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Improvised work lights

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Nikgwolf, Aug 6, 2008.

  1. Nikgwolf

    Nikgwolf Member

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    Hey there, my high school is becoming dangerously dark on stage and desperately needs more light for working/rehearsing. With nothing but a 10-scene preset rehearsal box, I've been forced to hang 500W floods and record them into the rehearsal box. The alternate is to use my source fours and other stage equipment. (Over my dead body!)
    I had a brilliant idea the other day where I would screw 100W equivalent CFLs into our three striplights (one on each of our electrics) and softpatch the circuts into the rehearsal box. And because we're running the now-discontinued ETC Express 250 : ( *sniff* I can set the CFL's profiles to a non-dim.
    I apologize for not being specific with any of the brand names of my dimmers or strip lights, but this is a pretty old theatre. My question was whether anybody finds this suspiciously dangerous or has done something similar to this with better or worse results. And to anybody who does not know about the special deal on CFLs, PG&E really does lower their rates on select CFLs, enough so that one can purchase CFLs for under $2 each in packs of 4 (roughly $5.50 for a box)

    Good day to all, or night...

    Nik
    [email protected]
    Flickr: nikgwolf512's Photostream
     
  2. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Will the CFL lamps even fit in your striplights? If I were doing this, and I'm not saying I would, I'd prefer to set the dimmer to "switched" at the rack, rather than "Full at 1%" on the console. But your dimmers probably don't give you that option. I'm curious as to what a "rehearsal box" is, and also, why not just use the white circuit of striplights as the worklight channel (profiled so that FULL is actually 90% for lamp life)? Red, white, and blue striplights are for more than patriotic purposes. The first thing that happens is the green rondels are removed and lost/broken. Every time we did an orchestral concert, we would pull all the rondels from our Xrays. Easy-peasy.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2008
  3. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I can see the efficiency of this practice. I don't see anything overtly wrong with it. PAR lamps for strips are expensive maybe not compared to an HPL but the cost does build up quickly over a season, specially when youare forced to use your strips as works. I agree it would be great to have it switched at the dimms though.
     
  4. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    You need to set it at the rack, if you set it on the console, I doubt your architectural system speaks to the board then to the rack, I am going to assume it feeds in between the dimmers and console.
     
  5. mbandgeek

    mbandgeek Active Member

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    Do you absolutely need them in an architectual system? What we have at the local theater is CFL floodlights (outdoor security variety) mounted to conduit, which is in turn mounted to our electrics. We have these spaced at 10 ft interval, on two of our electrics. We have individual 10 amp breakers in a panel on of our wings to control these.

    It works really well for us.
     
  6. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    \\

    Just curious if it's my mis-conception, but is there any real difference between setting the CEM to tell the dimmer to be switched, and having the console do a dimmer profile of Full @ 1%, other then once changed in the CEM, nothing at the console (like someone mucking around) can screw up the output. It's still a dimmer firing at full. Neither is a circuit breaker module or relay module.

    The "10 scene preset rehearsal box" sound like a Unison 10 fader or 10 button panel with snapshot capability of the DMX steam off the console, which if it's a fader panel, the dimmer will want to be in switched mode at the CEM (so it doesn't fade), or if it's a button station then it won't matter.

    Will a CFL function ?, or will he need a fluorescent dimmer ?. Other then that, I see no issues with making the appropriate circuits CFL, assuming you don't need them for performance lighting. May not be super bright, but will last a long time.

    Just some thoughts

    Steve B.
     
  7. Nikgwolf

    Nikgwolf Member

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    Good point about setting the dimmers to the non-dim function. Unfortunately, my dimmers do not have that capability. And to the comment about using the regular lamps instead, Van read my mind. The par lamps probably would be the better choice, but due to the usual limited high school budget, that option only remains a dream of mine.
     
  8. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    I have similar issues with the work lights in the backstage areas of my venue. While the work lights are sufficient to see where you're going, they aren't quite up to snuff when it comes to working on various projects.

    I dealt with this problem by putting several scoops on rolling, adjustable height stands. This way, no matter where on the stage I need to work, I always have adequate work lighting available. I have found this a versatile method of providing additional light independent of our stage lighting system.

    It may or may not be a viable method for your rehearsal space, but is certainly worth looking into.
     
  9. VeeDubTDI

    VeeDubTDI Member

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    Another option is to use a few metal halide 400 watt fixtures. I am currently using one as my ghost light. (One of these with a bare lamp sticking out of a house light.) It illuminates the entire theater. As work lights, I'd mount two of them from the stage ceiling above all of the rigging.
    [​IMG]

    For your purpose, I'd see if I could get two of the 400 watt box floods and mount them in the catwalk. These will give you a great deal of fairly natural front light.

    [​IMG]

    I'd go this route, as I don't like to give up dimmers for work lights, especially in a venue where dimmers are hard to come by (schools, usually). Low power consumption and long lamp life are also good bonuses, not to mention the eco-friendly fact that you're not disposing of a bunch of CFLs when they burn out (mercury is yucky stuff). The metal halide lamps will also give you better color rendering than the cheap CFLs.

    I have also taken to climbing up to the roof to open our smoke doors on nice days when we do large load-ins. Nothing compares to natural light.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2008
  10. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Are you mentally insane??? (Is there ANOTHER kind of insane?)

