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Control/Dimming Dimmer Problem - Lights Blinking

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by sborder, May 31, 2009.

  1. sborder

    sborder Member

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    Occupation:
    Audio Engineer, Lighting Designer, Video Tech
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    Toledo, OH
    Hi,

    I have an Applied Electronics DP 12/2400 DMX-512 3 phase dimmer.

    On some channels the dimmer flickers on (full) and off, even at low levels.

    Here are pictures of the dimmer

    Closed
    [​IMG]

    Open
    [​IMG]

    A Video

    Also, the dimming curve is weird on all the channels, the lights don't start dimming until the sliders are at about 30%.

    We use a small board for everyday use, and Nicolaudie Sunlite for special events.

    Here is a picture of the board
    [​IMG]

    I also read the thread about harmonic filters and dimmers.

    Thanks
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2009
  2. David Ashton

    David Ashton Active Member

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    Disconnect the dimmer and don't touch it till it is repaired, IT IS DANGEROUS, the chokes are sitting on the bolts and only the wire insulation is stopping a path to earth.At the very least the chokes need re fixing.Flashing can be caused by any part of the system so it is probably best to have them serviced by a professional.
     
  3. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Aside from what Mr. Ashton said, which is a valid point, there are many things that couls cause your issue. The simplest to test is dirty pots on your controller. If you have access to another controller or lighting console, I would suggest you try that and see if the problem persists. It could also be a bad control card in the dimmer pack, in which case you will need a certified tech to fix it. There are probably more possibilities, but those are the first two that came to mind.
     
  4. mrb

    mrb Active Member

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    I agree, the interior of that thing is a fault just waiting to happen. It will be cheaper to shut it down and get it fixed now, than to replace it when it blows up. Looks like the chokes used to be supported by the plastic disks that kept them centered, and either the plastic deteriorated or the bolts vibrated loose and the coils dropped. I cant believe a mfgr would use a non potted coil in an application like this....anything to save a buck I guess.
     
  5. gordonmcleod

    gordonmcleod Active Member

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    That is a approved and very common method of mounting torroids in fact most of the coil makers provide that hardware
    that said routine maintinence would dictate reseating them
     
  6. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    Yes, the chokes need a little attention ... Soon! As for the blinking, I suspect that is unrelated. Looks like a XLR connector at bottom left, so it is probably a DMX based dimmer. If so, try to borrow a DMX board and see if it works ok. If so, you have a trim / bad pot problem in the board. If not, then your firing card in the dimmer pack needs work.
     
  7. DavidNorth

    DavidNorth ETC Rigging General Manager Premium Member Fight Leukemia Departed Member

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    sborder,

    What loads are running on this system? I see labels on the board that say "Sconces." Are you by chance running any fluorescents or low-voltage transformers? Are you having problems with the dimmers running specifics kinds of loads or lamps or with all dimmers? Do they all flash at the same time or do they each flash on their own? Answers to these questions may lead us into different directions.

    You use two different boards. Do you have the same ezxact problem no matter wich board you use?

    David
     
  8. iLightTheStage

    iLightTheStage Active Member

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    Do you keep your consoles well covered when not in use? That sounds like an issue from dirty faders (pots). Might want to try a little contact cleaner. That would be the first step before requesting servicing of your dimming system.
     
  9. Amiers

    Amiers Lighting Phoenix 1 Lamp at a Time

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    We had a similar Ghosting issue in our Studio Portion of Theatre. The school had to reroute more power to our main which the dimmer racks are connected to.
     
  10. sborder

    sborder Member

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    Hi,

    Both the Titan board and the Nicolaudie system have the same problem.

    The dimmer is DMX-512.

    The sconces are halogen (500W per sconce).

    I will have an electrion look at the situation.

    The most we run on a channel is around 2400 watts (to much, I did not wire the lights).

    Also watch the video, as it clearly shows the problem.

    sborder
    Posted via Mobile Device
     
  11. tdeater

    tdeater Member

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    Just watched the video. Looks like you might be haunted there. :p I would check connections too, make sure the neutrals are tight, and no other connection problems. I have had problems similar to that, and usually trace it to a loose terminal strip or loose wire nut. The electrician that installed our system had a bad habit of not tightening things, or using too small, or large of a wire nut.
     
