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Author Topic: JNIOR Series 3 Status
Bruce Cloutier
Film Handler

Posts: 45
From: Jeannette, PA, USA
Registered: Aug 2016


 - posted 06-14-2018 08:33 AM      Profile for Bruce Cloutier   Author's Homepage   Email Bruce Cloutier   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
There is growing interest in upgrading a Series 3 JNIOR installation (310, 312, or 314) to a Series 4 (corresponding 410, 412, or 414). The topic has come up a few times over the past couple of months. There are units out there that may be approaching 15 years in service.

I have subscribed to this policy and I will reiterate myself here. If it is not broken don't fix it!

But having said that you have to realize that aging equipment, even the JNIOR, eventually will break (start to become unreliable).

We have decided to offer a solution and I am looking for comments.

The JNIOR_3 has been a work horse in many places (not just cinema). The priority in JNIOR_4 development was that it be a drop-in replacement for the JNIOR_3. As a result, you may have noticed, the physical enclosure and connections are precisely the same. The difference being the dark label theme and the blue power LED (was for fun in prototyping at first). We then developed the JANOS operating system for the new processor in-house to insure that it mimicked the JNIOR_3 as much as possible.

We refused to replicate aspects of the JNIOR_3 that were cumbersome. For example, the application programming while in Java was quite limited and had to run through a converter to create the .JNIOR (or .TINI) program for execution on JNIOR_3. That was a command line operation requiring several cryptic options and settings. It was not at all palatable for customers who might do their own programming. So the JNIOR_4 runs a .JAR file directly and supports a robust runtime library. Beyond that the added horsepower with the new processor in JNIOR_4 allowed us to do new things leading to new features and better ways to get the job done. So there are subtle differences in JNIOR_4 applications and we do not run the old JNIOR_3 programs.

Why you might consider replacing your JNIOR_3 installations...

We can no longer build the JNIOR_3 units. Key components became obsolete and then reached end of life. We no longer can support the JNIOR_3. While the team that developed the JNIOR_3 is still in place here, none of us have worked with it in years. Soon it will be as unfamiliar to us as it is to you.

The hardware is aging. The battery that maintains the clock and the memory originally has a 10-year shelf life and about a 6-year in-circuit life. Many JNIOR_3 batteries are now dead. That in and by itself may not affect the performance of your JNIOR. If you are relying on the clock and do not provide a network means to update the clock, you will have problems after removing power. Key files are saved in the /flash folder which doesn't require the battery. Your logs are lost which eliminates helpful debugging information.

Maybe more important is the life of the relays. The longevity of those relays depends highly on the types of devices you have connected. I could get into the details but at some point the relays might not always close. Things might not reliably turn on. Or, they might not turn off. At first it might be a rare occurrence. At any rate, we intend for your automation to perform reliably. You expect it to perform reliably. And it has, but will it always?

So here is what we can do. I am not trying to sell this to you here. I am hoping to get feedback. Let me know what you think...

For each JNIOR_3 that you decide to replace you purchase a JNIOR_4 of the corresponding model and supply us with a recent Support Tool backup file for that unit. We will ship the replacement unit pre-configured to immediately work when physically swapped for the JNIOR_3. That would include proper network addressing. The JNIOR_3 must be disconnected before powering up the JNIOR_4. There will be a $25 charge for this "Pre-configuration Service".

And since nothing is perfect if after swapping the units the new JNIOR_4 doesn't perform better than the JNIOR_3 you still have the JNIOR_3 to stick back in there. We will support you in correcting any issue. We are 100% confident that the vast majority of units that we ship pre-configured from valid backups will just drop-in. We migrate all of your configuration so it will operate with the latest versions of application programs. Pop the connectors, remove two mounting screws (if you bothered to affix the JNIOR to anything), mount the new unit, and replace the connectors. You continue to use the existing power supply.

Thoughts? Would you do this? Do you think others would?

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 6964
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000


 - posted 06-17-2018 12:47 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In the last year, I've done three swapouts from 3s to 4s. All of them have been in response to a physical failure of the 3, i.e. an emergency callout, "help, it's broken" scenario.

We use JNIORs built into our our own automation units, with the software and configuration heavily customized. So I'm probably not speaking for the majority of JNIOR end users here, but the swapout was not smooth, and for the first one I needed hand-holding over the phone from our resident JNIOR guru to re-upload the cinema module and configure several registry settings in order to get the replacement to work. The second and third swapouts were a lot less traumatic, because by then I knew what I was doing.

