Homestead Grays Bridge [Horatio]

Homestead Grays Bridge [Horatio]

One of our first Horatio installations was on the Homestead Grays Bridge in Pittsburgh, PA. As part of creating a new lighting installation for the bridge, Clear Story Creative incorporated a Horatio in the system, with a few customizations specific to this project. The Horatio not only monitors all parts of the system, both electronically (through RDM) and visually (through a webcam); it also provides for preset recall through an easy web interface.

The Project

The Homestead Grays Bridge soars 100′ over the Monongahela River, at the south end of Pittsburgh. When built in 1936, it connected Pittsburgh to the Homestead Steel Works, one of the largest steel mills in the Mon Valley.

The Homestead Works is now gone, replaced by The Waterfront, a large shopping center that incorporates the architecture of the bridge into its layout. The Waterfront hired Clear Story to light the bridge from within the shopping center, highlighting and showing off the structure of the bridge. The resulting installation consists of dozens of fixtures on the roofs of four separate buildings, as well as some in-grade fixtures on the bridge piers, all connected via Lumenradio CRMX units.

Incorporating Horatio

For this project, Clear Story wanted to be able to easily monitor a variety of fixtures in remote locations, which is exactly what Horatio is designed to do. They also asked if we could make a few modifications to give their clients extra features, and we were happy to comply – Horatio is designed to allow for easy customization and add-ons, and we were thrilled to be able to test out some new functionality!

The final result is that while the Horatio monitors the lighting network through available RDM sensors (including signal strength on the in-grade Anolis fixtures), it also interfaces with a webcam pointed at the bridge and provides for preset recall from the ETC Mosaic controller.

Horatio dashboard with webcam
Horatio dashboard with webcam

The Webcam Interface

The Horatio triggers the webcam once an hour, taking a low resolution thumbnail that allows you to see the current state of the bridge lighting. This thumbnail is included in the status summary in Clear Story’s Horatio dashboard, so whenever they look at the website, they can see a reasonably current view of the bridge. It also gives them a historic record of the bridge lighting, so they can look back and see whether the lights were on on a given night. It is possible to request an image through the website as well; this gets passed through to the webcam and a few seconds later refreshes the page with a new image.

Preset Recall

Clear Story also wanted to give their clients an easy way to control the bridge lighting, even at a moment’s notice. To this end, we actually created a minisite for Clear Story, hosted on their own domain, with their own branding. We then provided a sign-on for their client, who sees only the camera and preset controls.

Custom branded minisite with preset recall buttons
Custom branded minisite with preset recall buttons

This minisite is accessible through any web interface, which means the client can log in and change the bridge lighting from anywhere – including their phone. Usually the lighting is on a set schedule, but this ability to change it easily at a moment’s notice was put to the test just months after the installation was complete: when Prince passed away in April 2016, the Homestead Grays Bridge lit up purple in tribute; a few months later, it was bathed in blue to honor the fallen police officers in Dallas.

Internet & Security

The Waterfront Horatio is also notable because internet access isn’t available where the system is located. The Horatio uses a cell modem in order to connect to the internet, which is a feature that is now available on all Horatio installations. As with any of our installations, if the Horatio loses its signal, our system sends Clear Story a real-time alert that it has stopped receiving data from the Horatio. Meanwhile, the Horatio continues monitoring and logging data, which it then sends as soon as it regains its signal.

For security purposes, the Horatio system works as a proxy, only sending specific UDP strings to the Mosaic to change the presets; it doesn’t expose the entire Mosaic web interface to the internet, which reduces the risk of the bridge lighting being hacked.

This project was a great chance for us to test out some of the many features that can be added to a Horatio, and we were thrilled to be involved!