Monthly Roundup: 12/5/16

Ben spent most of the last month glued to his computer, working on product development, Horatio updates, and lots and lots of coding. But that’s not to say it wasn’t an exciting month! Here’s a few peeks at what we’ve been up to:

  • We created a mockup for a public art installation in downtown Pittsburgh, which includes a web-portal control interface for an RGBW light. The controller also tracks temperature and humidity, since the lights in this installation are going to live in some pretty extreme conditions. (More on that soon!)
  • The new revision of the Horatio hardware now sports an internal battery backup, allowing us to distinguish between a power failure and a network failure.
  • We have a new system in the works (Code Name: Prometheus), and we’re getting close to a beta release and announcement. Can’t say more than that yet, but we’ll have more details for you in next month’s roundup post!

Monthly Roundup: 11/7/16

It’s almost two weeks since Ben got back from LDI, and we’ve finally recovered enough to post an update! The show went really well – Ben got the chance to talk to a lot of great people, the comfy chairs were a hit, and we even won an award! We’re not sure what for exactly, but you can check out the Barnelli Awards on Twitter to see the other winners – we’re in good company! We’re pretty sure it’s because they figured out the secret messages hidden in our booth. (Did you? You’ve got all the clues you need in the photos below – first person to figure it out and leave a comment below wins a prize!)

Thanks to everyone who stopped by the booth and made our first time exhibiting at LDI so successful. If you didn’t make it to the show, check out the photos below to see what you missed!

LDI, Here We Come!

LDI Booth in a BoxWe’re headed to LDI this week (exhibiting for the first time!), and we’re excited to show off some great products and chat with people over locally-crafted pop while reclining in our super-squishy chairs. Here’s a peek at what you’ll see if you stop by and see us in Booth #1782:

A live demo of the Horatio Architainment Monitoring System – an affordable, easily integrated, internet-connected system that monitors unattended lighting systems, collects diagnostic data and sends out immediate notifications of problems. Designed to be manufacturer agnostic, Horatio dramatically increases the accessibility and visibility of the inner workings of any lighting network.

The Prospero DMX cue light controller – a reconfigurable controller that enables the creation of simple, flexible DMX cue light systems, providing the benefits of a custom cue light controller without the expense. Developed to the specifications of Broadway electricians and stage managers, it has been used over the past two years on more than 30 Broadway productions and tours, as well as installations in regional theatres and road houses.

The MSC Box – the newest addition to BPI’s product line, the MSC Box is a unique tool that provides visibility into a MSC message stream and can also pause the data stream, temporarily isolating portions of a show’s control system. We’ll be giving two MSC Boxes away this week – one at the show, and another one online, so follow us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter if you aren’t making it to Vegas this year!

If you are at the show, stop by our booth and relax for a bit while you chat with Ben – we’ll be fully stocked with a supply of pop from Natrona Bottling Company, including root beer, ginger beer and almond cream soda. A word of warning, though: the chairs are so comfy, you might not want to leave…

More product info

Horatio

Website
Cut Sheet

Prospero

Website
Cut Sheet

MSC Box

Website
Cut Sheet

Weekly Roundup: 7/4/16

Ben and Horatio had a busy week last week, with great news on several different fronts. We made arrangements for the installation of Horatio Outdoor beta units in two different locations and applications (more on that in the weeks to come!), and Ben spent some time in the shop doing an overhaul of Horatio’s email alert system, to make it more streamlined and easy to use. Meanwhile, the Horatio at the Petersen Automotive Museum, one of our very first installations, celebrated 5 months of continuous uptime this week (that’s 152 days!).

Ben also continued working with Clear Story to develop a custom 4-universe lighting controller, all while avoiding being pressure washed through the shop’s leaky windows.

Weekly Roundup: 6/27/16

Ben’s been busy with several top-secret projects this week (more on those in the next few months), but he also found time to do some more development on the outdoor Horatio unit that we’ll be beta testing soon.  This week he was mostly working with those giant metal halide lamps he acquired last week – setting up a system to log data as they cycled, and then analyzing that data (graph of a single lamp striking below).  He then used that data to create an algorithm that remotely detects lamp strikes, which will allow the new Horatio to monitor outdoor lighting in a variety of applications.

