Bad things happen when . . .


mix : one (1) wealthy cheap-ass +three (3) know-it-all yes men +thirty-two (32) par-64's + two (2) dimmer packs + one (1) modified from 5 to 3 pin dmx by yes men rapped around conduit and plugged into the soundboard to travel up and out to the performance area to the lights + one (1) behrnger euro-light dj board = one big f***ing mess.

I work for an ice rink and the cheapass owner decided he doesnt want to rent equipment anymore for the ice shows. Fine so far, but when he puts his yes men up to the task of finding equipment and setting it up, i start to get antsy. He knows im a theatre major, but im still in school, i might not know what to do with certain equipment. Well, when i find out how they ran the DMX i started to cry, and when i saw how they hung and focused the lights i nearly blew up. Intead of layering colors, the put them side to side, creatinga rainbow on the ice, and if you wanted just one wash of a certaincolor, forget about it! when i told them that the ceramic on parcan neded to be trned 90 degrees to get a better look from the ight, they igbored me until after the first show.

"hey, that actually looks good!!!"

When i saw what kind of board they were using, i told them it isnt what they want to do the show, they said "yes it is" as if i had no idea what i was talking about. needless to say, that thing crapped on them so many times during the show, it was funny.

Now, i do inderstand the idea of budgets, even though i went to a school where money was no object . . . we replaced every lamp in every light after each use . . . we have many many many expensive wireless mics, seinheisser to be exact . . . but when you have no idea what your doing, it makes no sense to not listen to someone who does. otherwise your shows are going to look like crap.
Good thing the forum has a language block feature. Even without it, the first part of the message was hard to understand for me. I take it that the DMX for the lights was wound around or attached to a conduit in a run up to the sound booth, than fed thru it's controller on it's run back to a light booth? Doesn't seem to me the best idea but I don't so far see a problem. The DMX signal is more rugged than we are instructed. Given the sound board does a straight feed thru on that signal the DMX will pass thru the board without a problem. why they did not just connect the cables together is a good question but not too much to be concerned about. As for the conduit, in the past with analog/unshielded cables you should not run data cable parallel to electrical wiring but with the advent of shielded data cable, that no longer is a problem otherwise your scrollers would never work. Think about the Color Rams of the world that get both their signal and power off the same data cord. Besides the conduit is intercepting any fields generated by the wiring.

More than that, on the DMX signal, I have even run it thru shop type drop light pull cord equipment. You know them spools of wire or lamps that are affixed to the ceiling in which you pull on the cord and get light or power anywhere you need it? Them things work just fine for DMX signals of things like mirror ball motors when dropped down by a chain hoist. The DMX signal is robust, as long as it's in a decent quality cable, running it thru a sound board or attaching it to conduit might just be fine. Heck, in a short run, you can even run a DMX line thru a 16/3 SJ lamp cord as needed. Been there, what do you think a Color Blast - that modern truss lighting LED fixture get's it's signal off of?

It's good to learn the proper school techniques and principals but in the end you will also have to learn the tact and real world ruggedness of the signal in choosing your battles to fight if you want people to fix the main problems. Also in the end, they did listen to you on a few things, and your training is what they pay you good money for. Learn from what's not proper use of the gear and what works verses what goes wrong all too fast. Think of it as a opportunity instead of a nightmare where people don't listen to you. Fix what you are asked to than study what goes wrong after that. In the mean time, if that data signal works, along with similar things, learn from them. They in turn out of your tact will learn from you. Takes time but that light board will go away in a few years. For now, how about making it work? You know it's limitations, design around them and fix what's not up to snuff. That's the value of your knowing better, knowing how to cope with gear that is substandard also. Ah, how far you can take that place with your vision given the time and tact. Rome was not built in a day nor will they learn to invest instead of getting it all done now and calling it a day in the near future. Have fun with the crap board and system while you can, learn what to do with it, how to make magic with it still given limiataions is my thoughts. Enjoy still in spite of the budget. Them managers see the bottom line but in the end that bottom line keeps the doors open instead of a lot of great gear but gear that goes up for sale when the rink goes under. Look at the ten year plan to the equipment. Can you make that light board and equipment pay off in saving the company money given your pro training? Than five or seven years from now, once the board makes do, what can you afford to be specifying given you have seven years of not renting better stuff? Think of the magic you can create than given what you can do now but with scaling it down for the light board.

