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Control/Dimming Electrical Connection for a Dimmer Rack

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by arfinator, Jan 4, 2009.

  1. arfinator

    arfinator Member

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    Hey, everyone!

    I haven't posted on here in forever due to my extraordinarily high school workload, but now, I am back, in search of help. My school is hosting a fashion show at an older venue in downtown Phoenix.

    I had a meeting with the owner / manager with the facility (who is apparently quite busy and can't be bothered for a meeting more than a week in advance of the event, but alas.) I mentioned what I might be able to use in order to light the space, and we came to the following conclusions:

    My school owns an ETC Sensor+ 24 Dimmer Rack that I can use. The facility has this for a disconnect:

    [​IMG]

    And this is what brings me to my question. I have never attempted to connect a dimmer to one of these connections for a disconnect, and was wondering what I might be able to use to connect it. I know that the dimmer rack has the Cam-Lok connections for power, but is there an adapter from this 220 volt cable to Cam-Lok?

    Or is there another way? Any ideas??

    Thank you all very much in advance for your help! I know that I can always rely on you guys to figure out my problems. :)

    Hess Smith
     
  2. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    You'll need to rent a proper breakout box.
    Many construction rental places and of course theatre rental houses have them.
     
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  3. arfinator

    arfinator Member

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    What exactly is a breakout box?
     
  4. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    That's a single phase connector, right? Doesn't look like it'll carry a lot of current. That may likely be problematic. This is where you really need somebody with knowledge and experience to do whatever tie-in you need, or at least to help scope it out and say "we can't use the electricity here because it's delta power". Or in this case, looks to be single phase, which may as well be delta power.
     
  5. arfinator

    arfinator Member

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    That connection reminded me, when I held it, of the 220volt connector that ovens & washers & dryers connect to. So i figure it might be sufficient. There are also 2 of those coming out of the breaker box, each with their own breaker. There are also 2 outlets of the same type.

    A little research on a breakout box provided me with this:

    Which leads me to believe that it might remedy the single phase issue. (I might be lying here, I really don't have any idea if that definition leads me to anything useful, but nonetheless). If a connect a brekout box to that connection, and the dimmer to the breakout box, might a be able to get it to work?

    I will ask my ME at the theatre I work at tomorrow, and I hope that it will work. If not, I will be forced to use edison adapters and have a static lighting situation. Which definitely wouldn't be the most preferable situation, but it wouldn't be the worst one. At least the models will be seen, and I can make it look semi-interesting.

    Randomly related question: Am I able to connect a sensor + dimmer to edison outlets?

    Thank you, once more. You both have been fantastically helpful--enlightening me more than I ever would have been able to figure out by myself.
     
  6. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    Single Phase 250V
    Commonly called a "California" connector.
    It resembles a pin out twist lock except for the round pin protruding from the center.

    The breakout is also commonly known as a spiderbox in the construction world.
    It would look something like this, except with Cam-Lok outputs.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. arfinator

    arfinator Member

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    Okay, that makes sense. I have three questions, though.

    What purpose does the pin in the center serve? (Here is my assumption, please correct me, though: The pin would be a ground, the port at the top of my picture [the one that is like a rectangle with a square at one end would be neutral, and the two others would be the hot lines.)

    Would that breakout box be rentable through a production rental company, and about how much would that cost to rent for like 2 days?
     
  8. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    Center pin is ground, and then you've got two phases and neutral. I'd guess it might be good for 50 amps at the most, maybe as little as 30. Actually, the minimum of what the connector's rated for, what the cable's rated for, and the breakers feeding it.

    But your Sensor rack is going to want more than 100 amps three-phase. That's 100 amps per phase, three phase 120/208Y. There you have a service that's, giving it the benefit of the doubt, 50 amps single phase, being 50 amps per phase, two phases. 100 amps total service, where you need 300 amps total service at least.