Coffee geek that he is, Ben also discovered that Aeropress Inverted is a thing, and he’s been brewing his coffee that way all week.  He says it’s even better than the standard Aeropress method – which is pretty good all on its own!

Weekly Roundup: 6/20/16 (well, really, it’s most of the month of June)

It’s been a busy month here at BPI, starting with the grand opening of the Water Cube downtown, followed by the smallest member of our team turning three!  Her birthday presents included a puzzle featuring guys in hard hats (just like her dad!), a camera, and a tutu.  Also a cake with math on it – she’s a well-rounded kid.

Immediately after the birthday festivities, Ben jumped into work on two different custom Horatio installations, which included finding and playing with some used metal halide lamps:  he needed to figure out how to monitor the life span of similar lamps that will be integrated with one of the Horatios.  Being the geek that he is, he was super excited to find that Carnegie Mellon’s facilities department had boxes of old lamps lying around for the taking…  (For scale reference, each of those lamps is about 9 inches long.)

To round out the last week, Ben also did a pre-inspection for a school district that he’ll be doing rigging inspections for soon.  Summer is the season for inspections, since so many theaters are dark!

Weekly Roundup: 5/30/16

Ben had a crazy schedule last week, working on at least 3 different projects every day and taking him everywhere from 2 different construction sites to the Water Cube downtown, The Beauty Shoppe in East Liberty, and at least three different coffee shops.

He installed a DIN rail Horatio in a newly-built office building (surface-mounted inside the rack, since there was no more space for a rack-mount version), cleaned up some programming for the Water Cube’s grand opening next Thursday, had great meetings with a bunch of interesting people doing interesting things (more on that later), and attended an Internet of Things panel hosted by Fygment, a great local organization that’s bringing together entrepreneurs of all kinds in Pittsburgh.

Upon returning to the shop at the end of a long day, he also discovered that someone had logged into the Horatio demo site and played with the lights while he was away. (Hello, whoever you are, and thanks for the blue disco lighting!)

Weekly Roundup: 5/16/16

Not a lot of photos this week, but it’s been busy nonetheless! Ben finished up work on the Water Cube, which soft opened at the EQT Children’s Theatre Festival downtown on Thursday. In addition to installing a custom Horatio with more than 30 sensors to monitor the water and lighting systems, he also ended up designing a custom lighting controller and helping to troubleshoot some lighting problems. The end result is a pretty great installation – great art, great lighting, and still and sparkling water on tap!

We also spent some time this week getting the shop ready for a party! The Pittsburgh Office of Public Art is hosting an event for local artists as part of their Public Art 201 series, and we’re excited to meet some more Pittsburgh artists and chat with them about what we do.

And as always, Ben continues work on Horatio development – the outdoor beta unit spent some more time on the roof this week, and it held up great in those crazy windstorms. We’re hoping to get the chance to beta test it around the city this summer with the PGH Lab project – our application is in, and our fingers are crossed! We’ve had such great experiences working with the city on various projects over the last few years, we’d love to have them give Horatio a spin!

Horatio Monitoring System – Available Now!

Y'all Need Horatio

“Hardware eventually fails, software eventually works.” — Michael Hartung

A reality that we all face is that the hardware that controls our lighting systems will eventually fail. Systems with an operator are easiest to maintain; when something fails, the operator sees it and works to resolve it before the next show. Unattended systems, like architectural lighting systems, don’t have someone watching the show every cycle, and failures can accumulate until someone notices and reports them.

With the launch of our Horatio Monitoring System, there is now a streamlined solution for monitoring unattended installations. Horatio connects to a lighting network and actively monitors the system to ensure that everything is working properly. Monitoring data is collected in the cloud in real-time and notifications are pushed via text or email when errors are detected.

