Adam j Dahl.com

Build your own

BlueKaos

Why? What do I gain?

I want give this information away and see more people using DMX media servers and see them being used to improve productions. One of the original ideas behind the Panorama Digital Scenery Media Server (created 2006 for Rose Brand) was building an easy to use affordable media server solution for 90% of end users who couldn't even consider media server products because of their cost. Since then media server prices have come down and many companies offer mini/reduced cost models but when compared to many theater budgets they are still unaffordable. BlueKaos is an evolution of the Panorama offering a complete fully powered media server experience at a significantly lower price than other options.

By presenting this I may (hopefully) end up building a few extra servers, but I'm not planning on getting rich or quitting my day job doing it.

If you build your own BlueKaos please:

 

Now the Disclaimer:

By choosing to build your own system you are agreeing to all applicable software terms, conditions, and user agreements. All information presented is for personal use, may contain unintentional errors and is meant to only provide rough guidance for system construction. AjD Technical Design & Production and adamjdahl.com© are not liable for any damage, injury, and financial, time or property loss caused by this information or misuse of it. We will not service or support systems built by end users. 

 

Ok now that's out of the way some more information about this page.

This is not a tutorial on how to build a computer

In terms of assembly/construction, I am making the assumption that you are capable and know quite a bit about computers, (or that you are going to do the research and learn).

If you lack the skill, time and/or patience to build your own BlueKaos DMX Media Server let us build it for you at material cost +20%.

This guide is meant to provide the basic information needed to build your own system. It includes links to the needed software and information on the current parts considered to be the minimum system requirements for a BlueKaos DMX Media Server. Please note these system requirements are much greater than minimum software requirements. All recommendations, parts, and compatibility notes are based on previous system experience, user feedback and anticipated use.

Before you get started, you may want to consider the following questions to help flesh out your media server needs

 

Choose a section or scroll down to read everything

1. Parts you'll need

 

2. System assembly information

 

3. Software installation and setup

 

4. Using the BlueKaos system

 

5. Feedback

PC Case & Power Supply

Motherboard

CPU & Fan/Cooler

Memory

Hard Disk Drives (HDD)

Video Card(s)

Software (purchased)

Software (FREE)

DMX to USB adapter

General Hardware & Accessories

System Expansions

 

 

PC Case & Power Supply

Minimum Requirements:

I prefer a smaller case as most people don't have a need for a large rack mount. All of the details provided can easily be expanded to build a larger rack mount if you so desire. Whatever you use the two key items for a media server case are having enough power and a good cooling/air flow, as almost every part you will be using will generate a large amount of heat.

I use the Thermaltake Armor A30 case. It supports Mini-ATX boards has an excellent air cooling built in and it will hold full 13" video cards.

For the Power Supply I use OCZ (ModXStream) modular supplies (500W - 700W). Not incredibly fancy but they are well built and the ability to install only the required cables is invaluable in smaller cases. With the A30 I would not suggest exceeding 700 watts or use a supply that runs hot as it sits over the CPU. For most applications a power supply of 600W should be more than enough.

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Motherboard

I only use Intel and NVIDIA parts in my systems you can use AMD if you so choose but I have never really had any luck with them for long term stability/reliability.

Minimum Requirements:

I'm currently using Asus Maximus IV Gene-Z/Gen3 (Republic of Gamers) or greater in my builds they have proven to be very stable (when not excessively overclocked) and are incredibly easy to work with.

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CPU & Fan/Cooler

Minimum Requirements:

Aside from the software this should be the most expensive single part you purchase. You can spend anywhere from $150 - $1,000+, in my opinion around $300 is where you will get the most for your money, a high end Intel Core i5 (2nd Gen) or a Core i7 (better choice with larger cache).

I currently use a 3.4 GHz Sandy Bridge Core i7-2600K (K denotes overclocking) with the stock heatsink/fan.

If the PC case that you chose has questionable cooling you may want to invest in an aftermarket heatsink or chiller to boost performance and eliminate the meltdown risk.

