Author Topic: DIY Lightning Controller  (Read 10374 times)

Offline i1uhrace

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DIY Lightning Controller
« on: July 21, 2011, »
I would love to see someone come up with a DIY lightning controller similar to the Firefly or the i-Zombie controllers. they look like great controllers but a little too expensive for my budget.
Does anyone know of anyone that has done this or possibly something RJ would want to investigate?

Carnation Christmas

Offline dmoore

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Re: DIY Lightning Controller
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2011, »
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I would love to see someone come up with a DIY lightning controller similar to the Firefly or the i-Zombie controllers. they look like great controllers but a little too expensive for my budget.
Does anyone know of anyone that has done this or possibly something RJ would want to investigate?

While there are some slight differences between the dlight FireFli (de-centralized) vs the SmartString system (semi-centeralized), SmartStrings can do the same thing and I'd venture to say even easier (waterproofing) and at a lower cost.  There are other centralized pixel controllers (not DIYLA) if you want something "exactly" like the FireFli.

Offline i1uhrace

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Re: DIY Lightning Controller
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2011, »
I don't think we are talking about the same thing.
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Carnation Christmas

Offline caretaker

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Re: DIY Lightning Controller
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2011, »
Your talking about a "Lightning Simulator" where lights flash or flicker and a brief moment later and audio source plays the lightning strike. The simplest versions of these just use a stereo recording such as a CD with the track offset slight from each other and the leading track is fed into a single channel color organ circuit which flashes the lights to the amplitude of the track and the lagging track is fed into a amplifier and speakers. What makes the Fire Fly (not related to D-Lights Fire-Fli) more impressive is they use a microprocessor to add extra effects such as a simulated brown out (light dims down for a short amount of time then goes back to full brightness) and some other effects plus having higher wattage outputs. 
   I'm sure some of the bright minds here could come up with something similar it's just a question of demand.
Jeff Squires
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Offline packetbob

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Re: DIY Lightning Controller
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2011, »
I plan on using my Aethers to simulate lightning for Halloween....
Assuming I get them built before then...
I'm pretty sure that the update speed of DMX will allow for such short events but I'm not sure....


Offline caretaker

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Re: DIY Lightning Controller
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2011, »
Actually the Aethers should look better than quartz floods or regular flood bulbs as the LED's usually give a little more bluish tint to the white lite which in my opinion looks closer to real lightning. As far as the DMX part goes you should have no problem, I used a 900 watt DMX Xenon strobe in my halloween display for lightning and it worked really well with only a few random misfires. I use  Visual show Automation software to control my yard haunt.

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I plan on using my Aethers to simulate lightning for Halloween....
Assuming I get them built before then...
I'm pretty sure that the update speed of DMX will allow for such short events but I'm not sure....
Jeff Squires
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Offline fifer

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Re: DIY Lightning Controller
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2011, »
A "firefly like" lightning simulator has been next on my must-have list for my halloween display. I used the Lynx Express for the 1st time last year for a singing pumpkin display that got great reviews from the neighbors.  Now I need to step it up a notch by adding another effect.

I was hoping a good DIY lightning simulator would turn up,  because at $249 the 2-channel firefly is just a bit too pricey for me.    What I'd REALLY like is a 3-channel version (which they don't even make).   2 channels for stereo lightning (ie lightning "strikes" coming from 2 different directions), plus the 3rd channel for the reverse lightning effect (dimming the house lights after the strike occurs).   

It appears to me a controller like this would not be nearly as complicated as some of the great stuff already developed here,  but it's way beyond my own capabilities to come up with.   Could RJ be tempted to apply his talents to such a project ?  ???

