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Topic: noob help! Visual Cueing System for theatre (Read 2771 times) previous topic - next topic


Hi all, i got an arduino uno in the hope that it will help me with with a project i'm doing. I'm completely new to programming (know absolutely zero, played around with the arduino examples but the code doesn't make sense) and i know a bit of electronics and would appreciate any help. Basicly want to control 4 LEDs with 3 buttons with the arduino. On the attached image i've got 2 boxes, each has got a red LED and a Green LED, 'Box A' has got two momentary switches 'B1' and 'B2" and 'Box B' has got one 'B3", boxes connected to one another with CAT5 cable. When 'B1' on 'Box A' is pressed i want both red LEDs to switch on, when 'B3' on "Box B" is then pressed both red LEDs must start blinking. Now when 'B1' on 'Box A' is pressed again the green LED on 'Box B' must swith on, and the green LED on 'Box A' must start blinking. When 'B3' is pressed for the second time, green LED on 'Box A' must stay on and green LED on 'Box B' must switch off. Button 'B2' on 'Box A' resets the program to start from the beginning.

I hope someone will be able to help me with this.



Not difficult to realize.

But is is the only way of using it ? I mean will always order be processed like that ?

What is the length of the line ? will this wire line be only for your stuff or it you will use your dmx or sound patch through the theater ?


Yep it works in that excact order, it is to be used between the stage manager and sound operator as the sound operator does noet wear a comms headset so it has to be a visual system. The commands works as follows:

Stage manager => Sound Tech      : standby cue!   (B1 pressed 1st time)
Sound Tech      => Stage manager : standing by!    (B3 pressed 1st time)
Stage Manager  => Sound Tech     : Go Cue!          (B1 pressed 2nd time)
Sound Tech      => Stage Manager : Cue running!    (B3 pressed 2nd time)

Stage manager the resets for next cue.               (B2 Pressed)

The wire line is dedicated to this system, at this stage the line is roughly between 30 an 40 metres, i don't know if this cable run is too long? any ideas?



oh yes, and the reset button 'B2' must be ably to reset the system at any time during the run.


May 04, 2011, 01:38 am Last Edit: May 04, 2011, 02:04 am by Grag38 Reason: 1
you need 2 arduinos, 3 push boutons, 4 leds, few resistors, 2 max232 circuits, few condensator and a 2 small softwares (one for the FOH and 1 for the Backstage). And at list 40m of 3 shielded wire cable (audio or ethernet cat 5).

That's all.

How do you want to proceed in this post ? Do you want people from this forum realize your project ? Do you want to put finger in it  ?

I mean 2 arduino because of the length. MAx232 will allow the system to communicate with rs232 signal (even if people says that you can not go over 10 meters, I already did it in hard power environment until 100m without any trouble).

The 2 arduino will 'talk' to each other through a very simple protocol. And every time one get or send a message to the other, the other will respond and do the job for what it is supposed to do.

Still ok ?


A few bits:
What's your budget?  If you have, say... $300, you can be up and running early next week.   If you want to do it for $100, it's going to take a bit more work, but be easier.  If you need to do this for $50, you're in trouble.

What's your timeline?  If you have the time to learn more about electronics (the software for this is reasonably easy), you can construct such things as a DMX shield, then put an RJ-45 jack on it, as you seem to suggest that you're locked into cat-5, or just prefer it.

If time is short, you can LIKELY (depending on environmental variables) go with XBEEs to communicate between the units.  40 meters is not a problem, the noisy environment of a theater can kill reception, though.  Noisy lights, lots of steel....  Blech.   Still, though, I'm 99% sure you could do it with easily returnable parts if not.

Is there a LAN in the theater with drops at the locations you need to hit? Could use actual TCP/IP to do it.

Cheap and fast? voltage converters made with spare MOSFETS that would take your serial connection and bidirectionally convert it to logic level at each unit.  Throw each unit in a Radio Shack project box and call it done.  With the application being so simple, you could probably even use simple transistors to dump a 5v 500mA signal down a line of the cable that would trip a transistor on the oth.....   I'm getting silly.

OH WAIT: 3 watt IR LEDS.  You could also (~$12 in parts for just the comms) build an IR lLED based comm system using psycho high powered IR LEDS.

Remember that if you are AT ALL unsure of your comm system, each unit should be sending it's status frequently. There's no reason not to.


I think the solution is much simpler than Grag38's estimation.  You could do it with nothing more than the four LEDs, four transistors, three buttons, a few (6~8) resistors, and a very small Arduino (like a Nano or a Pro Mini.)  Box B needs nothing but the two LEDs, the button and the cable connector.  You could almost do this without a microcontroller at all. But in this modern age, it is easier to program a sophisticated microcontroller.  30 years ago we would have done it with discrete TTL or CMOS logic gates.

I would add a function to allow box A to detect and signal a cable/Box B fault. It would be trivial without adding any extra hardware.

You're absolutely right.  The only issue I see with this is going to be the communication method. 

In reading back, it LOOKS like the OP might have been suggesting that this be done with ONE UNO.  This almost simplifies things.

If we look at the remote unit (non-uno) as just a simple display / button, it could be done just fine, though the resistance of the cable would need to be tested and appropriately lower resistors used on the receiving end.  If the cable was bulk or well labeled, you can get the DC resistance per meter from it. This shouldn't be confused with the impedance, as we're not passing digital signals in this scenario.  Given that cat5e can handle at least 100mA / conductor, this should be much easier than I was making it!


I'm not at all sure why I seem to enjoy drawing up pretty pictures for OTHERS' projects when a napkin is all I ever manage for myself, but here's a thought based on my last post.

This assumes power only on the UNO (stage manager) side, with the only connection on the sound tech side is the cat5.   Note that I've put RJ45 connections in here, but there's no need.   If I were doing this, and I wanted it to last, and I was SURE it wouldnt be moved, I'd just wire it directly into each box using strain relief boots at the openings.

Slightly more fancy?

Ultimate fancy (The sound guys all love using the Neutrik stuff - and with good reason)?

Neutrik stuff comes from Mouser.com
Assmann stuff comes from a Seinfeld episode.
um. Digi-key.com

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