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Designing an immersive display for museum with basic motion

Discussion in 'DIY Motion Simulator Building Q&A / FAQ' started by cadcoke5, Oct 10, 2020.

  1. cadcoke5

    cadcoke5 Joe D

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    I am in the process of designing an immersive display for a museum type of exhibit. The display will be a wrap-around panoramic projection. We also want to add seats for 7 audience members that will have only one axis of motion, to simulate acceleration and braking. There will also likely be a rumbler, and a fan to help create the feel of being in a flying aircraft.

    How this differs from a typical simulator, is that we are playing back a prerecorded experience.

    As you might imagine, government restrictions have dramatically cut any audience attendance, and so the budget is quite small compared to what off shelf systems for this cost. I am unemployed. But this gives me time to work on projects like this. I am an engineer by training, so in general, I have many of the needed skills.

    I think I have the mechanical aspects settled. However, the control system is another matter. I already have software that can do the image warping, and edge blending needed for a multi-projector set-up onto a curved screen. But what I need is software that will do the video playback, as well as playback the motion data, and trigger things like the seat rumbler, and the fan.

    I am considering software designed for theatrical shows. This software will run video playback, as well as send signals over a DMX network, to control lights, which are often robotic type systems themselves. There are DMX interfaces for motors. But, all the ones I have seen are designed to drive stepper motors, or Radio-Control type servos (with pulse-width signaling). I can get DMX to 0-10v converters, since that used to be common for controlling light dimmers. Then, perhaps use the Sabertooth motor controller in Analog mode, and convert the 0-10v signal to a 5v one with a voltage divider.

    The main drawback to using a DMX interface, is that a single channel is limited to 255 steps. I know some DMX controlled, robotic type, lights use 2 channels for position. But I don't know of a DMX to -10V interface that uses 2 DMX channels to control the output.

    Any ideas or comments?

    -Joe
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    Ads Master

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  3. noorbeast

    noorbeast VR Tassie Devil Staff Member Moderator Race Director

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  4. cadcoke5

    cadcoke5 Joe D

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    Exactly what I have been looking for, for days now. Thanks.

    -Joe
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  5. cadcoke5

    cadcoke5 Joe D

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    I was wrong when I said that I had the warping software settled. One that I was going to use turned out to only be available as a subscription. And I really don't want the project to be dependent upon the vendor staying in business, or the annual price going up a lot in the future. Some of the smart-home devices have suffered from these issues.

    The commercial offerings I have seen so far, seem to start at around $800 USD. But, that is definitely too expensive for us right now. I looked through the offerings at Xsimulator, and didn't find any software that was designed to do warping of the video, to allow it to be used on a curved screen.

    Any suggestions?

    -Joe
  6. cadcoke5

    cadcoke5 Joe D

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    I just re-read my post and see that I was certainly not clear in regards to SimTools. I did review the SimTools, and they are certainly capable of doing what I want. But, only as annual subscription, which is a problem. I don't want my hard work to vaporize.

    -Joe
  7. noorbeast

    noorbeast VR Tassie Devil Staff Member Moderator Race Director

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    I am not sure what you mean, are you suggesting SimTools licensing would "vaporize" your hard work and if so in what sense?
  8. cadcoke5

    cadcoke5 Joe D

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    If I use SimTools, and later the SimTools maker goes out of business, I imagine the software will eventually stop working. If their annual price were to go up substantially, and I don't have the budget to continue the subscription, it also stops working. Any motions programmed with SimTools would need to be redone in any new software I get, and the motor drivers, if they are not compatible with the new software, will have to be replaced, and probably a number of other little things would have to be redone.

    That is the nature of any subscription based service. It can go away.

    -Joe
  9. noorbeast

    noorbeast VR Tassie Devil Staff Member Moderator Race Director

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    It is only the Entertainment license that is annual, all others are perpetual. That aside any software, open or closed source, has the possibility of being abandoned, the risk management of that is in having viable alternatives or creating and maintaining software yourself.

    The reality for members here is that many not only rely on SimTools, but also the community plugin devs, with the latter having created a wider selection of game plugins than pretty much any commercial vendor. Most commercial rigs not employing proprietary software also use and promote SimTools, and there are alternatives, such as FlyPT, but only you can make your own risk judgement: https://www.xsimulator.net/community/faq/flypt-mover.29/category

    Best to discuss your concerns directly with the SimTools dev and make your mind up from there: https://simtools.us/contact-us/
  10. cadcoke5

    cadcoke5 Joe D

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    Thank you again for all the replies.

    I have already started some dialog with the developers of SimTools. And since this would be for the public, the Entertainment license is what is needed. I asked if they would offer a permanent license, but they have not replied in the 10 days since I asked them. I know many software companies have found that an annual license generates more income than a permanent one.

    The Flypt-mover seems to do the motion, but since I could not get a hit when I did a search of that forum for the word "warp" that does not seem to be part of its features.

