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Which dimmer to buy?


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#1 PhantomD

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Posted 25 March 2006 - 04:19 AM

Hello all,

I am currently organising all the lighting quotes for installing a new lights system in our hall. I have chosen LSC for several reasons, mainly the ease of use of the maXim compared to similar units, and the LSC dimming reputation. smile.gif

However I would like clarification from admin/board members about which dimmer to choose. We need wall-mounts, so the i-series dimmers are the go. But which to buy - iPro or iPak?

We have a lot of conventional lights in our system - profiles, fresnels, PCs, multipars, cyc floods - wattages I am unsure about but investigating. Nothing low-voltage, couple of 2K fresnels. However, during the annual school musical, we need to be able to use a smoke machine, a strobe, and a few motorised disco lights possibly. The ability to use a fluro would be good future-proofing, in case I become a bit creative! Although not used in years, we also have a disco ball with motor that we could use in the future.

So basically, to do all of the above, I gather we would need iPros? One thing I might mention at this point is that we only have 32A 3-phase plugs. I know the iPros can take 13A per channel - is this a huge waste? Considering the plugs are still the standard Australian 10A type.

Our current (and extremely aged) lighting system comprises of a LSC Focal with Master Wing 36-channel, two wallpak analogue dimmers, and one similar touring dimmer. unsure.gif It is however having extreme difficulties, and I highly recommended to Admin that we should buy a new system, which was taken on board.

I have asked around for quotes for the following gear:
*LSC maXim LP with integral PatPad
*iPro 12-channel dimmer wallmount x3 with 32A tail.

Yes Ent Services are one of the companies I have approached. I have prepared a submission, and included the LSC technical newsletter on different dimmer technologies, and higlighted the various important bits (pretty much the whole thing). We definitlely don't want to regret later what we did now. I believe our current dimmers are PFTD - I remember some loon plugged a fan into them once - just pulled out one of our lights, which were in use, and plugged the fan in. Then he was going to take the fan back because it wasn't powerful enough. tongue.gif Lucky I spotted him. He probably thought they were a kind of industrial power board - I stopped myself from giving him an earful.

Any guidance or comments would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance,

Damo
*PhantomD*
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#2 PhantomD

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Posted 25 March 2006 - 04:54 AM

Whoops, a couple of things I forgot to mention (I haven't had my coffee tongue.gif ).

We want to be able to control movers, however we have no infrastructure in place to do so, coming off an analogue system.

I believe in professional theatre installations you find lighting bars that have three plugs per lamp - one dimmed, one non-dimmed, and one DMX. Ours have just the dimmed plugs, no DMX (or non-dimmed plugs). We might be getting new lights bars in the future as ours aren't long enough in reality, and I'd like to have four extra cyc plugs at the back, to enable us to have three colours and a white per set of cycs. However there is NO way we'll have enough money to do it this year, what with a new lights control system.

So how should I future-proof the system? Currently I belive we're just planning to run the one lead from the first DMX universe and daisy-chain into the dimmers, and then if we were to put a mover onto the bar, then daisy-chain from the last dimmer up to the mover. Not the most wonderful arrangement, but it would work. And we'd have to unpatch the mover from the dimmers and plug it into a standard socket, located beside the dimmers. But in this scenario, running a DMX cable along the bar (along with power leads!?) would I be asking for trouble? dry.gif

The other thing is maybe get whoever is contracted to do the job to run another lead along the side of the hall, and just leave it loose backstage somewhere, incase we upgrade our lights bars. I don't know how the DMX really works in relation to the lighting bars, as I have never had a good look over such a system. Could somebody please...? Cheers smile.gif

I have to make a decision now, as the sides of the hall are going to be covered with acoustic panelling, and we have to have the tech wiring all cut and dried before then.

Thanks again.
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#3 LSC TechSupport

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 07:40 PM

Hi PhantomD,

OK in regards to dimmers the iPRO units are definately what you need. Don't worry about the 10A vs 13A, this is not the real difference between the two units. It is just 'icing on the cake', so to speak.

As you have rightly pointed out you need the PTFD technology to run movers, mirror ball motors and strobes, which the ePAK does not have. So this is what affects your decision.

The 32A power is not a big problem, you just won't be able to run all the channels of the dimmers to the full 3000w capacity at the same time. You can of course load all the channels to full, but you have to make sure that when you turn them on, you only run 2 at full at any one time. If you turn on all 4 channels then you must keep them below about 60%.


As for the DMX, it sounds like you need our ISOport system. The ISOport is a small box with a single DMX output connector on the front. It is about the same size as a standard Australian power point. However inside the box is a fully earth isolated DMX buffer circuit (basically a very high quality mini DMX splitter).

The idea is that you run a DMX cable out of the last dimmer and into the back of an ISOport located on each lighting bar (as well as a 24c DC power cable). Then when you need DMX on the bar just plug in a cable. When you don't need DMX unplug the cable again. There is no need to enable/disable the unit or to switch termination on/off, this is all automatic.

The best bit is that if you accidentally plug in something bad you cannot damage the house dimmers or console. The ISOport provides full high voltage protection and isolate the fault from the house system.

I hope this info helps. I also hope a few other users add their comments and suggestions to this thread, as you sound like you want a few other opinions to be sure that you are doing the right thing.
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Richie Mickan
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#4 PhantomD

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Posted 31 March 2006 - 07:07 AM

Thanks very much Richie.
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#5 PhantomD

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 03:37 AM

Our new system is being installed next week, comprising of an LSC maXim /LP and three iPROs, and we're planning to hire in a couple of movers for the musical.

Would it be possible (perhaps as a short-term cost saving issue) to just run a solitary DMX lead out of the last dimmer in the chain and daisy-chain across any movers?

I belive DMX has to be repeated or split after 32 channels or something?
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#6 LSC TechSupport

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 12:07 AM

Yes of course you can hang a DMX lead out of the last dimmer and not use the ISOport.


You can also drive your brand new car without any insurance (as a short term cost saving measure).
As long as you don't have a crash in the short term. ohmy.gif
If you do have a crash then the cost of repairs could well be 4-5 time more than the insurance would have cost. sad.gif

The ISOport is really just an insurance policy for your dimmers and desk. If you never connect any faulty equipment into the DMX cable then you do not need the ISOport (just like you do not need car insurance if you never have a crash). However just one faulty piece of hired equipment could blow up the DMX circuitry in all three dimmers and the console. The cost to repair this would be several hundreds of dollars, not to mention the cost of cancelling the show because your lighting system no longer works. If you have an ISOport installed then the faulty hire item will blow up the ISOport only, thus ensuring that the dimmers and console still work for the opening night rolleyes.gif

So the real question you should be asking is - Can you be sure that all the equipment you hire in will never be faulty ???
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#7 PhantomD

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 05:07 AM

QUOTE (LSC TechSupport @ May 19 2006, 03:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
So the real question you should be asking is - Can you be sure that all the equipment you hire in will never be faulty ???


That's one helluva question dry.gif

Much too often the people who matter see everything in dollar signs though. mad.gif

It'd be a good do if we got a new lights system only to blow it up! ph34r.gif

unsure.gif Decisions, decisions...
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#8 LSC TechSupport

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 09:23 PM

We usually find that if you describe the ISOport as an insurance policy then the money people understand why they need it. cool.gif

They would almost never go without insurance on a major investment, and I am sure that they consider the maXim console and iPRO dimmers a major investment biggrin.gif
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#9 PhantomD

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Posted 23 May 2006 - 04:35 AM

Twenty thousand dollars is hardly a minor investment!
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