The pre-configuration service sounds great, if it's a planned replacement. The problem I foresee is that theater owners are not going to be in the mindset of a planned replacement for JNIORs: they're going to be in the mindset of I run it until it breaks, and then I replace it. A lot of these units are powered up 24/7, so the battery running down is not going to be an early prompt.

If the pre-configuration service could be do-able remotely and online, that would be more useful, IMHO. You upload the support tool backup from the 3 series unit, specify which model of 4 series replacement you're installing, and then a file comes back (it would have to be within minutes, given that there will probably be a tech in the field dealing with an emergency call) that you upload into the 4 series replacement that enables it to function as a direct swap-in.

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Bruce Cloutier
Film Handler

Posts: 45
From: Jeannette, PA, USA
Registered: Aug 2016


 - posted 06-17-2018 08:00 AM      Profile for Bruce Cloutier   Author's Homepage   Email Bruce Cloutier   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In conceiving of the pre-configuration service I, of course, am thinking of an individual JNIOR in use in the cinema. It would be running our standard CINEMA application or Task Manager or one of those that are already available in the Series 4. Those of you who have embedded the JNIOR and have an extensively customized configuration don't really fall under that category. In that case we certainly would assist in the upgrade but the process may be more involved and take more discussion. Consider an embedded Series 3 running a custom application developed either by INTEG or your company. If that application has not been converted to run on a Series 4 (and by INTEG) the simple pre-configuration would not be possible until more is done.

I wouldn't feel bad about the hand-holding. If you don't work with something daily or perform a specific procedure frequently enough you quickly forget. Look, I designed the thing and wrote JANOS and, yet, rely on HELP more than you would think I should. I can't tell you how many times Kevin has reminded me of something that the JNIOR can do. Maybe I am just getting old but when I look at how much code is involved in the OS and how long ago a feature was created I don't feel so bad.

It is good that there are JNIOR gurus out there. I wish that we had a tighter relationship with those people. INTEG also benefits when we are involved in the hand-holding. That's how we find out that our documentation sucks, uh, excuse me, is lacking. Maybe more importantly it is how we identify shortcomings in the design and make changes to make life easier for you. Yet, how is it that Kevin and I have put up jnior.com and months later there is not one legitimate JNIOR enthusiast participating? And by 'participating' I mean having registered and posted an appropriate comment or question. We can can look at that in many different ways. One is that the JNIOR just works and does its job (until it doesn't). When it is doing its thing no one cares about how it does it. They want to forget it and move on. And they do.

Rick tells me all of the time that cinema JNIORs do not have access to the Internet. We have considered features in the JNIOR (like automatic updates) that might "phone home" only to set those aside because of that. Just a comment on updates, our's fix bugs and inefficiencies, add features, and do not change policies. They do not put existing applications at risk. By 'update' I mean the installation of a new OS through JRUPDATE from a UPD file. Not a blind application of a Support Tool update project. Those are much more involved and must be used carefully. They are often customized to your situation.

You should always put the latest JANOS on your units. The bugs we run into now are deep and esoteric. It has taken a while but we are now finally at a point where we are not chasing these gremlins routinely. JANOS v1.6.5 is solid. Even units connected directly to the Internet survive and run cleanly. Similarly you could consider getting the latest version of the applications you are running. Those don't change as often.

I understand... the pre-configuration service wouldn't help in an emergency. Our plan is to develop the migration tool as we pre-configure units in-house. Once that tool runs flawlessly we would make it available to you for on-site ASAP migration. This plan assumes that we do get into a number of varied pre-configurations. The tool likely would still not be valid for custom embedded systems.

Just some added thoughts.

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

Posts: 12136
From: Annapolis, MD
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 06-17-2018 08:23 AM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Okay, I'm doin't what I don't like in some posts...talking about something I don't have direct real-world experience...that is, I don't, at the present time, use JNIORs (I use eCNAs...it was a matter of running with what I knew that did the job and EPRAD people, like Jay, have been GREAT). It is not a reflection on JNIOR...but here it goes.

If people, like MIT, deploy an automation. I would think that they are all configured similarly, if not identically. At least that should be true for any model of automation system. If that is true, one would think that you could have the version 4 of that configuration all ready for upload on any emergency 3 to 4 conversion. At which point, just job/site specific changes would be needed (IPs or perhaps specific device needs).

I can tell you that on our eCNA deployments they are all substantially clones of one another. What tends to vary are the projector and sound processors we are talking to and I keep a clone of those variants so those deployments become merely an IP change for those devices.

