Intelligent lights randomly shut off.

Last summer my theatre purchased two Chauvet R3 Spot intel lights. They are connected to Showbaby wireless dmx and are powered by parked dimmers. During the past two productions of our musical, part way through the show they failed to turn on. I have had trouble figuring out if it’s the light, the dmx, the light board, or what is causing it to shut off. It only happened once throughout the rehearsal process but has happened the first two nights of the show. Any suggestions?
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Last summer my theatre purchased two Chauvet R3 Spot intel lights. They are connected to Showbaby wireless dmx and are powered by parked dimmers. During the past two productions of our musical, part way through the show they failed to turn on. I have had trouble figuring out if it’s the light, the dmx, the light board, or what is causing it to shut off. It only happened once throughout the rehearsal process but has happened the first two nights of the show. Any suggestions?
@Eli Vatsaas Power them from live utility receptacles, NOT from dimmers parked at 100%. I'm not inferring this will solve your problem but it's definitely a better way to power them, rather than via any solid state devices parked at 100%. @Ford and / or @RC4 Sean Care to comment?
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

gafftaper

Senior Team
Senior Team
Fight Leukemia
First, a parked dimmer is still dimmed power and will likely damage your fixtures over time and might be the source of your problems. Simple explanation: a dimmer chops the wave form of the electric current up and then reassembles it in order to deliver less power to the dimmed fixture. When you park it at full, you are still chopping up the wave and putting it back together. Electronics do not like these irregular waves and will be damaged over time by the dimmed power. Depending on your rack, there are likely modules available that you can swap in that are either constant power that isn't dimmed at all or dmx controlled relays which are not dimmed and can be switched on and off from the console. Get new modules and protect your gear!

Second are there other devices on these dmx runs and have you terminated the DMX lines? All kinds of weird unpredictable things can happen if the line isn't terminated.

Third, @Ford will stop in here and do his best to help, but you really should just call Chauvet tech support directly. They are available and do a great job helping troubleshoot these things. (954) 577-4455 or (800) 762-1084.
 

Ford

Sr Product Manager, Chauvet Professional
I concur.
Rather than a sine wave, dimmers parked at full make a square wave. This wreaks havoc with electronics (like your Psu, and main processor.)

Your symptoms could be tied to any number of possible causes (wireless DMX antenna orientation, or frequency stomping from the audience, or electromagnetic interference with the electronic components and the parked dimmer, etc.) It is almost impossible to speculate on the cause of your issue without more details.
Does the unit actually stay on (but without activating the LED)? If so, PSU is not shutting off (although that doesn’t necessarily mean the PSU dying a slow death isn’t causing other issues).
Do the Pan and Tilt still behave appropriately when the unit is not coming on, or does the unit reset?
Is there a piece of scenery (or prop), or group of actors that could possibly be causing interference with the ShowBabies?
 
I concur.
Rather than a sine wave, dimmers parked at full make a square wave. This wreaks havoc with electronics (like your Psu, and main processor.)

Your symptoms could be tied to any number of possible causes (wireless DMX antenna orientation, or frequency stomping from the audience, or electromagnetic interference with the electronic components and the parked dimmer, etc.) It is almost impossible to speculate on the cause of your issue without more details.
Does the unit actually stay on (but without activating the LED)? If so, PSU is not shutting off (although that doesn’t necessarily mean the PSU dying a slow death isn’t causing other issues).
Do the Pan and Tilt still behave appropriately when the unit is not coming on, or does the unit reset?
Is there a piece of scenery (or prop), or group of actors that could possibly be causing interference with the ShowBabies?
I concur.
Rather than a sine wave, dimmers parked at full make a square wave. This wreaks havoc with electronics (like your Psu, and main processor.)

