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Thread: FB3 questions

  1. #1
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    Default FB3 questions

    Hi group

    As i am a new member of this site, i better start by introducing myself.. I am an electronics engineer who have been working on and off as a lighting designer for a lot of bands, tv stations and other companies over the last 10 or so years.. now i have a day job developing test systems for a hearing aid factory, but i still have my little company where i build laser, light, specialFX and sound equipment, and do a few ligting and laser gigs every once in a while.. I currently own two 2W green DPSS's (medical units from lightwave, i have built psus and controllers for, and built into two martin Mac250 moving heads, along with some CT6800 scanners), two 10W copper bromide lasers (also medical units from some australian company, rebuilt for show use with CT6860 scanners STP8x color selection, spektronica collimators etc.) and a small whitelight mixed gas system, producing a bit over a couple of watts (still under construction).
    For controls i have an old Lasersystems magnum, an LDS2008 system and two flashback3 cards. + all the extra mirrors, effects, bells and whistles you need for doing nice shows..
    I am located in Denmark in the northern part of europe..

    Anyway... back to the question...

    I have just bought two flashback3 boards, and mounted them in some enclosures, and made the output buffer and level amplifiers to make them comply with the ilda standard..
    but as i bought them used, i am missing a bit of information about them:

    1: DMX address chart.. which dmx adresses/values triggers which functions ? - i have heard that the FB3 takes up 14 channels but i have no idea of which does what... if anyone have a dmx chart or a profile for lightjockey, pearl or Hog, that would be greatly appreciated..

    2: included programmes.. as i didnt get any cd's along with the boards, all i have is what i have downloarded from the pangolin website, and some of the programs asks for registration... is that because i have to pay for the programmes, or is it just because i need a registration key, that would normally come with the FB3 boards, if i bought them from new ?

    Thanks a lot in advance for any answers !

    Regards, Simon Jensen
    Showlaser.dk

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default

    Hello, Simon!
    Welcome to the forum!!

    E-mail Pangolin through their "Contact" link on their web page, and tell them you need the (free) license files and the DMX implementation chart for your FB3's. You'll need to include the serial numbers for your FB3 boards when you contact them. Bill or someone else from Pangolin are usually quick to get back to you!

    The DMX implementation for the FB3 basically gives you access to all the same features as the LiveQUICK software, using a DMX controller to access the frames stored in the FB3's onboard memory instead of a computer:

    http://www.pangolin.com/flashback/LiveQUICK.htm

    Note that if the FB3 is plugged into a computer via its USB connector, it disables the DMX control, so you can have either DMX or a computer controlling the FB3 at any given time, but not both!

    Other than LivePRO USB, the entire FB3 software suite is free - you just need the (free) license files for your specific FB3 boards. Here's a link to the other free software for the FB3:

    http://www.pangolin.com/LA_Studio/3D.htm

    Good luck with your project. Keep us posted, and free to ask questions any time! This is a GREAT forum with a LOT of experienced, friendly people ready & willing to help!

    Randy
    RR

    Metrologic HeNe 3.3mw Modulated laser, 2 Radio Shack motors, and a broken mirror.
    1979.
    Sweet.....

  3. #3
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    Default

    Hi Simon,

    Could you please write me a private email address, using our contact form at www.pangolin.com/contact ?

    All of the information you seek should have been provided with the units, and it makes me wonder from whom you purchased these FB3 units?

    Also, we have a small daughterboard which does exactly what your little addition does. We give these away for free as long as they are ordered along with the FB3 (post-shipping costs way more than the actual circuit). Such a thing would have saved you the effort.

    Best regards,

    William Benner

  4. #4
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    Hi Bill

    I have just sent you an email..

    Many thanks to you and Stuka for your prompt and helpfull replies !

    Regards, Simon

  5. #5
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    For fixture profiles for flashback3 on various lighting desks -
    Use "martin RGB laser 1.6" - It uses the flashback3 as it's internal engine.

    - note that some of the chanels need to be at odd default levels to work properly.( some at "0', some at "128", and some at "255" to work.

    A scanner safety circuit is a really good idea - as it's possible to manipulate the control channels to create unsafe beam conditions (ie. rotate a horizontal line on the X axis to form a single dot or turn down the scan rate of a very point heavy frame etc).
    Lighting operators seem to unintentionally be able to get into these states (and are horrified when the look up from their desk and see something bad.
    The flashback3 DMX implementation would be so much better if there were a way to disable particular control chanels.....
    B.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by fuzcub View Post
    The flashback3 DMX implementation would be so much better if there were a way to disable particular control chanels.....
    B.
    In fact there is a way to "disable particular control channels" with the FB3. The very first channel of the DMX implementation is called "access". It controls exactly which channels will have affect. This channel must be at least "32" (decimal) in order to get ANY laser light out of the FB3 what so ever. Then, channels are enabled as this "Access" channel is increased toward 255. As you increase the "Access" channel, it gives more power to the user (but also puts more potential hazard in the hands of the user).

    (Note that the FB3 is the only board-level product that has this "access" concept.)

    We tried to remove the hazards as much as possible. For example, if you bring the "Zoom" control down toward zero, the FB3 will start to fade-out the laser as well.

    In any event, I wholeheartedly agree with you about scan-fail safeguards, but will take it one step further. A scan-fail safeguard MUST! be used if the laser system is projected into an audience. Moreover, a scan-fail safeguard SHOULD be used, even for graphics applications (because high power lasers can actually set fire to dark cloth and such that might surround a projection surface).

