ETC Smartpack Dimmers


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Anyone own or have experience with these? Sharing your thoughts and stories. Any pros or cons that I should be aware of?
My school has 3 of them, 12x1.2k.

Pro's: Well, they work well, they are fairly light and portable (maybe around 50lbs each per dimmer) so if you want to use them in more then one space, or if you have to move them to do work on them it is easy.
They have an LCD screen and 6 buttons to control them, and it takes all of maybe 30 minutes to learn exactly how to use every feature on them.
They have a dimmer test function at the touch of a button, and you can bring any dimmer up from 1% to 100%, and leave one up and test another one (if you have work lights/house lights on dimmers 1-5 you can bring one to 100%, 2 to 100%, etc without needing to use your light board).
There are individual circuit breakers on the front of the dimmer, large enough to see from a distance if you lost a circuit. There is also a master circuit breaker that shuts down all of the electronics on the dimmer (but not power to the dimmer, go figure). And, since there from ETC, you get ETC's tech support, which is amazing from the two times that I have called them.

Con's: Well, first off, a while back some of the Smartpack Power Cubes didn't work. They shipped failed full-on. However, I got the teacher to call ETC, and he got them to shop replacement power cubes (of corse, he had them ship the 2.4k, so 2 calls later I had the correct 1.2k cubes). The replacement is easy, you open up the top of the dimmers (6 screws) gently lift out the old cube, and put in the new cubes (they even give you a dental mirror for free to make it easier to line up all of the connectors). I should also mention that ETC did not charge us a thing for all of this, though I should also mention that we got the dimmers new.

Other con's, I really can't think of any others. They are well made dimmers for a small-medium venue or if you want one set of dimmers to move between two places. If you have a larger theater, go for a larger rack of dimmers. But if you have a small school, less then 75 instruments or so, they are very good dimmers, well made, and I am very happy with them.

Any other specific questions you want answered?
Thanks alot zac850, this do seem like a good buy. Just for the record, these are to be used with a portable lighting system to be taken on the road for when we tour our shows. The actually auditorium has two expresses and a 298 sensor rack dimmers (3 racks, 1 processing rack). I really love them, they're an excellent system. I am just thinking of replacing our old portable Dove (I think) lighting system. It's an analog console w/a only a handful of edison dimmers (No DMX). Just about all of our fixtures are stage pin, with the exception to the older fixtures from past renovations. Much of the older fixtures have been rewired for stagepin for use in the auditorium. But it posses a problem w/ the portable dimmers, there are like thousands of adapters totally raping the dimmer pack. I'm thinking about purchasing two stagepin ETC smartpacks and throwing them in a rack, and getting a smartfade to control it all. It will be nice because the system could be used along with our auditoriums system for expandability.
Cool, I'm glad to help.

How many dimmers do you need for your shows going on the road? 2 racks of Smartpack dimmers will only get you 24 1.2k dimmers, or 12 2.4k dimmers. Or do you plan to use it in addition to your Dove system?

My school uses them as the main dimmers, we have no other dimmers. I am trying to get more dimmers for the school, because 36 dimmers is not enough for our 65 instruments, unless almost everything is twofered.
I don't really need a specifc number of dimmers. At each school I go to I have a set of pools already created ahead of time. Thats just the wash. If I want more, I gotta bring in the stuff myself. Dimmers, console, cables, bulbs, gels, rigging gear (lighting booms/arms/trees), crew, etc. So it's basically just auxilary lighting. But you raised a point I had not thought about yet I can only have 24 1.2k or 12 2.4k. The 24 seemed really nice, I may have to buy some extra packs. I'm not much of power/lighting guy. More of a sound guy. Pretty much all of my inventory are 750 (mostly ETC S4 products, with the exception of various altman, old colortran fixtures, and a free batch of s4 juniors coming in soon. I think I have 1k altman striplights at the most). My auditoriums system is 298 2.4k sensor rack dimmers, lights occasionally are "two-fer'd". But with the smartpacks running at 1.2k would not pose a problem. But if I were to share a 1.2k dimmer among two of my 750w s4 pars it would be a problem. Is this correct? Or no? Help me out if I have this right. I just am starting to know the basic technicalities of lighting.
yes, you will overlaod and trip the breaker if you put 2 or more s4 par on it. if you have the money go for the 2.4k.
Yes, if your running 750 watt instruments, then you can't put 2 of your source 4's, or 2 of your source 4 PAR's.

Keep in mind that if you want to buy 2 dimmer packs, you can get 12 1.2k dimmers, and 6 2.4k dimmers. Your smaller wattage instruments can go onto the 1.2k pack, and the instruments that draw 750 watts can go on the 2.4k pack.
Thanks a bunch, I never really studied that stuff. Just good estimated guesses I guess, thanks for clarifying.
Another problem you may have that I can see may pose a problem you didn't predict because you said you are not a really power savvy guy is, (phew!)
I'm pretty sure these packs can't just be plugged into the wall, they need three phase power or high amperage single phase. Up to the 12-1.2kW version can use like a stove plug or dryer or washer or something 50A 3 phase plug and still operate at full capacity, from my understanding of the manuals and paperwork off the ETC website. So they would most likely each need their own 50A circuit or go into a distro box thats wired to a company switch. Most decent theatres would have this, but I know half the places on earth don't.
Thats very true. The spartpacks can be run on single phase (ours are). However, we have a special 60 amp plug that was wired in. We plug them and unplug them from this plug, but it is not your standard edison plug.
if you are going on the road build or buy a distro then have it inspected make sure the distro has cam lock's if you are going i to buildings that are not set up for really power like camlock conections and 3 phase power then make all the dimmers separete stove plugs every biulding has a stove
runon :wink:

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