Baxter Controls’ Pocket Console® DMX
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When Dave asked me to write an article on the Baxter Controls’ Pocket Console® DMX, I said “Sure. Do you want one-hundred or one-thousand words?” We compromised on the following.
It must have been 2003, though I could have sworn it was longer, I saw a little, eighth-page ad in PLSN or Lighting Dimensions for The Pocket Console, an 8-channel, 512-dimmer “lighting control system” for just over $300. I had a gig coming up that I knew it would be the perfect solution for. A band was to play in the foyer, providing entrance music to set the mood for attendees on their way into the main room. Nothing big--two ParBars, a 12x2.4 dimmer pack, but the smallest console we had was a MicroVisionFX, with 15” CRT monitor! Also, the soundman would be running lights, due to both budget and space constraints. I ordered the console immediately, charging it to my credit card. After two or so weeks, I received an email saying that, due a change in a parts supplier, my console would not ship until approximately four weeks later, and that my card would not be charged until the board shipped. I sent back a somewhat terse response, stating that if the console didn’t arrive by x date, cancel the order and I would find an alternative, (somehow find the space the squeeze in the MicroVision). I received back an equally terse reply that made me laugh. I don’t remember it exactly, but it was something to the effect of “It’s amazing to us the immediate demand and requirement for a product that has never existed before.” Touché, Baxter Controls! (Or, as it says on my console, BC Illumination. In fact, on the front mine says it’s a DMX Mini Console™.)<o></o>
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The console arrived in time, actually a week earlier than I expected it, and performed as advertised. In talking to Rob at LDI'08, I discovered I have one of the earliest ones, as mine has blue buttons. Soon after the initial run they switched to white buttons. Since the initial show, I’ve used it countless times: as a remote focus unit, a DMX generator for trouble-shooting, to run small stages like my original intent, and plugged into the “B” input of a dimmer rack to control backstage running lights I didn’t want to bother the ML programmer with.<o>
</o> The only negative I have found is that changing the battery (standard 9V, supplied slightly-used by the noise-boys) requires removing four half-inch long, #4 Phillips head screws. Sadly, I recently lost one. But the battery lasts a long time, and the unit comes with an AC “wall-wart” adapter, which I always use if I’m not carrying the unit around. Another “sort-of” negative is that current models have more features than mine, including DMX level readout, overlapping submasters, and even multi-page moving light control; but isn’t that always the way?<o>
</o> Update: Recently, I worked on a nationally-televised, network awards show. In addition to the Virtuosos and EOSes, control was needed for some battery-powered lighting on a flying scenic piece. Just upstage of where the talent stood on the flying piece, was a Pocket Console!<o>
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In addition to his Senior Team duties on ControlBooth, Derek works as a freelance lighting designer, programmer, and electrician in Las Vegas.