Escient Fireball Module

TurnipTruckTurnipTruck Junior MemberPosts: 1,485
Greetings,

I have been working with the Escient-supplied fireball module. There are times when Fireball does not respond to the UI.

Does anyone know of any circumstances that cause response to stop or what re-establishes communications? I have not been able to put my finger excatly on it.

Thanks.

Comments

  • ericmedleyericmedley Senior Member - 4000+ posts Posts: 4,159
    Greetings,

    I have been working with the Escient-supplied fireball module. There are times when Fireball does not respond to the UI.

    Does anyone know of any circumstances that cause response to stop or what re-establishes communications? I have not been able to put my finger excatly on it.

    Thanks.
    there have been many posts concerning the Fireball. You might do a search and find what you need. Suffice it to say that thier 3rd party control protocol is pretty lame. Dave Hawthorne has had some experience with them as well.

    The only way I've been able to get reasonable control of them is to use both RS-232/IP control and also an IR emmitter to catch the things that just don't seem to work reliably. Even then, it's pretty hit and miss.

    We quit spec-ing them in systems for this very reason.
  • viningvining X Member Posts: 4,353
    I don't believe you can communicate if the Escient front panel display is in set up or something. This may or may not have anything to do with your problem.

    Also I think if you display a music list or movie list for that matter and just hit play it won't. You have to actually select a song from the list first. I think it needs extra code to set a default of 1 for the index so if you select and album and hit play it goes directly to the first song. I think it's probably reset to zero after an album selection and when you hit play the array index it out of bounds so nothing is played. I should have looked into that because it's a pretty stupid bug that needs fixing.
  • DHawthorneDHawthorne Junior Member Posts: 4,584
    The Escient module is more reliable than the AMX one; but it was obviously written by someone who does not program in NetLinx primarily. This doesn't affect it's operation, but failings in the protocol itself limit what can be done efficiently.

    If you are losing communications, you should be getting a pop up asking you to confirm the settings. If that is what is happening, you need to really go over the network and the Fireball settings carefully. I had this happening because an installer set one up with a duplicate IP address; I'm surprised it worked at all, but it did, and kept going on and off line.

    If it's not communications, it's just the general slowness of the device. Sometimes they are zippy, sometimes they are pigs. Like Eric, we are moving away from Escient; instead we are using ReQuest. It's a significantly more solid product ... the problem is that the Escient hits a price point that is much more accessible to some customers, so I don't think they will completely go away.
  • TurnipTruckTurnipTruck Junior Member Posts: 1,485
    I should have been more descriptive. There are times when you would go to list your songs or movies and nothing happens. Then, shortly thereafter it works.

    Someone posted in an earlier thread that the sequence of pushes, through the select-device page on into the media pages is important. This is what I am trying to figure out. There is usually some quirk to these things and that's what I'm trying to figure out.

    Thanks.
  • Spire_JeffSpire_Jeff Formerly Caffeinated Programmer Posts: 1,917
    I am currently using the Escient written module (with a couple of minor adjustments). The newest module they released (v5.0.1) is A LOT better than the old one they had. I am not experiencing any major problems with the module, but there are a couple of quirks.The most common quirk I deal with seems to only happen with a system reboot. It seems that my attempts to have it update the touch panel are too quick occasionally. Simply switching to MUSIC or RADIO, then back to MOVIES (or staying at MUSIC or RADIO) gets things flowing (If it happened often, I'd massage the code a little).

    Occasionally, I do see a delay of a couple seconds (2-4 seconds max) before data will populate, but in my eyes, that is acceptable. This is an entry level product in my eyes and I think that the features it provides at the price point make it a good product.

    If you have the option, you could always use the direct control of the video display. I haven't had the opportunity to use it recently, but the last time I used it, I seem to recall it working well.

    Jeff
  • ericmedleyericmedley Senior Member - 4000+ posts Posts: 4,159
    i've used the newer one too. I agree that it is better. (better being a very relative term)

    One of the odd quirks I ran into with it was (probably not even a mistake per se) that of on-screen page navigation.

    When using the IR remote, hitting the Radio/CD/DVD button would take the on-screen display to that page. However, using the same buttons on the AMX TP page would not. Only after you had selected a new thing and hit the play button on the AMX TP would the on-screen display change over to whatever you were doing.

    Not a big deal but the customers sure complained. I had to send an IR command to force the on-screen display to follow the AMX TP.
  • Spire_JeffSpire_Jeff Formerly Caffeinated Programmer Posts: 1,917
    ericmedley wrote:
    When using the IR remote, hitting the Radio/CD/DVD button would take the on-screen display to that page. However, using the same buttons on the AMX TP page would not. Only after you had selected a new thing and hit the play button on the AMX TP would the on-screen display change over to whatever you were doing.

    Not a big deal but the customers sure complained. I had to send an IR command to force the on-screen display to follow the AMX TP.

    That's interesting, I (and all of the clients we have sold the unit to so far) like the fact that using the AMX doesn't affect the current operation. The clients like that they can browse their collection without interrupting what is currently playing. For example, one client like to play music as everyone as he is trying to decide which movie he wants to watch. He is able to use the touch panel to browse his movie collection and even get info on a movie without interrupting the music.

    Now that I think about it tho, most of the time, we are distributing the fireball. Because of this, a majority of the client's experience with the fireball is using it without a television display on as they pick their music. This might explain their comfort with trusting the touch panel interface???

    Jeff
  • DHawthorneDHawthorne Junior Member Posts: 4,584
    The Escient protocol has a few very annoying quirks, and one of the is the way it returns data. Any kind of database query requires you to supply a library, and all returned data sends a list that essentially says, "The item you are looking for is number 1 of 10 (or whatever)." The problem is it does not give the context; that is, the library the query was made from. If, for any reason, the active library changes and the code didn't catch the notification, it cannot populate any of the lists. If you turn your debugging on, you will notice whenever you don't have a list populated, the error message is "bad library." The code lost track of what kind of responses it is receiving.

    I have never been able to plug every hole that leads to this, but essentially you have to back up and 1) select your library again, get a list of groups (genres) again, 3) get a list of titles again, then 4) re-select your title. Each context depends on the one before it to have been properly received. They could have solved the entire issue just by including all the data in every packet, but they did not. When the context is lost, the data is meaningless. Even if absolute disc indexes were returned, it would be a huge help, but no absolutes are returned, just a context-dependent list.

    One workaround that plugs most holes is the expedient of forcing a button press on the library (system music, user music, system movies, etc ...) then the "All" button, using a DO_PUSH function whenever the Escient is selected. It still loses things sometimes, but usually you can get it back by hitting the All button again.
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