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Light-O-Rama allows your computer to control your lights via a variety of hardware controllers. Primary among these are Light-O-Rama controllers. Other kinds of controllers can be used, but most lighting effects (such as fading and twinkling) are only supported on Light-O-Rama controllers.
Each Light-O-Rama controller is assigned a unit ID. A unit ID is an identifier for the controller, and is two characters long, with each character being a digit (0-9) or a letter from A to F. For example, 37, 25, 4B, C8, and DA are all valid unit IDs. Some such combinations are reserved, though, and should not be used for as a unit ID. Specifically, 00, F1 through F9, and FA through FF are not valid unit IDs.
Controllers will only react to lighting commands that are intended for their own unit ID; if two controllers on the same network have the same unit ID, both will react simultaneously to the same commands. However, a unit set up to use input triggers must have its own unique unit ID, not shared with any other unit. Also, the Hardware Utility may react strangely with respect to a unit ID which has more than one unit - for example, detecting them as a single unit, or misdetecting them as some unknown controller type.
The unit ID of a controller is set in one of two ways, depending upon the type of controller:
•Most controllers have physical switches on them that allow you to set the unit ID by moving the switches.
•Otherwise, the Hardware Utility can be used to select a unit ID for controllers without such switches.
It is generally a good habit to assign your unit IDs sequentially starting at 01. This is not necessary, but it will speed up some maintenance such as configuring and testing your controllers in the Hardware Utility.
Within a controller, each string of lights is assigned a specific circuit ID. This allows Light-O-Rama to make different lights do different effects at the same time, using the same controller.
Light-O-Rama controllers can be set up in standalone mode, in which a sequence is downloaded to them in advance via the Hardware Utility, or hooked up to your computer via a COM port, in which case the Light-O-Rama Show Player will send them lighting commands (during scheduled shows), or the Light-O-Rama Sequence Editor will (on demand for a single sequence).
A controller in standalone mode can also send lighting commands to other controllers that are hooked up to it via phone lines or data lines, similarly to the way that the Show Player or Sequence Editor would. Therefore, in standalone mode, a sequence only needs to be downloaded (via the Hardware Utility) to a single controller; the other controllers hooked up to it will receive their commands from it.
Only one source of lighting commands should be present in any group of controllers that are hooked up to each other - either the Show Player, the Sequence Editor, or a single controller with a downloaded sequence. Having more than one source of commands will cause unexpected and undesired results, as lighting commands will be missed or garbled.
The Show Player and Sequence Editor can control up to sixteen different networks of Light-O-Rama controllers, each hooked up over a different COM port. These networks are referred to as "Regular" (which is the default), "Aux A", "Aux B", "Aux C", and so on, up to "Aux O".
One main use of multiple networks is for displays with very large numbers of controllers; they enable more lighting commands to be sent out at a single time. They also allow you to set up a sort of star network centered on your PC, rather than a single long daisy chain of controllers; both of these may make such sequences perform more smoothly.
Another use is for displays whose controllers are hooked up using wireless communications, via a Light-O-Rama Easy Light Linker. Wireless communications has a lower top speed than wired, but using multiple wireless networks allows commands to be sent over all of them simultaneously. So, depending upon how many controllers you have and how many lighting effects you send them during your show, using multiple wireless networks could make your show perform more smoothly than using a single wireless network.
It is simplest, though, to just use a single Light-O-Rama network, and in many situations, this is perfectly sufficient.
The COM ports represented by each of the networks can be set via the Light-O-Rama Network Preferences program. For example, the following picture shows COM1 assigned to the Regular network, COM 24 assigned to auxiliary network Aux O, and the remainder of the networks unassigned:
Multiple COM ports assigned to various Light-O-Rama networks
When a sequence is created using the Sequence Editor, each of its channels can be assigned a string of lights using the Channel Settings dialog or the Channel Configuration screen (the former may be more convenient for modifying a single channel, and the latter for modifying multiple channels at once).
For Light-O-Rama controllers, these allow you to set the network, unit ID, and circuit ID assigned to the channel. Without these being assigned for a channel, any lighting effects made for that channel will not happen on your actual lights.
For example, the following Channel Settings dialog shows a channel for a Light-O-Rama controller on the regular network, with unit ID 03 and Circuit ID 7:
The Channel Settings dialog for a Light-O-Rama controller
The Channel Settings dialog can be accessed by left-clicking on the channel's button, or by selecting "Change Channel Settings" from the channel button's right-click popup menu. The Channel Configuration screen can be accessed by selecting "Channel Configuration" from the Tools menu.
The Channel Configuration screen