Your symptoms could be tied to any number of possible causes (wireless DMX antenna orientation, or frequency stomping from the audience, or electromagnetic interference with the electronic components and the parked dimmer, etc.) It is almost impossible to speculate on the cause of your issue without more details.
Does the unit actually stay on (but without activating the LED)? If so, PSU is not shutting off (although that doesn’t necessarily mean the PSU dying a slow death isn’t causing other issues).
Do the Pan and Tilt still behave appropriately when the unit is not coming on, or does the unit reset?
Is there a piece of scenery (or prop), or group of actors that could possibly be causing interference with the ShowBabies?
What more details could you use? I don’t think it would be any set pieces as none of them have any components that would interfere with the dmx. The light won’t respond at all and won’t pan or tilt. We have to turn off the power and turn it back on to get it working again. It only happened once during rehearsals but has happened both show nights. Is the theatre possibly getting hot and the light overheating? It’s a little baffling that it only happened once during all the rehearsals and then two nights in a row with a full theatre it happened. The pit lights that are on showbabys are fine throughout the show so I’m not sure what about the show baby’s would be a problem.
 

JD

Well-Known Member
Another thing is that the DMX to the dimmers may be glitchy. Maybe not enough to be seen in conventional fixtures, but if you parked dimmers (bad idea) glitch, that small interruption could reset or lock up the processor in the fixtures. Once again, these need to be run off a clean utility circuit, not a parked dimmer.
 

gafftaper

Senior Team
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What more details could you use? I don’t think it would be any set pieces as none of them have any components that would interfere with the dmx. The light won’t respond at all and won’t pan or tilt. We have to turn off the power and turn it back on to get it working again. It only happened once during rehearsals but has happened both show nights. Is the theatre possibly getting hot and the light overheating? It’s a little baffling that it only happened once during all the rehearsals and then two nights in a row with a full theatre it happened. The pit lights that are on showbabys are fine throughout the show so I’m not sure what about the show baby’s would be a problem.
Are they freezing up and not responding or are they actually powering down? Are they both having this problem at the same time? EXACT same or just sort of the same? Are they powered off the same circuit? Are they getting DMX from the same show baby? Are they getting DMX from the same showbaby receiver as the pit lights or a different one?

There is a LOT of trouble shooting to do here to figure this out. I would start by runing clean non-dimmed power over different known to be good power cables and leave everything else the same. If you still have a problem then get them DMX from a known reliable source (including different cables). Work your way up and down both the DMX and Power path to look for problems swapping things in and out. If that doesn't fix it then you know the problem is in the fixture itself.

My guess is it's a power problem. The question is if it's because of damage to the fixtures caused by the dimmed power (more likely if they are doing this at different times) or if it is because of glitches in the feed from the dimmed power (more likely if they are doing this at the same time).
 
Last summer my theatre purchased two Chauvet R3 Spot intel lights. They are connected to Showbaby wireless dmx and are powered by parked dimmers. During the past two productions of our musical, part way through the show they failed to turn on. I have had trouble figuring out if it’s the light, the dmx, the light board, or what is causing it to shut off. It only happened once throughout the rehearsal process but has happened the first two nights of the show. Any suggestions?
They shut off again tonight after plugging it all into a new outlet. Had to manually unplug the fixtures and plug them back in. It happened earlier in the show tonight and I’m not sure what to do about it. Any help is appreciated.
 

JD

Well-Known Member
More information is needed:
Was this new outlet separate from the dimmer system?
Did they shut down at the same time?
If I remember right, there is a control cue in one of the Chauvet channels for powering down the fixture, any chance one of the scenes on the board may sweep through this value on that channel?
 
More information is needed:
Was this new outlet separate from the dimmer system?
Did they shut down at the same time?
If I remember right, there is a control cue in one of the Chauvet channels for powering down the fixture, any chance one of the scenes on the board may sweep through this value on that channel?
It is separate from the dimmer system. They both shut down at the same time. I don’t think it’s the cue because it shuts down at a different time every night. Usually it’s later in the show but this time it was in the first 15 minutes
 
Are they freezing up and not responding or are they actually powering down? Are they both having this problem at the same time? EXACT same or just sort of the same? Are they powered off the same circuit? Are they getting DMX from the same show baby? Are they getting DMX from the same showbaby receiver as the pit lights or a different one?

