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High school Lighting gone kaputz

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by mjctechnology, Feb 6, 2009.

  1. mjctechnology

    mjctechnology Member

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    I am co director of the tech crew at my high school
    our lighting dimming system is extremely old. with the telephone style patch bay
    virtually all the dimmer channels have been lost due to overuse and age

    we are looking to attempt to avoid getting new dimmers by going with led
    our budget is $10,000

    we need the whole nine yards par cans to light the front of the stage and risers and wash/border lights for color on the stage

    i kno the leds are supposed to be not as bright but the electricity in the school is terrible and can no longer support the 15+ 1 kw par can we previously used

    we have a dmx board already the par cans would be approx 15-20 ft from the subject nd the wash light are about 10ft

    any suggestions as to what led lights to get or alternative options would be appreciated

    right now we have practically no working lights

    thanks
     
  2. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    You're in a really tough position. Not enough electricity to run 15 KW of load and barely any budget to replace stuff with anyway.

    LED units, in my limited experience, aren't ready to replace conventionals. They're useful in colorwash applications to augment conventionals, but even then they're not ready to replace them in even colorwash applications. Chief reasons are a limited range of producible colors and the individual red, green, and blue shadows.

    The other guys are much better with this newfangled stuff than I am, so I'll wait for them. But in the meantime, a couple of questions:

    - What dimmers do you have currently (make, how many, how much load each)?
    - What board do you have?
     
  3. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    LEDs are not the solution to your problem(s). Since you have a "telephone style patch bay," you almost certainly have more power available than 15kW. It's quite likely that the $10,000 would be better spent on dimmer/distribution repair than buying LED fixtures.
    As [user]waynehoskins[/user] asked,
    And, where are you located?
     
  4. iLightTheStage

    iLightTheStage Active Member

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    I think the best option is to use that $10,000 to fix what you have. $10k is not going to be enough to get enough quality LED units... plus, you STILL need to have electrical work done because you want those on direct power, not through a dimmer.

    And I hope you don't look down on your system because of having a telephone-style patch, because it is a great thing to have. On shows I do I always require a rack with a pin-patch.
     
  5. mjctechnology

    mjctechnology Member

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    heres the story right now our dimmer are located in the basement with some very old style unit i believe the company is century lighting

    right now only 3 2 kw dimming channels work
    the board is some how connected by a printer/ parallel cabler(non dmx)
    or last 10kw channel went out last week which leaves us in darkness
    there is a school production in about 3 months and we have virtually no light

    the school had some one come in over a year ago and said it was impossible to repair the dimmers system because it was too old
    gradually over time some the dimmer channels have stopped working

    we have several boards one dmx huge board that i don't understand why the school has it too advanced and is not compatible with the current system
    this is the dmx board they have but it is not in use
    SLD Lighting.com - 3126

    we do have non-dimmed electric available by the cans

    we are located in new york

    i don't know what other options there are in our price range
    satellite dimmers??
    some how retro fit the old system?
    tons of leds?
    the patch bay is housed on this huge 6ft by 5ft by 3ft metal box and there is a door which opens allowing access to the patch bay
    the whole system bould probly have to be rewired which will cost way more then 10k

    the school would like to avoid an electrician as much as possible

    thank u for ur hlelp in this sticky situation
    me and my tech crew have been warning them this would happen for 3 years
     
  6. Chris Chapman

    Chris Chapman Active Member

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    Occupation:
    Technical Director
    Location:
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    You could go with a portable tour rack to recover your dimmers, and then use the DMX Board that is not in use. It all depends on how many Dimmers you need.

    In BMI's current catalog, ETC Sensor Portable packs are pretty good in prices.

    The SP2420 is a 24 x 2.4W pack that comes in between $5670 and $5750 depending on the connector type. You might need an electrician to tie the dimmers into your power, but the rest would just be running cable to it.

    An ETC Smartpack touring system can go as high as 48 x 10 Amp,but that comes in around $10700, and then goes up for different Main Breaker options. (100a vs. 225a)

    To go beyond 24 dimmers under 10 Grand and not have any type of electrician involved is possible, but tricky.

    The lines going from raceways or circuit breakout terminate in the dimmers. In an ideal world, you'd rip the old rack out, and insert the new one. Trouble is reterminating the lines. It's not rocket science, just labor time.

    A competent electrician should be able to get you up in running with probably a day or two of labor, depending on the number of runs. To avoid this you're going to be running a ton of cable. Okay for a short term solution, but not something you'll want to do for a permanent fix.

    For the upcoming show, possibly renting a touring rig would work to get you up, and then you could evaluate whether it would be a good option to keep long term.

    Chris Chapman
    TD, Greenville Performing Arts Center.
     
  7. mjctechnology

    mjctechnology Member

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    thank you for the suggestions the school is really lokking to getting a perminent system

    so i guess we really have to price electrician
    which could take a while

    are there any amout or more expensive leds that can do the trick

    ideally we want somthing that the crew can take on ourselves
     
  8. erosing

    erosing The Royal Renaissance Man

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    Out of curiousity, since no one else asked yet, and it is kind of relevent, how big is your stage?

