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Helix + Outdoor Gig = Questions

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Played my first outdoor gig with my new Helix today.  Sounded great, worked flawlessly during the 45 minute set.  Although the TFT display was near impossible to see in the direct sunlight (Except for Tuner Mode), the scribble strips were bright & clear making patch and snapshot changes easy.

 

After the show, the surprise came when I went to pick the Helix up -- It was friggin' HOT!  I mean, it was all I could do to grab it and carry it off the stage before quickly putting it down to avoid burning my hands!  It was on stage in direct sunlight for about two hours, and the black Aluminum case soaked up every ounce of solar energy it could!

 

The question is this -- Should there be a concern that this type of temperature extreme will cause problems with the internal components?  Solder joints, ICs, etc?  What thermal testing was performed to the unit prior to release?  I have another outdoor gig in a couple weeks and it's a full three hour show with the unit again soaking up lots of sunlight.  I'm a bit concerned about thermal shutdown or fatigue on the electronics impacting the unit mid-show...

 

Thanks in advance!

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I've played several outdoor events but never in direct sunlight, and I'm in Florida.  I've never had the unit get that hot, but I'm not sure I'd be comfortable with my case getting that hot.  Just for my peace of mind I might construct some form of shade arrangement over it to protect it from direct sunlight for long periods of time.  I can't imagine it would be too good for the displays either.

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I've played several outdoor events but never in direct sunlight, and I'm in Florida.  I've never had the unit get that hot, but I'm not sure I'd be comfortable with my case getting that hot.  Just for my peace of mind I might construct some form of shade arrangement over it to protect it from direct sunlight for long periods of time.  I can't imagine it would be too good for the displays either.

Ditto that. The unit is probably getting well above 150 degrees F. I wouldn't feel comfortable with my electronics getting blazing hot. 

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I am all for the idea of constructing some sort of shade for the Helix. even if it doesn't look wonderful.  Something like a modified small umbrella or two would be superior to letting it bake in the sun.  And, you might be able to see the display better, too.

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Played my first outdoor gig with my new Helix today. Sounded great, worked flawlessly during the 45 minute set. Although the TFT display was near impossible to see in the direct sunlight (Except for Tuner Mode), the scribble strips were bright & clear making patch and snapshot changes easy.

 

After the show, the surprise came when I went to pick the Helix up -- It was friggin' HOT! I mean, it was all I could do to grab it and carry it off the stage before quickly putting it down to avoid burning my hands! It was on stage in direct sunlight for about two hours, and the black Aluminum case soaked up every ounce of solar energy it could!

 

The question is this -- Should there be a concern that this type of temperature extreme will cause problems with the internal components? Solder joints, ICs, etc? What thermal testing was performed to the unit prior to release? I have another outdoor gig in a couple weeks and it's a full three hour show with the unit again soaking up lots of sunlight. I'm a bit concerned about thermal shutdown or fatigue on the electronics impacting the unit mid-show...

 

Thanks in advance!

Excessive heat destroys everything. I wouldn't let any gear cook in direct sunlight for hours at a time. Buy it a hat...;)

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I have a open back rhombus angled enclosure I built for the outside venues.  Strips still hard to see but I know the buttons

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You could cover the large spaces with white tape and/or paper. I like the umbrella idea, personally.

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Great post.. I have a few big outdoor dates July 3 and 4.. something to prepare for! Thanks for letting us know!

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This isn't heat related, I didn't notice issues with that (weather highs were only in the 70s) but this was my post on a TGP thread yesterday...

 

Had my first outdoor festival gigs with the Helix yesterday. It sounded great as usual. One thing I didn't think about ahead of time was that it was harder to read the big screen in direct sunlight. That made tuning a challenge, and it was hard to see what preset I was on. The scribble strips however were still fine to use. So that was a big advantage for the one band where I just used snapshots instead of presets since the snapshot names were visible on the scribble strips... Not really a big deal, but maybe something to consider for people that play in direct sunlight and are deciding between Helix Floor and LT... next time I'll probably bring my Polytune2 also...

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I've put anything that casts shadows in front of Firehawk and Helix, including gig bags, etc. I like the idea of a custom made hood (metal, plastic, fabric?)

 

As for heat sink, I reported that problem back in the POD days. Definitely a problem. Firehawk has suffered all sorts of of unpredictable effects, none good, in sunlight.

 

Let us know.

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When I have had to mix sound in direct sunlight for an extended period of time I bring a fan to cool off the mixing board and rack-mounted gear as well if necessary. If you can't get any shade on the Helix a small fan running next to it might be a good idea. Just a small unobtrusive black Vornado or the like would do the trick. Even if the Helix is resistant to overheating and has good heat dispersion, getting hot enough to be difficult to handle would make me bring a fan for peace of mind. If you wear sandals or go barefoot it will cool your feet too.  :)

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Thanks for the replies.  I'd also like to hear from the design folks at L6 to find out to what extreme they ran their thermal stress tests on Helix.  RoHS (lead free) solder has a much higher melting point as compared to traditional tin/lead, so that works to our advantage, but there are also component stresses that come into play.  Better safe than sorry.

