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Electronic Theatre Controls Inc

General Protection Faults On Obsession Systems

Error Message

Obsession console appears to stop functioning.  Loss of facepanel control and loss of DMX output are common symptoms. After checking Diagnostic screen on the console or processor unit, the screen is filled with gibberish text.

You can identify that general protection fault has occurred by the attached diagnostic screen shot.

Note that grey area of importance.  You will see a processor exception number and a hexadecimal dump of information onto the screen.


A general protection fault is caused by a "failure to communicate".  Pardon the "Cool Hand Luke" reference.  The problem is generated by the 486 processor when it receives an unexpected command or sequence.  

This can be caused by 3 reasons.

  1. Obsession software problem, which has made it past the final testing phase.  These errors are hard to track down in development due to the numerous testing procedures.  The customer will need to help us duplicate the problem, so that we can fix the Obsession code set.
  2. Obsession Power Supply failure.  In this case, the Obsession did not generate "Retries to Get Slave Data" errors.  But the power supply voltage is low enough to cause a scrambled command from the Serf PCB.
  3. Obsession Serf PCB or 486 PCB hardware failures.  If there is no rhyme or reason, but the console continually coughs up GPFs.  There could potentially be a hardware problem with the shared memory or communication buss on the Serf PCB.  There could also be a potential problem with the communication buss on the 486 PCB.  But these are very rare occurrences.
  4. Obsession Systems with software prior to v2.4.2 could potentially GPF due to Network problems.  Either bad cabling, terminators, or garbage on the network.  This problem is a rare occurrence.
  5. Obsession II Systems with software prior to v4.2 could potentially GPF caused by large show files, which would cause the processor to boot into a GPF. This problem is a rare occurrence.

Workaround / Fix

Reboot the console or affected processor.
ETC recommends that the customer "deep clear" or "reset the system".  The customer can then reload the most recent copy of show file and I/O config.  We do this so that the show file does not become corrupted by the GPF.
If the customer can duplicate the problem, they will need to copy down all of the "grey" areas on the GPF screen.  Pay special attention to the last command, program flow, and EIP error.  With this information, the customer should write down the software version, system layout, and send a copy of the show file.

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