ARTnet or shARTnet?

Hi, So my theatre has assigned me the duty of moving some linear actuators for automation using a (not the, but a) lighting console. In experimentation and building I was able to do this with my laptop, with Nomad software and license key installed, over ARTnet with an arduino equipped with an ethernet shield and a motor driver module.  Everything worked well, but at some point we'd moved into the space to install, and could not get our Nomad Puck to send the commands. We brought in an Element, and an Ion, and a different laptop with the nomad software and license key, and no other device besides my own laptop is able to control these things.

I've matched the settings, and ensured that ARTnet is being sent to the proper channels in the patch, we've modified the IP address and subnet masks and we've tried downgrading the software version on other laptops to match that of my own (2.5.2). The desired control consoles can all ping the arduinos over the network, but none seem to send it the proper ARTnet values.

Admittedly, I'm very new to ARTnet, or ETCnet, or anything that isn't a dmx cable. This project has taught me a lot, but I'm still missing some key information, apparently. Our head lx is stumped, as is our TD, and even our technician wasn't able to help.

The show opens on Friday and everything is in place now, I'm afraid that I have no interest in rebuilding much of the arduino or its code to make this work. Just hoping to get my personal laptop back, and am baffled how it could be so special as to be the only Nomad that can work with these things.

Any ideas?

  • Arduino will really struggle to do this.
    The AVR-based ones have very little bandwidth and processing available and thus gets very quickly swamped once on a 'real' network. They'll usually work just fine in testing with one or two universes of data, then fall over at random intervals once there's many universes and all the other network data flying around.
    - Art-net is particularly bad because the receiving device has to receive all packets that might be Art-net and process them in the CPU before it can work out that it's not Art-net, an Art-net subprotocol it doesn't care about, or a DMX universe it doesn't want.

    OSC is a much better fit for controlling an Arduino-based device, as it is command-based (Do this. Do that other thing), rather than streaming (be like this. be like this. be like this).

    OSC over TCP means that the commands will arrive in order (better late than never) and (eventually) tells you if the other end vanishes, while UDP only promises to be fast (better never than late).

    Finally: You must make absolutely certain that the system as a whole is safe using other means.
    Lighting consoles are not certified to control stage machinery or any other potentially hazardous devices, primarily because these network protocols are not designed for that.
    If the lights turn red at the wrong time it's an artistic problem but nobody gets hurt. If an actuator moves unexpectedly then somebody may end up in hospital or worse, and you're personally in court explaining why you did what you did - or didn't.

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