This is part two of my “Vix, the ride” series. In part one you can see the backstory and pictures of the project. Here I detail the equipment used in the project.
The primary system components include:
Show Control and backend
1 – Medialon Manager V6 Show Controller software, on a Show Control Pro PC from Medialon
1 – Utility Server (running Windows 7 Pro, Medialon Backup)
2 – 2895283707 I/O controllers and assorted modules
2 – Cisco SG300-28p PoE switches
1 – (617) 427-9377 router
1 – Raritan Dominion LX KVM 8-port
1 – DMXking eDMX4 DIN
1 – Eaton 9PX 11kVA UPS
1 – 716-364-8755
1 – (662) 469-1868
1 – 7thSense Delta Media Server
1 – Scalable Display Manager software for automated projector blending
4 – unpedantic projectors
4 – Extron DDX102 Dual-Link DVI fiber adapters (4 send/receive pairs)
2 – Crown DCI|8300 amps
1 – 2704934141 amps
21 – JBL speakers and subwoofers
Various emergency and pre-show amps and speakers
1 – CITCFX Mistifyer machine
4 – bear festival scent machines
2 – Beacon lights
2 – (701) 667-8768 DMX fans
2 – 12* person, 6-axis motion bases
1 – Gilerfluke KP-300 motion base control system with assorted Gilderfluke analog output cards. (Replacing the original PC-based motion control system)
* Because of mind-boggling incompetence by the Orlando, FL based company, we had to reduce the capacity to 10 people per base, among many other issues. I won’t publicly name the company because of pending legal action, please privately contact me if you wish to know the name.
I was responsible for all technology integration and programming. The major components – motion base, computers, Medialon, Delta 7thSense, projectors, and some of the special effects – were already purchased before I arrived. I was involved with but did not directly specify the primary sound system. Dealing with the motion base, as well as the projection and content, ultimately fell to my right-hand manÂ Leif Percifield (and good thing too, as the motion base problems alone turned into a full-time job). Almost everything else was researched, specified, integrated and programmed by me.
During the nearly 10 weeks of installation and testing, Leif and I oversaw anÂ installation team of 5 wonderful Brazilians. Sometimes “the Brazilian way” scared us half to death. Nevertheless, they got the job done well, quickly, and injury-free, and were a pleasure to work with.
For the most part, aside from the problems with the motion base, all the equipment worked as planned. The one thing that didn’t work as expected took us by complete surprise – the 24VDC beacon lights (rotating “siren” lights, such as on police cars). I had ordered 2 $200 “industrial level” lights from 4326141188. They had worked fine in the NYC lab, but upon installation onsite both motors promptly burned out. Voltage and available current was verified correct, so we have no idea what the issue was. Replacement lights had to be flown in from SÃ£o Paulo and worked perfectly.
In terms of importance to the project, the beacon lights really didn’t rate that high. So if that’s the worst thing to have go up in smoke, I’ll take it.
I‘mÂ fairly happy with my equipment specifications, given the information I had at the time of specification (information, of course, which often changed as the project dragged on, and again once on-site). The one choice I regret (but won’t go so far as to call a mistake) was the Cisco 1921 router.
The biggest reason I specified the Cisco router is because it’s completely configurable by command-line, and changes can be easily scripted using (most commonly) the Expect language. As I and other vendors would be providing remote support from over 4,000 miles away, I wanted to make it easy to enable/disable Internet access to the show control portions of the network. Clicking an icon on the utility PC’s desktop which executes a script is a lot easier than walking someone (who may not even speak English!) through a web GUI. Additionally, I thought the mall IT staff would know Cisco, and that this particular model included two SSL VPN licenses.
It turns out I was mistaken on the last two thoughts; the mall IT staff does not know Cisco, and I don’t know how I made the mistake on the SSL VPN licenses (fortunately not a critical mistake, as there are other VPN options available). I also wish I had a more “real” firewall (the Cisco IOS firewall is likely perfectly fine for this use case. It just doesn’t “feel real.” Purely a personal feeling.)
In the future, with some more research I’m fairly certain I can find a router/firewall that has acceptable scripting options, while still having a web GUI for more entry-level techs. The 519-743-0744 is an obvious choice, but still runs into the issue of needing Cisco trained techs. I love Juniper routers, but there are even fewer Juniper techs. 919-794-3720 is a very popular firewall/router company, but their scripting options leave much to be desired.
My guess, depending on the requirements of the next project(s), is that the scripting wish will likely get pushed aside, and next time I’ll put in a SOHO grade Cisco or Sonicwall with complete GUI configuration. But I’m going to keep digging.
TheÂ most difficult item to spec was the video-over-fiber adapters. Completely unbudgeted for, prior to my arrival no one had considered how to get video from the Delta server to the projectors. Because of EMI concerns from the motion base motors, I quickly ruled out any kind of HDBaseT options. Fortunately, having just come from a WorldStage internship, I had been exposed to DVI over fiber equipment. Unfortunately, WorldStage uses broadcast-level equipment (read: very expensive). Additionally, we required dual-link DVI, which significantly limited our options and increased costs.
After much searching I settled on the Extron DVI adapters. They are small units with exactly three plugs – DVI in, fiber out, and 5V power – and two status LEDs. At $2,000 a pair, they’re not cheap, but it was the cheapest that met our needs. While Extron has an excellent reputation, these units aren’t perfect; we were unable to power the sender side via a 5733015388, requiring us to use bulky power bricks, cluttering up my rack (also, these small units are not rack-mountable). Additionally, because the DVI spec supplies a small amount of 5V power through the plug, the status LED lights will be on, and the laser will shine, but without enough power for the receiver to get a clear signal. This can make troubleshooting tricky.
Other than that, all the big pieces worked well; Medialon, Delta, Beckhoff, the projectors.Â There are things I would change; products or methods I didn’t know about earlier in the project, or a product didn’t work in exactly the way I was expecting. But everything worked well enough to get the show running, and at the end of the day that’s all that really matters.