  12. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    The video is downright bizarre! I have seen flickering problems, but these are wild swings! In your pictures, it looks like the install was at least clean.. It is almost like a firing card error. I say almost because I don't want to condemn it without exploring if there may be an external factor throwing the unit off. In any case, something is throwing the zero-voltage cross detectors on the cards. A tripler filter built into the transformer supplying the unit comes to mind. I am not sure a general electrician will be able to get to the bottom of this one. An electrician specializing in phase chopped dimmers, or a manufacturer rep would be what you are looking for. Although those chokes are an obvious problem, cut or damaged windings would be popping breakers on the unit, so although they must be fixed, this will not fix your problem.

    How recently did this problem start?
     
  13. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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  14. DAE

    DAE Member

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    I can see the head of the bolts holding the toroids in place, so will assume that the toroids bolts go into some form of rivnut. You need to use a thread locker such as Loctite 243 to prevent the bolts coming loose again. There is a continual vibration with toroids which have a heavy dimmed load passing through them and this can lead to the bolts working loose. This is why touring racks usually have their chokes potted, to overcome any vobration and also stop any audible noise from the windings. You can get your repairman to sleeve the bolts as well.

    It is a pity your video did not show the fader being moved so we could see if there is a correlation between the fader movement and the lights flickering. It could be dirty faders causing the flickering. If your desk is a two preset desk do you get the same flicker using either top or bottom fader.

    To clean the faders using a contact cleaner such as CO Contact Cleaner, definitely not any automotive dewetting spray such as WD40, turn your lighting system off, unplug your desk and if you are competent enough, remove the top or bottom cover so you can see the backs of the faders. Place a cloth along the lower side of the faders to soak up the contact cleaner that will come out of the faders. Turn the desk on its top edge so the residual flows to the top of the fader and flush a generous amount of contact cleaner into every fader, moving the fader knob a few times then leave the fader at the top of its travel, in this case it will be at zero as the desk is upside down, while the contact cleaner dries.

    I do this cleaning upside down as the faders spend most of their time at zero so I want to wash the residual dust etc out the top end to avoid any buildup at the bottom end.

    This generous flushing will only work once or twice, then you will need to have any faulty faders replaced.

    Of course keeping the desk covered when not in use will usually avoid this problem happening. Most reputable manufacturers use faders with a dust cover or self closing rubber strip to try and help keep their faders clean. But don't let that stop you developing good habits such as covering a desk when it is switched off and not in use.

    let us know how you are getting on.
     
  15. TimMiller

    TimMiller Well-Known Member

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    On top of what has been said, i'd say plug the dmx from your board directly into the dimmer rack, bypassing all of the inwall cable. It appears that your problem could be dmx related. Also does the flickering occur when you turn on some groups of lights, but goes away when you turn on other groups or all of them at the same time? I am thinking maybe a neutral overload or an overload of the conductors. An electrician will be able to tell you real quick upon assessing the rack. Also look to see if the rack is trying to reboot itself over and over, i ran into that a while back.
     
  16. David Ashton

    David Ashton Active Member

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    "I will have an electrion look at the situation." quote
    We don't have these in Australia, but as I said in the first reply," Flashing can be caused by any part of the system so it is probably best to have them serviced by a professional."
    You could waste hours trying to guess which idea is the fault.You could even have multiple faults caused by a voltage spike, for example, which could not be found by a process of elimination.
     
  17. FMEng

    FMEng Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    NO! I agree that the faders are a possible culprit. But never use standard contact cleaner or WD40 on faders, unless it is an emergency repair and you don't mind possibly replacing them later. Some kinds of faders will chemically break down and eventually fail after to exposure to certain chemicals.

    I would put more trust in DeoxIT FaderLube, because it is designed for the purpose. It's good stuff to have around along with a can of DeoxIT contact cleaner, which I call "magic fixit spray."
     
  18. TimMiller

    TimMiller Well-Known Member

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    For those of you who missed it....
    HE HAS ANOTHER BOARD AND THE SAME THING HAPPENS WITH IT!!! SO IT IS NOT CONSOLE RELATED!!!

    ok, back to the topic.

    I am really leaning on a DMX interference issue, or voltage problem.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 4, 2009
  19. mstaylor

    mstaylor Well-Known Member Departed Member

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    It could be as simple as terminating your DMX. I would call Leslie at Light Action in Wilmington. They are part of the same company as Applied and work on the stuff all the time.
     

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