    Oh and... What are the throw distances? How many electrics are there? Also, what type of shows do you do/what else is the space used for?
     
  9. KeeperoftheKeys

    KeeperoftheKeys Member

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    If I understood the OP correctly throw distances are 15-20 and 10 ft.

    You should be able to do plenty with $10k, by the prices (from European companies) that I know if you need/want only 24 dimmer channels you'd only be spending half your budget on dimmers, then whatever it costs for the electrician and then still have money to possibly get some new fixtures...
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2009
  10. erosing

    erosing The Royal Renaissance Man

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    Thank you, Keeper, must have missed that.
     
  11. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    No, LEDs will not work for front light. They will work just fine for color washes (assuming you get enough of them) but they will not work for front light.

    If you want to go with a permenant installed solution go for the ETC Smartpack line.

    Get an electrician in there!

    Mike
     
  12. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    No. You especially really really really really don't want LED units as frontlight.

    No. This is way beyond what students can take on.

    Here's a suggestion, perhaps: is repairing your old Century rack an option? That with a demultiplexer would probably be an inexpensive get-back-going solution, while they bid out the replacement of the rack and pin patch.

    Got any pictures?
     
  13. photoatdv

    photoatdv Active Member

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    From what I've seen the older gear is actually much easier to fix than the new stuff (where everything is on one PCB which is pretty impossible to troubleshoot). If you can find someone qualified to do it they can probable fix the old dimmers.

    As far as an electrician, see if any of the kids in drama, music, ect (whoever uses the stage) has parents that are electricans. They might be willing to donate some time to help out.
     
  14. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    mjctechnology, yes, please post pictures. If the dimmers are in fact Century, and not Century-Strand, or Strand-Century, they were installed prior to 1969. From your description of the control cable, I suspect they are newer than that. Either way, they can be repaired, and updated.

    Two sources in your area are:
    Century Lighting Service, Inc.
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica]18-02 River Road[/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica]Fair Lawn, NJ 07410-1201[/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica](201) 791-7001 FAX (201) 791-3167[/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica]Contact: Sal Maratta & Joel Epstein
    E-Mail:
    [/FONT]
    [email protected]
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica]Specializing in old and obsolete dimming equipment to current equipment.[/FONT] [FONT=Arial,Helvetica]Field service coverage of the Eastern United States.[/FONT]

    Lite-Trol Service
    Steve Short
    1-800-LITE-TROL
    Hicksville, NY
    Lite-Trol Service


     
  15. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    Occupation:
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    If you're really set on LEDs, take a look at the article listed in this post - http://www.controlbooth.com/forums/lighting/8741-l-e-d-i-missed-boat-3.html#post120381 - and look at the following:

    The price tag of just replacing wash lights :!: (Granted, this High School looks/sounds like it has a lot more lights to replace than you would...)
    The comments after the story about the quality of the LEDs.

    Either way, you probably will have to call an electrician, as you will probably need to:
    A) get non-dimmed power to your stage plus enough lines for power and DMX to control all your LEDs,
    Or B) repair/replace dimmers.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2009
  16. mc2880

    mc2880 Member

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    This sounds like a fun project. My first impression without seeing it would be to rip it out, replace the feed with camlock and replace the telephone patch with a hanging cord patch. Use whatever money is left over and buy a USED touring dimmer. Sensor or even some old CD80s. This will be the best way to get your system running without replacing everything right away.

    The other side to that is I really like rebuilding these old dimmers. I've gotten a few JTM/CTMs working recently and it's alot of fun. From finding hand made breakers in montreal to trimming them all just so. If you were closer i'd stop by to take a look at it.

    Take some pictures and we can give some more advice.
     
  17. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Depending on the quantity of branch circuits, since each must have its own OPD, the $10,000 could run out right there. See this post.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2009
  18. mc2880

    mc2880 Member

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    Breakers on a hanging cord patch ? I've never seen that. There's a Circuit breaker on each dimmer circuit and anywhere else they would be able to plug it in should have a breaker.
     
  19. iLightTheStage

    iLightTheStage Active Member

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    Pretty much with whatever option you go with, you'll end up needing an electrician since it is a high school and the stuff still needs to be to code. Make sure the electrician specializes in theatrical installs: It could end up costing the school twice if he installs it wrong, or uses cheap equipment. And it would probably be good to have your crew watch over his shoulder during the work.
     
  20. nmccoart5

    nmccoart5 Member

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    Like everyone else has said, regardless of which solution you choose you MUST have a certified theatrical electrician do the work. I am the director of tech. at my high school and anytime we want to do anything electrical, we need to bring in an electrician. For your 3 month deadline either renting or buying a touring rack is the best solution for you. When we need to extend beyond the 48 installed dimmers we have, we use ETC sensor 24 or 48. They are great units. By using a portable dimmer you will need to run a decent amount of cable, but if you use multi-pin, it shouldn't be too hard. Check out Stage Lighting - Used Lighting, Used Audio, Used Video - Solaris for all types of used equipment. However, with such a small budget you will definitely have your work cut out for you. But it can be done.
     

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