# DMX Controller

#### IcePenguin

##### Member
Hi Guys,

I need to find a DMX Lighting controller for a High End Systems Trackspot. Can anyone give me tips or suggestions on what kind of controller I can use? I'd also like to be able to control fog machines and perhaps flashpots with the same controller.

Thanks![/url]

#### moojoe

##### Active Member
go here, they have a good amount of controllers that are fairly cheep

#### lxdeptnz

##### Member
Not Flashpots!

IcePenguin said:
I'd also like to be able to control fog machines and perhaps flashpots with the same controller.
Thanks!

Umm, if you're saying you'd like to control pyrotechnics off the lighting board... this isn't a good idea. On DMX, there is no error checking or anything, so there's no way to tell if the pyro has been fired, and no way to prevent the pyro from being fired. Not that I've used many, but most control boxes have a keyswitch to enable firing... for safety. That's all I can come up with off the top of my head... yeah.

As for controllers.... a DMX Lighting board, preferably one that can handle moving lights will do... I'd suggest the Zero88 Frog Series

HTH
David

#### Mayhem

##### Senior Team Emeritus
I agree. Here (as I suspect in most countries) pyro controllers must have a double safety mechanism. The most important of these is a key that CANNOT be removed in the ON position. Second can vary, but in most cases it will be an arm switch (often covered). Other features include a fire button that has a shroud around it, so it cannot be accidentally pressed. Others are designed so that it requires both hands to operate.

Remember, the amount of voltage to trigger an electronic fuse is very small. Using a multimeter to check pyro WILL cause them to ignite. As such, this is something that should NEVER be done either.

Also (as pointed out above) there are no address switches on pyro!

One further comment – in my opinion, you should not be using pyro if you do not have a licence to do so. As a licensed pyrotechnician and fireworks operator, there are too many accidents caused by people who do not have sufficient training or experience.

#### IcePenguin

##### Member
To tell you the truth, it would probably be safer controlling it over DMX.

Our current method of detonation is plugging the flashpot into a surge surpressor and flipping to switch to ON when the cue comes. They're simple flashpots, a box with a short, stubby tube that the explosives go in, and then two bare wires running through the explosives. 8O

That's just the way my high school does it, I guess!

#### IcePenguin

##### Member
One quick question!

Can someone give me a ballpark figure on an ETC Express 125? Will the Express work with our existing ETC L-86 Dimmer rack?

Thanks!

#### moojoe

##### Active Member
when i read how your school does pyro, i collapsed and almost cried. im sitting here now rocking back and forth in horror.

#### Mayhem

##### Senior Team Emeritus
IcePenguin said:
To tell you the truth, it would probably be safer controlling it over DMX.

Our current method of detonation is plugging the flashpot into a surge surpressor and flipping to switch to ON when the cue comes. They're simple flashpots, a box with a short, stubby tube that the explosives go in, and then two bare wires running through the explosives. 8O

That's just the way my high school does it, I guess!

First of all there is one simple rule for pyro. SAFETY. In all cases, there must be a clear line of sight of the product being used. Often FOH does not provide such a position. A lot of pyrotechnicians will set themselves at side of stage as it gives you a better perspective of depth of the stage. Especially where sets are complicated or there are actors/dancers on stage. In some cases, a separate safety officer may be required to observe for people getting too close to any product. In this case the safety officer (who should be in communication via a headset to the pyrotechnician that is firing) can call an UNSAFE shot.

If you can not see the product and all safety areas – YOU CAN NOT FIRE IT

Any automated firing system MUST have a manual override.

I do not know if there are any DMX controllable exploders out on the market as it is not something that I would be interested in. If there was, there would still need to be someone there to activate the unit and determine if it is safe to fire. Given this, adding in a DMX trigger only complicates the situation and when you complicate things, that is when accidents are more likely to happen.

Now – onto the way that your school uses pyro.

This is an extremely unsafe method and violates just about every safety precaution that I can think of in regards to the system of firing. There should (must) be no way that the system can be accidentally fired and as I previously stated, this is done with the use of a key switch and one (or maybe more) additional safety systems.

I don’t even want to think about the risks of plugging pyro into 120V AC.

I don’t know the rules and regulation as they apply to the US but given what is legislated over here; I would be surprised if the differences were very dramatic. I also would think that the local Fire Marshal would close you down immediately should they observe this practice.

The other thing that always confuses me is that people say “but they are only flash pots”. Look at the label on them. They will still have an Explosives 1.4 UN sticker on them. People have been seriously burned with flash pots.

Regardless of how small or big the effect or whether it is instantaneous or has a set duration, it should be treated the same as far as safety is concerned.

This is not an attack on you personally but rather a response that I think you need to take back to your school and also to highlight some of the safety concerns that cannot be ignored.

#### IcePenguin

##### Member
moojoe said:
when i read how your school does pyro, i collapsed and almost cried. im sitting here now rocking back and forth in horror.