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Memory

Minimum Requirements:

I currently use G. Skill 16GB (4 at 4GB) DDR3 1600 MHz.

This is the first item where you could actually cut corners by buying a smaller amount of memory and adding more as needed or when you have the funds, (just remember all memory should match). You can feasibly (assuming you have enough DIMM slots) install 8GB (2 at 4GB) and install another 8GB at a later point.

Beyond that there is little to say about memory other than make sure it's compatible with you motherboard.

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Hard Disk Drives (HDD)

Minimum Requirements:

2 HDD are recommended, one HDD for the system and programs, the second HDD is for storing all of the video content. I'm not tied to any make or model in my builds. In the past I have used Western Digital, Samsung, and Seagate. Disks over 1TB may have delayed response time and are not recommended. Running disks in RAID configuration may give a slight performance increase but it is negligible and has been known to cause increased system instability.

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Video Card(s)

Minimum Requirements:

Use this chart to compare NVIDIA cards

I use a NVIDIA GTX 560 for the video output and a GT 430 for the control monitors. If building a rack mount unit I would suggest SLI or Crossfire ready cards to boost performance as you can easily add additional video cards. When using separate video cards for the video output and the control monitors it is recommended that the cards not be identical as it can lead to driver and resource allocation problems. A single card however can be used as control monitor with a single video output or as a dual video output with no control monitor. Do not try to connect video output and control monitor video cards together with SLI or Crossfire it will not work for multiple outputs.

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Software (Purchased)

Do not download directly to media server see software information

ArKaos MediaMaster Pro

Do not purchase MediaMaster Express it is a different program and is not compatible with the onboard DMX controller. The majority of the cost for a BlueKaos server is this software, it currently sells for 1900 euro directly from ArKaos. The full software can be downloaded and run as a demo with a watermarked video output prior to purchase.

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

There is no benefit in purchasing a higher tier version of windows than home premium OEM/System Builder. It can be purchased for $100 at Amazon among other places. 64bit is required to handle the large amount of memory properly, a 32bit windows system cannot utilize more than 4 GB memory.

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Software (FREE)

Do not download directly to media server see software information

Bluelite X1

Bluelite X1 is an amazingly versatile yet simple DMX control solution which has been integrated into this design. The above link will take you to the Innovate Show Controls home page where you can download the most current version of the software. Innovate Show Controls has been an ongoing partner and active supporter of this project.

Bluelite X1 ArtNet Switch

This application runs out of the taskbar and allows for a Bluelite X1 mini to act as a DMX input for MediaMaster via an ArtNet switch.

MediaMaster templates for Bluelite X1

At the time of this posting there are currently no profiles for MediaMaster included with Bluelite. These templates can be easily imported and will be included in a future release of Bluelite.

QuickTime

Most current version downloaded directly from Apple. Required for MediaMaster. Install QuickTime only.

Adobe Flash Player

Most current version downloaded directly from Adobe. Required for MediaMaster. Install Flash Player only.

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DMX to USB adapter

Bluelite X1 mini

The X1 mini is an important component to the system it costs $399.

  • It is required to run the full version of Bluelite.
  • It allows external DMX control of MediaMaster (fixture mode)
  • When running the internal DMX controller it additionally provides 1 universe of DMX output
  • It can be configured to accept DMX in from any 48 channel console to trigger full fixture cues written with the Bluelite X1 software containing both MediaMaster and DMX out information.

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General Hardware & Accessories

Keyboard & Mouse

I  recommend a mouse with a center wheel/button and a keyboard with individual keys for: Home, End, PG UP, PG DN and directional arrows. It will make programming with Bluelite X1 much simpler.

Control Monitors

For touring systems I prefer to use the cheapest 15"-17" VGA monitors available. I use 2 screens with 1280x1024 resolution or greater for the programming internally; one screen for DMX and one for video control. I have also used a single 21" monitor at 1920x1080 in a pinch. Make sure that you have all of the proper video cable and DVI to VGA adapters

3 pin to 5 pin DMX adapters (optional)

The Bluelite X1 mini uses 3 pin XLR connections (it's the only downside to the product as far as I'm concerned). To connect to standard 5 pin XLR you will need 3 pin to 5 pin adapters. One 3 pin male to 5 pin female and one 3 pin female to 5 pin male.

DVD drive (optional)

Needed for driver and software installation can be removable or replaced by transferring information a USB flash memory.

Power strip & surge protector

Multiple plugs, high value electronics, you need this.

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System Expansions

Matrox Dual Head & Triple Head 2 Go

A Dual/Triple Head 2 Go increases the number of displays which you can run off of a single output from 1 to 2 or 3. This is accomplished by setting the internal resolution at 2/3 times the width and the device splits the image to multiple displays. So in theory you could go up to 6 displays on a dual output server. What most people initially overlook is that pushing a significantly higher resolution through your video card on both outputs uses more processing power, which can cut into your frame rates if you don't have a powerful enough machine. They can be purchased for $200-$300 (roughly $100 per output).

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System assembly information

I do not suggest you start until you have all of the parts.

Do not connect this machine to an office network or the internet

You are not installing any virus protection on this machine. Virus protection software runs in the background constantly using the CPU which decreases the overall unit performance. By keeping disconnected from local networks and the internet you are reducing the risk of infecting your machine. The only exceptions to this rule are to activate your copy of Windows & ArKaos. Do not surf the web or download 3rd party drivers directly to the media server.

Make sure you install all video cards and HDD's prior to turning the system on for the first time.

Test and tweak the system BIOS as necessary. I would suggest choosing a stable/optimal setting for all installation, overclocking or performance modes shouldn't be enabled until after you verify the system works.

Install windows on the primary HDD. Do not install or initialize firewall, automatic updates, or any other windows security features during this process.

Install all hardware drivers from disc, follow restart recommendations - again do not connect to windows update.

Initialize the secondary HDD, choose a drive letter and name it content.

Disable Windows Action Center notifications and restart computer.

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Software installation and setup

Do not connect this machine to an office network or the internet

You should download all software to another machine scan the downloads for virus/malware and transfer them to the media server with a USB key or portable HDD (which you also have scanned for virus/malware).

Install Bluelite X1.

Connect the Bluelite X1 mini and verify the drivers have installed properly.

Install the MediaMaster templates for Bluelite X1 with the instructions provided in the download. (now optional ver 1.5a4 includes templates)

Install the Bluelite X1 ArtNet Switch with the instructions provided in the download.

Restart the server and verify the ArtNet switch is in the task bar (blue x).

Install QuickTime and Adobe Flash Player

Restart the server

Install ArKaos MediaMaster Pro and activate

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Using the BlueKaos system

Connecting MediaMaster & Bluelite X1 for internal DMX control

(Please note - I'm still editing this section. I will finalize it later this week when I'm sitting in front of a server)

Open Bluelite X1 first.

Open MediaMaster second.

In MediaMaster File>Preferences>DMX select ArtNet and set the subnet to 0 and Universe to 15.

Select how many layers/universes you will be using.

Select which master layer template you will be using and confirm its starting address.

Click OK and close preferences.

In Bluelite (will not work in demo mode) patch the correct number or MediaMaster fixture and master layers into universe 16.

Create a new cue and add all MediaMaster fixtures.

Select Tools> ArtNet Output - click OK on the following pop-up window.

You now have full control of MediaMaster from Bluelite X1.

 

Please note that if you open certain menus (preferences for example) in MediaMaster it will disconnect Bluelite X1. To resolve in Bluelite X1 deselect ArtNet Output. For external DMX control in MediaMaster select resync DMX from the file menu.

 

More & full detailed information (with pictures) coming soon...

Other questions?

Please refer to the help manuals located within MediaMaster and Bluelite X1 on your server for program specific queries.

 

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Feedback

Thoughts on the server, the presentation of the information, quick questions?

Please use this post in the blog to leave feedback.

When I have some time I will migrate everything to a permanent page. 

 

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Page last updated March 1, 2017