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Chauvet LED Colorbank

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by branflake, Nov 18, 2008.

  1. branflake

    branflake Member

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    I have rented 4 Chauvet Colorbank LED lights for a production I am directing and lighting and they look fantastic, but the problem I keep running into with them is that they periodically flicker. It looks like lighting when it happens. The guy I rented them from and I have tried everything to fix the problem and it just doesn't seem to go away.

    The lights work in stand alone mode, but when you put them into dimmer mode they freak out. With a newer board it happens less frequently, but it still flickers. Also when we add the third color they go crazy too. With any combination of two colors they flicker intermitently.

    Some of the possible solutions we came up with were:
    -Use a newer lighting board (the one we have is older and possibly does not have a high enough refresh rate)
    -Check/replace all the cables for damage

    Can anyone offer some wisdom on this matter? How do I get them to stop blinking?
     
  2. Pie4Weebl

    Pie4Weebl Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Do you have a DMX terminator on the last unit?
     
  3. MNBallet

    MNBallet Active Member

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    I've had leds freak out because of a bad cable. hard to find, easy to fix.

    Currently, most of my leds also do a quick flash anytime the computer does a saving action. Like if I record a submaster, the leds will flash once. If I save a show to disk they flash each time a saving motion is started (save cues, save subs, save patch....ect.) I've found out that it does it with two different boards that I have. Lower end stuff I'm sure will do this. This isn't the flash you're talking about, right?

    I've also had a time where I thought one light was freaking out, and it turned out my board had one fader up just a bit, but hardly noticable by the eye. That one channel that was up just happened to be the "color macro" channel that told the light to flash thru a rainbow of colors. I was greatly relieved to find that my board was sendind unwanted data and the light was doing what it was told to do.
     
  4. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    I'm going with two CB favorites...

    1) No DMX termination.

    2) Not using a TRUE non-dimmed power source.
     
  5. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    I'd like to add cables. Chauvet uses three pin, I believe?
     
  6. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Oh yeah. I checked the manual and it is a 3 pin connector which means you are probably using standard microphone cable. However, microphone cables don't meet the standards required by the DMX protocol. It'll work ok for a very short run but any kind of long cable run will result in drops in data.

    Also interesting, the manual for the Colorbank has a schematic of how to make a 3 pin dmx terminator.

    So I'm guessing you don't have termination and you are using microphone cables. Both could be the problem. Move the console as close to the Colorbanks as possible, install the shortest mic cables possible in the run and make some terminators. No guarantees but that should help.

    Also what type of console are you running. Someone around here will know if there is a refresh rate problem.

    One other thought is to put a meter on the power to make sure you've got enough power in the building and that it doesn't drop out.

    The only question is will Derek or ST be the first to have a meltdown on the insanity of 3 pin "dmx" terminators and microphone cable "dmx" lines.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2008
  7. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Last edited: Nov 21, 2008
  8. jmabray

    jmabray Active Member

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    Yep the DMX Speed solved one of my problems on a similar Chauvet fixture, but I was also having a "Freakout" issue at times as well. What it seems to be related to was other fixtures on the Same power strip as the ColorStrip fixtures. I had one long chain of DMX devices, LEDRain56's, Qspot 300's and the ColorStrips. where I was having the issue in the chain there was 2 Qspots, 2 Rains, and 2 colorstrips all plugged into the same power strip. We weren't overdriving the load on the strip, but once I pulled the two colorstrips off that circuit and put them by themselves on another circuit, my problems seemed to go away. I say seemed, only because I thought that I had this licked once before and the issue came back. The theatre (at a local high school) is shut down all next week for thanksgiving, so it will be after Thanksgiving before I can tell if we actually solved the problem for real though.....

    Let me know if I can be of any further help. I don't know that I know the problem exactly, but I am willing to share in my expierences with this problem as well....
     