    And no, you cannot cannot tie a bunch of Edison outlets together as feeders into your rack. God, no. Just asking the question gives us good reason to say STOP RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE AND HAVE A QUALIFIED ELECTRICIAN WHO KNOWS ENTERTAINMENT LIGHTING HANDLE THIS.
     
  9. arfinator

    arfinator Member

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    I am not saying that I am going to go right out and shove this into my dimmer, and I do intend to go to someone who knows what they are talking about. Right now, however, I am just doing research to figure out if this is at all possible, which with your post, it seems that it is not possible.

    The ME at that theatre mentioned a while ago a dimmer that could power maybe 4 500W fixtures with two Edison connections on different circuits. I was merely referencing that point to see if it was possible with this dimmer rack.

    Thank you for your fear of what I might do, with just some information--I know too well of people trying to accomplish more than they know, and I won't be one of those people. I am still a student trying to figure everything out, and I won't act until I have the approval and go-ahead from someone who knows what they are doing.
     
  10. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    it is possible to switch a sensor 24 pack over to single phase, you can do some research on how to do this if you choose. My suggestion though, go rent some shoebox dimmers and use those. You will have a much safer installation and also have much less chance of blowing your feeder circuits. You need to figure out what those plugs are actually wired to and what they are rated at. If you get the right person in there, it might be possible to actually tie in the sensor rack.
     
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  11. arfinator

    arfinator Member

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    Footer, what shoebox dimmers would you recommend? I am only really familiar with ETC products, so I wouldn't even know where to start.
     
  12. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    Some basic information that would be helpful for your qualified individual would be what the panel you're looking to tie into is rated for. It could be a 100 amp single phase panel, in which case it would not have enough capacity for a 24 dimmer rack regardless of what else it's powering. If you're really lucky, it could be a 200 amp, 3 phase system. This information should be printed on the panel. Even if you luck out, and find that it's a 200 amp, 3 phase system, you need to find out what that panel is powering. If it's the main service for the building, odds are there is not enough remaining capacity to power your dimmer rack.

    As for the shoebox dimmers, check with your local lighting rental house. This is also an area where that probably 50 amp, single phase connector might come in handy. Somewhere on the connector, it should say 50 amp, 240 volt. When you contact your local rental house, ask them if they rent portable power distribution panels. Make sure you tell them what type of connector you need. Then you can use this distribution panel to power your shoebox dimmers. I recommend going this route because, if the stage you're using is anything like mine, most of the back stage receptacles are on the same circuit, which gives you enough capacity for 1 shoebox. Bear in mind that a portable distribution panel does not allow you to hook up an unlimited number of shoeboxes. With a 50 amp, 240 volt service, you never want to excede 40 amps per leg, which is 80 amps total, or 9,600 watts.
     
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  13. arfinator

    arfinator Member

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    Thank you, very much!
     
  14. Sony

    Sony Active Member

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    I had this almost exact same situation at the latest show I did for Island Moving Company out of Newport, RI. We had a Sensor+ 24 Portable Pack on a 40 amp 240vAC Breaker (80 amps total)...it's difficult but it's doable. First thing you are going to need is to find out what that monster outlet is rated for...we had some horrible trouble with just the 40 amp breaker to play with, you will probably have the same issues because that outlet can't be rated for more than 50 amps per leg. You will need to find an adapter that converts that outlet to Cam-Lok in order to plug your Pack into that outlet. Then you will need to get a QUALIFIED ELECTRICIAN to convert your portable pack to Single Phase operation if it isn't already. It will not work in Three Phase mode because that outlet does not supply three phase power. Your pack may already be converted to single phase since you are in a school but only your ME will know for sure. The easy way to find out otherwise would be to connect the pack the way you normally do and look on the front of the pack. If all 3 Phase LED's (A, B, C) light up then it's configured for 3 Phase power. If only Phase LED's A and C light up then you are configured for Single Phase. Most likely you are configured for Three Phase as this is the most common arrangement. I will not tell you how to convert the Pack yourself because this is only to be done by a QUALIFIED ELECTRICIAN and as you are a student I very much doubt you are one.