Can't the JNIOR be deployed similarly and thus be converted from version 3 to 4? Sure, you'd have to do the overhead of configuring your first 4s once but then it is a matter of cloning not starting from scratch. A tech, in the field, shouldn't have to do much more than get the IPs right and MAYBE put in the site specific device (for instance, I have one site that has a Lutron Grafix Eye lighting system so its lighting commands are WILDLY different than normal.

The other thing I would hope from JNIOR is that there is enough consistency that whatever backup file it uses would be usable on both version 3 and 4 (a version 3 should be a subset of version 4). If not, I would say it is a poor design. One would think that you should design something such that there is an upgrade path.

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Bruce Cloutier
Film Handler

Posts: 45
From: Jeannette, PA, USA
Registered: Aug 2016


 - posted 06-17-2018 08:50 AM      Profile for Bruce Cloutier   Author's Homepage   Email Bruce Cloutier   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Steve Guttag
The other thing I would hope from JNIOR is that there is enough consistency that whatever backup file it uses would be usable on both version 3 and 4 (a version 3 should be a subset of version 4). If not, I would say it is a poor design. One would think that you should design something such that there is an upgrade path.
Steve makes good points. The reality is that there is a lot more synergy between the 3 and the 4 than it sounds. Restoring the Series 3 backup to a Series 4 loads old .JNIOR applications and not the new .JAR versions. That difference between the series could not be avoided.

Also somehow we got into this mode with the Series 3 of editing jnior.ini files externally and copying them onto the units to reconfigure. The jnior.ini file on the Series three stored the Registry when power is removed. On the Series 4 the jnior.ini file is merely a backup and the Registry is always resident. Writing an externally edited jnior.ini file to a Series 4 does not do what it once did.

These are subtle but logical differences. You don't realize what it took to create the Series 4 and keep it as similar as it is to the Series 3. When the processor went obsolete on the Series 3 and then reached end of life, that would have been the end of JNIOR. Sure we could maybe quickly create something in the upgrade path but it would have been a Linux boot or some other RTOS and EVERYTHING would have changed. Instead we created JANOS in the image of the Series 3. That took 5 years of effort.

Migration really isn't that difficult. The configuration files for the applications are generally still valid. You need to use the supplied .JAR files or load the ones that you need instead of the old .JNIOR programs. The IP addressing is set through the Support Tool, Web interface (DCP now not applets), or using the IPCONFIG command. But, when you encounter an unexpected difference, no matter how small or ultimately simple, it can be a show-stopper. That is especially true when you haven't touched the thing for years. That is what you are hearing here.

Consider too that unlike the eCNA the JNIOR is extremely flexible. That is why you also find it in track-side equipment in places like the monorail in Las Vegas or across China. It is visible controlling doors on the people movers in the Atlanta airport. At the same time the JNIOR runs systems that monitor environmental parameters for smoke stack emissions. It integrates lightning detectors with golf course sirens all across Canada. Just my favorite applications to mention. This flexibility lets us tweak its use in a theater which makes owners happy. That tweak could come back to haunt us in an upgrade. That's all.

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Carsten Kurz
Film God

Posts: 3713
From: Cologne, NRW, Germany
Registered: Aug 2009


 - posted 06-17-2018 09:18 AM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
[thumbsup]

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Marcel Birgelen
Film God

Posts: 2563
From: Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
Registered: Feb 2012


 - posted 06-17-2018 04:29 PM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Bruce Cloutier
Instead we created JANOS in the image of the Series 3. That took 5 years of effort.
Sorry if I deviate from the topic a bit, but this JANOS thing sounds somewhat intriguing. You really created your own OS for the processor that runs the JNIOR Series 4?

So, this is an OS that includes a Java VM/runtime environment? And what kind of OS is it anyway? [Smile]

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Mark Gulbrandsen
Resident Trollmaster

Posts: 16151
From: Bountiful, Utah
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 06-17-2018 05:26 PM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Bruce Cloutier
Consider too that unlike the eCNA the JNIOR is extremely flexible. That is why you also find it in track-side equipment in places like the monorail in Las Vegas or across China. It is visible controlling doors on the people movers in the Atlanta airport. At the same time the JNIOR runs systems that monitor environmental parameters for smoke stack emissions. It integrates lightning detectors with golf course sirens all across Canada. Just my favorite applications to mention.
Not too much of that matters to most of us here, but the flexibility of combining it in other theater related things might be of interest to other types of contractors working in our industry.