    Natural light HAS NO PLACE in the theatre, and WILL cause Permanent Loss of Vision AND Hairy Knuckles.:twisted:


    Here's my favorite work light, the Worklite™, L&E Cat# WKLT-C. Sure it's 3-6 times more expensive than what [user]VeeDubTDI[/user] suggested; but it has a color frame holder and frame!, (sold separately). Buy at least two, and put them on the extreme ends of the FOH catwalk. A single worklight in the center is sometimes worse than no light at all when the shadows are not filled with, um, fill-light.
     
  11. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    (My 2 cents.) I like the 400 watt MH bay lights.

    They still contain mercury, but they throw a heck of a lot of light per watt and are pretty diffuse. (Hey, good enough for Cosco and Sam's club stores!)

    Two notes, get the type that has a protective lens on the bottom. Sometimes (near end of life) when MH's blow, they shatter and send glass that is hot enough to start fires. (Rare)

    Second note- they take a couple of minutes to come on and for best life (28,000 hours) they should be left on for at least an hour.

    You probably will not have to change bulbs for 10 or 15 years.

    Three of them will work off of a 20 amp line.
     
  12. Nikgwolf

    Nikgwolf Member

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    Thanks for everyone's response! I like the 'scoop on a stick' idea, I imagine it's very handy when someone's bolting platforms together from underneath, detailing sets, or just for those dark corners.

    I wouldn't mind having those worklights suggested by derekleffew, but that's a helluva lot extra to pay for a color frame and holder!

    And of course! What were you thinking? Natural light? We'd melt for sure!

    Nik


    Flickr: nikgwolf512's Photostream
     
  13. Chris15

    Chris15 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Let a noise boy pour some cold water on your lighting plans...
    Compact fluoros, with a very small number of exceptions, ARE NOT dimmable. They have electronics in their base, so if I were to say that they should be treated the same way as say a mover with an electronic ballast in terms of giving them power...

    "Clean" mains or expect them to start dropping like flies or catastrophically failing...


    The exception mentioned above are the handful that are dimmable and marketed as such. These attract a premium price though...
     
  14. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    Actually, for most of our day to day activities, we use the big par lamp in the sky, the sun for those of you who are a little slow on the uptake. We simply open up the weather door in our proscenium and let the light in. Even on a cloudy day, its brighter than our backstage work lights.

    Of course, we also use the same trick to warm the stage up in the winter. Yes, I know most of you have colder winters than we do here in Southern California!:twisted: Our stage building is an uninsulated cinder block building built in the late 1940's or early 1950's. On a January or February morning the first thing we do when we get on stage is to open up the weather door, and let the cold air out. Its usually colder on stage than it is out in the bowl.:think:

    :shifty:You realize, of course, that the only reason I started using the "Scoops on Sticks" is because the scoops and stands were taking up valuable storage space that I needed for something else.
     
  15. Nikgwolf

    Nikgwolf Member

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    So this week was the first week of school and I was questioning the use on CFLs in my striplight electrics. I was shocked....................at how well they worked. There is a slight delay for them to turn on, as the preset rehearsal box has a two second default fade time, but they have turned on and off successfully. So for anyone who might have a similar setup, I highly recommend this quick fix. At 2.97+tax for a box of four 100W equivalent CFLs, (actually 23W) the project was simple to install and cost less than $50
    Nice clean light too. But remember, only the boxes that are labeled with a special PG&E sticker have a reduced price. It's all part of a promotional deal to get people to "go green"

    P.S.: If your nice (a.k.a. 'If I get a chance') I'll put up some before and after photos.

    Nik

    Flickr: nikgwolf512's Photostream
     
  16. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    This really would not be a good option for me, as fluorescent lighting gives me a headache. My office is lit with fluorescents but being able to open the door and let in some natural light to cut the barely perceptible flicker helps. Eventually, I intend to rip them out and replace them with something else, but I haven't figured out what yet.
     
  17. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Nik, didn't we caution you (apparently not sternly enough) about installing CFLs on dimmers not intended for the purpose?
     
  18. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    You could just get some table lamps or floor lamps...

    Anyway, I agree with Van. CFL's give me a headache, too. I hope they work well, because the CFL's we're using here for house lights are supposed to last 2-3 years and they only last 2-3 months, then another 3 months of flipping on and of randomly. They do not have the correct ballast in them, I believe, but I'm just a student, so what do I know? :rolleyes:

    P.S. They are not on a dimmer.
     
  19. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Derek is very right, it is not good for your dimmers or the CFLs to be used on a dimmer. If you want to use them you should put relay modules in your dimmer rack. That way you will still be able to control them with your "rehearsal box" but you won't run the risk of destroying your investments.
     
  20. Nikgwolf

    Nikgwolf Member

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    I don't want to be a rebel here, but might someone please explain as to why the lights might destroy the dimmers? If anything, I was expecting that my $24 investment in twice as bright light burns out quicker than the expected eight years.

    I hate to have so much negative responses, but would it make everyone feel better if they knew that this was the first time I actually gave these dimmers a useful purpose? :oops:

    Nik


    But really, it is soooo much brighter......and safer.
     

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