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Thread: Problems with Multiple USB's in Vixen 2.1x - Comments/Thoughts ??

  1. #1
    Rudolph member Tory Street Lights's Avatar
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    Problems with Multiple USB's in Vixen 2.1x - Comments/Thoughts ??

    Would any of the "brains trust" care to comment on my observations with two USB - serial dongles in use creating data stream problems in Vixen 2.1x. ??

    First the setup, 3 Gig Dell P4, 3 Gig's of Ram, Win XP Pro Service Pack 3, The machine runs at about 2 % - 7% processor activity on task manager and has a 4 Port PCI serial card installed initially with :-

    2 x serial ports with each with Renard chains on them at 115200 baud.

    1 x serial port for Ren servo's at 115200 baud

    1 x serial port with the LedTrix @ it's own data rate

    USB to RS485 Dongle for X-Bee radio Tx at 57600 baud (Prolific Driver)

    USB to Kamtronic DMX Dongle/Adaptor driving a Lazer Projector (FDTI Driver)

    This setup appeared to work fine but I was observing strange behaviour from the Lazer Projector, the motion programmed in was very jerky, and stop/start and not as smooth as I had observered when programming it. I pulled the Lazer Projector down from it's perch about 12 feet off the ground to check it and it was fine, so re-installed it!

    My brain kept churning while out on the street talking to folk, and I figure that the problem could be the computer running the system couldn't keep up driving the two USB's in use, so I re-patched the system and placed the Ren-Servo's on the end of one of the Renard chains, and placed the X-Bee radio on the one the Ren-Servo's had been on and now the system is "almost" perfect, only very minimal "jerky-ness"

    I had observed that the Prolific Dongle had problems keeping up with the LedTrix earlier on in the display run, so I had swapped it with the X-Bee port, which appeared to cure that problem, so maybe the prolific software isn't up to the job!!

    As I am not up with then play of the vagaries of the inner workings of the PC system any thoughts or observations are very welcome, as this problem could affect others in their setups :-)

    Terry
    Last edited by Tory Street Lights; 12-21-2016 at 01:40 AM.
    2018 - 5,000 Pixels (15,000 Channels) - 22 ESPixelstick Radios for Pixel Data, 800 Channels of Renard for AC Strings - 45,000 lights in Total
    2017 - 2,575 Pixels added (2 x Props) Total 53,575 Lights, 8,700 Channels - 14 x ESPixelstick Radios for Wireless Pixel Data transfer, Renards Serial.
    2016 - 15+ Ren 64xc's - 1,000 Ch, 51,000 Lights (46,000 LED's), 16 Ch. Wireless (XB Radios), 2 x 8 Ch. Servo controlled Props.
    2015 - 15 Ren 64xc's - 900 Ch. 49,000 Lights, (40,000 + Led's), 16 Ch. Wireless (XB Radios), FS-3 Red/Green Laser projector.
    2013/14 - "Honourable Mention" in the Local Christmas Lighting Competition, 15 x Ren 64xc's - 780 Channels, 47,000+ Lights, (20,000+ LED's)
    2 x Ledtrix Panels - interfaced by PixC and LTC, 2 x Commercial LED Display Panels, 0.5 Watt FM Stereo Transmitter with Project-1 Limiter.

  2. #2
    DIGWDF Engineer member dirknerkle's Avatar
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    Wow, that's quite a bit of mixing/matching parts to ports, Terry! I wouldn't be surprised if one or more of the USB drivers was "up to snuff", especially if it's one that's perhaps 3 or 4 years old. I have a USB serial dongle that's about 5 years old that used a Prolific driver and I had trouble with it all the time, so now I keep it safely tucked away in a box on the shelf (right next to a box that holds my strings of pixels... which I keep there so they don't get loose, either).