I went with all eCNA because it integrated very well into existing systems and offered easy flexibiliy to do some upgrades customers requested. Although I had similarly wired screens at most plex sites, each plex location was wired differently! You can also use the eCNA as a stand alone pre-programed automation like Steve does, or have it operate from server generated cues like I did. The eCNA was just more cinema like to begin with... more like the old Strong CNA Automations that T.L. (Eprad) also manufactured and a whole lot of Techs were already familiar with. Keep in mind that T.L. Industries, who manufacture the eCNA, also manucfacture all the robotics controlers in use on most auto assembly lines around the world. These guys really know their stuff! They are not just EPRAD Inc. Eprad is merely a corner of a couple of desks at T.L., but has remained a viable line for them for decades. I have not had a single failure of an eCNA in 330 of them installed, and many are over 7 years old now. Why would I want to change?

Mark

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Bruce Cloutier
Film Handler

Posts: 45
From: Jeannette, PA, USA
Registered: Aug 2016


 - posted 06-17-2018 06:46 PM      Profile for Bruce Cloutier   Author's Homepage   Email Bruce Cloutier   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
You might think I shoveling it but, I have not said at any point that JNIOR was better than anything else. If you employed eCNA and have been successful, that is all that we could hope for you. The JNIOR is in cinemas though and I know that it was not developed specifically as a cinema component. It does bring a special kind of flexibility and in some cases that can be helpful. What I do want to do is to learn from the competitive products so we can make the JNIOR better. To that aim I am in awe of everyone here (not knowing specifically which of you to avoid) as you all have firsthand knowledge of the application. ;-)

Marcel, well we probably have the two desks in the corner beat. I wrote every byte of JANOS and all of the INTEG portion of the operating system in the Series 3. The older JNIORs were based on an 8051 8-bit processor pre-programmed as a JVM from Dallas Semiconductor. It had the TINI OS which I extended for JNIOR. I also designed the hardware for the entire line starting with the Series 3. Now we have the code so Series 5 will be a easy and seamless conversion sometime in the future.

Since it is Father's Day I'll take the liberty of continuing to brag. Kevin wrote all of the application code (like cinema.jnior and cinema.jar). Kevin is my son. He actually got written up in the Chicago Tribune in the mid-1990s sometime for having developed one of the first online weather stations. He was like 15. I developed the hardware and OS for that. It used Basic as opposed to Java. The first installation was at the University of Oregon in Portland I seem to remember. The second was at the National Weather Service.

Rick, has worked diligently with all of you to help define and refine what we needed to do (originally for Kodak) to be successful in cinema. The three of us are 100% responsible for existence of JNIOR from the beginning and we are not going anywhere. As I have pointed out we think we (JNIORs) are in about 1/3 of the screens worldwide.

It's off-topic but if you want to dig into any aspect of this let's start a separate thread.

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

Posts: 12136
From: Annapolis, MD
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 06-17-2018 07:12 PM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Note, my use of eCNA was never intended to be a dig against JNIOR. Without a doubt, the eCNA was a purpose built line for cinema. It can certainly do other things but cinema is what it does. As Mark mentioned, when we knew that DCinema was eminent, we could put in eCNA200 automations...which when the projectors were switched, became a DCinema automation, instantly. It is the same in every respect except the IO boards to the current units.

I guess a key difference between the back up files of a JNIOR (due to its nature), is that a backup includes more than mere settings. In an eCNA, that is ALL that is in a backup. There are no custom "apps" just custom Macros that have a limited command set and those Macros are backed up.

Like so many things in life, one has to trade flexibility for simplicity. At some point, one feels that they have struck the right balance for them.

Even with my complete satisfaction with the eCNA, I'm still interested in JNIOR BECAUSE of its flexibility. I have a site where I need to talk to a DMX dimming system (not a conventional cinema). It is out of the question on an eCNA (unless there was such demand that they put it into all systems) but with JNIOR, not only is it possible, work has already been done on it.

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Mark Gulbrandsen
Resident Trollmaster

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From: Bountiful, Utah
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 - posted 06-17-2018 09:14 PM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Steve Guttag
I have a site where I need to talk to a DMX dimming system (not a conventional cinema).
There actually is a way to interface DMX to an eCNA. I have done it on both Strand and Colortran dimming racks. I will try to find the companies web site for you.

