Control Freakout

With all the amazing technical wizardry going on within our industry and without, it’s always surprising when you happen upon one of those little glaring gaps left in the chain of technological solutions—gaps where you are sure the technology exists for a solution, but none exist.

My favorite (or least favorite—depends on the day) of these gaps is the lack of easy and affordable translators between various control protocols. DMX and RDM and the various lighting languages are bad enough, but once you get into trying to control projectors, serial devices and playback software it’s easy to get lost in a maze of MIDI, RS232, RS422, SMPTE, TCP/IP based systems…Until prying your eyes out seems like a viable alternative.

Don’t misunderstand me, crowd of people out there saying, “Hey, wait just a minute.” I know there are perfectly workable solutions for almost any control protocol translation problem. Enttec, Artistic Licence, and Doug Fleenor Design all make great hardware-based products for this purpose—particularly from DMX to whatever you need.

But for real flexibility and ease of use what is needed a software-based solution. Here’s a good model: Bome’s MIDI translator. Using a simple MIDI-USB connector, Bome’s simple but powerful interface allows you to record any MIDI signal and translate it into a keystroke or a series of keystrokes. Bonus: it does it for free (although it is such a great product you should buy a license to support Bome). How hard would it be to use the exact same interface with a DMX dongle or a USB-RS232 adaptor to set up corresponding commands and responses. It could even be bidirectional!

If one of you out there know of a product like this that is hiding from the world, please let me (and the rest of us) know by emailing me at [email protected]. If something like this doesn’t already exist: please, will someone get crackin’ on that? Preferably with a USB breakout to MIDI, RS232, DMX, etc.

That’s my control freakout.

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