With the light and power supply on their way, I decided to begin immediately. While the last Artemis lighting project used an RGB strip, and the ship’s in-game data being sent over OSC, I want to use the actual DMX commands this time. I feel that it would be far more stable, and much easier to expand on if I wanted to add anything else down the line.
The first thing I needed to do was find a way to deal with Artemis’ DMX output. The easy way would be to purchase the ENTTEC Open DMX Usb Interface. However, I’m cheap, and would rather not be set back $70 right now. So instead, I decided to take advantage of the fact that it’s open hardware. I researched schematics and datasheets until finding out that DMX information is actually transmitted via RS485. So the task was no longer ‘Turn a USB cable into a DMX cable’. It was now ‘Find a way to convert USB to RS485’. This was the first step in the right direction.
The thing I love about i3Detroit, and hackerspaces in general, is that there’s always boxes of stuff laying around. Anything you want, you can either find it, or find the things you need to make it. I was able to find a cable that went from USB to RS232, and then a box that would convert RS232 to RS485. I was in business! I borrowed the cables and went home to begin working on everything.
The most important rule about any tech work in general, for me at least, is that things will never correctly work the first time. I’m not complaining, or whining about it. It’s just how things work. I see it as more of an interesting challenge than an obstacle. The cable I borrowed is not compatible with Windows 7 64 Bit. This is only a minor setback, however, as I only need to go back to the hackerspace and try another cable. Unfortunately, until Thursday this project is on standby. Luckily, I should have the prototype light by then and I can then handle everything in one quick sweep.
Until next time!