There is a LOT of trouble shooting to do here to figure this out. I would start by runing clean non-dimmed power over different known to be good power cables and leave everything else the same. If you still have a problem then get them DMX from a known reliable source (including different cables). Work your way up and down both the DMX and Power path to look for problems swapping things in and out. If that doesn't fix it then you know the problem is in the fixture itself.

My guess is it's a power problem. The question is if it's because of damage to the fixtures caused by the dimmed power (more likely if they are doing this at different times) or if it is because of glitches in the feed from the dimmed power (more likely if they are doing this at the same time).
They are shutting off at the same exact time. They are on different show baby’s and different circuits. I plugged them into new, non dimmer outlets and they still shut off. My next plan was to run wired dmx to them. It’s hard to know what will work and not because they only seem to shut off during shows and not rehearsals.
 

gafftaper

Senior Team
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They are shutting off at the same exact time. They are on different show baby’s and different circuits. I plugged them into new, non dimmer outlets and they still shut off. My next plan was to run wired dmx to them. It’s hard to know what will work and not because they only seem to shut off during shows and not rehearsals.
Shutting off at the exact same time, suggests it's not something broken in the fixture. Running them on separate circuits and shutting off at the same time suggests it's not the dimmed power. Different show babys says it's likely not the receivers or cabling.

So tests I would do:
So my suspicions are:
1) a "brown out" where you are briefly drawing too much power and this is causing the fixtures to shut down improperly requiring a reboot. @Ford @Ben Dickmann What do you think about this idea?
2) A weird glitch in the wireless transmission. Something is interfering with and scrambling the signal a bit causing the fixtures to glitch. Do you have other movers in your system? Are they on the wireless DMX?
3) Something weird in the board or a cue is glitching and sending the signal that is shutting them down.

Things I would try:
-Run the show file fairly quickly over and over. Can you trigger the crash? is there a consistent trigger point?

-Is there something in the box office, concession stand, green room that is running during a show but not during rehearsal that could create some sort of wireless interference or burn a lot of power. Turn on EVERYTHING normally on in a show condition.

-Create a cue where every dimmer in the rig instantly goes to 100% to see if you can cause it by a "brown out".

-Is there some way that an audience full of wifi/cellular devices could be interfering with the wireless DMX?

-Can you think of any other effects of a house full of people would have?

@Pie4Weebl Victor do I remember you having R3's? Have you run into anything like this?
 

Ford

Sr Product Manager, Chauvet Professional
That’s a great point about “what else is turned on”. I worked in a small theatre whose dinner feeds were on the same feed as the elevator. If the elevator ran during the show, the lights would pulse.
Likewise, if you’re pulling power from the same feed as the cafeteria, and the coolers all kick in...

The fact that both fixtures are going down at the same time, and they’re both fixed by a hard reset, tracks with a brown-out. Enough of a dip to mess up the electronics, but not enough to turn the unit all the way off, so that it resets.
 
I had a hand dryer, in a restroom on the other side of a cinder block wall, interfere with a videotaping.

Are you in a dinner theater?
No, it’s a highschool theatre with about 40 feet to the dressing room with a cinderblock wall in between. But it did happen during the 3 real performances but not during the middle school show where they aren’t allowed to bring phones.
 
Shutting off at the exact same time, suggests it's not something broken in the fixture. Running them on separate circuits and shutting off at the same time suggests it's not the dimmed power. Different show babys says it's likely not the receivers or cabling.

So tests I would do:
So my suspicions are:
1) a "brown out" where you are briefly drawing too much power and this is causing the fixtures to shut down improperly requiring a reboot. @Ford @Ben Dickmann What do you think about this idea?
2) A weird glitch in the wireless transmission. Something is interfering with and scrambling the signal a bit causing the fixtures to glitch. Do you have other movers in your system? Are they on the wireless DMX?
3) Something weird in the board or a cue is glitching and sending the signal that is shutting them down.

