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Thread: Here's the scoop on the new Pangolin Hobbyist product!

  1. #1
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    Exclamation Here's the scoop on the new Pangolin Hobbyist product!

    Hey Everyone;

    I just wanted to share a few details (Ok, lots of details! ) about the up-coming Pangolin Hobbyist product that we've all been talking about lately. I got a chance to speak to Bill Benner at Pangolin for a good 2 hours last night, and he explained a great deal about the product. (Thanks Bill! Sorry to keep you on the phone so long...) So here goes:

    As several people have posted before, the hobbyist product will be based on the Flashback 3 controller. This is a *very* compact DAC (about the size of a credit card) that has a modular design. There is the main controller, which also has a compact flash memory card socket, a module that adds a USB 2.0 port, and a module that adds a DMX port.

    The plan is to sell the FB3 unit to hobbyists with just the USB module in place. (It's unlikely that a hobbyist would have a need for DMX control anyway.) Also, it will not come with a compact flash memory card. (The cards are quite difficult to find these days, and thus they are a lot more expensive than the more common, and much smaller, Secure Digital memory cards.) By not including the compact flash memory card and omitting the DMX daughter board, they can keep the cost down. (The card socket will still be there, so users are free to purchase their own cards if they want to.)

    The FB3 can be controlled by a PC via the USB port. You can also use the USB port to load show content onto a compact flash memory card that is plugged into the card slot. Once you have the card programmed, you can acutally disconnect the computer and play everything right from the card!

    However, a stand-alone setup like that really isn't the way most hobbyists have their projectors set up. Most of us have a computer connected to the controller all the time, and the comptuer is running the laser show. Fortunately, the FB3 controller supports direct, real-time control from a PC via the USB port. (Much like the EasyLase USB DAC, for example.)

    Which brings me to the software that will be bundled with the board. As several people have discussed previously, it will use a modified version of the LA Studio software that Pangolin acquired back in 2002. The new software will be named "LA-Freak". This name pays homage to the software's roots in the original LA Studio software, while also acknowledging the hobbyist community that Pangolin is trying to reach out to. (This references the LaserFreak group in Europe, which Pangolin has long supported.)

    If you are curious as to what this new software will be capable of, you can get a preview right now at the Pangolin website. (Here, here, here, and here.) As you can see, it's got some incredible features! (Including a full-featured 3D object editor, a custom text effects renderer, an abstract generator, a live player, and much more...)

    The new Live player bears special mention, as the features will be different (that is, better) than the Live player (ShowRider Live) that was originally included with LA Studio. It's a new product that they're calling "Live-Quick". It's supposed to be similar to LivePRO, with a few differences. (Based on Bill's description, it's going to be a quantum leap above anything that Mamba Black, Alphalite, or Full Auto has to offer.) Remember, this new "Live-Quick" program is original code that Pangolin developed. It is *not* based on the ShowRider Live player that the old LA Studio software had, though the interface may look similar.

    If you check out the LA Studio links on the Pangolin website (above), you'll see that the software already looks very professional. And for certain it's got features that you're probably not going to find anywhere else. (Bill even admitted that there might be a few things it can do that are either very difficult, or nearly impossible, to do with the LD 2000 software.)

    However, Bill felt that the user interface for this software was still a bit too arcane for the average user. While it is very powerful software, he thought that the interface could be improved (ie: made more standard, to resemble other software that runs on Windows). He also wanted to tweak some of the features to make them easier to use - especially for hobbyists that might not be familiar with the vagaries of laser show software in general.

    So, Bill and his team of programmers (including the original programmers from the LA Studio group) are busy working on improving the software. This work will continue for some time yet - perhaps several months - before it is polished to the level that Bill wants. HOWEVER, the software has already been modified to read laser frames that have been saved in the Pangolin format, and it will also output to either the QM-2000 board or the FB3 board. (Of course, it can't load complete shows in the Pangolin format, and probably never will have this ability, because the timeline interface is totally different between the two programs.)

    In fact, Bill has already started offering this new software for FREE DOWNLOAD to all Pangolin owners. If you already have a QM-2000 board (any version, intro, basic, or pro), you can download the partially modified LA-Studio software for FREE from the Pangolin website and try it out for yourself. Here's the link: And the longhand version below (without link tags)

    "http://www.pangolin.com/LA_Studio/Files/lastudio_b7_qm.zip"

    But more importantly, since Pangolin offers free software upgrades, there's no reason why you couldn't purchase the FB3 board right now and get started doing laser shows with the LA-Freak software! Ok, it might be a little more difficult to learn your way around the software and all, but that sure beats waiting several months for them to finish the re-design work! You can always download the upgraded version of the software when they finish it.

    So - bottom line: If you were seriously thinking about buying the Pangolin Hobbyist product, you can call Pangolin *right now* and buy the board and the software, and everything will work right out of the box. Although Bill isn't actively promoting this fact yet, he agreed that he would be willing to sell the FB3 boards bundled with the LA-Freak software for anyone that is interested in getting on board early. (Note: You'll want to talk to Bill directly when you call, since other memebers of the team are working on other projects and may not know about this deal.) Price of entry? Just 500 bucks. (Yes, I'm serious. Just 500 bucks gets you the FB3 controller *and* the entire software suite!)

