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Thread: My New ILDA / DMX / USB interface project build.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    225

    Default My New ILDA / DMX / USB interface project build.

    I want to share some pics of my attempt at an interface box to hold my laser goodies. Comments good and bad are welcome and encouraged.

    I got the idea for my build after seeing the Pangolin Laser Media Dock, which is extremely cool but beyond my needs and my wallet. I wanted to reduce the setup time required to connect all of my laser related hardware. I also wanted to save the USB and DB25 ports on my FB3 from damage due to repeated connection & disconnection. So this is the concept that I came up with.

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    The actual interface box is functional but unfinished, and looks like this as of now
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    The Hard Drives and the USB hub are held in place with velcro, while the FB3's plug into the DB-25 pass through connectors and are held in place by them.
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    I have 2 FB3s inside along with an Enttec DMX USB PRO interface (minus its metal case not enough room to fit it), a 7 port powered 2.0 USB hub and 2 600GB hard drives for music, laser content & backups. It is still under construction but I got these USB connectors today which Ill add tonight along with the fused IEC power inlet.
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    I ordered some much shorter 10" USB cables (some with right angle connectors where appropriate) which I will install to clean up the inside of the case.

    The powered hub uses a 5v wall wart (don't you hate them) that I dont want to risk losing or forgetting to bring it, so the IEC connector will allow me to always have a power cord available wherever I am. Once I get the USB and AC inlet installed, the only remaining task will be to install all of the front panel LED indicators.

    I will add the ESD/interlock later on once I get the rest of the details sorted. I have an ESD mushroom switch on order.

    The USB "IN" on the rear panel feeds the USB hub which the FB3, DMX & HDs are connected to. USB1 & USB2 outputs are for convenience and are connected to the 2 unused ports on the hub. I can use these to connect another HD to back up the internal HDs or to copy data to the internal HDs. Or I can plug in some of those USB gooseneck lights if I swap the 5V wall wart for one with larger current output. Depending on the job/setup/venue I can use this interface near me or I bought a 50' active USB extension and a 100' active USB extension to locate it away from DJ/FOH position.

    The Switchcraft plugs are nice and the USB A / B sides are reversible by removing a locking nut, removing & flipping the USB capsule and reinstalling it with the lock nut. But they don't lock perfectly "square" in place without some effort. It is only slightly out maybe 1 or 2 degrees, but that just bothers me. Switchcraft is known for their quality. I remember back in the days of 1/4" speaker connections, that the cheap radio shack plugs were very slightly less than 1/4" which made for poor, lose connections that sometimes made the audio cut in/out. Switchcraft 1/4s never had that problem with machining tolerance, so this just bothers me. I was going to buy the Neutrik version of these but these cost less. Get what you pay for, right?

    Ill post more pictures as the build progresses towards completion. If anyone is interested in doing this, I got the plastic project box form Jameco and the Switchcraft USB from Full Compass.
    Last edited by djeric68; 05-19-2014 at 12:04. Reason: Cleaned up attached pics
    Eric in New Orleans

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Wilmington, DE
    Posts
    5,801

    Default

    Very nice. I seriously envy people who have enough time on their hands to actually sit and do stuff like this. I seem to get a couple hours in February and that week after SELEM where I have spare "free" time.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    225

    Default

    Thanks for the kind words.

    I did the concept drawing a few weeks ago at work. Then I ordered parts the next day when I was "working."

    Unfortunately for me, the "free time" I used for building this, others call sleep time. Tonight after kids are done with swimming practice, baseball practice, homework and are in bed I will drill some holes and mount the new USB jacks. If all goes well I'll be asleep by 1:00am.
    Eric in New Orleans

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Athens, Greece
    Posts
    1,917

    Default

    do you think it will be useful to replace the hard disk drive with one of the ssd variety?
    I have this thing with non moving part disks for things that are on the go

    apart from that, it looks well thought out!
    "its called character briggs..."

  5. #5

    Default

    bin that mains power connector off and use a decent power con one

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_od...ector&_sacat=0

    you should do the front panel out of metal and get it cnc cut
    Eat Sleep Lase Repeat


    Aluminium Optic Mounts

    http://www.laser-man.co.uk/opticmounts/

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Amsterdam, NL
    Posts
    2,098

    Default

    Very nice, I have made similar boxes for my QM.nets.
    2 remarks,
    1. the case you are using does not look road ready, eg, can you drop it from 1 meter table without damage?
    2. why didn't you add a CAT5 to USB extender in the box?

    keep the project coming, much appreciated.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    225

    Default

    Thanks for the compliment.