Anyway some thoughts on making it work. I was trained in the latest of technology - the ETC Vision light board with dimmer per circuit, yet my home theater outside of school at the time for my first couple of shows only had a six scene Dove board for me to design with. Step back, or something new to be challenged with in still doing the job? Yea, I still curse Dove boards, but that should not stop the magic, it just adds to the challenge.
Well, i wouldnt havemind so much if it was real DMX . . . but they used unsheilded XLR, and every time we went to the next cue we would hear static in the speakers . . . kind of liike waht i hear at my old highschool on the clearcomm-- the com line and the DMX are both zip-tied together. . . .

As for color scrollers? Not at this rink . . . the next rink show im working on implanning on usig scrollers . . . i find them more cost efficiant . . . although they do have their down side . . . color fades. Yu only get to work with whats in the scroll line . . . problem solved . . .either color faders . . . id rather not seeing how much trouble BANDIT had with them on the rascal flatts tour . . . . yet another one ive worked . . . nd im only 18 :mrgreen: .

I can get used to working with the board as long as it doesnt keep loosing its memory . . . and the board works, its jsut trying to keep the patching straight. Frankly, when the rink used to rent, they always got that little Leprechaun board . . . the 12 channel one. That was at least easy to patch.

As for pay? Im doing this out of the goodness of my heart . . .
Unshielded cable can be a problem. Not necessarially from the Clear Com system but from the run length and anything in general around it. Too bad. Tact as it seems you have the start to your battle. Say a 250' spool at somewhere under $0.50 per foot for a single pair DMX or digital quality braided shield wire for the data cable for a minimum standard if not something that's DMX protocol might be within the tactful asking for yet. It's a lot of money for the penny pushers but you should be able to get it out of them if you are not asking for too much else yet. Make a punch list and bid out fixing the stuff on it as projects for improvements. The managers won't want to see the bottom line for how much it will cost but it will gain you a lot of respect in other ways.

Outline it for simple ears, than specify and detail it for when it comes time for doing so and in reading such things.

Might help.

Bless your hart to help for free. It's at least resume stuff and perhaps you can get it to serve for perfessional practice or apprentiship credits. If nothing else, your work there will be weighted with just as much value if not much more than any 10 shows you did in school once you do go pro. Ice shows pay the bills well for companies, you having the experience with them makes you valuable no matter where you end up, but work on the pay thing. They should pay you at least minimum wage at this point given your seeming involvement.

Anyway, I hope my previous tone did not shy you away from posting your bad day thoughts. We all have them, my intent was to refine your posting towards what the real cause of the troubles was and focus you into being able to get fixed what was needed, than to understand why the economy was bought. It might not always seem that way but I have bad days just as much as everyone else does. Should see the long bitch letter I wrote Wolf last night after working in the wood shop for the day.

In the end, if it's any help, I just got in another huge box of 15' Martin cable in their old crappy but still DMX style. If a comp box of fixture cable will help contact me off line. I hate the stuff and we don't use it on shows because there is no way to ensure that it's going to work given it's not quality cable or using solder plugs. But if it helps and for free contact me off line. Long lengths of cable still usable would be a bit harder to swag out to anyone, but them darn Martin cables... Huge stocks in them and totally useless to the point that their only use in in the shop and when one malfunctions it's not worth the effort to fix, it goes into the trash.
I might take you up on that offer . . .
Hey Wolf, Wemeck or DMX, What was that we decided about Canarey cable in general? The single pair stuff that is double wire blue/white braided? Just thru out a bunch of 50'+ long lengths of it today. Is it good for him? I forget and had it tossed but the trash can is not emptied yet. Still better to just buy a spool of new stuff as opposed to gettin some third hand thrown out gear for professional use but if you want it...

Given a long length however I would still go proper DMX protocol at least for the main run. In short distances it might not matter what type of cable you are using for the most part - Crappy mic cable for the most part with few exceptions will carry a signal just as well, but once you get into length verses signal loss, that's another question. Must be shielded with at least foil or braiding and of at least digital quality. Your house run, if not all gear might be better served than by Martin or other cable. Prices range from $0.09 to $0.83 per foot for a single pair DMX cable. That's reasonable. TMB for instance is around $0.60 for their new less expensive line of Proplex. Highly recommended to look into. Conquest as another source lists it for either $0.18 or $0.49 per foot.

Next week we will be getting a about 60 more new Mac 2K and Mac 550 in stock. I'm told they have a re-designed jumper cable that comes with it. Can't wait to see it.

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