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Pulsar Lighting + BBC Micro


Amy Worrall

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Total long shot, but asking just in case…

Does anyone have a copy of the software that Pulsar Lighting distributed for their BBC Micro based lighting package back in the day? (It worked with the Pulsar Intelligent Interface plus a small three-fader unit.)

There's a tiny bit about the software here: https://www.theatrecrafts.com/archive/cue/cue_38_22.pdf

If anyone has any 5.25" disks kicking about in a loft somewhere, maybe there's a chance!

Amy

 

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Magic Lantern, which is mentioned on that page, was a great idea, just 40 years too early

Slightly post Magic Lantern, Tim Burnham was selling Arri desks, which were actually rebadged ETC ones, I think. They had a sort of rubber caterpillar track rather than a wheel

He demoed it to us at the Hexagon Reading in 87ish but we went with a Strand Galaxy II with beautiful bespoke timber installation to replace the Compact 120

Of course as soon as we got it, Galaxy III appeared!

Edited by David Ripley
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  • 3 months later...

Blimey that brings back memories. I am sure , somewhere , I have the program disk but haven't been able to find it quickly. I still have an interface and the little handbook that came with it. One of my long term (just for fun) projects is to design a module that accepts DMX and converts it to Serial 232 in the correct format for the interface. Not rocket science....just needs time !!!!  I'll post on here if I find anything. Craig

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On 10/6/2023 at 11:45 PM, Amy Worrall said:

If anyone has any 5.25" disks kicking about in a loft somewhere, maybe there's a chance!

Just spotted a couple of boxes near the ceiling of my office. No idea what's on them, as all sorts of BBC gear used them, but definitely not Pulsar software. May even have the odd 8" disk lurking somewhere.

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I was in a small venue in the US in 2018 where their lighting control was some piece of software running on an Apple II. There used to be a web page about the software but I can't find it anymore. I didn't get to use it, unfortunately, as we were in a different space that used QLab for lighting control.

ETA: It might have been this but I could have sworn it was DMX not analog, maybe there were different versions!

Edited by richard_cooper
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On 1/10/2024 at 5:22 PM, craig T said:

Blimey that brings back memories. I am sure , somewhere , I have the program disk but haven't been able to find it quickly. I still have an interface and the little handbook that came with it. One of my long term (just for fun) projects is to design a module that accepts DMX and converts it to Serial 232 in the correct format for the interface. Not rocket science....just needs time !!!!  I'll post on here if I find anything. Craig

It would be amazing if it comes to light!

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On 1/14/2024 at 1:44 PM, JohnH said:

Does anyone have the definition of the serial protocol for PULSAR Intellegent Interface.  I am interested in connecting one to a linux box.

 

Thank you

 

There's some information about the protocol in the Masterpiece manual:

 

Quote

 

This provides information for people wishing to receive serial data from Pulsar and Clay Paky controllers or to drive Pulsar and Clay Paky lighting equipment.

SERIAL FORMAT - 9600 baud, 1 start bit, 8 data bits, 1 stop bit, no parity. The data stream may be fully packed.

CABLE - For RS423 operation, use 2 core screened cable. Screen = Chassis Ground - connect at both ends, Cores: Signal, Signal Ground (which must NOT connect to the screen or chassis). For RS232 operation, over shorter distances, for example from the Masterpiece to the Screen Driver, single core screened cable may be used.

MAXIMUM LENGTH - RS423 1200m, RS232 100m. TERMINATION - line termination is NOT required. BRANCHING - no problem.

HANDSHAKING - not required - so RTS (Pin E or 5 on a BBC Micro or pin 4 on a 25 pin ‘D’ connector) and CTS (Pin D or 2 on a BBC Micro or pin 5 on a 25 pin ‘D’ connector) need to be cross linked at the computer.

RESOLUTION - up to 14 bits, but normally 8 bits (256 possibilities), older products used 7 bits (128 possibilities).

NO OF CHANNELS - 15,360 max. - the protocol allows 128 pages of 120 channels each - for future expansion!

REFRESH - not required. Data is latched by the receiving device. Only the changes need to be transmitted. However it is good practice to send the constant Levels and the Page Number from time to time - for example, when there are no changes to send.

TRANSMISSION PROTOCOL:
Address 
- A byte with bit 7 set is an Address i.e. a Channel Number.
Channels Numbers in the range 1-120 are sent as 128-247.
Channels Numbers in the range 121-240 are sent as 128-247 after having first changed the Page Number from 0 to 1 - see below.

Level - A byte with bit 7 clear is a Level.
ONE or TWO Level bytes with values of 0-127 follow an Address.
For 7 bit resolution, only ONE byte need be sent.
For 8 bit resolution, where bit 0 is Lo, only ONE byte need be sent.
For 8 bit resolution, where bit 0 is Hi TWO bytes need to be sent with bit 6 of the second byte set. For future expansion, bit 5 to bit 0 of the second byte could be used, giving up to 14 bit resolution. If only ONE Level byte is sent, it will not be acted upon until the next Address is received.

Bytes 248 to 255 are used for special codes:
248 
sets all channels to the Level which follows e.g. 0 for Blackout.
249 changes Page Number to the ONE Level byte which follows (0-127). Each of the 128 possible pages allow you to address 120 channels. Receiving units default to page 0 (channels 1-120) at switch on. The Page Number remains in the new page until another 249 sequence is sent.
250-255 are used by Pulsar to send ASCII, Key Presses, Slider Moves & other Controller to Controller information.

 

PRODUCT RESOLUTION:
7 BIT 
- Pulsar BBC Lighting Control Desk program, Intelligent Interface, Clay Paky Golden Scan controller and Golden Scan 1.
8 BIT - All other Pulsar and Clay Paky products.

 

 

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