... ideally you would want to find software which would allow you to 'drop in' MIDI notes on a timeline which also contains your soundtrack (if it's a pyromusical).

    A great example of such software is ProTools by DigiDesign. In PT, you could display your soundtrack's waveform on the screen, and then drop in cues (MIDI notes) in relation to the peaks in the track.... just as professional scripting programs allow you to do.

    These notes that you 'drop in' would actually be placed in a MIDI Track which you would simply play back along with the audio track... this is very straighforward in PT or similar software.

    -Yes, you can drop in as many notes as you like for a particular time in the MIDI track.

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    Default Re: Computer Controlled Firing System - Bueller?

    Continuity,
    I was following your same track. The plan was to use DMX to a D/A convertor to trigger my relays. I was going to use one of the various DMX programs to take timecodes straight from winamp for triggering the channels to go to 100%. I think they use SMTE codes??? I had things priced at roughly $60 for a USB-DMX controller and then $260 for the D/A Convertor.

    This MIDI option seems a bit cheaper. I am HOPING that thru the Midi protocol I can actually make calls directly to the decoder to open a note and not have to rely on tones. The idea is to have media player built into my show scripting software to capture timecodes from the player into the application for scripting. Then at showtime play the file with the application and have the application send tones or direct note calls to the decoder using the MIDI interface..

    What do you think cont?? I could probably use tones too, but it would be nicer to program and have the application do the signals for me rather than have to "hand drop" the tones.. DO you think Midi would be better, DMX or a toss up??
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    Default Re: Computer Controlled Firing System - Bueller?

    Lamrith,

    That's right... I remember we spoke about your DMX system a few months ago. Everything should work fine, however I'm not sure if Winamp's times would have high enough resolution? I thought that Winamp mimiced a CD player in terms of time and would only read MM:SS... if that is the case, it might be a bit too inaccurate for pyro cueing.

    SMPTE timecode (or it's MIDI counterpart MIDI Time Code) has a much higher resolution of HH:MM:SS:FF... meaning that cues could be dropped in between seconds (00:05:34:15 for example, as opposed to 05:34 with CDs/Winamp). However, if Winamp will read 1/10's of seconds (HH:SS.S), that would probably be just fine too.

    It's hard to say which would be the better choice... DMX or MIDI...

    If the DMX controller you're using can do "Learn Timing" (roll the track and hit the spacebar when you want a cue)... I would say that would be just as valuable as dropping in notes based on the waveform with ProTools and the like. I suppose it comes down to personal preference and of course, cost. Does anyone have a number on these MIDI inferfaces (the driver as well as the relay board)?

    Either way, both systems would have the ability to automatically run the pyro cues and soundtrack in sync... it's really just a question of programming the timing data into the chose controller.

    For me, I am much faster programming lighting consoles using cuelists and 'learn timing' than working in ProTools with notes. I think I scripted this past year's show in about a half hour... Plus, I understand their operation and logic a bit more... so troubleshooting is easier.

    However, if someone isn't familiar with DMX or MIDI to begin with, I might be inclined to suggest MIDI only because of how commonplace capable MIDI software and hardware is... which could possibly mean cheaper as well. I'll have to look into just how much these sort of MIDI interfaces run...

  16. #16

    Default Re: Computer Controlled Firing System - Bueller?

    If the DMX controller you're using can do "Learn Timing" (roll the track and hit the spacebar when you want a cue)... I would say that would be just as valuable as dropping in notes based on the waveform with ProTools and the like. I suppose it comes down to personal preference and of course, cost. Does anyone have a number on these MIDI inferfaces (the driver as well as the relay board)?
    yeah here is a link to the decoder boards and relay boards for some
    here
    "Fireworks is artwork that use the sky as a canvas"
    [color=green]Nightflyer Fireworks
    Computer Firing systems page

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