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Thread: ILDA specs

  1. #21
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    I think my message was to say it's a good thing to know what you are doing.

    I've never had any problem using a sound card DAC.

    Nor have I ever had a problem using a modified ADAT machine.

    Using DC capable digital audio streams to send signals to laser projectors is probably a lot more common than one might think.

    Just about any permanent laser installation in planetariums or museums probably have some way to play shows from digital multi-track audio recordings.

    Professionally programmed shows are available in multi-channel wave format.

    And why on Earth would you ever point a laser projector in such a way that it could EVER scan into an audience?
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  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pangolin View Post
    Sound cards are made to drive speakers. If "shit happens", nobody is going to be blinded as a result...

    For example, let's say you make laser software that is driving a sound card. And lets say that Windows decides to "beep", or that some generic sound software decides to output a sound. Although Windows provides the ability to select the default sound card for "beeps", what if something goes wrong? What if the selection doesn't stick, or is forgotten??? After all, we're talking about Microsoft Windows here! In such cases, at best you get scribbles on the wall. At worst, the beam is projected into an audience area...

    I can't speak for the way anybody else designs their laser controllers, but one very important role of *our* software is that it "serializes access to the hardware". It means that it prevents two pieces of laser software from accessing the same laser output controller at the same time. In fact, we've made BEYOND be a kind of arbiter. Now we don't have SDKs that directly access the hardware any more. We have BEYOND. Want to talk to the hardware? Talk to (or actually through) BEYOND! The benefit is that BEYOND is able to prevent "scribbles on the wall" by serializing such hardware access. Another benefit is that right now, people who "talk to BEYOND" are able to use any connected laser hardware (QM2000, FB3, FB4, and in the future other hardware), and so this is a hardware agnostic approach. Another benefit is that BEYOND can effectively apply additional things on top of their input -- for example, additional effects or even safety-related features such as BAM, beam-velocity monitoring, feedback and such... But enough about BEYOND... (I just mentioned this to answer the question why we don't allow direct access to our laser hardware any more...)

    Another thing is that we make our laser hardware to be "fault tolerant". It means that if something goes wrong inside the box, it won't result in an unsafe exposure. For example, if the negative power supply goes away in a sound card (or interface box), good luck holding the color outputs low! (Heck, from what James wrote, good luck holding them low anyway!!!)

    Anyway, there are huge differences between sound cards and the laser controllers manufactured by us (and I hope other laser companies do similar things). But what people use in the privacy of their own homes is their business. Scribbles on their walls or blinded (or at least visually annoyed) pets or family members are not our business. We do hope that people will "drive responsibly" when the sound cards are used with lasers outside the confines of homes...

    Bill

    God I wish your controllers where cheaper I would love an FB3, my employer uses them but they are still out of my price range as I don't do any for profit shows on my own, my home made stuff is just that, made for my home.

    this has been a great thread and the Laser Dock DAC is doing the best it can from USB and now I do know it is working correctly, it will never hit 5 volts as it is powered by USB and I think on my current computer is about 4.2-4.6 volts give or take.
    I ended up getting my Laser Dock DAC on sale when they first came out so I bought it for half of what they cost now, too bad I can't get an FB3 for 100 bucks, that would make my year and maybe next year as well
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  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Draco View Post
    God I wish your controllers where cheaper
    I wish iPhones were cheaper but they're actually going up in price not coming down...

    At least our hardware isn't going up in price ;-)

  4. #24
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    If you are only getting 4.2 to 4.6 volts on your USB, you should think about getting a powered hub. I know it's an extra item and it takes another outlet, but it might help.

    I don't think the 5 volts you are supposed to see on the color channels is directly from USB voltage. There must be some kind of DC/DC converter in there because the scanners have to get both positive and negative voltage with respect to ground.
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  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by james View Post
    I think my message was to say it's a good thing to know what you are doing.
    I'd say that statement applies to all things laser related, whether you are a professional or a hobbyist.

    I believe your average hobbyist is likely willing to accept more risk in exchange for a lower price. Also, quite a few hobbyists have used sound card DACs and gotten good results. But you also point out that it's trivial to make a settings error in windows that will cause a sound card DAC to create a spurious output. If this happens in your living room it's probably no big deal. But if it happens at a wedding reception, that's a problem!

