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Dimmer Pack

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by rapscaLLion, Mar 22, 2005.

  1. rapscaLLion

    rapscaLLion Active Member

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    I have a small question for those knowlegable with the workings of a dimmer pack. Our school generall permits students to do most everything in the aud themselves, except climbing ladders and the catwalk for liability reasons. The only other thing they forbid is students in the electric cage. It's basically a cage to the side of the stage that houses the dimmer pack and amps for the main speakers, snake, etc. Now we generally go in anyway, but as such we have not recieved any proper education on the workings of a dimmer pack. I'm fairly sure that ours is a strand CD-80, I know for sure it's from Strand though. The problem is, the custodians must be the ones to turn it on, as they are basically the only ones covered under insurance for that kind of stuff. Now, most of them are, unfortunately very hostile towards the students. The proper way to turn on our dimmer pack is to flip the large switch on the breaker box to the side of it. However, half the time these idiots flip that switch, then notice the on/off button at the pack's control panel. They press the "On" button and all the lights come on, so they assume they did the right thing and leave. Unfortunately the on/off button is the panic switch, and once on is pressed ALL the lights come on at 100% and any commands from the strand control board are ignored. Basically I have all these lights running at full, putting wear on the bulbs, dimmers and gels, and I can't control them. I either have to ask a custodian to fix it (most don't understand what I'm talking about) or reach into the cage with a stick and turn the breaker off and on again.


    We sometimes rent our aud to community groups for whatever they need to do, and they must provide all their own equipment. I think the custodians simply turn the panic on for these functions, because they don't know how to work the board.


    My question is, will the panic being constantly on (or flashed lol) do damage or accelerate wear and tear on our dimmer pack? (ie-should I complain about this?)


    Wow that was REALLY long winded... sorry!
     
  2. propmonkey

    propmonkey Well-Known Member

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    if they are a CD-80 rack. i have seen that you can change the preset panic botton to only turn lights that you have programed to turn on when pushed. i will look tomorrow on how to do that. i have been meaning to see what ours is set as and to change it to only house lights and scoops to come on.
     
  3. bdesmond

    bdesmond Active Member

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    CD-80 (and/or CD-80SV, I forget) rack there is a set of jumpers on the supervisor board to select which circuits are panic'ed on when the panic switch is engaged on the rack or remotely. This involves powering down the rack, removing the supervisor module, and setting the jumpers. Check the manual as I know this is documented. It has certainly been a while since I looked at this type of thing.
     
  4. propmonkey

    propmonkey Well-Known Member

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  5. Mayhem

    Mayhem Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    One option would be to have stickers made up that rename the switch to "panic" or "emergency over ride" or similar. The next would be to place a laminated card or sheet of paper that states the sequence for powering up the dimmers and powering down the dimmers (perhaps even lable the breaker that powers them).

    Might be an easy solution.
     
  6. propmonkey

    propmonkey Well-Known Member

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    doesnt the dimmers turn on with the board? ive never had to manual turn on the power.
     
  7. Radman

    Radman Well-Known Member

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    I agree with mayhem. A little note on the button that says "do not push" or "emergency use only" should avoid any mistakes at power-up.
     
  8. rapscaLLion

    rapscaLLion Active Member

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    If the custodians paid attention or even spoke much english I would be inclined to agree.
    And it is a CD-80 supervisor rack, not a pack. That's definately the manuel for it, I'll take a look at it.
     
  9. Mayhem

    Mayhem Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Then maybe a bid red "X" or a skull and crossbones!
     
  10. rapscaLLion

    rapscaLLion Active Member

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    lol :)
    I don't know about that...
     
  11. squigish

    squigish Member

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    Why do you power down your dimmers all the time? Just leave the power breaker on, with the panic switch off, and then use the console to control the dimmers. It's probably much more dangerous to be constantly switching such a high-amprege breaker than is worth the miniscule power savings from not having the fans in the dimmer rack on all the time. Plus, that way you can just control the dimmers from the board, and not have to get the custodians to turn on the breaker every time.

    Also, the proper way to turn on or off a high-amprage breaker is to use a handle extender (both for leverage and protection) and to avert your eyes (there can sometimes be an arc bright enough to cause eye damage).

    This is assuming, of course, that the power supply to your dimmers is farily large, which is generally the case.

    As far as the problem with adults not respecting students, I feel your pain. I'm a senior this year, and I've spent 4 years trying to convince the staff that I'm more than just some irresponsible kid, with only limited success. Try calling strand and asking them what they think of your situation, my guess is that they will be appaled, and might even be willing to write a letter to your principal, or whoever else is necessary. That would give you some more authoratitive backing, and go a long way to convicing folks that you know what you're doing.