  9. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    [user]jmabray[/user], certainly sounds as though something that should be connected to earth ground wasn't or something that wasn't supposed to be was. Short of putting an opto-spitter next to the fixtures, I don't know what else to suggest.
     
  10. LD4Life

    LD4Life Active Member

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    A couple of questions to get a better idea of your situation:
    1. Are you sure that the fixtures are connected to a true non-dim circuit?
    2. What is the total wattage of what you were trying to connect to a single power strip?
    3. Is this powerstrip equiped with a surge protector?
    4. What board is being used?
     
  11. branflake

    branflake Member

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    Thank you to all who offered suggestions for this problem. In the end, the guy I was renting the lights from ordered a Chauvet board to run just those lights. I think the problem is the age of the board our high school is using. When we ran the lights through the new board the problem disappeared.

    We did use terminators and ran actual DMX cable (not mic cable), but it was a very long run from the stage to the book because of our setup. Interestingly, the school's board had been damaged in the past and repaired, but I wonder if there is something still wrong with it that only becomes noticeable with the more sophisticated lighting instruments.

    Anyway, the show was a success, so thank you all! I was biting my nails on this one because we didn't figure it out until the day before opening. hehe
     
  12. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Glad it all worked out for you in the end, [user]branflake[/user]. An ETC employee on the ETC community forum has written:
    Our own [user]jmabray[/user] responded:
    Interesting, considering that the Expression3 has three DMX settings: slow, medium, and fast. Perhaps the Ion adds snail, turtle, rabbit, greyhound, and cheetah?:)

    I regularly run DMX snakes of 300'-500' with no ill effects, although not with Chauvet fixtures. For curiosity's sake, what was the original console you were using? Sadly, I thought the DMX512 standards of 1986, 1990, and 2004 were supposed to prevent exactly this type of problem.:(
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2009
  13. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    This whole DMX setting issue sucks. I am running into it more and more working with churches and small venues. I had never run into this up until a month ago and now I have three clients having these problems! Ugh. Then again up until about two years ago I had never heard of Chauvet, Elation, etc. I thought Martin and Clay Pakey were "low end" DJ gear/lighting.

    Mike
     
  14. dramatech

    dramatech Well-Known Member

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    It's seems as though the problem might be in the Chauvet units, but I would like to at least tell of a smilar experience that turned out to be a differance in DMX.
    Several years ago, at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, we were putting in a show that used dimmers from several different manufactures, some Wybron scrollers and a few other DMX accessories. We were daisy chaining everything together, as distros were just coming into popularity. We turn the board on and some of the dimmers were happy as can be and other racks went nuts with all kinds of flickering. The scrollers wouldn't do anything right and kept changing gels with no recognizable pattern. In desperation, as the show opened in two days, we call Doug Fleenor. He asked all of the equipment models and manufactures. He immediatley mentioned that the console was pre 1990 and the DMX was not what the selected items, that were going crazy wanted to see. The other items were old enough or of a manufacture that was stable on both pre 1990 DMX and post 1990 DMX. Solution was a Fleenor combiner shipped over night, but only using one of the two inputs. This was inserted between the console and the first receiving item on the daisy chain. Explanation: The Fleenor combiner input would except any DMX input, but the output was DMX 1990, that has a slightly different timing. The console was a Strand LP90. The dimmer racks and acccessories that worked were, a 12 channel ETC sensor rack, some huge old analog rack running an ETC DMX to analog convertor, and two Strand CD80 12 packs that had been converted to DMX by using some Lightronics circuit boards. The nonfunctioning equipment was an LMI 48 channel touring rack, Wybron fourrunner scrollers and 10 I-beams recently converted to DMX operation.
     
  15. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    IntellabeamHX700s were some of the most finicky fixtures I've ever worked with. I had twelve of them on an Exp3 one summer, with no problems at all. Near the end of the season, for a one-off, I programmed for two days, with no issues. Then during the performance, four random fixtures decided to do that fabulous mirror-twitch! I found out much later there were several different EPROM versions/revisions, only one of which was truly stable.