    SSD - That's a good idea - no moving parts. These are my current HDs - I didn't buy them just for this project. In a few months when I have some additional cash, I hope to swap these drives for 2 500 GB SSD drives. It would draw less power and give faster read/write access then the current HDs I have. I might get one 1 TB drive, but 2 smaller ones might be cheaper and/or less data to lose if one dies. I recently swapped my laptop HD for a 250 GB SSD and it is much faster starting up, shutting down, etc. It was a very good upgrade for the money spent.
    Eric in New Orleans

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    225

    Default

    andy_con

    DONE! You are right.

    I had thought about it and then decided to go with the IEC since nothing else I have has powercon, and the whole point was to make sure I have a mains cable available at all times. BUT, after reading your post I remembered that I bought 3 powercon plugs and 3 powercon chassis mount for another project I never started. So I am adding the powercon to this project box and I will make 3 mains cables with powercon plugs and keep the two spares in my gig bag. I've also decided to adopt powercon for all my gear going forward and I'm going to change out any IEC that I can to powercon. The powercon plug prices are cheap enough that there is no good reason to keep using old unreliable IEC when powercon cannot cone undone unintentionally - and it looks cool too!

    Thanks for the kick in the butt to start doing things a new/better way. "Because that's they way you always have done it" is never a good reason to keep doing it.



    Quote Originally Posted by andy_con View Post
    bin that mains power connector off and use a decent power con one

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_od...ector&_sacat=0

    you should do the front panel out of metal and get it cnc cut
    Eric in New Orleans

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    225

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mccarrot View Post
    Very nice, I have made similar boxes for my QM.nets.
    2 remarks,
    1. the case you are using does not look road ready, eg, can you drop it from 1 meter table without damage?
    I'm not too worried about that, especially once I upgrade to SSD hard drive. I only do one gig per month (the same gig since 1991) and I'm going to carry it in a foam lined ATA style briefcase. I thought about making it in a rack mount case, but since I only use powered speakers these days, I don't carry a rack anymore to put it in. My design goals were 1)make it small as possible 2)reduce the # of connections/setup time and 3)spend as little $ as is needed to achieve # 1 & #2. I have been thinking that in the future if I purchase additional projectors & FB3s, I would make a rack mount version without the hard drives & DMX to supplement this one, that could be located much further away. I'd then mount it in a 2 or 4 space SKB style rack with CAT5 / USB extender. This interface box will be used next to me on the table with my laptop up on a stage looking out over the crowd.

    2. why didn't you add a CAT5 to USB extender in the box?
    I have a CAT5 / USB extender that I use with a 100' CAT6 cable but it sometimes looses USB connection when the cable is moved around. Not sure if it is a problem with the CAT6 cable, USB extender quality, or other unknown issue. If I sort out the CAT5 extender issues, I can easily swap one of the Switchcraft USB connectors for a Switchcraft RJ45 version and I'll be good to go. What brand/model # of cat5 extender do you use?

    keep the project coming, much appreciated.
    THANKS! I'll post more progress pics as I finish the build.
    Eric in New Orleans

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    225

    Default Should I unsolder FB3 LED? & Progress Update Pics

    I got a chance last night to install the USB ports, fuse holder & the Powercon connector (thanks again andy_con for the powercon suggestion).

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    Remaining Tasks:
    1. Install LED status indicators on front panel
    2. Install shorter USB cables (after delivery from eBay) to clean up inside of case
    3. Install front panel LED indicators


    I plan on desoldering the activity LEDs from the USB HDs, USB DMX and USB hub and relocating them to the front panel. I will add 2 pin header connectors to the HD, USB & DMX boards so that the LED will plug in via an approximately 6" 2 conductor cable. Something like this...

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    Any opinion(s) on whether I should do the same for the FB3 tri color LEDs? I have no problem with doing this to the HD, USB and DMX items, but I am concerned about messing with the FB3s. I think the warranty is only 1 year for the FB3s, so they are now out of warranty anyway. The other option I am considering is to move the FB3 forward against the front panel and drilling a hole to view the FB3 LEDs. I would then add some sort of lens or LED bezel to the case to keep it looking clean. I think relocating the LEDs will be more work but give better results. Drilling holes in the case to view the LEDs in the FB3 is to much of a hack solution and won't look as good.

    So far the total I have spent to do this build is only $86.97 for the case, USB jacks, DB-25 pass through connectors, fan guard, fan, fuse holder, lighted rocker switch, USB cables & powercon connector.
    Last edited by djeric68; 05-21-2014 at 14:21. Reason: Added parts cost
    Eric in New Orleans

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