    -Joe
  11. noorbeast

    noorbeast VR Tassie Devil Staff Member Moderator Race Director

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    Pretty much everything done in the DIY motion sim space is in contributors spare time, SimTools development included, so give them time.

    That said, asking any software entity for a license variation is no small thing. Perhaps in those discussions consider what other sort of value SimTools may derive from your proposal.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2020 at 00:59
  12. cadcoke5

    cadcoke5 Joe D

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    I think I can see what you are saying. Mention to the developers how a permanent license may benefit them.

    From discussions on some CAD forums, I know that there are plenty of companies who always say no to any software without a permanent license. It may be viable to use subscription for software used to make DWG format drawings, because that format is very widely used and most CAD programs can import it. And there are even AutoCAD clones that can use the LISP and so transfer even the customized code written for AutoCAD. But, for Parametric programs like Inventor, you have to pay forever to have use of your data, since you can't really do a good job of transferring it to another program.

    My background with CAD may be coloring my view of subscription based software. Another thing that has influenced me is the Wize brand camera I purchased, that now charges a fee for people detection, when it was supposed to stay free. I am glad I didn't have much invested into their product.

    I don't know how many of SimTools potential customers are as strongly opposed to subscription as myself... enough to mark it off their list of potential purchases. I am sure the lack of a perpetual license is never a positive thing.

    -Joe
  13. noorbeast

    noorbeast VR Tassie Devil Staff Member Moderator Race Director

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    If you are philosophically opposed to a particular form of software license, independent of why it may have come to be, then perhaps consider other alternatives.

    But for the benefit of your understanding please appreciate the history and context. SimTools was originally free and as @yobuddy explained licensing came about after considerable "unauthorized corporate profiting from SimTools, with a flow on consequences for the DIY community. Our [SimTools Dev] response to this is a far more rigorous licensing regime that provides greater protection, control and clarity, while at the same time serving both DIY and commercial interests and offering new types of functionality for both": https://www.xsimulator.net/community/threads/simtools-2-0-question-and-answer.8175/#post-99841

    I would add that unauthorized corporate profiting has not been restricted to just SimTools, but also members of the DIY community here at Xsimulator.net, at times disrupting our community.

    So please be aware, on the flip side of your concern, that it is not just software devs here who are a bit wary of commercial interests, it has also been our DIY community, which subsequently led to Xsimulator.net establishing a Commercial thread section and also implementing Company Rules, to assist in balancing the vibrancy of our DIY motion sim community in times where motion simulation and associated peripherals and activities are increasingly attracting commercial interest: https://www.xsimulator.net/communit...and-obligations-of-commercial-entities.14837/
  14. yobuddy

    yobuddy Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator SimAxe Beta Tester SimTools Developer Gold Contributor

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    @cadcoke5
    There really is no perfect way to do licensing, but the more time I spend on it and the EULA, the less time I have for the good stuff. :(
    We could do a bigger up front cost for an Entertainment License, but what if the company fails? o_O
    All I'm saying is, there are arguments for different ways to do it.

    All in all thou, inventor is a ton a year. (I would be mad too :mad: lol)
    "The price of an annual Inventor subscription is $2,085 and the price of a monthly Inventor subscription is $260.

    SimTools cost for an Entertainment License is $89.99 per year.
    It's breaks down to $7.50 a month.
    Most people would pay more for a single ride.
    It's designed to be cheep and fair.

    And who is going out of business? :grin
    I'm just gearing up for SimTools v3!
    (which will come as a FREE upgrade for all users!) :thumbs

    Take care,
    yobuddy
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  15. cadcoke5

    cadcoke5 Joe D

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    I do realize that often the honor system does not work. I doubt most people now know scriptures like "The laborer deserves his wages" nowadays.

    Though, I don't see how that leads to the private use professional version being perpetual vs. subscription only for the entertainment version. A dishonest person can simply purchase the professional private use version, and used it perpetually for public use.

    Concerning the subscription, the price is reasonable. But much larger companies than SimTools have disappeared before. That would leave me with many thousands of dollars worth of equipment, content, and (plus time investment) that suddenly shut down. When most companies go down, they tend to not announce it, fearing that would hamper their efforts to save the company. So, the public is often given short notice. The people that run the company may not even have any say about what happens to existing subscriptions. The judge and anyone owed money, are now the new company managers. It will take a long time to settle things. In the mean time, it may not be possible to renew a license. A system is dead in the water.

    -Joe
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2020 at 20:23
  16. MarkusB

    MarkusB Active Member Gold Contributor

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    When SimTools is being discontinued one day, even a pre-paid license will not help you in the long run. The next Windows hotfix could make it crash, and without developer support you may not be able to get it running again. This can happen with or without subscription-based licensing.

    If you want to eliminate the risk of loosing the underlying software, your only option is probably to build this software by your own.
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