    Now for the caveats:

    First - Bill hasn't decided yet as to how many laser frames will be included with the package. My guess is that you'll end up with a good collection of frames to get you started though. (Remember that the software can read the Pangolin *frame* files, but it can't read the show files because it uses a totally different timeline format and the files are not compatible.) So you'll be on your own to string the files together to make some shows. (But hey - that's half the fun of being a hobbyist: doing it yourself!)

    Second - the FB3 comes as a bare board. You'll need to either incorporate it into your projector housing or put it in it's own box. (You don't need a power supply though. It gets it's power from the USB cable!) So you'll need to go down to Radio Shack and spend 4 bucks for a plastic case for the thing... Not too hard eh?

    Third - the unit is licensed for non-commercial use only. This means if you want to use it for a business you need to upgrade to at least the QM-2000 intro board.

    Bill explained that while he really wants to reach out to the hobbyist community, he also has to be careful that he doesn't canabalize the sales of the QM-2000 units, as that's what keeps the company going. (Plus, if you're doing commerical shows, you really ought to be able to afford the QM-2000 board anyway.) But since the majority of us are never going to do commercial shows, this is a way for us to get into a Pangolin setup for around $500. (Which is a hell of a lot cheaper than a Mamba Black/EasyLase setup!)

    Honestly, I can't see a down side to this deal at all. The software looks great, and it will only get better as they tweak the interface down the line. And if you ever upgrade to a QM-2000 board, you can still use everything you've created in the LA-Freak software, because it will output to a QM-2000. I see this as an easy (and affordable) way for just about anyone to get into a Pangolin system and start making great shows.

    So what are you waiting for? Give 'em a call...

    Adam

    PS: I am not being compensated in any way for this post, and I am not involved in any sort of relationship with Pangolin. I just was really curious about this new product and decided to get as much info as I could out of Bill. I also figured there were lots of people here that wanted to know the same thing, thus this post. (Now if only I hadn't spent all that money on Mamba Black, I'd be ordering this thing today!) D'oh!

  2. #2
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    Thumbs up

    Well it's about time... Now I guess I should read the post.

    Last edited by allthatwhichis; 04-03-2007 at 14:47. Reason: smilies
    Love, peace, and grease,

    allthat... aka: aaron@pangolin

  3. #3
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    I just downloaded it and tried it with my QM2000 board. It did not work it says I need a license file?
    "Gravity its not just a good idea its the law"

  4. #4
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    You will need to obtain the license from Pangolin
    KVANT Australian projector sales
    https://www.facebook.com/kvantaus/

    Lasershowparts- Laser Parts at great prices
    https://www.facebook.com/lasershowparts/

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by dave View Post
    You will need to obtain the license from Pangolin
    He says they are offering it free to
    Pangolin customers.


    ""In fact, Bill has already started offering this new software for FREE DOWNLOAD to all Pangolin owners. If you already have a QM-2000 board (any version, intro, basic, or pro), you can download the partially modified LA-Studio software for FREE from the Pangolin website and try it out for yourself. ""
    "Gravity its not just a good idea its the law"

  6. #6
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    Cool

    Fred;

    Bill assured me it was free to all LD 2000 owners. (And the Pangolin Website says the same thing.) I don't know what the problem is with the "licence file" that it's asking for. I suggest you give Bill a call at Pangolin (Heck, he might still be there tonight...) and ask him about it.

    My guess is that its a simple setting that needs to be changed. That, or perhaps you need to have your original install CD handy (the one that has the firmware file for the QM-2000 board, which is where the serial number is stored I believe...) so the LA Studio installer can read it. Like I said, I'm sure Bill will sort it out for you.

    Adam

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buffo View Post
    Fred;

    Bill assured me it was free to all LD 2000 owners. (And the Pangolin Website says the same thing.) I don't know what the problem is with the "licence file" that it's asking for. I suggest you give Bill a call at Pangolin (Heck, he might still be there tonight...) and ask him about it.

    My guess is that its a simple setting that needs to be changed. That, or perhaps you need to have your original install CD handy (the one that has the firmware file for the QM-2000 board, which is where the serial number is stored I believe...) so the LA Studio installer can read it. Like I said, I'm sure Bill will sort it out for you.

    Adam
    Yes i am sure he will, I just I would post it here and and get a faster response because I saw that Bill and you were both online at the time.
    "Gravity its not just a good idea its the law"

  8. #8
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    From my experience.

    I downloaded LA studio, and asked Pangolin for a license, which was supplied for free....
    KVANT Australian projector sales
    https://www.facebook.com/kvantaus/

    Lasershowparts- Laser Parts at great prices
    https://www.facebook.com/lasershowparts/

  9. #9
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    Do we buy it straight from pangolin or should I hit up my dealer?

  10. #10
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    As I understand it, it will only be available via Pangolin.
    KVANT Australian projector sales
    https://www.facebook.com/kvantaus/

    Lasershowparts- Laser Parts at great prices
    https://www.facebook.com/lasershowparts/

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