Welcome to our support pages for the Pharos Designer range of lighting control products and software.
From here you can download software and documentation, check our online Help and FAQS, explore training and product resources, and if you need further assistance, contact Technical Support.
FAQS & Troubleshooting
Below are some tips for how to get started using Pharos Designer products, as well as answers to some of our most commonly asked questions.
New to Pharos?
What are the Pharos Designer system network requirements?
A Pharos Designer control system can be connected to any Ethernet network, though complex systems will require more configuration.
Typically we would recommend using simple unmanaged switches such as the Pharos Designer POE as these have no impact on the data transfer.
Managed switches can be used, but care needs to be taken to allow certain multicast data to be transferred: 184.108.40.206, 220.127.116.11
For more information, please see the Network Guidelines AppNote.
How do I select a Pharos Designer control system?
There are two main things to consider when specifying a system:
1. Lighting Fixtures
Pharos Designer controllers are specified by DMX universes. A DMX universe comprises 512 control channels. You need to ensure the controller or controllers you choose add up to a system universe capacity that covers your channel count in multiples of 512. Fixtures such as RGB LEDs use 3 DMX channels, so the quantity and type of these fixtures will determine the controller capacity. For example, 250 RGB fixtures would work out as 250*3 = 750 DMX channels and 750/512 = 1.46 DMX universes – so an LPC 2 would be suitable. 600 RGBW fixtures would be 600*4 = 2400 DMX channels or 4.6 universes, which you could accommodate seamlessly with an LPC 4 and an LPC 1, or an LPC 4 and a TPC.
Different devices in the range have different connectivity options (e.g. LPC has inputs, MIDI, serial etc. whereas TPC has touchscreen, IR, temperature sensor). The RIOs range solves a variety of show control requirements and these can be connected into the system to improve connectivity.
You will need to decide what connectivity you require to interact with other systems or sensors and select controllers or RIOs that include the required ports and protocols.
If you need further assistance, please contact Pharos Support.
How do I find and change my computer’s network settings?
Go to your Control Panel (exact process will depend upon your Windows version) and select Network and Sharing Center.
This should list all your current network connections.
Select the required network connection (often called Local Area Connection) by clicking on the blue name.
In the window that pops up, choose details and look for the IPv4 details for your IP Address, Subnet Mask and Default Gateway.
To change these settings, go back to the previous window and choose Properties.
Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4), then Properties.
In the new window, you can set the IP Address, Subnet Mask and Default Gateway.
Go to your System Preferences > Network
Select your Network Connection.
For wired connections, change the dropdown to Manually and enter the required network settings.
For Wireless connections, select Advanced, then TCP/IP then change the dropdown to Manually and enter the required network settings.
What lighting protocols can be used with Pharos?
The Pharos Designer range is capable of outputting the following protocols:
- Art-Net 2/3
What are the Controller’s LEDs telling me?
Front Panel Status LEDs (LPCs, VLCs)
The Pharos logo will illuminate when power is applied to the Controller. The red LEDs on the top/front of the Controller indicate the unit’s current status:
- The Active LED illuminates once the boot-up procedure has completed and is indicative of a fully functional unit.
- The Ethernet LED(s) indicates network activity (not network link) while the remaining LEDs indicate communication on the various ports of the Controller.
- The DMX (LPC), Output (TPC, LPC and LPC X) LEDs indicate that a valid project file has been loaded from the memory card and that playback has started.
TPC Status LEDs
The Status LEDs on the TPC are located on the front under the magnetic overlay and on the back next to the Ethernet connection.
- The Power LED illuminates to indicate that power is applied.
- The Active LED illuminates once the boot-up procedure has completed and is indicative of a fully functional unit.
- The Ethernet LED indicates network activity (not network link).
- The Output LED indicates that a show is loaded and eDMX data is being output. (Only on the front)
Additionally, the red status LEDs are used to indicate any boot failures of the Controller that prevent the unit from going active. If the active light is off, and other LEDs are flashing a pattern you can refer to the Pharos Installation Guide for diagnostic details.
Why can’t I see the Controller in Network Mode?
Presuming that the Controller has successfully booted its firmware (thus its Active LED illuminated) then there is a communication problem between the Controller and the PC running Designer:
Ethernet Problems (Network)
- Quit and restart Designer again once you’re sure that the network is up, use your PC’s LAN status tools.
- By default, the Controllers are set to obtain an IP address from a DHCP server, is there one on the network? Put one up and reset the Controller or set a static IP address by connecting your controller directly to your PC via a Cat5 connection.
- Do you have more than one network connection on the PC? Wireless perhaps? If so, did you choose the right network, the one with the Controller(s), when you started Designer?
- Are there any managed switches on the network? Traffic storms from 3rd party devices? Try “pinging” the Controller and other network debugging ploys beyond the scope of this document.
Ethernet Problems (One-To-One)
- Quit and restart Designer again once you’re sure that the is network up, use your PC’s LAN status tools.
- By default, the Controllers are set to obtain an IP address from a DHCP server, is the PC running one? Set a static IP address for both parties, connecting your controller to your PC via a direct Cat5 connection.
- Do you have more than one network connection on the PC? Wireless perhaps? If so, did you choose the right network, the one with the Controller, when you started Designer?
