FireworX - Frequently Asked Questions

I get occasional email regarding FireworX-10. Here are the answers to questions that others have had. I thought that you might find this useful.

Q. I get COM port conflicts (in the form of 'Invalid COM port' messages) with FireworX-10. What is the cause?

A. Make sure no conflicting software is running including the remote simulation software that came the Firecacker. I wrote the program using Visual Basic and the serial port communications is done via VB's MSCOMM control. That control does not have any options for COM port sharing. The granularity of control that the MSCOMM control allows is only at the level of opening the port , closing the port and sending bits. When it opens the port it appears to want sole control of it.

Q. With some dimmable devices (from what I hear Smartlinc dimmers are one example) when a DIM command is sent to an already dimmed unit, its brightness goes to 100%. Also, when a DIM command is sent to an off device it goes on to 100% brightness. What is going on?

A. The problem you are experiencing is due to a limitation with the Firecracker protocol that FireworX-10 was programmed to accomodate. The structure of the Dim/Bright command only identifies the house code and not the unit to dim or brighten. The unit that receives the dim/bright command is the one that last received an ON/OFF command. It is the same scenario when you use the remote control that came with the Firecracker. On the remote, the DIM/BRIGHT buttons work on the unit you just sent an ON or OFF to. The Firecracker uses this criteria to determine which unit gets the DIM/BRIGHT. So, in programming FireworX-10, I had to abide by those rules. When you request -5% on a unit, FireworX-10 first sends an ON command to that device in order to establish the communications 'path' through the Firecracker. This seems OK with standard lamp modules, since if they are already on and in a dimmed state when the ON command is sent, they do not go to full brightness. I wish there were a better way!

Q. Can I have the source code?

A. I have never provided the source code for FireworX-10 to anyone and have no plans for doing so. I do make source code available for other stuff I write but for some reason I am stuborn about letting it go.

Q. How can I easily make large updates to the FireworX-10 database? The interface is clumsy for doing this.

A. Someday I would like to build a better interface to allow bulk changes to the database across many events. In the mean time there is one other option. Fireworx.fwx is the database used by FireworX-10. You will find it in your FireworX-10 program directory. It is in Microsoft Access format and should be modifiable through Access 97 or greater. The structure is pretty simple and should be easily figured out. Don't mess with the design of the database but you can freely modify data. Shutdown FireworX-10 and make a backup copy of the file before you begin.