Offline caretaker

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Re: DIY Lightning Controller
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2011, »
If your really think about it you can already do this with a Lynx express or even SS4 and whatever software you use (IE: Vixen or LSP) just flash the light then have the audio of the thunder play and you can have other lights dim as the thunder plays.
Jeff Squires
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Offline therealbigjim

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Re: DIY Lightning Controller
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2011, »
Look at WOW lights.com They have a lightining program using 8 channels of a LOR controller. Watch their sample clip and read thelist of lights they use. I got several single spot lights and am playing with making my own lightining. Lots of mp3 s thunder out on the web.
"If you want more lights sell that old mustang"
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Offline fifer

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Re: DIY Lightning Controller
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2011, »
Caretaker:    Thanks for the reply,  and I've actually already been considering doing it that way, and may end up trying it for this Halloween to see how it works out.   It has a few drawbacks that I haven't figured (a cheap) workaround for, though: 
      -  it would have to be coded in as part of my song sequences, which would mean it would not be random (the lightning would always strike at the same points during the song).   Though this isn't a showstopper  ;), I'd much prefer it to be un-synchronized with the songs.       
      - it would run off the same audio as the sequence,   but I want to run the Thunder to a different, subwoofer enhanced audio system.

therealbigjim:  Thanks for the link.   That helps me see what I could accomplish through programming.   I wouldn't pay $79 for a sequence,  but watching the video was definitely helpful.

Offline wjgiles50

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Re: DIY Lightning Controller
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2011, »
I have been working on something similar.  I went to freesound.org and found a 30 minute long thunder storm track.  I loaded that into Vixen and used the waveform add-in to generate 16 channels then I simply cut and pasted the entire sequence several hundred miliseconds ahead of the sound track.  I will use a mix of strobe and flood lights.  I tested it with just some lamps in the house and the light timing looks good.

Offline typoagain

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Re: DIY Lightning Controller
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2011, »
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I have been working on something similar.  I went to freesound.org and found a 30 minute long thunder storm track.  I loaded that into Vixen and used the waveform add-in to generate 16 channels then I simply cut and pasted the entire sequence several hundred miliseconds ahead of the sound track.  I will use a mix of strobe and flood lights.  I tested it with just some lamps in the house and the light timing looks good.

If I beg and plead really good, can I get a copy of that track? I went to the site and was not able to find it in the time I had. I seriouslly thinking of not doing anything this halloween because I am so busy. Plus I need to go see some other displays.

Last year I just locked up the front door, left the lights on and a bowl of candy outside. I left a sign that said "I went trick or treating too!  So just help yourself to a couple pieces of candy and have a great Halloween." I expected to come home to no candy and maybe even a missing bowl. But there was still candy left! The display was intact and running great.
One of the new guys in Odessa TX.

Offline wjgiles50

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Re: DIY Lightning Controller
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2011, »
If you give me you mail address I will send you a copy.  I am not sure how to post the file here.

Offline zwiller

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Re: DIY Lightning Controller
« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2011, »
Did a bit of googling for lightning stuff and found this thread in my own backyard so to speak... 

Wjgiles, that is a perfect idea!  I am gonna try this.  You could fool with the channels for variance.  For the brownout stuff maybe do an inverse paste to some channels. 

Now how to get music AND thunder?  Although I have not tried it maybe run the thunder/lightning as a background sequence.  How about mixing/sending music to the left channel and thunder to the right.  Pro sound is mono anyway...  Dump yer right signal to a crossover, amp, and sub what have you.  If it were me I would just run em both into same system but alternate music sequences with thunder/lightning sequences in your show schedule.  Less is more...

Re: aether.  I don't think there has been any wattage comparisons made but I have a hard time thinking that an aether would have the same impact as a 800W strobe.  Personally I would want at least 1kw or more.   Would like to try 4 250W photo floods. 
Sam, who is happy he flashed his etherdongle with newest firmware!

"Now, I had heard that word at least ten times a day from my old man. He worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium; a master."

Offline therealbigjim

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Re: DIY Lightning Controller
« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2011, »
I ran a test of my thunder and lightining sequence and made some tweaks. It looks good but some of the lighting needs to be down lighting. All the lights shining up looked kind of strange, like a camp fire with flash powder being thrown on it. My Flip was not charged so video to follow.
"If you want more lights sell that old mustang"
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