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Thread: Any software and/or hardware guys out there?

  1. #1
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    Default Any software and/or hardware guys out there?

    Are there any of you out there that would be interested in colaborating in a software/hardware project to create our own laser show hardware and software? I have done some work but there are so many pieces that I can't really get much done to a level of satisfaction. The hardware and software can really be developed independently as long as there is a common interface defined.

    For the hardware side, I am thinking of a USB interfaced board that accepts frames at a time and uses it's own microprocessor to handle timing the output of the points to the DAC. The DAC could be part of this same hardware or something as simple as a Popelscan DAC hooked up to the microproccessor output port. I'm not very good with hardware so I wouldn't be to active in this part.

    For software, I'd like to start with just the basics... the ability to display ILDA shows and the ability to synchronize a list of ILDA files to music... basically, this would just be a timeline that controls the starting of ILDA file snippets. Of course I am open to suggestions. I am not too concerned with the creation of ILDA files at this point since that can be done in other free software. But if there are any GUI experts who would like to tackle that I would love to have your help.

    I have not done too much. I have created a driver for the Popelscan DAC and a driver for a modified soundcard (either USB or card works fine). And, I can load ILDA files and send them to my drivers and display them with my galvos. So, the basics work but it needs a lot of tweaking.

    Also, last but least, I'd like the project to be in C#. (or at least .NET). So far, the only piece not in C# is the parallel port driver. I modified the freeware C parallelport driver to be more efficient in sending ilda points. The reason I chose C# is that it is pretty much as fast as C++ and it is a lot nicer to deal with. Also, it is what I do my professional development work with so I am pretty good at it. And also, the express editions of Visual Studio are free!

    Anyway, I hope to hear from some of you. I think that in our free time and with all our brainpower we can create a free package that does everything we need.

  2. #2
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    I'm phenomenally busy right now, but if you're still interested in a couple months, I'll have free time to help out on a project like this...

  3. #3
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    Sounds good. I am always a little busy with something so I know what you mean. I don't expect this thing to happen overnight so 2mos delay is nothing. How about IMing me your email address and we can go from there.

  4. #4
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    Interesting, I've been working on my own software this weekend and it's getting along nicely. The bare bones are in place and it will now load inkscape vector graphics file and output it on my EasyLase. Very excited about it as I just got it working
    This way I'm to be able to use an advanced vector graphics design tool like inkscape (free opensource) to design my own laserframes.
    If there is any C++ code around for saving ILDA file's that would really help me out! -let me know.

    see some pics of my output here

    p.s. all my stuff runs on Windowzzzz

  5. #5
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    Seems like there are quite a few people working on laser show software. Norm (the home built laser show guy) has a Windows C++ lasershow application that will save ILDA files. He offered to colaborate with me and let me see the C++ code not long ago. Talk to him. Maybe we will give it to you.

    It's a shame all of this effort is being duplicated but I guess everyone is doing it for fun, for the most part.

  6. #6
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    Would be great if Norm will share that code, he is not on this forum is he?

    There is lots of reusable stuff out there that 'just' needs to be combined. It is the reason I'm working on the .svg format so I don't have to write an entire graphics editor to do some decent designs. To me THE limiting factor of Mamba and others - editing is on a point to point basis and not bezier spline basis. Never had a look at the pro software but couldn't afford it anyway. Once the svg file has been converted to lasershow output and saved as ilda it could be loaded by any other lasershow prog. e.g. Mamba for show stuff. Although this results in a fragmented package on the short/mid term it would work for me.

    I also found an interesting sound library, have'nt looked at it yet but hope to do so sometime: http://www.fmod.org/
    Allthat: will be working on that laser scope finally

    A lot of the fun comes from piecing all the bits together but I also want some performance. Some years ago I built a DAC which was based John Voltz design. His stuff is no longer online (Guido (mylaserpage, popplescan) adopted his design) but he had lasershow editor which worked well for the speaker scanner setup and DAC but it was all a very simple system setup. At some point I was thinking that I could evolve that system into something more usable but some developments are going so fast that it would be hard to keep up on a hobby basis. For example 5 years ago I would have given Elm Chan's galvo's a try, actually when I saw that website I was sorry I didn't get there first I was working on some moving coil galvo's with optical feedback at that time. Now it is much more attractive to buy some chinese galvos and find the challenge in driving them right with software. For more hardware / electrical oriented people this might be different though. There are quite a few challenges to be found in this hobby

    cheers.

  7. #7
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    Thumbs up

    Right on! Will it work with popelscan? That's what I'm running until I can find a real good deal on an Easylase or Riya, or Pangolin's hobbiest kit comes out. I have a Laser FX that butchered and have one of my split beams hitting it for an ossiliscope effect but I want that whole sound wave.

    I went to school for videogame development and did about 1500 hour of c++ and... found out I don't like coding... Haven't really picked it up since. I did a little VB for an app at work and tired to pick up java, but can't find it in me to program.
    Love, peace, and grease,

    allthat... aka: aaron@pangolin

  8. #8
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    For performance, you really need a dedicated offboard processor to output the points. That's why I want a board that will accept points on a frame by frame basis. But for now, I think the popelscan dac or modified sound card will do what I want.

  9. #9
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    I haven't seen Norm active on here but maybe is spying. He is a nice guy and usually writes back if you email him. Go for it and see.

    But, writing out an ILDA file should be simple. I wrote some code to read one in a couple of hours. Writing to one is even easier. Just check out the ILDA file standard and go for it. It's pretty much just comma seperated values (x, y, r, g, b, ...) and some color map stuff. For me, it would be easier to just figure it out myself and write the code than to try to disect and incorporate someone elses.

  10. #10
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    Messing with the LPT was fun for starters but its inaccurate and that is exactly why I got easylase Waiting for the Pangolin package will probably be worth it but will it also have an API? "Will you need one?" is the other question but for me the fun is actually in coding small projects to do some custom stuff I remember Bill say something about not liking 3rd party software with their pro systems because of the 3rd parties screwing up and giving Pangolin a bad name. Don't know if that applies to their planned hobby product.

    Carmangary: Other options for onboard processing are BILDA and LUMAX have you looked at those?

    If popplescan loads ILDA files it will work with popplescan eventually
    Another reason for me to write this conversion utility is that the converted format can be precicely tuned to the scanset used for output.
    Figuring out the algorithm and variables to do that is actually the deeper challenge in this project. Once it works the plus is big; the vector graphics files are universal, the output tweaked to the scanner by the algorithm whatever speed it was tuned to. (this is in contrast to the IMHO oldfashioned ideas behind the ilda testframe tuning )

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