Vixen Lights the Way
command (“S” for set levels), and the
four channel levels for the board.
Now, there’s one bit of extra interface hardware required for the FC- 4.
You see, it was designed to be controlled by small micros like the BASIC
Stamp so it uses TTL level serial, and
that is not what is coming out a PC’s
serial port. The interface is easy: a couple connectors, a common transistor,
and a couple resistors. Figure 10 shows
the schematic for the serial-to-TTL
interface. I use female-female extender
cables (Parallax #805-00012) to daisy-chain the FC- 4 modules. Even at the
relatively tame baud rate of 38.4K and
with a 10-byte message per board, it
only takes about 10. 4 milliseconds to
update all 16 channels, so I can adjust
Vixen’s Event period length (in the
Sequence >> Settings menu) to create
really snappy changes in my output.
You won’t. Vixen is unique — in more
ways than one — and in many places,
you can make changes right in the
menu — this is one of those places. To
perform a “save as” function, you will
open the Sequence menu and then
click on the sequence name to get an
edit box. Change the name and then
press Enter — you’ve just done a “save
as.” This same strategy is used in other
menus, so look for it.
Light It Up
Okay, it’s time to stop reading and
time to start creating cool lighting
sequences. Grab a cup of Joe or
hot chocolate, get your sequences programmed, and then get ready to bask in
the glory of your neighbor’s adoration!
Happy holidays, and may the season bring you and yours all the peace
and joy the world has to offer. NV
Beyond the Basics
Again, the toughest part of Vixen is
going to be the creation of a sequence,
especially one that is in perfect sync
with a piece of music. Just as it’s easy to
pick up a pencil, creating great art with
it is another story – the same holds true
with Vixen, so be patient with yourself.
I promise that the patience will pay off
and once a great sequence is created,
you can fold that into bigger projects
using Vixen’s programs and timers
capabilities. The Programs menu allows
you to tie sequences together. Beyond
that, you can use the Timers function
(also in the Programs menu) to
start your sequences or programs at a
specific time of day.
Oh, one last little Vixen tidbit: You
may have looked for but not found the
Save As… item in the Sequence menu.
■ Jon Williams
December 2007 53