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Glossary of Terms

Helix Main Board

This is the “brains” of each Helix System. The main board consists of a power supply, AC Zero crossing circuit, Parallax Propeller processor, EEPROM, XBee radio and three channel bank ports (each a triple RS422/485 driver). If the Main board is also the Helix Network Controller (HNC) it has a MP3 player and Real Time Clock (RTC). All Main boards have a MicroSD card socket where the firmware, system configuration file, sequence data for its system and, in the case of the HNC, the MP3 songs and schedule are stored. The Main board can directly control 32 channels using the standard four channel random-phase turn-on SSR boards. The SSR boards are connected to the Main board via a standard Cat5 cable. Each of the channel banks can control one of the Helix Daughter boards or a Renard chain or a DMX 512A universe.

Currently there are two versions of the Helix Main board. Both boards are virtually identical and are interoperable. The main differences between the versions are:

  1. The V2 board has a couple of test points that make assembly and troubleshooting easier.
  2. The V2 board has a horizontal fuse holder as opposed to the vertical fuse holder on the V1 board.
  3. The V2 board has a XBee TX LED that shows when the Propeller chip is transmitting to the XBee
  4. The V2 board has the MP3 player powered by 5VDC as opposed to 3.3VDC on the V1 board.
  5. The V1 board had three surface mount quad RS422 drivers and the V2 board has three through-hole quad RS485/422 drivers.
  6. The V2 board is 1/2" taller than the V1 board.
  7. The V2 board has a port for an external trigger that can be used to start a show. (This feature exists in hardware but hasn’t been implemented in the firmware yet)
  8. The V2 board has a port that can be used to drive a MiniRDS board. (This feature exists in hardware but hasn’t been implemented in the firmware yet)

The Helix Main board easily fits in a CG-1500 enclosure.

Helix Daughter Board

This board is little more than a channel driver, there is no intelligence on this board. It is connected to the Helix Main board via a standard Cat5 cable. It receives its signals via the triple RS485/422 drivers on the Main board. The Daughter board can directly control 32 channels using the standard four channel random-phase turn-on SSR boards. The SSR boards are connected to the Daughter board via a standard Cat5 cable. It requires an external 5VDC power supply.

It easily fits in a CG-1000 enclosure.

Helix SSR Daughter Board

This is a standard Helix Daughter board with 32 SSRs integrated on the board. There are four banks of eight random-phase turn on SSRs. Each bank of eight SSRs can be independently powered via a 15A, 120VAC input giving you the ability to switch up to 60A. Each channel should be limited to a max of about 1.75A (with appropriate heat sinks of course). Alternatively all four of the SSR banks can be jumpered together and powered from a single AC input. Any combination between one and four AC inputs can be used.

This board will easily fit in a CG-1500 enclosure.

Helix System

One Helix Main board, up to three Daughter boards and the associated SSR boards

Helix Network

Two or more Helix Systems wirelessly linked together using the XBee radios

Helix Network Controller

This is the first Helix System in a Helix Network. It is responsible for starting and stopping the show, playing the MP3s and providing a sync message to all of the other Helix Systems in the network. There is always one and only one Helix Network Controller in a Helix Network.

Helix Network Node

This is a Helix System that is part of a Helix Network and is not the Helix Network Controller. It is only responsible for controlling its channels under the timing of the Helix Network Controller.

Sequence

This is a music and light performance, created with Vixen that has the lights synchronized with music. The music is divided into discrete time slots called events. The time between events is called the event period. A typical event period is 50ms or 20 time slots per second. The lights are divided into different channels. Each channel is an element of your overall display. The state of each light channel can be changed at each event. The collection of all of the state changes for every event is the sequence.

Helix Show

This is an ordered list of sequences and pauses between sequences that are played on the Helix. There can be up to 99 sequences and pauses in a Helix Show.

Helix Playlist

This is an ordered list of MP3 songs that the Helix plays between Helix Shows. There can be up to 99 songs in a Helix Playlist.

Helix Channel Map

This is a map between the channels in the Vixen sequence and the Helix channel banks. The channel map allows you to map contiguous channels from a Vixen sequence to specific channel banks on the Helix. It also lets you specify how each channel bank should be used, i.e. to drive a Helix Daughter Board, to drive a Renard chain or to drive a DMX 512A universe.

Helix Schedule

This is an ordered list of Helix Shows and Helix Playlists with associated start and stop times. There can be up to a total of 9 Helix Shows and Playlists for each day of the week. The one major limitation at this time is that the Helix Show or Playlist must start and stop in the same day.

Helix Network Supervisor

This is a Microsoft Windows application that is used for several aspects of managing the Helix System. Its primary functions are to convert the Sequences created by Vixen to a format that the Helix can use and create the Helix Shows, Helix Playlists and Helix Schedules. It is also used to set the time on the RTC, run test routines, start/stop a Helix Show and check the status of a Helix Network. The Helix Network Supervisor requires a XBee radio and XBee USB carrier board to perform the setup and testing functions.

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