Basic getting started
Assuming you have no background in Arduino or Komby, you should probably acquire some items from the Komby store and others from the general electronics hobbyist world.
- Something to program your Komby/Arduino chips. Komby controllers and some Komby transmitters use the ATMega328p-pu microprocessor with the Arduino bootloader. The chips sold with Komby products and on the Komby site have the bootloader installed; other sources are also available but if you don't have the ability/technology to burn in the bootloader, make certain you are purchasing chips with the Arduino bootloader already installed.
- Komby sells an FTDI serial programming board kit (which comes either with the SMT controller soldered to the board or not) and you can rest assured that this works. There are other serial programming boards available in the general hobbyist world and they may — or may not — work. The serial programming board is attached to the Komby device and the microprocessor is programmed in place. The Komby board will certainly be supported by the Komby community; support for other serial programmers may be problematic.
- An Arduino UNO that uses a socketed ATMega328 chip can be used as well. The chip would be programmed in the UNO, popped out and then installed in the Komby device. The only downsides to this method are that you're switching chips in and out of the Komby device (a relatively rare occurrence) and the initial cost of the UNO.
- The Arduino freely distributed interactive development environment (software). Choose the most recent version for the operating system of your preferred computer (desktop or laptop).
- The Komby firmware for the Arduino, which can be downloaded.
- A Komby transmitter. This is the device that takes in the data stream from your sequencing software and sends it out over the radio waves. While either a Nordic Zig Zag or a Nordic PA transmitter will work, it is recommended that hobbyists use the PA with the transmitter. Hobbyists have to decide which transmitter to use:
- The Komby Sandwich. This is the combination of a concept and a product. The Sandwich takes in the E1.31 protocol over an Ethernet cable that runs from your show computer's Ethernet port to the Sandwich. You may have to learn how to set up networking on your show computer (especially if you've only ever had it talk to a WiFi router) in order to support unicast (if you have only one Sandwich) or multicast (if you have multiple Sandwiches). The Sandwich includes:
- A standard Arduino board (and here the socketed UNO is not necessary — any model that supports shields will suffice, as will UNO clones).
- A power supply for the Arduino board, unless its close enough to your show computer in order to use a USB cable from the computer to the Arduino.
- An Arduino Ethernet Shield, either from Arduino or clones. The Ethernet Shield has long pins and stacks on top of the Arduino board.
- The Minimalist Shield from Komby, which also has long pins and stacks on top of the Ethernet Shield; it provides the connector to the Nordic transceiver.
- A Nordic board; it plugs into the Minimalist Shield, hence the "sandwich" three boards stacked on top of one another.
- The Komby Serial, which has four pieces — the Komby Serial RS485 Adapter board, an RF1, a Nordic transmitter and a power supply. The serial board takes in one of three types of lighting protocol: DMX Pro, Open DMX or Renard and sends out an agnostic signal that can be converted into one of those three or into one of the pixel protocols (yes, you can input Renard and output DMX).
- One or more Komby devices to receive:
- The RF1 device will control 5-volt pixels and the Serial RS485 Adapter, meaning that you can use it to power as many as 150 pixels (depending upon pixel type and power supply) or to create remote instances of the Renard, DMX Pro or Open DMX protocols.
- The RF1_12v device will control 12-volt pixels and the DumbRGB Expansion board; again as many as 150 pixels (same caveat) or up to two amps of LEDs arranged into three channels.
- Kombee, which is a replacement for an XBee receiver, which does not receive the XBee protocol but rather receives the Komby protocol and converts it; it fits into an XBee socket.
- Kömblinkin is a driver board for as many as 16 five-volt strobe LEDs.