Help with cheap solution

I am adviser to a club that does performances in a classroom sizes space. Suddenly the theatre dept. (of which I am a member) pulled support of equipment for the club which they have been using the last 5 years (and taking care of) . I have to come up with a board and some instruments for this semesters performance. I am well versed in conventional lighting, boards and more expensive equipment, but what are the best options for literally an out of my own pocket purchase. I figure 6 LED fixtures could cover the space, at a min, but I have no idea on the cheapest effective options, nor have I kept up with if there is a program and adaptor i can run out of my laptop to control them.

Any thoughts so the students can continue to write direct and produce their own theatre?

I wish I had time to research, but it was a late decision by the dept., and I hope some of us that are familiar with the equipment can give me some leads to narrow down my options.

Thanks in advance.
 

rsmentele

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
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For cost savings, I would suggest an incandescent solution like this:

http://www.fullcompass.com/prod/156691-Leviton-HONSK-056 paired with this one to make 8
http://www.fullcompass.com/prod/149749-Leviton-HONEK-056

LED will be a little more expensive, but they have kits for those as well:
http://www.fullcompass.com/prod/281416-American-DJ-Mega-Flat-Pak-8-PLUS this would still need stands and a controller
http://www.fullcompass.com/prod/265330-Blizzard-Lighting-HotBox-5-Package this would just need a controller
 

kicknargel

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
For control, Chamsys Magic Q can run on your computer, and the Magic DMX dongle is $15 or something. It comes with limits (it times out and you have to restart every 4 hours), but for this situation you might live with that. Same with running the software on a non-dedicated computer. Not recommended where reliability is the top factor, but probably fine. Give yourself a couple days to get to know the software. I don't find it the most intuitive for theatrical use, at least coming from an ETC world.

I don't have specific recommendations for LED PARs, but make sure you get at least RGBW or RGBA, vs. just RGB. You'll never get any kind of decent white out of that.
 

microstar

Well-Known Member
If the purchase is out of my own pocket, I would definitely be looking at good used equipment, either working with a local rental house or somebody like www.usedlighting.com, where you can get a lot more bang for your buck than buying new. If you had a budget figure, you might get a lot more realistic suggestions.
 
Thanks for all the help, would go conventional but only two circuits in room, and no dimmers. Checking into the software now. used lighting.com is brilliant. So afraid of the cheap dj garbage, but the expense is coming out of my own pocket.
It may be a case of you get what you get.
 

RickR

Well-Known Member
Rent the gear while you gather funds and political support. Then you can also learn more about the possibilities before wasting personal cash.
 

MikeJ

Well-Known Member
DJ gear is getting to the point where the quality is actually better than the "pro" stuff was 6-8 years ago. A couple of light trees, and about 8 Led pars would be a good start. Get individual fixtures though, not the cheesy 4-puck hardwired things with a footpedal. Individual fixture will be much better to put on the floor, or use a couple for back or side lights, etc. That way you are not stuck with just two trees.

Chamsys Magic-Q should be pretty easy to pick up just using a few LED's, and as mentioned the dongle is only $15, though I think you get 5 hours before you need to restart the computer. Martin M-pc and Elation both have pretty easy software and some inexpensive USB-DMX hardware as well.

As mentioned, you can always rent some stuff to begin with. Find a good local company, and get a small package put together, it should not cost much. Once you get a feel for what works, see if they can sell you either used gear, or some new stuff. For something like your application, especially for education, they should be able to cut you a deal that beats guitar center, or other retail stores.

Someone might even loan you the gear for a while, and take a tax write off.
 

jamesh

Member
Indeed the ChamSys $15 MagicDMX Basic is limited to 5 hours at a time, after/during this you can unplug the MagicDMX and restart the software for another 5 hours.
The $100 MagicDMX Full doesn't have the time restriction.

MagicQ the software is free to download and exactly the same as the software on our console range. It comes with an inbuilt visualiser which should help you get started.