Incorrect Ethernet Cable (CAT5/5E/6) Pairing
Not all electrical installers are aware of the subtleties of Ethernet cabling, in particular the correct pairing scheme. While incorrectly paired short cables may work, longer cables almost certainly won’t or may exhibit intermittent errors. Note that simple continuity testers will NOT expose an incorrectly paired cable.
For a Controller (or Remote Device) to appear in the network table, it must be on firmware version v2.x.x. If the controller is on firmware version v1.x.x, the Firmware Migration Tool can be used to upgrade the controller to the correct firmware version.
Device processors employ a software “watchdog” that checks for a healthy processing refresh rate. In the event of a software crash or similar issue, rather than the device simply remaining in a failed state, the watchdog will force a reboot to attempt to clear the issue. The status LEDs flash once in sequence (the “trace”) when the watchdog reboot occurs. If the unit is continuously rebooting then tracing again, there may be a programming error causing a processing loop, or the project file or firmware may have become corrupted.
- To clear the project file on the LPC and TPC, remove the SD card to a PC then either delete everything or just format the card. When the card is restored the device should boot with no project loaded. Check programming in Designer 2 for potential issues, then upload again.
- To clear the project file on the LPC X, VLC and VLC+, and as an emergency restore of the firmware in all devices, use the Pharos Recovery Tool which is part of the installer.
- In v2.6 we added automatic protection against a project that causes the controller to watchdog on a loop. If a controller reboots five times consecutively with less than 90 seconds between each cycle, then on the sixth reboot it will not attempt to load the project. This enables the user to see the controller locally in Designer or in Pharos Cloud, to allow the upload of a blank, or simple show and troubleshoot further without the need for the steps above.
I can see the Controller in Network Mode but it’s grey
Controllers must be on the same Ethernet subnet as the PC running Designer. Select the controller and change its IP settings accordingly.
I can see the Controller in Network Mode but it’s red
Controllers must be running the same version of firmware as the Designer software. Controllers with incompatible firmware will be highlighted in red. Select the Controller in Network Mode and press Reload Firmware.
Is the free software a cut-down demo version?
No. The free Designer software is the full software package, updated regularly with new features, enhancements and bug fixes at no cost to users. The latest version of the software can be found on our Designer 2 download page.
Are project files compatible across versions and platforms?
Any project file saved in an earlier version of Designer 2 can be loaded by a later version.
Project files are compatible between the PC and Mac versions of the software.
Project files created in Designer v1.x.x are incompatible with Designer 2, but can be converted using the Project Migration Tool (available from our Designer 2 download page).
A project file saved in a later version of Designer may not be backwards compatible with earlier versions of the software. If in doubt, please contact support.
Where can I find Firmware files?
Occasionally, to reload the firmware via Cloud or through the Web Interface, you will need to find the firmware files on your PC. They can be found in the following way:
Windows: Navigate to “C:\Program Files\Pharos Controls\Designer 2\firmware” or your install directory.
Mac: Find the Pharos Designer App, right click and select “Show Package Contents”. Firmware can be found at “Contents/MacOS/firmware” within the new Window.
Can I have multiple versions of Designer and/or Designer 2 installed on my computer?
Yes, this is allowed by default as long as the installation location (in Windows) or application name (in Mac) are different.
What if I can’t find the fixture I need in the library?
If your fixture isn’t in Designer’s local library, check the Online Fixture Library, accessible from within the software.
If you need a fixture that is the same personality as an existing fixture, you can create a Fixture Alias, and if you need a very similar fixture, you can create a Custom Fixture. More information for this is in the AppNote, Creating Custom Fixtures.
Alternatively, contact support with the DMX specification to get a personality written.
What show control interfaces does the LPC 1/2/4 support?
By providing RS232/RS485 serial (including DMX input), MIDI, Ethernet & digital/analog inputs, the LPC can interface with many generic, off-the-shelf products and devices.
Using the built-in web interface, any browser (PC, Mac, Mobile, etc) can utilise the hyperlinks for triggering, and a custom web interface can be designed to provide a user-friendly skin.
Remote Devices provide further interfacing options e.g. remote RS232/RS485, SMPTE/EBU timecode, audio input, DALI, MIDI, etc.
Is the Pharos System RDM compatible?
Yes, both Pharos Designer hardware and the Designer 2 software supports RDM addressing and mode setting.
Should I keep updating the firmware of Controllers in the field?
No, not unless you know that a problem you are having would be solved with an update or you need to change the programming and need the new Designer features.
For minor tweaks it’s probably best to install the relevant Designer version that the controller is already running and do it with that. As a rule, if it’s working, leave it be. See our software Archive for older installers.
What is the warranty on Pharos products?
All Pharos hardware is warranted for 5 years. Please contact support if you are experiencing any issues.
Are Pharos products standards compliant?
The Pharos product range is manufactured to the highest quality in compliance with international standards. Please refer to the product datasheets for more details.
What are the power requirements for Pharos Designer products?
There are a variety of power requirements across the Pharos Designer range, including Power over Ethernet (PoE, 802.3af), low voltage DC and auto ranging mains AC:
If you still can’t find what you’re looking for or have a special request, please contact our support team, who will be happy to help.
+44 (0)20 7471 9449