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DACS: Introduction
 
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Introduction

This project represents a complete re-thinking and re-engineering of an independent study project completed between March and May of 1995 by myself and fellow WPI student and long-time friend Michael Andrews. The original project saw the development and implementation of a simple computer-controlled mixer, combined with software for controlling CD-ROM drives and PC sound cards. A simple text-based front end was written to facilitate execution of user-cued events at the push of a button. This system was developed and used in three large theatre productions, serving as the audio control system for all of the sound effects. While the original system functioned reasonably well for the time frame in which it was developed (approximately 6 weeks!), it had several shortcomings that needed to be addressed. It was clear in my mind that the product was viable and useful technology for theatre audio applications. Research at the time showed no products with similar capabilities in our price range, and real-world tests showed that the system removed much of the human error inherent in manually-run audio. A year and a half passed with no major improvements to the original system. When it came time to chose an MQP, it seemed natural to take some concepts from the original system and develop an entirely new system under a more reasonable development schedule. It was clear from the outset of the project that, while the development time frame was more reasonable than the original, the project was still extremely ambitious, especially for a one-person hardware, firmware, and software design and development team. The first term was spent largely doing overall system design and schematic work. PC board design, chassis fabrication, and PC board stuffing were completed during the second term. Term three largely involved systems testing and integration, firmware and software design and coding, and preparation for project presentations. The final term, an optional one, was used to re-design much of the software, begin some software implementation, and to wrap up loose ends of the project, such as completing the documentation. By no means do I consider the project to be completed. I intend to develop it further, to expand the capabilities and quality of the overall system.

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Steve Richardson 2000-07-06
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