    Good luck!
     
  12. rapscaLLion

    rapscaLLion Active Member

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    I think we really should be leaving it on, and it would be much easier for everyone if we could. I'll ask about it.
    The breaker has only a single switch on it, and it's fairly hard to turn on. Never had any problems with it, but you never know. Better just to leave it on really.
    The teachers are fine, but the custodians are awful. Again today, I needed the lights on and thhe custodian comes in, switches it on, turns on the panic and leaves. I tried to tell him and he ignored me. Of course the cage is locked so I had to reach in with a stick to turn that panic off.
    Yesterday I was verbally abused by another custodian, who was flashing the panic on and off. I tried to tell him not to, but literally the only words I could get out were "Um.... you shouldn't..." before he started yelling at me. Definately going to complain about that.

    My dad knows the president of Strand Canada because he works in the industry, so I'll email her and ask. It'll be a lot easier to approach my principle with a letter from strand.

    Another question.... does the dimmer rack need cleaning every so often? Because they school never cleans it afaik... and I see tons of dust in the air filter...

    Thanks :)
     
  13. Mayhem

    Mayhem Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    The simple answer is YES.

    Visible dust on the afir filter means that there is probably dust inside the dimmer and also that the colling fans are going to be unable to do their job.

    Take a look at this topic

    Whilst it shows an amplifier as an example, the same principles apply to dimmers as well. Will cover the basics of why dust can cause serious problems and also how to (at a basic) clean and service equipment.

    Obviously you are going to need to get permission and IF you do, the dimmer should be unplugged and removed from the cage.

    This is something else that you might want to get included in the letter.
     
  14. squigish

    squigish Member

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    Another reason (that I just thought of) for leaving the dimmers turned on is that they're designed to have constant ventilation, not have the fans only running while they're in use.

    Also, cleaning the dimmers is probably something that the custodians will have to do. We did it ourselves, but then were later told by our new head custodian that that was out of bounds for us.

    Under NO circumstances should you do anything like that with the power on. It's things like cleaning and maintance that the breaker is designed for.
     
  15. rapscaLLion

    rapscaLLion Active Member

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    Ya, thats what I thought. I'll definately bring this up next week.
    The rack is permanently secured to the floor, and the power and data connections to it are also permanent. There is no way they would let a student do that job, but I don't trust the custodians either... maybe we can get strand to do it, or recommend a technician who can. Come to think of it the school board will probably have contracters who can do it properly.

    Thanks guys!
     
  16. Mayhem

    Mayhem Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    If it is hard wired, then your best bet is to get a service tech to come out. See if yo can either find an approved Strand service tech or a reputable local company.

    I am glad that we do not have many hard wired dimmers here, most are rack mounted with individual 3phase plugs on them. Makes it much easier to swap them out and to work on them.

    Not sure why you would need constant ventilation whilst the dimmers are not in use. Especially if the fans pull air into the dimmers. It also means that there is a lot more stress on the fans. I could be wrong but to me it doesn't appear to be of any benefit.
     
  17. propmonkey

    propmonkey Well-Known Member

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    whats the best way too clean a CD-80 dimmer rack that is permently installed? i think i can run an air hose down there and blow them out just not sure how i will get to all the dimmers. i knwo it has never been cleaned in the 3 and 1/2 years ive been here.
     
  18. rapscaLLion

    rapscaLLion Active Member

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    meh, I'll ask strand... if you want to know what they say I can post it here.
     
  19. Mayhem

    Mayhem Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Take a look at http://www.strandlighting.com

    Look in the various .pdf manuals listed for the CD80 to see if they cover servicing or look for the listed service centres for Wisconsin.

    If you have a permanently installed dimmer you need to ensure that you can isolate the power. As I am not familiar with the Strand dimmers I cannot give you a run down on how to service. However, the modular dimmers that I have serviced it has been necessary to clean each module individually. Be careful with compressed air as you can just as easily blow more crap into places that you don’t want to. You can also damage fans.

    Either wait for comments by those familiar with these racks or call a service department in your area and ask them how you should do it. Most places will give you this information.

    However, if you cannot isolate the power, do not risk it yourself.
     
  20. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    The air compressor sounds risky to me, water can build up in compressor lines. We all know that water and electronics do not mix!!!! I would use inert dusting gas(in a can) available at most electronics and discount stores.
     

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