Design Issues and Solutions DMX-4 permanent install (or, am I a big dummy?)

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Michael J., Feb 16, 2019.

  1. Michael J.

    Michael J. Member

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    Okay, so I work at an Event center/venue. I've been tasked upgrading out lighting "system". Currently, we have track lighting with an assortment of par38 and par 36 bulbs all over the place. These are all run back to wall outlets that use cheapo inline dimmers from the home despot. For obvious reasons, this is not ideal. Dimming lights can't be done without running around the room and doing it all manually. Also the cheapo dimmers are a fire hazard. No run of track lighting has more than about 5 90w par38s on it, and the inline watt meter I've been using to test is showing closer to 250-450 watts per run.
    The building we are in happens to have been a theater at one point. (converted warehouse space.) But when the theater company moved out they took all of their architectural dimmers with them. They left some wiring in place but not hooked up to anything, what I assume was coming from the old dimming system. So I had an electrician come and re-attach and basically inspect this old wiring, and move some receptacles around so that I would have 6 unused 20amp circuits in the ceiling ready to power my lights. I have about 17-18 area lights that are used regularly and a couple of led fxpar 9s.
    So the plan was as follows:
    -An entry level light board
    -some dmx software as yet to be decided
    -x2 Enttech ode (to run in merging mode)
    -a springtree led dmx wall station
    -a springtree led dmx splitter
    - then the 6 chavet dj DMX-4 mounted around the room each having its own 20amp receptacle.

    I thought this was a good plan...

    Upon closer inspection of the DMX-4 user guide, it explicitly states that they are not to be used in permanent installations, and my googling has lead me to this forum where I have found similar advice.
    These dimmer pack would be plugged in 24hrs a day and would be under load to run area and house lighting almost 12hrs a day.

    So how borked am I on this? Do they make dimmer packs that can handle this type of use?
    Is chauvet dj just absolving liability? I should also mention that I've already ordered these parts (hence big dummy), so I am probably looking at returning all these dimmer packs. (doh!) Also, any general advice about this setup would be welcome. I've looked into actual architectural dimmer rack but they seem prohibitively expensive. Do I have any other options? (also worth mentioning that we are considering some moving-head lights and other effect stuff so the jump to dmx is preferable) This website seems like a great resource, and I am grateful for any and all advice.
     
  2. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @Michael J. Let me employ the Control Booth Forum 'Bat call' to call the attention of a few of our regulars to your post, then I'll sit back and wait for the onslaught: @jfleenor , @MNicolai , @derekleffew and @Ford Would any of you care to reply to new poster @Michael J.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard
     
  3. TimMc

    TimMc Well-Known Member

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    What's your budget?
     
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  4. Michael J.

    Michael J. Member

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    Thank you!
     
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  5. Michael J.

    Michael J. Member

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    Mostly spent...
    I could maybe squeeze out another grand or so if I need to. I guess the LED replacement par38s or the moving heads could wait until next time.
     
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  6. Mac Hosehead

    Mac Hosehead Well-Known Member

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    Heh, I have a DMX-4 mounted on a tree in a work area I use. It stays powered on and is rated for 4 circuits at 5 amps and 15 amps total. If you reduced the actual loads to say 80% of the dimmer ratings then I think it might be able to run continuously. But really, these are tree-dimmers and by definition are not going to be for permanent mounting. Permanent dimmers are usually fan cooled, have piped input power, and have piped output circuits.
     
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  7. ChrisB_SanDiego

    ChrisB_SanDiego Active Member

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    I'm going to say the typical, "It all depends on what you are trying to accomplish." No, the DMX 4's are not recommended for permanent install, that being said, there are a more than a few Junior Playhouses in my area that treat them that way, and they have held out for a few years, but they don't do well in a hot environment. A 90 degree Fahrenheit room appears to change the dimming curve dramatically (the rate and way the lights fade), just fyi.

    If you aren't regularly using near the max load on them or have them in a hot environment, they are perfectly fine dimmer packs, although I personally would rather be using Leprecon or Lightronics dimmers.

    Since you say you have a track mount in place, I've been rather impressed with the Source Four Mini's from ETC, they have an optional track mount so you wouldn't need to reconfigure your track lighting. And the Desire D22's also work with track mount. Worth looking into, for future budget allowances.

    if all your wiring goes to back of house, than you'd be better with something like an ETC Smart Switch for dimming, throw it in a rack and you can always upgrade and daisy them together later. But of course, budget is a big concern.

    You mention DMX software AND an entry level light board. For starting out pick one, no need to spend money on both. I recommend ETC Nomad, you'll also need an ETC Gadget to output DMX. If your inclined towards a console... Check you're local rental house and see if they have a used moving light board for sale. I have a strong preference to ETC. So I would look for a used ION or Smart Fade, but to be honest, any moving light console will do so long as you are willing to spend the time to learn it. Check out ETC Nomad, it's fairly powerful and easy to learn.

    I don't think your list is bad. Everything seems compatible, just depends on what the venue's primary use is. I would also ask, do the house lights really need to be DMX dim-able. For such a constant use with no budget for high end dimmers I would recommend keeping house off of portable dimmer packs and just using a commercial wall dimmer near the board so you still have control over it, but it's not adding to the wear and tear of the portable dimmers or get creative and wire them to a three position switch so they can be on a wall dimmer for normal use, and portable dimmers for events that need it.

    Another option would be LED. Just leave all the power on, and then dim at the fixture via DMX that way you don't need to worry about actual dimmers. But again, not exactly in budget to replace everything.
     
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  8. Chase P.

    Chase P. Well-Known Member

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    Occupation:
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    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't "permanent install" refer to hardwiring the device to the building, vs. plugging it in to an outlet? If the dimmer packs are c-clamped up and plugged into the wall, they're still temporary, just in a rep hang.

    Also, regarding control for your track lighting, there are some hardwired equivalents to a 4 circuit shoebox dimmer. I believe Leviton makes one. Those would be classified as permanent install, and would require your electrician coming back for a visit.
     
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