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First DMX gadget and portable dimmer question

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by renegadeblack, Jan 28, 2009.

  1. renegadeblack

    renegadeblack Active Member

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    All my life all I have ever played with was conventional fixtures. I want to (hopefully for the upcoming musical) expand into playing with some DMX-enabled goodies. Any suggestions for some firsts? Things that are easy to handle. Maybe some strobes? I should probably add the fact that the show is Pirates of Penzance. I'm not overly familiar with the show, but I figured that some of you may have some ideas for a DMX goodie or two. Even if not for the show, something that would be good to play with to learn a thing or two. I have absolutely no idea how to tell my desk that something is a device as opposed to a plain old dimmer.

    Also, semi-unrelated: We are going to have some trees in FOH so we can light an apron-type-thing that comes out farther than I can light. What I was thinking about was putting some dimmers on the trees instead of running cables from channels that I can't spare to them. That also leads to my next question: Is it safe to hookup a portable dimmer to a channel on a dimmer?
     
  2. TheDonkey

    TheDonkey Active Member

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    I'd say start off with maybe a fogger or gel scroller,

    Basically, each item has some dials/DIP switches to set the channel, you set it one above your highest dimmer, and you're set to go.

    Basic stuff like fog machines and scrollers only use one DMX channel, so you'd Soft-Patch your board to that channel that you set earlier.

    Not sure how scrollers work as I've never used one(read the manual), but with a fog machine, a value BELOW 50 intensity turns the fog off, a value ABOVE 50 turns it on, simple as that.


    I don't think itd be at all a good idea to run a dimmer off a dimmer, plug your portable packs straight into a wall socket, OR, if possible, hard-patch that specific cable into an always-on module.
     
  3. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Scrollers are pretty simple as well.

    First off, nearly all scrollers get their data AND power from a power supply that is a necessary unit to make the scrollers function. You place the PS somewhere where it won't get hit, provide 120v AC (USA) as well as DMX. You then run 4 pin DATA (or scroller) cable, daisy'd from scroller to scroller. In some instances and dependent on the PS rating and manufacturer, you also loop a 4 pin data cable from the last unit in a string (4 scollers on 1 Elec. for instance) back to the PS. You then configure the individual scrollers as to DMX addressing (or the head). Note that I have specifically used the term "DATA" cable. Using microphone cable may well cause you all kinds of trouble when you least expect it.

    At the console, you patch the DMX addresses as desired (all 1E scrollers on a channel ?) and run up the channel. A value of zero keeps the color scroll at one end, increasing channel value tells the scroller motors to move the gel string to the other end of the roll. At various values, the scroll will provide a frame of color.

    To rent, you need to figure out:

    - Power supplies required. Wybron, as example, has 150w, 300w and 600w, with ea. having the ability to power X number of heads. You need to pay attention to the cable distances from the PS to the first head and subsequent heads. The Wybron website and most manufacturers have data as to how to account for cable distances. Best to maybe get an extra PS, especially if running more then 4 heads, mostly as redundancy.

    - Heads, ask the shop what gel strings are stock. Changing to different strings costs a good bit more, as they have to order and install.

    - Cables.

    Steve B.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2009
  4. tcahall

    tcahall Member

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    I would go a different way on this one. I would suggest some LED fixtures. Rent some LED PARs (maybe on the trees?). Use your dimmers for R, G & B and chain all of them on the same (or maybe two) channels. This will take 3-4 or 6-8 channels on the board, but will give you a lot more flexibility, and opportunity to learn, than a straight up scroller will.

    Tim.
     
  5. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    Personally, I would go with scrollers, but really it should be what the show needs and not just what you want to play around with. Wait to get your script, study it, think about it, study it some more, think about it some more and talk to the director. Ask yourself: what could I use the most, not: what would I like to try out. Another thing to take into consideration is budget, budget, budget.

    With regards to the dimmer on a dimmer: I believe people have brought that up in passing here before, and the answer is no, that's not a good idea. But I'm willing to be corrected on that. I'm sure one (or more) of the people who understand dimming curves, etc. will explain... And the someone will disagree, and then you'll have a big, huge discussion...
     
  6. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    A good CMY color mixing moving light might be nice.

    Mike
     
  7. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    IF you have studied The Gafftaper Method gospel AND have enough equipment to conventionally cover all your bases, I'd start by renting ONE Rosco I-Cue or Apollo Right Arm or City Theatrical Auto-Yoke. Every show can use a refocusable special, and it will be a challenge for you to learn to move it without seeing it move (Move-in-black, Move-while-dark, Auto-Mark). Other times a "live move" may be warranted.

    Color scrollers may be more valuable, but you'd most likely want at least 4-6 of them for a full stage wash, so you're talking a significantly higher rental fee.

    Other components of the Gafftaper Method, some of which I can see fitting nicely into a design of Pirates, (others, not so much) are: DMX Iris, gobo rotator, EFX wheel, ERS strobe cap.

    Remind us again what kind of console you have, and do you have a DMX outlet on stage (or FOH) or an extra one on the board or will you also need an Opto-Splitter and DMX cable to go from the console to the device? Do you have a friendly, helpful local lighting rental shop nearby who can help you with all this?
     
  8. renegadeblack

    renegadeblack Active Member

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    I have a Colortran Innovator. I am planning on getting some assistance in either splitting after the dimmer rack which is SR or running a second universe to the FOH elec. I have a drop ceiling and a supposed in-ceiling catwalk type thing that will hopefully prove useful for running DMX.
     

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