Saks Winter Palace

Our first Horatio installation, and the impetus for its development, was the Winter Palace on Fifth holiday display at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York. Chris Werner Design, American Christmas, and Saks Fifth Avenue developed an ambitious facade display consisting of 176 universes of ArtNet driving thousands of light fixtures, with a cadre of Mac Minis as back-end media servers.

Horatio monitored all of this: pinging Minleon NDBs to make sure they were still online, watching CITP discovery packets to track the status of the media servers, collecting syslog data from the various embedded systems and network switches, logging OSC messages from QLab3, and safely providing a backup storage solution for the MA Lighting GrandMA2 console. The event ran from 4:30pm-midnight for five weeks, and on several occasions Horatio was able to notify the team of potentially show-stopping errors that occurred during the day, giving technicians plenty of time to reset things before the display went live again that evening.

“Horatio’s logging functions provided an incredibly powerful forensic tool which allowed for remarkably accurate and fast troubleshooting of the system by members of the design team scattered throughout the country. Horatio’s persistent monitoring and error reporting allows our team to boast “zero down-time”: each and every scheduled performance ran on-time.” — Chris Werner

Petersen Automotive Museum

Horatio’s second installation was at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The complete renovation of the Museum features a multi-layered lighting control system with an ETC Mosaic at the head. During the programming of the system, Horatio’s remote syslog feature with filtering and searching capabilities allowed Chris Werner Design to rapidly troubleshoot programming issues in the interactions between the ETC Mosaic, MediaLon Show Controller, and the rest of the show control systems. Now that the museum is open, Horatio continues to monitor the network infrastructure, lighting controller, Ethernet-DMX gateways, and remote power supplies, alerting technicians of any problems and failures in the system.

“Horatio’s frequent communication with the connected hardware allowed for the very thorough assessment of network functionality, identifying and eliminating hiccups prior to the facility’s grand opening. Currently, Horatio tracks all triggered events within the museum’s lighting system, allowing for easy verification of show playback throughout the various ‘signature’ galleries and up-to-the-minute status monitoring of all components. We have been given such a powerful diagnostic tool and remote monitoring device! It’s a Swiss Army knife for lighting systems requiring any level of remote support.” — Chris Werner

Customized installations

We’ve also worked with Clear Story Creative to integrate Horatio units into two of their recent projects, both of which required not only lighting system monitoring, but also a customized interface to improve the end-user experience.

The first of these was the bridge lighting at The Waterfront in Homestead, PA. This is a rooftop and grade mounted lighting system designed and installed by Clear Story. The lighting system consists of four different lighting positions linked by Lumenradio CRMX units, as well as in-grade fixtures with integrated radios, with the back end controlled by a Pharos TPC.

Connecting to the internet from its integral GSM link, the Horatio on this system monitors the Lumenradio network and fixture health on the RDM-enabled fixtures, logs syslog and OSC messages, and integrates an IP camera for live camera views. Additionally, we created a custom mini site with Clear Story’s branding that gives the Waterfront staff the ability to easily adjust the bridge lighting through preset recall. No special VPN software or configuration is required; the client simply logs into a custom page on the Horatio website.

The second project with Clear Story was St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church in Millvale, PA. Clear Story is providing a lighting system, controlled by an Interactive Technologies CueServer, to illuminate the Maxo Vanka murals covering the inside of this historic church. In addition to typical monitoring, their Horatio has been customized as a UDP-to-Serial bridge, allowing the CueServer to send simple UDP messages to trigger control of the Middle Atlantic UPS as a sequencer for the audio system.

Find Out More

After these successful beta installations, we are launching Horatio this week, with units available on a 4-6 week lead. For more information, visit the Horatio website, or email Ben at hello@benpeoples.com.

Photo Credits:
Horatio:  Ken Lager Photography
Saks:  Robert Figueira
Petersen:  Kevin McCauley

Mix N’ Match Grand Opening

Mix N’ Match, the public art installation that Ben’s been working on in Market Square all week, had its grand opening at the Bicentennial Gallery Crawl this past Friday, and it was a huge hit!

We’ll be posting more details about the project and our part in it later this week, but for now, check out this great write-up in the Trib, see a few more of our photos below, and stop by Market Square to play with it yourself!