Hey, I'd love to change it as much as you do... I'd like to change a lot of things in our Auditorium. The fact is, I'm a lowly sound guy and I get yelled at for straying from my bailiwick. Sorry that it's not that safe or up to legal standards, but I don't have any control over that area of the production.

#### Mayhem

##### Senior Team Emeritus
IcePenguin said:
Hey, I'd love to change it as much as you do... I'd like to change a lot of things in our Auditorium. The fact is, I'm a lowly sound guy and I get yelled at for straying from my bailiwick. Sorry that it's not that safe or up to legal standards, but I don't have any control over that area of the production.

Sorry - but EVERYONE has a voice and can do something.

#### moojoe

##### Active Member
*note, im not trying to be offensive here, its just a safety issue*
that being said,

I dont really care if your just a sound guy, and you shouldnt either. this is peoples safety we're talking about. yea, techies joke about save the equipment before you save yourself, and ill admit, ive fallen holding equipment and i tried to keep the equipment safe instead of myself, but this just is not right. we all know that safety is the most important thing, even if we dont exactly preach it. its better to be safe then sorry, if only because if something does go wrong, you guys will surely be closed. it doesnt matter if your a school, the school will close the theatre group down. not to mention the whole being safe because its peoples LIVES we're talking about.
i dont give a damn if your just a sound guy. two years ago, i was just a assistant followspot op, that doesnt mean that when i saw things that wernt safe, i made sure to get them corrected. no matter what the cost. if the theatre doesnt listen to you, then tell your administration. they'll be greatful to you when it saves someones life.
i know you said these are small flashpots, so they wont exactly kill someone, but think of it. these things will burn, and burn well. how would you like it if your entire life, you had a large burn on your face, or even just your arm due to some group of people not giving a damn about your safety. so it really does come down to peoples lives. theyre future, just on a social level, could be seriously injured by a misfire, not to mention the actual burns.
this isnt something to just sit back on and not doing anything because you "cant". when it comes to peoples safety, you always can. you always must.

[/rant]

#### IcePenguin

##### Member
Mayhem, moojoe, point taken. I'll be sure to bring it up if we use flashpots again.

In the meantime, could we get back to the topic, please?

Thanks
Nick

#### moojoe

##### Active Member
yea, sorry that we kind of got a bit off topic. im huge on safety.
thanks for seeing our point.
but back on topic, sorry, i dont know how much an ETC express is

im almost certain though that it will work on your dimmers

#### Mayhem

##### Senior Team Emeritus
I'm not sure that it is off topic. Safety is an aspect and consideration of everything that we do. Therefore, part of every topic.

#### Techop

##### Member
Ok lets all calm down as long as no one has been hurt then I am sure you are being safe when it comes to PYRO and yes some times schools don’t have money or the ability to buy more equipment but remember you do have a voice you are some one

An ETC Express 24/48 is about 2400$CAD if you get it form a good dealer other wise it could be more its a good board but its not well known for moving light control I would recommend a Strand board maybe a 200 or a 300 Also when it comes to the PYRO control makes a controller its better then a lights board Hope that helps Techop #### ship ##### Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member Interesting discussion. While certainly possible to control pyro by way of DMX for a language, and possibly safe given some form of talk back to a dedicated pyro board at least, I also would urdge you to take up this safety issue. This is not just a "our job" mind your own business type of thing. Someone get's hurt because any stage hand in knowing better, all no matter the department failed. DMX as a language to control pyro. Again, it's possibly been developed. Controlled from your lighting light board on the other hand, that would not do. Swing away at your windmill young sound techie. The fight in being right and at least informing others is sometimes even if lost well woth the effort as opposed to allowing such conditions within a vacuum of idiocy. #### len ##### Well-Known Member IcePenguin said: moojoe said: when i read how your school does pyro, i collapsed and almost cried. im sitting here now rocking back and forth in horror. Hey, I'd love to change it as much as you do... I'd like to change a lot of things in our Auditorium. The fact is, I'm a lowly sound guy and I get yelled at for straying from my bailiwick. Sorry that it's not that safe or up to legal standards, but I don't have any control over that area of the production. Then look for some pictures of the Great White fire 2 years ago. http://www.roadie.net/greatwhitefire.htm Safety is everyone's concern. No one should ever run pyro off dmx. I'm no pyro guy, but it seems the surge supressor idea you're using is safer than running a dmx switch. I've seen dmx lines create phantom signals even with the board disconnected. If a pyro effect were loaded and got a funky bit of data for a couple milliseconds it could fire. #### zac850 ##### Well-Known Member Excluding the pyro parts of this post, since I feel that they have been beaten to death: An ETC Express 125 will set you back around$3,500 or \$4,000. How many dimmers/channels do you have/need to be running? Take that number, then give yourself some extra room. The express 125 has 125 channels (and 2 dmx ports, so you can run up to 1024 dimmers) the Express 24/48 has fewer channels (how many does it have, is it 48, I thought i had more...?)

What else do you want to run off this board? Is it just for one intel, or are you planning on using it for several other things (but not pyro, as has been said...).