    And lastly, I will call your attention to the latest from ILDA. All ILDA members must affirm their commitment to laser safety in order to retain their ILDA membership. Please see the following:
    http://www.laserist.org/2008-07_reaf...nce-safety.htm

    It basically means that, if you are an ILDA member and you put beams into the audience, you must, at the very least, use scan-fail safeguards.

    Best regards,

    William Benner

  7. #7
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    Whilst I think that being able to control the level of access that an operator has is a good idea, I'm not sure that
    controling this function using a DMX chanel(that the operator has control over) is the best way of managing the level of access.

    Most of the fixture profiles I've seen for the FB3 allow the operator to change the access mode on-the-fly. The problem with this is that if one or more lasers are set up in a DMX universe, and it is assumed they will be used in "standard" mode, thereby using 8 chanels. If the operator inadvertantly changes it to extended mode or full mode, suddenly all the extra functions now accessable become mapped onto whatever follows the laser's DMX control chanels(be it moving lights, dimmer racks etc.)
    The end result is that the laser is no longer able to be accuratly controled by the operator.
    To say "they should know better" is not really a practical solution.
    Automated lighhting fixtures avoid this situation by only allowing the chanel mode (12ch,18ch,24ch etc) to be changed from the base of the fixture itself, or via RDM/nonzero start codes.

    I think It would be grand to be able to lock a FB3 into a specific access range from the DMX daughterboard. I can concive this as being done with some jumpers - or maybe if there's some spare IO pins on one of the unused orange headers.
    no jumpers installed = user controlled ranges, as it is at the moment.
    jumper A = basic range only,
    jumper B = standard range only,
    jumper A+B = extended range only,
    jumper C = full range.

    In terms of hypothetical ranges:
    Basic:
    ch1/ Access
    ch2/ Page
    ch3/ Cue
    ch4/ Fade
    ch5/ Speed
    Ch6/ Colour

    Standard:
    Ch7/ Z Angle
    ch8/ X pos
    Ch9/ Y pos
    Ch10/ visable points

    Extended:
    Ch11/ Zoom
    Ch12/ X size
    Ch13/ Y size
    Full:
    Ch14/ Scan Rate
    Ch15/ Release
    Ch16/ RC servo pulsetrain output - spare IO pin?

    Having said all this, I'm a total fan of livepro's DMX input capabilities.
    B
    Last edited by fuzcub; 10-20-2008 at 00:22.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by fuzcub View Post
    The problem with this is that if one or more lasers are set up in a DMX universe, and it is assumed they will be used in "standard" mode, thereby using 8 chanels. If the operator inadvertantly changes it to extended mode or full mode, suddenly all the extra functions now accessable become mapped onto whatever follows the laser's DMX control chanels(be it moving lights, dimmer racks etc.)
    Right, well we would always recommend they assign addresses based on "16 apart" rather than "8 apart". However the problem you mention is really with all DMX devices in the entire world.

    We tried to make the FB3 as safe as possible with respect to DMX. I mentioned that, if the FB3 can detect that what you want to do is dangerous, it automatically attenuates the beam. For example, if you adjust the "zoom" to zero, you will not get any laser light. Likewise, if you adjust both the X-rotate and Y-rotate in such a way as the image becomes small or "a beam", the FB3 will not output any laser light.

    In addition to that, you mentioned above what you called "odd default values". It was done this way because, among other reasons, there are actually a lot of ways in which you will NOT! get laser light out of the FB3. For example:

    If you don't have the PAGE and CUE set to an area that actually has laser imagery, you don't get any light.
    If you have FADE set to (or near) zero, you don't get any light.
    If you have Visible Points set to (or near) zero, you don't get any light.

    I think even X and Y position are taken into consideration into whether or not you get laser light...

    It has happened several times that clients contact us and tell us that the FB3 is broken, because they can't get any light out of it when trying to control it by DMX. It's because a lot of things have got to be right before you get light out of it! So I think that in terms of a DMX-controlled laser product, it is really pretty safe. Have you ever tried with any other DMX-controlled boards?

    We take safety pretty seriously. I believe we have done what we can to try to make this little baby safe. Of course it is possible that things could always be improved and I would be happy to hear your ideas. Could you contact us using our contact form and we will pick up this discussion in greater detail?
    http://www.pangolin.com/contact

    Best regards,

    William Benner

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pangolin View Post
    However the problem you mention is really with all DMX devices in the entire world.
    No. Normally you set the control-mode on the fixture itself and NOT using a DMX channel!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeroenVDV View Post
    No. Normally you set the control-mode on the fixture itself and NOT using a DMX channel!
    What I meant was this. Lets say I have two Clay Paky light fixtures, each having 8 channels. And lets say that I set the DMX address on the first one as DMX Channel 1, and I set the DMX address on the second one as DMX Channel 6.

    The result? Huston, we have a problem...

    Same thing with the FB3. As long as you stack the channels at least 14 apart (and I would recommend 16), there will be no problem. Just like as long as I stack my Clay Paky fixtures at least 8 apart, there will be no problem.

    The "Access" channel is designed as one several means to promote laser safety. It was not meant to select a "control mode", otherwise we would have called it "control mode"... In any event, we never intended for anyone to allocate fewer than 14 channels for the FB3!

    Bill
    Last edited by Pangolin; 10-22-2008 at 01:50.

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