Things I would try:
-Run the show file fairly quickly over and over. Can you trigger the crash? is there a consistent trigger point?

-Is there something in the box office, concession stand, green room that is running during a show but not during rehearsal that could create some sort of wireless interference or burn a lot of power. Turn on EVERYTHING normally on in a show condition.

-Create a cue where every dimmer in the rig instantly goes to 100% to see if you can cause it by a "brown out".

-Is there some way that an audience full of wifi/cellular devices could be interfering with the wireless DMX?

-Can you think of any other effects of a house full of people would have?

@Pie4Weebl Victor do I remember you having R3's? Have you run into anything like this?
The outlets they were plugged into the second time were completely different from the dimmer rack, would they still brown out? Would they still brown out on? On both the dimmer system and the theatre system? We have one other mover on the same wireless dmx as one of the rogues that seems to shut off too, but it’s used only a couple of times so I’m not sure if it is shutting off. I haven’t been able to trigger it but they didn’t shut off at the middle school show where they didn’t have their phones. The show baby website claims that they don’t have interference but is that still a possibility? The board is wasn’t fully updated so we updated it. Will this maybe fix the problem?
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
I would believe it was a brown out but the outlets I plugged them into the second time are not connected to the dimmer rack at all. I don’t feel like the lights would brown out on two different systems.
@Eli Vatsaas Could you not have had a brown out that affected your entire building: Dimmers, non-dims, HVAC, cafeteria; your entire buiding? @Ford @JD @Jay Ashworth Thoughts??
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

NateTheRiddler

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
@Eli Vatsaas Could you not have had a brown out that affected your entire building: Dimmers, non-dims, HVAC, cafeteria; your entire buiding? @Ford @JD @Jay Ashworth Thoughts??
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard

I’m not one of @RonHebbard ’s go-to experts, but I’m guessing along the lines of power distribution failure upstream of your circuits. My current PAC is an older building that’s been modernized multiple times; that said, a lot of our company distribution (including our step-down transformers and their associated distribution panels) is older than our dimmer racks and installed in-wall conduit. We get very “dirty” power where I work, so we often deal with brownouts affecting the entire theatre; fortunately, we don’t draw enough load to ever see the brownout evidenced in fixture loss, but I imagine if I pushed us to our amperage limits I might start seeing some effects.

Might it be worth moving upstream of your walls and circuits and start sniffing around with a licensed electrician? @RonHebbard may send me back to FNG-ville if I presume too much.
 

TimMc

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Showbaby runs in the 2.4gHz band, right? I think the ubiquity of devices using this limited amount of license-free spectrum is the enemy here.

While I have great respect for RC4 and City Theatrical... NOTHING is as interference free as copper wire. Period, end of story.

Wireless command/control should be seen as a last resort, not as a first choice for devices that can be served with wire... and if you can get 120volts of alternating current to a device, there's a way to get a DMX line there, too. Maybe not cheap or convenient (piss poor planning, etc), but I can guarantee that a wired DMX signal will not fail because of Line 6/AKG/Sennheiser/Shure 2.4 gHz wireless mics combined with in house WiFi, WiFi used for other show control or monitoring systems, and the 2.4gHz radio station attached to nearly every audience member.

As for brown outs (temporary voltage drop)... yeah, when the ammonia ice floor system started up in our arena the entire building would drop 5-8 volts. The surge demand was so great that until the ammonia system was modified the arena hired in a generator truck for the entire hockey season, to start the system and them transfer the load back to PoCo power after 5 minutes... mostly that was a utility cost savings method, but the dimming lights and unhappy computer printers were the obvious symptom... the cause revealed when the electric bills arrived with a peak demand multiplier.
 

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