    Sometimes I'm amazed that any of this stuff works as well as it does!
    Even though the DIGWDF Store has closed, it's still awesome! Thanks to all who have supported us through nearly 7 years of excitement!
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  3. #3
    Rudolph member Tory Street Lights's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirknerkle View Post
    Wow, that's quite a bit of mixing/matching parts to ports, Terry! I wouldn't be surprised if one or more of the USB drivers was "up to snuff", especially if it's one that's perhaps 3 or 4 years old. I have a USB serial dongle that's about 5 years old that used a Prolific driver and I had trouble with it all the time, so now I keep it safely tucked away in a box on the shelf (right next to a box that holds my strings of pixels... which I keep there so they don't get loose, either).

    Sometimes I'm amazed that any of this stuff works as well as it does!
    Thanks Dave for your comments, "Agreed" :-) The first Ren Chain has 8 x Ren 64 XC's (512 Channels) on it while the other has 7 Ren 64 XC'x (448 Channels) which currently has about 5 spare 8 channel outputs, so the 16 channels of Ren Servo's tacked on the end just make in into the max channels spec of a 115200 baud for a Renard chain!!

    I suspect that you are correct about the "dodgy software" used to drive the virtual serial ports, apparently, according to a software engineer over here, the driver software often requires a high number of calls to the interrupt system per second, looking for input data, even if there is none, which loads up the whole system and slows everything down while is answers all the calls - for what it is worth!!

    I thought it might be useful/productive to bring the issue out to everyone so that we all learn something, and are aware of the potential issue. :-)

    I will dig out another dual serial port PCI card and install it in the main machine for next year, my backup machine, setup almost identically, is an old Dell T610 server, Quad core 2.6 Gig's with 10 Gig's of ram and a similar 4 port card installed. This machine also has an on board serial port so I can run the setup without the Ren Servo's tacked on the end of the second Ren 64 chain. I would rather do this because I can see a delay in the servo response that wasn't there when the servo Pic's were at No 1 in the chain!!

    The Dell server has another problem in that it doesn't have any audio system on board, and the motherboard sockets are all "PCI Express" which makes sourcing a sound card difficult, so at my son's suggestion I installed a USB sound "adaptor" on an interface card bracket. This works well until I add a another USB "Dongle" for the DMX when the dreaded Vixen 2.1x "Port access denied" error appeared, I managed to tame it by shifting that port up to about Com 20 and it now appears fine!! If this is a problem when I put it to "work" running the system I will simply disable the DMX to the Lazer Projector, as it will not be missed much by the assembled public!!!

    I have run the backup setup in parallel with the show machine for about five nights at the start of the season without the external's connected and it ran fine so I really do not expect problems. To make totally sure for another year I will swap the cables over to the backup machine and run it for a couple of nights at the end of my season's run to prove it :-)

    As the Irishman said "to be sure, to be sure, to be sure"

    Have a Great Christmas and a Fantastic New Year,

    Terry
    2018 - 5,000 Pixels (15,000 Channels) - 22 ESPixelstick Radios for Pixel Data, 800 Channels of Renard for AC Strings - 45,000 lights in Total
    2017 - 2,575 Pixels added (2 x Props) Total 53,575 Lights, 8,700 Channels - 14 x ESPixelstick Radios for Wireless Pixel Data transfer, Renards Serial.
    2016 - 15+ Ren 64xc's - 1,000 Ch, 51,000 Lights (46,000 LED's), 16 Ch. Wireless (XB Radios), 2 x 8 Ch. Servo controlled Props.
    2015 - 15 Ren 64xc's - 900 Ch. 49,000 Lights, (40,000 + Led's), 16 Ch. Wireless (XB Radios), FS-3 Red/Green Laser projector.
    2013/14 - "Honourable Mention" in the Local Christmas Lighting Competition, 15 x Ren 64xc's - 780 Channels, 47,000+ Lights, (20,000+ LED's)
    2 x Ledtrix Panels - interfaced by PixC and LTC, 2 x Commercial LED Display Panels, 0.5 Watt FM Stereo Transmitter with Project-1 Limiter.

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