    In fact, I've found one cannot mix I-Beams, Cybers, or AF1000s with any other fixture on a datastream without grief. In their defense, though, they were some of the first fixtures to go from a proprietary protocol to DMX512.
     
  16. dramatech

    dramatech Well-Known Member

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    When the I-beam first became available in DMX, we purchased 10 of them. We had another 15 that were high end protocall. We phoned high end and asked if we could purchase the eproms to convert them. The reply was that we didn't have the skills to install them. This after we had just found a problem in the manufacturing of the I-beams, corrected it, and High end then sent out the info to dealers and users as a field bulletin. Our next response was that in the future we would purchase some thing other than high end products. Reluctantly we were sold the eproms. I installed a few and coudn't get them to work. Phone calls were answered with "we told you so". After some bitter conversation, they put on one of the engineers. After several tests performed, he asks, "what is the version number on the eproms". Dead silence on the other end of the phone for quite a while then, "send them back and you will have new ones in the morning". After much prodding, he responds with "they sent you eproms for trackspots". Needless to say in their embarrasment, I was never again questioned on any issue and was able to purchase repair parts with no problem.
     
  17. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    Oh the I-Beams. Those were the second moving lights we used in college (after we mastered the Trackspots). Those were little suckers. We had so many problems with them. Of course they were for all tends and purposes HES first moving lights.

    Mike
     
  18. DavidNorth

    DavidNorth ETC Rigging General Manager Premium Member Fight Leukemia Departed Member

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    We have been working with Chauvet on this issue quite a bit lately. It very much looks like the ColorStrip needs a large amount of interbyte timing to work correctly without shifting DMX bytes. Those of you that know this timing parameter also know that this is arguably the most difficult area for a lighting console to modify depending on how its hardware is designed. As much as we would like DMX to be DMX and not have interconnectivity issues, this just isn't the case.

    When you select different speed on DMX consoles, just because it is slower does not mean that the timing you wanted, or needed, changed does indeed change. Some timing is set in stone, such as bit width. Almost all other timing is flexible. Mark after Break, Break, Post Start, Interbyte, and Interpacket time can all be flexible in their timing allowances. This means that slow on Console A is not necessarily the same as Slow on Console B. Refresh rate does not help you as it is the timing making up the refresh rate that is the difference.

    Yes, Intellabeams had this same issue if addressed above DMX address 256 as they needed 4uS to do a DMA between 256 and 257. With an Expression 2 console, the amount of time after the first stop bit and the next start bit was indeed the width of the second stop bit and was 4uS. You can see how occasionally a 4uS DMA did not complete in a 4uS window and cause a shift of one dimmer number.

    Back to ColorStrips. An Ion console on Slow will usually control these. A SmartFade on v1.7.1 code will as well. SF and SFML on v2.0 and most other ETC products will not control these. We will be changing some of our timings, in the products that we can, to better handle these in the near future. We have also been working with Chauvet so that they understand the issues within their products and attempt to affect change.

    In the meantime, good luck and let us know if we can help. Thanks to Jeff Mabray for being the first to bring this to us.

    David
    ETC
     
  19. Scan2

    Scan2 Member

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    I am having the same issues with the Chauvet Colorstrips. I have tried power and now am having a DMX terminations cable made up (3 pin). Anyway i am using a Magic Q set up with the external Maxiwing board. When i get in today i am going to try and slow the DMX output of the board. I will update later and let you know how it goes. I kinda got thrown in with this Lighting set up not to sure how the magic q works but so far it seems pretty good. Any tips for that console. Oh ya im trying to link Par 64s LED to it cant find a profile for them on the board. No name on the side but made in China 6 channel DMX with a dip switch. This things are horrible, but i cant get them to link right. Any thoughts thanks cheers! :)
     
  20. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    All this is why I don't sell Chauvet LED products.

    Mike
     

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