Controlling a video matrix with Qlab and rs232

For the latest FroeFroe production “Poupette” we are using the Kramer VS-606xl video matrix.

Controlling the matrix with Qlab proved to be a challenge, but worked perfectly in the end.
I bought a Profilic PL-2303 usb-to-serial bridge controller.
Connecting the usb to a serial adapter resulted in absolutely nothing using Max/Msp, Pure Data and other software to send the rs232 protocol.

The solution was changing hardware and software.
I soldered my own adapter cable, following the schematics in the matrix manual.
Afterwards I started getting communication with the matrix, but I could not yet control it.
Using Coolterm, software developed by Roger Meier, things became easy.

I only needed to figure out which packets to send and after abandoning the overly complicated manual and using the Kramer calculator, I figured out the hex values I needed to send.
How to control the Kramer VS-606xl video matrix with Qlab:

-Put dipswitches on matrix 1:on 2:on 3:on 4:off 5:on 6:off 7:off 8:on. They are on the backpanel of the matrix.
-Install drivers for usb to serial adapter. Follow the manual and check if it’s working with the terminal. It’s all described in the manual, just follow the instructions.
-Connect your laptop with the matrix. Use a usb to serial adapter. You can either use one with a null modem included (have not tested this) or solder your own cable to get the correct pinout.
-Start Coolterm.
Click options, select the usb serial port. Follow settings as seen in included pictures. In miscellaneous tab select the “Automatically connect on open” option. Save the connection you just made. This enables you to recall these settings. More on this later.
By now you can test if communication with the matrix is working. Select “Connection” in the menu items, select “Hex string” and send 01868281. Output 2 switches to input 6 if you press send. Some symbols will be returned by the matrix to confirm that the message has been executed.

— A short explanation about the HEX number you sent —
01: start communication???
86: select input (6) the 8 is there for giggles
82: select output (2) same thing there with the 8
81: machine nummer set with dipswitches (1) and we continue using the 8 as spacer between the interesting numbers. With this last number you can toy around if you want to control more matrixes at the same time.

-Start Qlab.
Make a script cue.
Put this script in the script tab:

tell application "CoolTerm"
# Setting up local variables
local w
local d
# Assigning the name of the CoolTerm window to w
set w to "CoolTerm_0"
# Open the serial port
if Connect w then
# Generate Data from a hex string
set d to Hex2Str ("01818281")
# Send the data
Write {w, d}
display alert ("Not Connected")
end if
end tell

Launching this cue sends input 1 to output 2.
Amazing! You are controlling this old rock solid matrix with cue lab and the magic power of your space bar. Hoeray!

Now just close everything to see how this works on tour.

To get the show running:
-Connect matrix with computer.
-Open Coolterm savefile.
-Open Qlab file with script cues.

All files can be found in this zip.
I also included the Coolterm install zip, because the website seemed to be offline a couple of times.


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