# Absolute Newbie - Simple Stage lighting effects

#### iancl

##### Member
Hi, I'm in a band, and at the moment the only light I've used is a strobe light, triggered by different drums, triggered by a 6.5mm mono cable from an audio mixing desk.

One thing I'd like to know about is DMX and what that does, and I'm sure someone will be able to provide me with a good link to read about that. Unless it can be used (without being totally overboard and wasteful) to do simple things like fading and turning on and off, I'm not particularly interested, but I'd like to know the other ways to trigger strobe lights from audio - can you send audio to a DMX controller, which then sends commands to a strobe?

My main question, however is about fading and controlling simple flood/wash (or whatever they are called) stage lights, like PAR 56 cans - just single coloured, bright, wide(ish) angle lights. I found the iColour 4, and that looked like fun, but not exactly what I'd want, since there are no options with placement, i.e. all the light is coming from one place. What I'd like is two or three PAR 56 cans in different positions/directions, that "randomly" fade on and off to different brightnesses.

So firstly, can these lights be "controlled"? I'm guessing that's what dimmers do?

If so, secondly, how are they controlled? Do they have an input which changes the brightness when different voltages are put across it? Or do 'dimmers' change the actual power that is going to the light?

Thirdly, however this is all sorted out, are there controllers that automatically "randomly" fade the different lights on and off, or do it all to music, in a similar way to how the iColour 4 seems to randomly fade between lights?

Ian

#### iancl

##### Member
OK, I've since found out that dimmers in household lights use a method that restricts what part of the sin-wave of the current goes to the light.

Would this be what they use for stage lights too?

Would I want basically a three pin (I'm in Asutralia, I don't know where these forums are, and I dunno where everyone is from...) socket, which has this sort of control from a dimmer?

Assuming that'd right, would there then be a way to make a sound-input control the dimmer system? i.e. Could I link a microphone to a dimmer-system, so that when there is low volume, the light has almost no brightness, and when the microphone picks up a loud sound signal, the light it very bright?

#### Footer

##### Senior Team
Senior Team
As there are ways to make a dimmer controled by a audio input that you can do yourself, there are ALOT more things that go into it then simply hooking a mic in line. Your best bet would be to get lights that have a microphone allready build into them, or to get a console/and or dimmers that have the mic in it, or can take audio input. Many devices on the DJ market do this. Your best bet would be to find a forum dedicated to the DJ market in australia and post there. There are plenty of people on this forum that do know DJ gear, but you will most likely find exacly what you want there. Some things you might want to post is: How much you are willing to spend, if you will be lugging this gear around, do you want to have a dedicated operator, how many different looks do you want, etc....

#### kingfisher1

##### Active Member
first of all, you stole my name. ( i swear i was the only Ian, but then i met like 7000 more.)

secondly. dimmers in theater are what control power going to a light. most dimmers do this by cutting the sine wave in the manner you suggested. then teh rate of output is varided to control the brightness of the light, to think of it as a bunch of flashes really really close together. the closer they are the brighter the light is.