    For this reason alone, most people would consider a sound card DAC to be inappropriate for commercial use. Bill certainly thinks so, and I happen to agree with him. If you're doing commercial shows, you can afford to do them correctly and safely. There's no reason to take a short-cut.

    I've never had any problem using a sound card DAC.
    Yet you also showed how anyone could get tripped up by not changing the default settings on a popular sound card DAC. You even suggested editing the .ini file. This is something that is natural to someone who is well-versed in IT, but it's not something your average consumer would think about. More importantly, none of the commercial laser controllers I'm aware of require the end user to adjust any system settings to prevent any un-commanded laser emissions.

    Like I said - there's a difference between a hobbyist messing around in his basement vs someone doing commercial shows. And Bill is looking at this from the perspective of the commercial industry.

    Regarding ADAT, HD-24s, Planetarium shows, and other venues/applications that use pre-recorded multi-channel audio files, remember that these are all using dedicated playback hardware. They're not running Windows, and they're not playing the audio through an inexpensive sound card purchased for $30 either.

    why on Earth would you ever point a laser projector in such a way that it could EVER scan into an audience?
    I agree that masking the aperture should be part of any show setup. But I've seen cases where this has not been done. I've also personally performed shows where I could not rely solely on the mask due to the long throw of the projector. (You always get some diffraction around the edge of the mask when the beam hits it, which lowers the resulting cut-off horizon.) I've had cases where I would lose half my vertical scan field size to this diffraction when I positioned the mask to fully clip at the 3 meter line. And even if the mask will prevent accidental audience scanning, you still have beams being displayed when you don't want them to be. That's not acceptable for professional grade equipment.

    Adam

  6. #26
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    I'd say that statement applies to all things laser related, whether you are a professional or a hobbyist.
    Well shit. Now you tell me.

  7. #27
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    Hang on a minute. It's not like the sound card DAC flips the colors on full at any random time. I did not say that and this does not happen. When Windows boots up and initializes the sound card driver, if it is set to stereo or headphone out, the other channels go high. How many times does this need to happen before you figure out not to turn on your laser projector until Windows is fully booted and you have opened the sound card driver applet and made sure it is set to 6 or 8 channels? Or alternatively, you are prepared for the beam to come on when it does.
    Last edited by james; 11-30-2018 at 20:32.
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  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by james View Post
    If you are only getting 4.2 to 4.6 volts on your USB, you should think about getting a powered hub. I know it's an extra item and it takes another outlet, but it might help.

    I don't think the 5 volts you are supposed to see on the color channels is directly from USB voltage. There must be some kind of DC/DC converter in there because the scanners have to get both positive and negative voltage with respect to ground.

    Yeah I think I will put it on a hub but I am satisfied that it is working correctly and I was measuring the signal voltages with a DMM instead of an Oscilloscope
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  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pangolin View Post
    Sound cards are made to drive speakers. If "shit happens", nobody is going to be blinded as a result...

    For example, let's say you make laser software that is driving a sound card. And lets say that Windows decides to "beep", or that some generic sound software decides to output a sound. Although Windows provides the ability to select the default sound card for "beeps", what if something goes wrong? What if the selection doesn't stick, or is forgotten??? After all, we're talking about Microsoft Windows here! In such cases, at best you get scribbles on the wall. At worst, the beam is projected into an audience area...

    Bill
    One of the available Windows sound schemes is 'No Sounds'; also if you're using EzAudDac, you can choose what sound device to talk to so you're not stuck with the selected Windows default device. If Windows fails, or your computer fails (much more likely), it's game over no matter who's laser controller is connected.
    Last edited by dchammonds; 12-01-2018 at 19:14.
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  10. #30
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    It's also worth noting that unlike many other laser DACs, a sound card is not tethered to only Microsoft Windows. So if you are not confident of Windows' stability, you have other options.

    The general concept of using multi-channel digital audio streams to control a laser projector is hardware and OS agnostic. As a matter of fact it doesn't even require a computer with an OS.

    If "the industry" has told us anything, it is that laser signals fit entirely inside of the general definition of digital audio.

    There might be a lot of proprietary hardware and applications out there, but at the end of the day the output of any DAC can be recorded as digital audio.

    (mic dropped)

    James.
    Last edited by james; 12-01-2018 at 10:38.
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