 

As for a shade or "umbrella" for the unit, that's a definite!  I've drawn up a couple ideas using narrow dowel rods or PCB tubing and dark fabric that can be quickly & easily assembled to form an awning over the Helix.  Clean looking, would block sunlight and still allow air flow, and is flexible enough for cables to run underneath the fabric.  Would be easy to break down and wrap up (Like silverware in a paper napkin) for easy cartage and storage.  Total construction cost would be under $20.  Just need to borrow a sewing machine to create the loops in the fabric for the rods to pass through and hold the awning in place...

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Light colored fabric reflects rather than absorbs heat, but might look less cool and get dirty quicker.

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I recently played an outdoor gig with my new HELIX LT and also noticed it was very hard to see the display when the board was in the direct sunlight. (Is there a brightness setting for the display?)

 

I live in So California, play frequently outdoors, and I hadn't thought about the heat, so I'm glad I saw the above posts. I'm going to try using a small shade that I bought for lounging at the beach (designed to block sun from your head). I think it's just about wide enough. If interested, it's the "Cush-n-Shade." Here's a link: http://www.cushnshade.com/. It's probably not exactly right, but you can change the angle of the shade and the overall concept is very close.

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That cushion shade product looks like it might work great (so long as the underside ventillation holes of the Helix Floor are not blocked by the base cushion)! I've not seen that product hands-on. From the product website photo, seems that a pair of flat paint stir sticks (i.e furring strips) to raise the Helix just slightly to allow for airflow underneath may be useful.

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That cushion shade product looks like it might work great (so long as the underside ventillation holes of the Helix Floor are not blocked by the base cushion)! I've not seen that product hands-on. From the product website photo, seems that a pair of flat paint stir sticks (i.e furring strips) to raise the Helix just slightly to allow for airflow underneath may be useful.

 

Good idea, thanks for the suggestion on the stir sticks and pointing out the need to have good airflow for the unit. I purchased a flight case and have been leaving it in the bottom of the case during gigs. I'll pull it out when doing outdoor gigs. By the way, the flight case is specifically designed for the LT model, excellent quality and the unit fits perfectly. There is a small area inside for the power cord. The company is in England, but I received the case two days after ordering it. Excellent! More info at: www.theflightcasecompany.com

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That flight case looks great if you're after such a thing.

How much was shipping to the US?

Only room for the cord, nothing else? Not that that's a deal breaker, just info.

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The extra area inside is limited. I have a couple of other small cords along with the power cord, but the space is not big enough for a 50' XLR or similar. Maybe you could lay extra cords on the HELIX LT and close the lid on top of everything.

 

The flight case, including shipping and tax, was $198.12. I know there are cases for less money, but I had a fly-gig to pack for and didn't want to have to customize the case (inside padding) in any way.

 

For sure, it was a hassle-free experience and the case is excellent. I may also pick up a gig bag/back pack for local gigs, but really don't believe I need it. Thinking about it, I carry my guitars in hard shell cases for a reason.

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Thanks Denny, nice bit of kit.

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I'm thinking that this is the proper thread for my questions. I am playing a floor Helix unit with a JTV Variax hooked up via VDI cable. It's been very, very hot here (high nineties). A two hot garage practices and an outdoor gig, I've had some intermittent issues. The scenario is like this.... hot environment, playing well for long period of i.e. about 30 minutes. Switch to new preset (via USB MIDI from Apple Mainstage) and the guitar sound it dead. Sometimes I can continue to footswitch and MIDI switch to new patches, however, the guitar sound is still gone. Sometimes the Helix totally freezes and no patch switching is possible. It has been cured with a restart of the Helix. However yesterday afternoon on a hot outdoor gig it froze up three times. One time the USB DAW audio keyboard sound signal from my Fishman Triple Play via Apple Mainstage still worked but the guitar audio did not. The other two times it was a totally dead from an audio standpoint. A restart (power off/on) of the Helix fixed it twice but the third time the Helix would not boot... just a blank screen. I had to scramble to use the lead singer's guitar rig to play the next song while I let my Helix sit turned off (about five minutes). Then I switched on the Helix and it booted up fine and I finished the gig. I have the current firmware installed. 

 

I am assuming that this behavior is overheating. I have it in a plywood case with some vent room but I am working today to modify the case to add more ventilation space underneath the unit and perhaps add a computer fan to circulate air under the unit. I am hoping that this solves this problem as I've never had an issue in a cool environment. None-the-less, I'm asking for opinions as to whether my trouble shooting is in the correct bucket or if there are some common alternatives that I should also explore before my next gig. 

 

I'd really killed the crowd momentum to have me monkeying around with a sick Helix. Need to have this on a better track or I am in troubled waters. Thoughts?

