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Setting up ETC echo system to DMX take precedence


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We have just replaced our incandescent houselights (note, NOT emergency lighting) with LED. We have an ETC Arc system with Echo DMX scene controller, echo contact output, 3 x 8 button out stations and a Bluetooth interface.

The old system was based around a Strand outlook system and Act 6 digital. With this, the outstations could set preset lighting such as full, dim, in the round or off, etc, but as soon as the lighting desk came on, it took over, ignoring the outstations. Effectively, DMX has precedence, so as long as the desk was on, nobody could accidentally alter the houselights (except for the lighting operator) but when the desk was turned off it fell back to whatever was on the outstation again.

The Echo system appears to be highest takes precedence, wherever it comes from, so if someone (perhaps accidentally) hits full on an outstation during a show, it overrides the desk and brings up the houselights. Clearly this is unacceptable.

Does anyone know if it’s possible to set up/reprogram an Echo system to be DMX takes precedence and overrides the outstations. Seems such a common, obvious requirement we’re surprised it’s not one of the default profiles.

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One of the configuration options listed for the DMX Scene Controller, mentioned on this page of the manual for the EchoAccess App, is a "DMX Active Action" with possible values of "Preset, Off, Sequence, None". It doesn't elaborate on what the "Off" action actually does, however. (Does it turn whatever sequences or presets are running at the time off? Turn preset/sequence recall off? Turn the DMX output off? Turn all Echo-attached devices off? Or just all devices that identify themselves as lights off? Turn itself off?)

You could try asking on the ETC Community Forums. There does exist this five-year old topic with a reply (from an ETC employee) that states that "The DMX input is only for setup of the scenes that are stored in the controller". Thus - unless ETC have added the functionality to the firmware in the intervening years - it is possible that what you want is not available.

It might be the solution here is sticking a DMX merger/switcher in between the Echo DMX Scene Controller and the ArcSystem Driver(s), with a preference for the feed from the lighting desk.

(Alternatively, there exists a "Keyswitch Station": one of its configurable capabilities is to lock out the button stations in a space when activated, preventing recall of any presets until deactivated again. Bit of a faff having to remember to do it manually (and you have a key to keep track of), but if you frequently suffer outside hirers bringing in their own consoles who plug into the house-DMX lines before patching the houselights (causing the auditorium to suddenly plunge into darkness) it might help ameliorate the situation.)

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bpalmer was very unclear in that description!

The DMX input is merged with the internal presets/sequences and transmitted out of the DMX output.
So the DMX input can only control DMX devices, it can't play back Presets or control the Echo Bus dimmers etc. (It also won't pass RDM)

You'll need the EchoAccess app connected to the Bluetooth interface to configure the scene controller.
IIRC you can also control the system and lock out stations with the app.

I'm not sure exactly what the "DMX Active" options mean either, unfortunately. I'd guess that "Off" is probably what you want.
(I only deal with EchoTouch, which just uses the normal sACN per-channel-priority arbitration so is easy to set it to stomp, HTP or be the backup.)

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That's what I'd have thought, too, David, but it seems our (and many other's, it seems) requirement isn't covered by the way the system is intended to work. Which is annoying, given we demonstrated how the old system worked to the disti before we placed the order.

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Tomo: If the system had a setting for go to this scene when DMX is initially detected, and a reciprocal go to this scene on loss of DMX, that would possibly be a workaround. Being able to lock out the out stations while DMX is present is a need, though.

The way it used to work was on receipt of DMX go to what the DMX is asking for (and ignore any change in the out stations while DMX is present), on loss of DMX go to whatever the out stations that you've been ignoring are currently asking for. This meant you could come into a dark theatre, and go straight to the control box, switch on the houselights from there if you wanted, or switch on the desk and control houselights from there. If you subsequently pushed one of the houselights buttons on the outstations it wouldn't become active until the desk was powered down at the end of the show, so you could set the "fallback" level at any time before turning off the desk.

Edited by alistermorton
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6 hours ago, alistermorton said:

If the system had a setting for go to this scene when DMX is initially detected, and a reciprocal go to this scene on loss of DMX, that would possibly be a workaround.

Having reread the section, it sort of does, but I'm still not sure it quite does what we want.

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