Mark

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Carsten Kurz
Film God

Posts: 3713
From: Cologne, NRW, Germany
Registered: Aug 2009


 - posted 06-18-2018 06:20 AM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Steve - the JNIOR 3x->4x transition is not a drop-in replacement, but is supported by Integ as a means to make the transition towards a new hardware generation easier. If at any time during the availability of the JNIOR 3x you'd had to replace one or switch to a different 3x model, it would have been as easy as you expect: restore, connect.
Think of it like it was when series 1 transitioned to series 2 - there was no way you could reuse your series 1 presets/config files in a series 2 machine. Now, if some projector manufacturer had offered a tool to convert series 1 setup files into series 2 setup files, it probably would have worked only towards 90% of the preset/setup options, because some were simply not translatable.

Also, keep in mind that this limitation of the JNIOR 3->4 replacement only hits those who have special applications running on the JNIOR 3 - these are certainly not the majority of systems in the field. So, for most, the transition to a JNIOR4 from a JNIOR 3 using a backup will work immediately.

Of course it would be nice if Integ could simply offer the JNIOR3x as a 100% drop-in replacement forever, but, we know electronics can't be produced forever if they contain u-controllers, and also, how do you ever introduce innovations if you limit yourself to hardware that is 10 years old?

- Carsten

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

Posts: 12136
From: Annapolis, MD
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 06-18-2018 08:00 AM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Carsten,

Actually, your series 1/2 projector transition was a bad example. PCF and Screen files DO transfer between the two! On a Barco, so to Macros though things that "don't make sense" like the "extras" won't transfer so well. But you could move a DP2000 lens over to a DP2K-20C and load in your previous screen files and it would indeed look right with them. Odds are the MCGD would also work close enough (as close as a projector gets from unit to unit).

Back on automations...I could take an eCNA200 file and load it into an eCNA-5 and that into an eCNA-10. Sure there are differences due to the different I/Os but the core of it all would transfer just fine and all of my Macros would fire right up. I'd just need to make the changes to the new I/O board.

Mark, as for solutions to DMX dimmers on an eCNA...sure, with an external box (even a JNIOR) such things are possible. Many, but not all DMX dimmer companies have I/O modules of their own to allow things like contact closure or even RS232/Ethernet for Scene Preset recall.

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Carsten Kurz
Film God

Posts: 3713
From: Cologne, NRW, Germany
Registered: Aug 2009


 - posted 06-18-2018 08:26 AM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Steve, series 1 to series 2 obviously was no bad example, as you couldn't transfer full presets, but only partial files, and rework the rest. Same with the JNIOR 3x->4x.

Also, that JNIOR 3x->4x transition wasn't disruptive - a friend of mine bought a JNIOR 4x back in 2014.

If you had regularly used JNIORs, you would have taken notice of this transition and be well prepared, and you would have used standard configs for them just as you do with the eCNAs.

In most installations, replacing a JNIOR 3x with a JNIOR 4x takes as much effort as configuring an IP address and unplug/replug the power and GPIO connectors. You are making something up here.

- Carsten

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Bruce Cloutier
Film Handler

Posts: 45
From: Jeannette, PA, USA
Registered: Aug 2016


 - posted 06-18-2018 09:33 AM      Profile for Bruce Cloutier   Author's Homepage   Email Bruce Cloutier   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
So nothing is perfect and I think we all have some experience with reality. Any conversion/upgrade/update for any system/device carries a non-zero probability that a certain amount of problem solving may have to occur. There is no doubt that sometimes things go perfectly and sometimes not so much. It is even a challenge to come up with a good examples. I have yet to change a component in my home theater and not create other issues and frustrations. Some have yet to be resolved.

So to err on the side of caution I am approaching this as if the 3->4 transition is difficult. INTEG, as it always has, wants to help to reduce the frustration (should there be any). I could take the stance of every other vendor in the world and act as though it is simple just to secure the order.

Back to the original proposal for pre-configuration. Yes, this assumes that a customer is proactive and upgrades their JNIOR before the existing JNIOR 3 fails. The advantage in this service would be that we could analyze the backup files and determine if an installation has any custom tweak away from a the standard. We would work to migrate that tweak to the new unit. I suspect that initially we will invest much more that $25 worth of time in making sure this is done right. Eventually we will create a tool that we would share.

Ideally, now, we need a volunteer. Perhaps a theater with older JNIOR 3s. And in that case just do one maybe for a screen that is used less frequently if there is such a thing. Order a JNIOR including the pre-configuration and send us a backup of the target JNIOR 3. Let us do one and see if we can be successful.

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