"Clean" power for automated fixtures/accessories

jklak

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Sep 2, 2006
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Mt. Pleasant, Michigan
I have a question about "clean" power for automated equipment. I have recently purchased a bunch of new equipment and I will soon be busy running dmx stuff to our catwalks. I have some color scrollers, a couple I-cues, some gobo rotators, and 2 VL1000 TSDs that are due in this week. When I was researching what to buy I understood that the VL1000s and my Apollo smart power supplies would need "clean" power. I was led to believe that Non-Dim circuits would not do the job. I'm not sure why. I have been doing some reading in preparation for putting all this stuff in and I have been reading Practical DMX by Nick Mobsby. In it he refers to having to use "direct or non-dim power." for fixtures and accessories. What can people tell me about when I can/should use Non-dim circuits and when I need to use a power source that is separate from the dimmer rack?
 

Van

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In almost all cases you will need direct power from a outlet or distro box, and NOT from a dimmer set to "non-Dim". Although there are two versions of dimmers you could run an automated off of, I still would not suggest it. So when it says clean power it needs to be clean. If you tap a 10/5 line off your distro and run that to your ML's it would be fine. Simply setting a dimmer to non-dim won't work as it it still running through the SCR and the power gets funky < Funky is a technical term used to describe the way power gets when run through a dimmer> :mrgreen:

Now, either IPS or Sinewave dimming can give you usable power for a fixture, but; A. most people don't have them, & B. Even as a field rep for IPS I still wouldn't do it as the strain placed on the IGBT would most likely shorten the life of the components.
 

gafftaper

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If you have a dimmer rack with slide out dimmers you may be able purchase replacement dimmer modules that are truly just an on off switch. I'm going to be purchasing a few for my Strand C-21 dimmers in my new theater. The ones I need run about $250. Again, unlike just switching a dimmer to non-dim mode, and the power just running through the dimmer at full or off, these are a true on off switch (Which is what the high end electronic products like). Check with your dimmer manufacturer's website or local sales person to see if there is something available for your dimmer rack.
 

jklak

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Mt. Pleasant, Michigan
If you have a dimmer rack with slide out dimmers you may be able purchase replacement dimmer modules that are truly just an on off switch. I'm going to be purchasing a few for my Strand C-21 dimmers in my new theater. The ones I need run about $250. Again, unlike just switching a dimmer to non-dim mode, and the power just running through the dimmer at full or off, these are a true on off switch (Which is what the high end electronic products like). Check with your dimmer manufacturer's website or local sales person to see if there is something available for your dimmer rack.

I think that the non-dims we have installed are strictly non-dim. I'm pretty sure that I can't make them dimmable. If I could I would have loved to have done so to get some more circuits. Is it unlikely that strictly non-dim modules were installed in my rack?
 

taylorjacobs

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Dec 19, 2006
i wouldnt risk it. as much as a hassle it will be to get clean power to it, uyou dont want to ruin thousands of dollars worth of equipment
 

zac850

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Nov 21, 2003
Location
New York
I think that the non-dims we have installed are strictly non-dim. I'm pretty sure that I can't make them dimmable. If I could I would have loved to have done so to get some more circuits. Is it unlikely that strictly non-dim modules were installed in my rack?
Go into the rack and verify that what you think are non-dim circuits are coming from a non-dim card, as opposed to an SCR dimmer parked at full. (What kind of dimmers do you have, we can help you figure this out).

This is one of the big debates around. In general, it comes down to the fact that you could theoritically cause damage, a lot of damage, to a lot of expensive equptment.
 

Van

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I think that the non-dims we have installed are strictly non-dim. I'm pretty sure that I can't make them dimmable. If I could I would have loved to have done so to get some more circuits. Is it unlikely that strictly non-dim modules were installed in my rack?
Unless you have a bank of relays controlling Specifically those circuits labelled "non-dim" I would not risk running MLs off of them.
 

Jezza

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Jul 18, 2005
Location
Poughkeepsie, NY
For a standard Sensor+ rack which most school seem to have nowadays, you need a CC20 "Non-Dim" module which is in essence just a circuit breaker. It does not connect to the circuit board on the lead-off side of the rack and therefore the rack or any dmx channel has no control of it. It will ALWAYS be on unless you trip the breaker accidentally or on purpose. Given that the power is being regulated, to one degree or another, by the CEM in the rack, you know that you are getting "clean" power out of the unit.
Right now, I'm running 5 VL2500s, 2 CK ColorBlast PSUs, and 1 Wybron Coloram II PSU off of two non-dim modules and everything is happy.
 

Chris15

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IF you just have a relay and / or protection device - fuse, breaker, etc. then it is clean power, unless of course someone would care to explain to me why there is a difference between tapping off the bus bars inside a dimmer to tapping the bus bars in a distro, switchboard or the like.
Anything else and the waveform will be nasty and your devices won't be happy. As a proof, would it not be possible to CRO the mains waveform. This would have to be done via a transformer, to drop the voltage down to something appropriate and provide necessary isolation. But kids, don't try that one at home. Too many ways for it to go wrong...
 

Thomas

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Nov 2, 2005
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Durban, South Africa
How hard, or expensive, can it be to wire a few 25A breakers into your DB and make a few plugs on a plank to run januses from? Come now, if you fly me out i'll do it for you. :) I'll even bring you one of my temp DBs to keep!
 