A control board of some sorta (i could be anything, it doesn't even need to speak binary code, although it often does,) will "talk" to the dimmers via some sort of communication, wit dmx being the most prevelent. often these boards will have an option in which you can input sound data. most often (at least here in the U.S. highschool scene) this will be in MIDI format.
just my .02$#### iancl ##### Member Well thanks for the replies, since I now know it is possible to use the sinewave cutting method (is there a name for this?) I basically know what I want to do. It's partly to learn a little about electronics and putting parts together, but I do want to have this light: I would like to have a microphone go into something that converts the audio's sinewave(ish) signal into volume. Much like the lights in media players that jump up and slowly fall, it would have to read the peaks in voltage, and output a relative voltage that falls at a certain rate, until the next peak in audio goes above that. I hope I explained that in a reasonable way for you to understand. Either before or after this stage, I guess it would have to go through a simple pre-amp. Then I would have to have a module that when a high voltage is inputted, would not cut the sinewave of the power, but would cut it more and more, the lower the voltage coming into the input. I would build these in two seperate stages, so that i could then always change the first stage to include a master fader/dimmer, or have a "random voltage generator" type thing... you know what I mean. Anyway, basically if you could let me know if this would work, if it's going to be more complicated than I've explained, etc. Thanks again #### Chris15 ##### CBMod CB Mods Premium Member Departed Member There are a couple of Aussies here... Always good to have another. Welcome. If I recall correctly, the kind of thing you are after does exist. I'll think a bit more and post up some details if you would like. It's a pity Mayhem's busy at the moment, as I'm guessing he would know better than I. #### iancl ##### Member Great, I'm sure someone's made one before. If it's already available as one item, I'd love to know what it is, or if the individual components can be bought and put together reasonably easily, i'd be happy with that too. But yeah, have a think and let me know the details! :-D Thanks #### Footer ##### Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member Great, I'm sure someone's made one before. If it's already available as one item, I'd love to know what it is, or if the individual components can be bought and put together reasonably easily, i'd be happy with that too. But yeah, have a think and let me know the details! :-D Thanks There are hundreds and hundreds sound sensing products out there (the trackspot even does it...), but I do not know of any australian models, though I am positive that they exist. PM mayhem, he is an aussie DJ, and he should be able to get you any info that you seek. #### Chris15 ##### CBMod CB Mods Premium Member Departed Member If I recall correctly, is not Mayhem summer school lecturing in Europe or something? Many manufacturers these days make both 240 volt and 120 volt versions of equipment. I have a feeling that I know what you are after. Let me think a bit more before I post up the details. #### iancl ##### Member Ah, I sent Mayhem a PM, but if he's in Europe, that may not help. Think as much as you need And yeah, need 240V (230V in fact isn't it actually?) But yeah, not 120 in Aus. #### Chris15 ##### CBMod CB Mods Premium Member Departed Member North America uses 115 volts? or is it 120? Europe uses 220 volts I just metered my mains and got 241 volts, so I stand by the earlier number of 240. Remember that the voltages are a nominal value, the voltage varies depending on demand at the time, I've seen it as high as 245 or more. I think that 230V equipment is made with sufficient tolerance to be able to work in both Australia and Europe. Could you clarify what particularly you wanted, so that I can better make recommendations. Thanks. #### iancl ##### Member OK, here's what I want: For now, maybe (for myself) I would like something like what I found on the dicksmith website: Here Except, I would not want remote control or anything. Basically I'd like a one, or possibly two channel dimmer for a PAR 56 can. Once I've bought them and they're working fine, I'd like to do a similar thing for my guitarist, who would have a second microphone on his amp, and when this microphone picks up loud volume, I'd like the light bright, but when the amp's quiet, i'd like the light dim (again a PAR 56 or similar). Ideally it would have a trim control, otherwise full volume on the amp might not make full brightness on the light, although I imagine any product designed for this, would run at line level, and I could easily plug the mic into an inline preamp that brings the mic up to line level. If there's anything unclear there, tell me what. I can see I might be confusing in my explanations! If it's reasonably easy, I would also build one myself if there are parts like chip that converts audio to volume, and then something that changes brightness of a light when a voltage is inputted, but I imagine it would end up a lot more complicated than that. #### Chris15 ##### CBMod CB Mods Premium Member Departed Member The Dick Smith ones are not suitable for a PAR56. PAR56 lamps are 300 watts each and the dimmer linked will only handle max 150 watts. Do you think you would be up to building from scratch? #### iancl ##### Member Yeah I know the DSE ones aren't rated high enough. Just an example of what SORT fo thing I wanted. I'd build one from scratch if it's easy to get all the parts, and is going to give me a good end result! I don't know what parts to buy though, and I don't know where from. #### iancl ##### Member OK, well in a music shop that sells a few lights, there was a four channel dimmer, with a very simple chaser, and that was going at$800!

That's Australian, but still, I think that's ridiculously priced. Am I wrong?

So I'm really looking to buy a simple component that I can mount myself. At this stage I want nothing more than a single dimmer. Are they really that hard to find?

CB Mods