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Highly recommend getting some good cooling going on, especially when you are in direct sunlight.  Maybe a shade as has been suggested along with at least a fan with a clear path around the Helix.  I'd even consider mounting some sort of liquid cooling rig in your plywood box.  I once had to use my laptop in the heat, and put it in a box with bags of ice underneath it to keep it cool enough to keep running.

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Thanks Iknowathingortwo, I just finished making 1/2" space under and around the Helix and velcro'ing down cables to make sure they don't end up restricting air flow. I think I'll get one of these

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Lasko-10-5-in-2-Speed-Ultra-Slim-Clip-Stik-Personal-Fan-4006/202019807

or one of these 

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=2299268&CatId=494

to force air under the unit. 

 

I will consider a water cooled system but that will take some thinking. I'll a little reluctant to mix water and electronics in the event of a leak. But, if this doesn't work I'll be back to tinkering.

 

Thanks again!

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Visit Toys R Us and fine a kids umbrella.   They have'em in everything from Hello Kitty to Vampire and Skull themes.  Gaff't to an old gooseneck mic-stand base.  Looks cool, makes a statement, fun..  I don't generally play outdoors, but I might get one anyway..

 

61w9oY4eGFL._SL1000_.jpg

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Yeah, I discovered that too. My First impression (from the housiing shape was that it may have been C or D battery powered. The specs do indicate there's a 6' Power cord and the unit is UL approved. Not much of a complication, as the Helix needs AC Power too. That is so long as the small motor in the unit doesn't generate any line noise.

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To cool on hot gigs (temperature wise or just plain rockin'), I added 1/2" spacing blocks underneath the Helix to provide more airflow AND I added three cheap "squirrel-cage" style 12V DC computer fans that blow a fair amount of air underneath. Here is a picture pre-installation. 
 https://goo.gl/photos/zWzvGdPKWkCRdfE8A
Here is a picture installed in my case
 https://goo.gl/photos/tgypDbxpNRbq7YE9A
These blow air underneath the Helix. The air exits out the case in the front near my feet. Not over powering but definitely a steady airflow, which should help. I will also have a conventional desk fan (Vornado type knock off) blowing over the face of the unit. I'm hoping all of this prevents further issues on hot days. The computer fans and the conventional fan will make some noise, but this is for bar/outdoor gig volumes.

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Here is the above mentioned Cush N Shade at a recent beach gig. It worked great. However, had the sun been behind me, direct sun would still be a challenge.

 

PS first post with images, so fingers crossed.

 

post-2560592-0-57820900-1500254225_thumb.jpg

post-2560592-0-82331200-1500254248_thumb.jpg

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I think the main question should be - why are you tuning up more than once in a 45 minute set? ;)

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I'm thinking that this is the proper thread for my questions. I am playing a floor Helix unit with a JTV Variax hooked up via VDI cable. It's been very, very hot here (high nineties). A two hot garage practices and an outdoor gig, I've had some intermittent issues. The scenario is like this.... hot environment, playing well for long period of i.e. about 30 minutes. Switch to new preset (via USB MIDI from Apple Mainstage) and the guitar sound it dead. Sometimes I can continue to footswitch and MIDI switch to new patches, however, the guitar sound is still gone. Sometimes the Helix totally freezes and no patch switching is possible. It has been cured with a restart of the Helix. However yesterday afternoon on a hot outdoor gig it froze up three times. One time the USB DAW audio keyboard sound signal from my Fishman Triple Play via Apple Mainstage still worked but the guitar audio did not. The other two times it was a totally dead from an audio standpoint. A restart (power off/on) of the Helix fixed it twice but the third time the Helix would not boot... just a blank screen. I had to scramble to use the lead singer's guitar rig to play the next song while I let my Helix sit turned off (about five minutes). Then I switched on the Helix and it booted up fine and I finished the gig. I have the current firmware installed. 

 

I am assuming that this behavior is overheating. I have it in a plywood case with some vent room but I am working today to modify the case to add more ventilation space underneath the unit and perhaps add a computer fan to circulate air under the unit. I am hoping that this solves this problem as I've never had an issue in a cool environment. None-the-less, I'm asking for opinions as to whether my trouble shooting is in the correct bucket or if there are some common alternatives that I should also explore before my next gig. 

 

I'd really killed the crowd momentum to have me monkeying around with a sick Helix. Need to have this on a better track or I am in troubled waters. Thoughts?

 

After some more time with this issue, I am not convinced that it is heat related. I have had it continue with the use of extra cooling and once in a cool environment. So... it seems that it is a gremlin of another origin. I did reinstall the firmware and rebuild the presets globally per the firmware install directions but this crap keeps happening on preset changes (via midi). I'll post this in the bug report section to see if I have anyone with a similar experience.

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Keeping direct sun off of the Helix is a must in my opinion. Just putting a fan on it, but leaving it in the direct sun light is futile. 

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