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Baxter Controls’ Pocket Console® DMX

Discussion in 'Featured Articles' started by derekleffew, May 5, 2010.

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  1. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Las Vegas, NV, USA
    This is the first of what we hope will be a series of informative articles on topics of interest to ControlBooth members. If you have an idea for an article you'd like to see, or would like to write one, contact any CB Staff member.

    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™.)

    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.

    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?

    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!

    In addition to his Senior Team duties on ControlBooth, Derek works as a freelance lighting designer, programmer, and electrician in Las Vegas.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2010
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