Commodore 64 Music in the real world & other related SID stories

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Controlling a light rig with a Commodore!

Now this is quite cool...and different.

The guys from XenonDisco developed in the 90s a series of software and hardware (that looks like a prop from the movie Wargames) to control lighting rigs for their live gigs.

They programmed LSQ & ProLSQ for the Commodore 128 and ProLogic for the Commodore 64. A real cool feature of ProLSQ is that it can use DualCPU, yes, it's possible to link two C128's in a Master-Slave fashion... wow... that really rocks. Obviously, the software required some hardware to drive the lights...

"...First version of the hardware was a quite crude design (called "the triac box") with 8 channels. It basically consisted of 8 optocouplers driving 8 transistors driving 8 triacs. Anyway it fulfilled our demands as we could switch sufficiently heavy loads and interface it directly with a Commodore 64 or 128. The triac box was mounted in the end of a long bar where 16 colored lights was mounted.

Why all these Commodore computers? Well, the Amiga and the PC had entered the scene, and there was a load of these old (=cheap) C64/128:s laying around. Plus the fact that I myself was quite familiar with doing I/O programming on it. The light sequencer was then refined with a unit that was connected between the triac box and the computer which allowed more controlled switching for eliminating e.g. feedback into the audio system, (It was called "the diabolic box" due to the fact that it 1) was a lethal hazard with 220 volts if you removed the duct-taped on carboard lid from top of it, 2) it could easily be broken if you didn't handle it all too careful, sometimes boards were not event bolted down inside the box… but hey, it was always an ever evolving proto.)

The Diabolic box also got dimming-freatures, override-features with audio control (which served as backup incase of a computer breakdown:) Low-pass filtered pre-amps for the audio feed to the computer, etc ,etc. There was always a new feature being added, and the way I remember it we often did the sound checks and then started to play with the new features - we even did a bit of pre-gig-soldering sometimes to tune everything in..."


Full Article here to read all about it and to see more pictures and screenshots.

Diskimages to download here


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