    When you go to connect the pack at the Venue you only connect Ground (Green,) Neutral (White,) and Phases A (Black) and C (Blue) in that order and tape over Phase B (Red) as it is not used in Single Phase operation. I suggest you have your ME do this too. You're going to need to pay close attention to balancing your loads as putting too much on one phase will pop the breaker. We had this issue A LOT, whenever we used one room we would pop the breaker because the load was all on one leg. So we spread each room evenly across each leg.

    I hope this helps, seriously if you get a qualified entertainment electrician to come in and look at it I'm sure he can suggest some things a lot better than I can. I'm just saying that this is basically the same as what happened to us and this is what we at IMC did.
     
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  15. David Ashton

    David Ashton Active Member

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    There is major misinformation on this thread.
    A dimmer rack takes very, very little power, only a couple of amps,
    the power it draws is almost totally a function of the load plugged into it.
    Almost all dimmers can run single phase.I have yet to see the exception.
    So if you have 30 amps of load you cannot under any circumstances draw more than 32 amps.
     
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  16. arfinator

    arfinator Member

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    Thank you, David, that actually makes quite a bit of sense.

    Sony, that most definitely helps me in my quest for this to work. I will talk to my ME today and mention what I have found and see where to go from.

    Thank you all, so much. I will update more if I find out more. :)
     
  17. BillESC

    BillESC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Since you have access to the breaker box, why not have a licensed electrician tie your rack directly into the panel and forgo messing with the connector.
     
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  18. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    Well, I thought that part was understood.

    Point is, if you're using a 24-slot Sensor rack, that's 48 2.4Ks. Let's say you load it a quarter of the way: that's 12x2.4K or some other mathematical combination to get the same number, about 240 amps total current, which is 80 amps three-phase. Strapping it single phase, that's 120 amps. And a fair bit of potential fancy-dancing with balancing the feeder.

    But you're right, if I have a CD80 rack loaded with 12K modules, and the only load on the rack is a single 100 watt light bulb, the feeder current will only be, oh, somewhere between an amp and five -- one amp of that being the actual load, the rest being things like cooling fans and CEMs and all.
     
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  19. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    First of all, David Ashton is right, there is a lot of misinformation in this thread. This is why most discussions of this nature are not permitted on CB.

    CONSULT A QUALIFIED ELECTRICIAN

    It took me a while to find it, but the connector in question is a 50A 2ø connector. Since this is the US I would imagine it is of the 125V variety, but it could be 250V 3ø or even 480V 3ø, I can't tell from your photo. Here is the page from the Hubbell connector catalog:
    [​IMG]
    As with all wiring, you should check to make sure that the connector is actually wired to a properly sized breaker.

    Now, please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that it is against code to just build an adapter to go from a multi-pole connector to multiple single pole connectors without some kind of junction box. Once again, this is something to CONSULT A QUALIFIED ELECTRICIAN on.

    What kind of instrumentation are you planning on using? This could greatly effect the power/dimming needs. What other power is available in the venue?

    As it stands, I would suggest not trying to do anything with the dimmers that you own, rent something that will work with what is in the venue. Above all, get a QUALIFIED ELECTRICIAN in to asses the situation and give you advice.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2009
  20. arfinator

    arfinator Member

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    I have spoken to everyone at my theatre and at a production rental company, along with people from the venue, and we have decided what most have said in this thread to give up on the ETC rack.

    For simplicity and safety's sake, I have chosen to go with 4 edison dimmer packs (2 leprochauns and 2 elations--those may not be the correct names, but I believe so).

    Thank you to all who have contributed in this thread, and I will use this information, undoubtedly, in the future if this problem arises again.

    I always appreciate what this forum offers technicians--especially us students who don't know all that much and that love to learn whatever they can. So, once again, thank you.

    :)
     
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