Chris15

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How hard, or expensive, can it be to wire a few 25A breakers into your DB and make a few plugs on a plank to run januses from? Come now, if you fly me out i'll do it for you. :) I'll even bring you one of my temp DBs to keep!
First, we are talking about a school. So you have to use the right contractor. Now if by "make a few plugs on a plank" you mean that in essence that you are doing distribution on a piece of timber, then down here that would be illegal. Timber burns. Distribution needs to be on something that will not aid a fire.

And the I'll do it for you sentiment. As least here, you need to be a licenced electrician before you even think about opening up a Distribution Board. THis is not something that is safe for an untrained high schooler to be doing, and that is the idea that someone could get from that. Now, for all I know, you could be a sparky. But if someone else thinks that they are invincible and tries it and gets it wrong, then it gets nasty, and liability because of the advice could come into play.

However, the concept appears to be sound...
 

SteveB

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Mar 20, 2004
Location
Brooklyn, NY
How hard, or expensive, can it be to wire a few 25A breakers into your DB and make a few plugs on a plank to run januses from? Come now, if you fly me out i'll do it for you. :) I'll even bring you one of my temp DBs to keep!
I think the situation is an existing lighting system, possibly an ETC Sensor setup. In this scenario, the wiring and receptacles are in place, with the least expensive method to get dedicated 120v power to the movers being a swap out of a dimmer module for a breaker module.

A slightly more expensive solution is using relay modules that allow DMX control. Only problem with this is the related issue of control and assuring that you don't accidentally shut down the ML's.

Best solution in the event that the movers are staying in place, is a stand-alone permanent distro system providing direct voltage. If the ML's are temporary, then having the ability to swap around modules to allow dedicated power to re-locate is helpful.

SB
 

TimMiller

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Mar 27, 2007
Location
Houston, Tx
If you have a sensor rack they make non dim modules and relay packs. Either one will work for you. The non dim modules are always on, all it does it tap power off of the bus bar run it through a breaker and then out to the plug. I use them all the time. Moving lights perfer power directly off the dimmer rack over power out of the walls in most cases. The relay packs are like the non dim modules but they have relays in them so once you bring your intensity over 50% they click on. So you can switch your movers on and off. The non dim modules are cheaper than the relay packs. I perfer to just use a non dim module and be done with it. And then when i dont want people messing with the lights i just turn them off on the breaker.
 

jmabray

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Feb 9, 2007
Location
Dallas, Texas
With the relay's you can actually set the threshold to anything you would like to - not just 50%. Meaning that you can set it to 1% and as soon as you give any value to the dimmer address, it switches on.
 

Van

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If you have a sensor rack they make non dim modules and relay packs. Either one will work for you. The non dim modules are always on, all it does it tap power off of the bus bar run it through a breaker and then out to the plug. I use them all the time. Moving lights perfer power directly off the dimmer rack over power out of the walls in most cases. The relay packs are like the non dim modules but they have relays in them so once you bring your intensity over 50% they click on. So you can switch your movers on and off. The non dim modules are cheaper than the relay packs. I perfer to just use a non dim module and be done with it. And then when i dont want people messing with the lights i just turn them off on the breaker.
No, setting a dimmer to non-dim does not "tap power off of the bus bar run it through a breaker and then out to the plug" . Setting a dimmer to Non-Dim Locks the SCR to a Default On setting so that it is cycling on and off 120 times a second to create a "full sine wave" profile for the power. Running power through a dimmer screws with the power period. the installation of a relay will remedy this situation, Using a Non-dim works fine for Motors, and other inductive loads, but to power electronic circuits you need "clean power" as the title of this thread indicates.
 

soundlight

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Oct 27, 2005
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NJ & NYC
No, setting a dimmer to non-dim does not "tap power off of the bus bar run it through a breaker and then out to the plug" . Setting a dimmer to Non-Dim Locks the SCR to a Default On setting so that it is cycling on and off 120 times a second to create a "full sine wave" profile for the power. Running power through a dimmer screws with the power period. the installation of a relay will remedy this situation, Using a Non-dim works fine for Motors, and other inductive loads, but to power electronic circuits you need "clean power" as the title of this thread indicates.
I hate to say this Van, but read again...carefully...
ETC makes sensor Non-Dim and Relay modules. This is what TimMiller is referring to. There is actually a module that is a dummy with just a breaker that supplies the full power of one circuit, without any SCR's in it, as constant power. ETC also makes a module that has no SCR's and just a relay. This is the "relay module" that was referred to. This module has no SCR's and just a relay, so that you can have a switched constant power circuit. This is NOT like setting a dimmer to non-dim. Very different.
 

Van

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I hate to say this Van, but read again...carefully...
ETC makes sensor Non-Dim and Relay modules. This is what TimMiller is referring to. There is actually a module that is a dummy with just a breaker that supplies the full power of one circuit, without any SCR's in it, as constant power. ETC also makes a module that has no SCR's and just a relay. This is the "relay module" that was referred to. This module has no SCR's and just a relay, so that you can have a switched constant power circuit. This is NOT like setting a dimmer to non-dim. Very different.
**** ! Never Reads posts while Talking to your boss on the phone the day after you call in sick two days before opening. Lesson learned. Sorry I completely missed that. Yes, Sensor Relays Are a great way to go !
Sorry Tim.
Multi stupido Mea culpa :oops: :oops: :oops: