dropControllerV4: Webapp Reference

If you have used dropControllerV3 then the V4 app will be very familiar. If not, Read on.

Note: This is an overview or reference for all the controls. It is not a guide to using the app and if that is what you are after a better place to start are the Getting Started Guides.

 
 

App Overview

The dropControllerV4 webapp has five main pages;
Drop Control
Settings
Drain
Graph
About

Within these pages the Drop Data, Settings, and Drain Page are the most important.

There are two more pages buried somewhere deep inside the app the;
Loop Page
Update Page

 
 

Drop Control Page

The Drop Control Page is the main page in the app. It is where most of the action takes place.

There are three sections; Drop Data, Trigger Times, Loop Mode control, and a couple of minor sections; add/remove drops, and START.

Add/remove drop

Drop Times

Trigger Times

Loop Mode control

Main START button

 

Add/Remove Drop

Clinking the ADD button adds a new drop, and clicking the REMOVE button, removes the bottom drop.

When a new drop is added the controls appears as if by magic in the drop data section.

Note:
You cannot go below 1 drop.
The drop settings are remembered even when the drop is not visible / not active.

 
 

Drop Times and Drop Properties

Each drop has several properties. Some, like the start time and size are basic properties, others, like the delta values, are more advanced.

Drop Number

ON/OFF Toggle button
Turns the drop On and Off. Inactive drops are ignored.


Drop 1 ON

Drop 1 OFF

 

Valve Selector
Select the valve to use for the drop. Range is 1 to 8 and matches the valve port number on the back of the dropControllerV4.

Select which valve to use for Drop 1.

Start Time
The time is in milliseconds(ms).
There are 1000 ms in a second.

Start Time delta Control
There are 3 states: [+, -, ø].
+ = add.
– = subtract.
ø = OFF



Delta Control Button
Cycles the setting: +   =>     =>   ø

 
The Start Time Delta Value
The value is in milliseconds (ms).
This is the amount of time to either add to or subtract from the Start Time. When zero, the Delta Value has no effect.

Delta values are used to change the drop times when using Loop Mode. They can be used to change the Flash Trigger Time, the drop Start Time, and to make the drop larger or smaller. More on using delta values later.

Size
The size is measured in milliseconds (ms) and throughout this guide (and indeed whole website) I use milliseconds when referring to the size.

Most drops will be in the range of around 20ms to 60ms or 70ms (maybe larger for shoot from below).

Size Delta Control
There are 3 states: [+, -, ø] and the control works in the same way as the Start Time delta Control.

Size Delta Value
The value is in milliseconds (ms).
This is the amount of time to either add to or subtract from the Size. When zero, the Delta Value has no effect.

Loop Mode and delta values are covered in detail at dropControllerV4: Loop Page and Delta Values

 
 

Trigger Controls

There are three trigger controls; Camera, Flash, and Axillary.

Each trigger can be turned ON or OFF.

Clicking the ON/OFF button enables or disables the trigger.

When enabled, each trigger has several properties; Trigger Time, Delta Control, Delta Value.

The length of the trigger pulse is controlled on the Settings Page.

Note: This is the length of time the trigger signal is active. Not when the trigger is fired.

 

Camera Trigger

The Camera Trigger is a dual channel trigger that has a signal for the shutter and the focus.

The focus signal can be turned off in the Settings Page.

Some cameras (like my ageing Canon 40D) require the focus signal to trigger BULB remotely. If your camera does not require the focus trigger signal you can turn it off.

The Camera Trigger has several settings; OFF, ON, SYNC, and BULB.


OFF

ON

 


SYNC

BULB

 

OFF
The shutter & focus triggers are disabled.

ON
The shutter trigger is active and will fire at the time set.

Triger Time in ms.

Delta Control

Delta Time

The Camera delta settings work in the same way as the delta settings for the drop Start Time and the drop Size. There are 3 possible settings; +, -, ø
+ = add.
– = subtract.
ø = OFF.
The Delta Control Button cycles the setting +   =>     =>   ø

 
SYNC
In SYNC Mode, the Shutter Trigger is sync’d to the Flash Trigger minus the offset time. The offset time is used to allow the camera enough time to open the shutter before the flash fires.

In this example, the offset time is set to 100ms and the Flash Trigger Time is set to 540ms. This means the shutter will open at 440ms (540 – 100 = 440). Remember to set an appropriate shutter speed on the camera.

SYNC Mode allows you to set the Camera Trigger and forget it. The only thing you need to take care of is the shutter speed on the camera. In the above example, the shutter needs to be open for around 150ms or about 1/60th of a second. This allows 100ms before the flash and 50ms after the flash. The times can be fine tuned depending on the camera you are using. Modern mirror-less camera react much quicker than the older DSLRs like my old Canon 40D.
The Shutter Trigger Time cannot go below 0. If the offset time takes the Shutter Trigger Time below 0 it is automatically set to 0.

The environment you are working in (how light/dark, and how you are triggering the flash (on camera or by the dropControllerV4) all play apart in working out the best shutter speed to use. The only thing that really matters is that the shutter is open when the flash fires.

For more on setting up the camera and flash see dropControllerV4: Setting Up the Camera and Flash

 
BULB

In BULB Mode the shutter is opened at the very beginning of the sequence (usually 0ms) and closed at the very end. The end is the last event to take place, either the flash trigger or a drop plus the offset time.
Here the BULB offset is set to 100ms. This means the shutter will close 100ms after the last event. Remember, the last even can be a drop, not just the flash.

The camera has to have a BULB function and be in BULB for Bulb Mode to work.

 

Flash Trigger

The Flash Trigger is either ON or OFF


One thing to be aware of. When the Camera is set to SYNC and the Flash trigger is OFF, the camera trigger is inactive. You can’t SYNC to something that isn’t.

When the Flash Trigger is ON there are several properties; Trigger Time, Delta Control, delta Time. These are the same as the same as with the drop times and Camera Trigger.
The Trigger Time is the time the flash will fire. The Delta Control determine if the Delta Value is added or subtracted or ignored.
+ = add.
– = subtract.
ø = OFF.
The Delta Control Button cycles the setting +   =>     =>   ø

 

Auxiliary Trigger

The Auxiliary Trigger is either ON or OFF and works in exactly the same way as the Flash Trigger.


The Auxiliary Trigger can be used as a secondary shutter trigger or secondary flash trigger.

 
 

Loop Mode Control

The Loop Mode button controls whether or not Loop Mode is used.

See below for more details.

 
 

The START Button

When the app is not connected to the dropControllerV4 the large START button is grey and inactive. When the app is connected the START button turns green and becomes active. The app normally initialises very quickly and you may not notice the change.

The START button tells the app to send the drop data to the dropControllerV4 device and make the drops. Depending on which mode you are using, Single Sequence Mode or Loop Mode, different things happen.

In Single Sequence Mode the data is sent immediately to the dropControllerV4 and the drops are created straight away. In Loop Mode the Loop Page opens and waits for the user to start the sequence.

 
 

Single Sequence Mode

The app is in Single Sequence Mode whenever it is not in Loop Mode.
Whenever Loop Mode is OFF the app is in Single Sequence Mode.

In Single Sequence Mode, a single drop sequence is created. On clicking the START button the drop data is sent to the dropControllerV4, the START button changes to ACTIVE showing the drops are being created, and when complete, the START button changes by to START.

After the drop sequence is completed the START button changes back to green.

In Single Sequence Mode delta values are ignored.

 

Loop Mode

Loop Mode is the heart of the dropController and it is Loop Mode that makes getting collisions so easy.

Clicking the Loop Mode control button cycles through the various options; OFF, BUTTON, TIMER

 
OFF
Loop Mode is off and Single Sequence Mode is used.

 
BUTTON
Loop Mode is active. To start each drop sequence the Loop Page START button has to be clicked.

 
TIMER
The first drop sequence is started by clicking the Loop Page START button and then subsequent sequences are started when the TIMER reaches 0.
The TIMER time is in seconds,

For more details about Loop Mode see the dropControllerV4: Loop Page and Delta Values

 
 

Settings

The Settings Page has a few settings that you should only need to change once or twice and then forget about.

Trigger Pulse Time


The trigger pulse duration for the three different triggers can be set independently. When a trigger fires, the dropController sends a signal to the attached device (camera or flash). The pulse duration is the amount of time this signal is active.
50ms is a good place to start and for most equipment you will not need to change it. If you do have some issues, such as the shutter not firing reliably, increase the trigger pulse time, for example, to 100ms.

Focus Trigger


The camera trigger is actually two triggers in one. One trigger for the shutter and a second trigger for the focus. For the vast majority of cameras the Focus Trigger is not required to activate the shutter, however, some cameras, like my old Canon 40D will not activate BULB when triggered remotely without the Focus Trigger. In most cases you can simply leave it as ON.

Keep Alive


Keep Alive is an experimental setting designed to help keep the screen awake on mobile devices. The setting is highly dependant on the device in use though. Most mobile devices will follow the screen timeout period set in the device and turn the screen off after a short period of inactivity.

Firmware Update


The version number for the current firmware is displayed above the Update button.
Clicking the Update button opens the Update Page. See dropControllerV4: Updating The Firmware
New firmwares will be posted on the Download page on the dropController website

Reset


Clear all saved data and resets the drop data and settings to the defaults.

 
 

Drain Page

The Drain Page has simple On/Off controls for each valve port. This allows for draining and cleaning.

Clicking on any of the buttons opens the associated valve port. Clicking again closes the valve.


Valve 1 open

Valve 1 closed

 


Valve 2 open

Valve 2 closed

 
Note
Open valves are automatically closed when leaving the Drain Page.
The app does not know if a valve is attached to the valve port or not.
Valves can also be opened using the Manual Drain function.

 
 

Graph Page

The graph offers a simple way to visualise the drop times. You may or may not find it useful.

On first using the app, if you jump to the Graph Page there will not be much to see. Only one drop and no triggers.

Add a couple more drops and the triggers and things get a little more interesting (only a little though).

Add a delta or two and turn on Loop Mode.
When in Loop Mode, using the + and buttons become active. The buttons increase and decrease the sequence number allowing you to see what effects (if any) the delta values have.

Use the + and buttons to see what happens as the sequence progresses

 
 

About Page

Serves no real function except a link to the website.