If you're visiting the LDI show in Vegas this year, pop by our stand as we've got some MagicDMX Basic's to give away - details here
 

JimOC_1

Active Member
fwiw, the most difficult part may be the trees and cables.
Other than that it’s time.
If you had both, the local craigslist just got us five more Altman 360Qs (20 each) and several 6” Fresnels ($10 each), all with lamp & clamp & frames. Not too long ago it was a scene setter 12 ($80), and before that three dimmer packs (~ 60 each).
 

robartsd

Active Member
The absolute cheapest way to get DMX from a computer is ChamSys MagicDMX Basic - it is priced for trying out ChamSys software (I imagine ChamSys does not expect to make any mone from it directly). If you're sure that you want to use ChamSys software, but don't want the timeout hassle, get the MagicDMX Full. Chamsys software will also work with 3rd party USB DMX dongles (such as from Enttec or DMX King) which will provide similar functionallity as the MagicDMX Full at similar cost: I'd recommend this route if you want to try out various software solutions - as many lighting software packages (both commercial and free) support these.
 

jayvee

Well-Known Member
I picked up one of those Blizzard Hotbox packages for our small studio theater and it has been pleasantly surprising. That package comes with a controller as well and I couldn't be more pleased with the performance of the units. I used the controller to run an evening of one acts last week and was able to program scenes for each piece. +1 Would buy again.
 

Skervald

Active Member
I picked up one of those Blizzard Hotbox packages for our small studio theater and it has been pleasantly surprising. That package comes with a controller as well and I couldn't be more pleased with the performance of the units. I used the controller to run an evening of one acts last week and was able to program scenes for each piece. +1 Would buy again.

Well timed post. I've been investigating small portable rigs to take "on the road". We've recently started doing some off site performances in less than ideal locations and I need something I can lug along to either supplement existing lighting or be relied on to provide all of the lighting. LED is almost a requirement due to (in some cases) limited power availability. This package along with a couple of trees looks pretty attractive especially with your positive review. I do have a couple of questions though if you wouldn't mind:

How big a performance area are you lighting with it? I see the beam angle is 25 degrees but how much punch do they have?
I assume the kit ships with a PowerCon to Edison cord for each HotBox rather than PowerCon cables to string them together. Is that correct?
Do they seem reasonably well built? I'm not expecting anything amazing at that price but do you see any really troubling weak points?
These things look tiny which could offer a lot of flexibility in positioning. How have you been hanging them? Trees or do you have them installed permanently?

http://www.fullcompass.com/prod/265330-Blizzard-Lighting-HotBox-5-Package

Thanks!
 

AsherSB

Active Member
How big a performance area are you lighting with it? I see the beam angle is 25 degrees but how much punch do they have?

This is the only reason I haven't picked up some of these, although I've never seen them in action I'm skeptical of their throw in a small space. For awhile I have been looking at the eyeBall quad 40 degree, and just recently I stumbled on on the ADJ par Z4 with a manual zoom from 10 to 60 degrees. I can't speak to performance on any of them, although the hot box has 7 15w RGBAW LEDs, the eyeBall has 7 12w RGBAW LEDs, and the Z4 has 4 15w LEDs.
 

jayvee

Well-Known Member
How big a performance area are you lighting with it? I see the beam angle is 25 degrees but how much punch do they have?
I assume the kit ships with a PowerCon to Edison cord for each HotBox rather than PowerCon cables to string them together. Is that correct?
Do they seem reasonably well built? I'm not expecting anything amazing at that price but do you see any really troubling weak points?
These things look tiny which could offer a lot of flexibility in positioning. How have you been hanging them? Trees or do you have them installed permanently?

http://www.fullcompass.com/prod/265330-Blizzard-Lighting-HotBox-5-Package

Thanks!

I've used them in several different venues, over the course of about 9 months, ranging from our tiny black box (12x20, hung from our 8 foot grid) to side lighting for dance on our main stage (about 30x40) to an old church hall (stage about 15x20, hung at about 12 feet). I've been pleased every time.

They ship with a PowerCon to Edison for each but I believe they also included additional PowerCon connectors if you want to swap them. Included, I also got 3pin DMX cables for each and the controller which is more capable than I presumed at first glance. The units themselves appear to be rock solid, all metal, rugged little suckers. Easy to use menus, and they are tiny so I can fit them in tight spots. I've put C clamps on them but they have a double yoke so I've also used them on the floor as up-lighting. I haven't yet found any major flaws though I can't seem to get them to fade quite as quickly as I'd like but it's really a minor gripe and it's possible that's just user error until I get to really dig around.

Here is a link to the first show I used them on, primarily as a back color wash though there are also several units under the deck which you can see the uplighting in the later pics.
https://janinevreatt.smugmug.com/Shows/Batboy-The-Musical/i-jDfFMMB

I hope I've answered your post but if I've left anything out or you have more questions, fire away!
 

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