Automated Fixtures LED Altman PHX 250w and Phillips 155 Par Zoom

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by NeroCaesar, Sep 25, 2015.

  1. NeroCaesar

    NeroCaesar Member

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    So I have finally made the jump to LEDs in my theatre and I purchased 23x Altman LED PHX (Phoenix) and 32x 155 Par Zooms. I havent even done a show with them and I am already starting to worry... some of the units have been acting a bit funny. I use an updated ETC Ion 1 and constant power for the units, no DMX chain goes past 10 units, each chain has a terminator, and everything is brand new. I have the DMX splitting off as well via Iso.

    Some of the Phillips 155 par zooms are Randomly discharging a bright white flash. This is to the same effect as when you have cheap strobe lights that are building a charge and just randomly discharge. It only happens once ever 30 mins or so when the DMX is turned on.
    I read it might be a bad DMX cable, but I have replaced it and havent noticed a difference although its hard to test because of the infrequency of the problem.

    Some of the Altman LED PHX 250w will randomly turn off and stay off until it is unplugged and plugged back in.

    The PHX have a small whir sound when they are off which is fine, and when they turn on the whir of the electronics increases along with the fan which is ok, but I have 20 over head and when they are all on it gets a bit loud and high pitched.

    The units work nice so far in testing, but these are not small problems, and I am started to rethink my purchase. Any one have any suggestions?
     
  2. sk8rsdad

    sk8rsdad Well-Known Member Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Do you have RDM enabled? If so try disabling it and see if your flicker goes away.
     
  3. NeroCaesar

    NeroCaesar Member

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    Poo no luck, I turned it off and sat down waited and it flickered at me. Luckily it only seems to be certain units so it is some what isolated. I also tried to turn down the speed of the DMX to medium, but I had no luck there either.
     
  4. microstar

    microstar Well-Known Member

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    Are the Altman and Strand fixtures on different DMX runs? Sometimes one manufacturer's fixtures don't play nice with anothers, even though they are all DMX.
     
  5. NeroCaesar

    NeroCaesar Member

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    Indeed, I found I wanted to keep the DMX separate just in case I needed to troubleshoot later.
     
  6. RickR

    RickR Well-Known Member

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    You might try isolating bits, "divide and conquer"
    1. One unit in the booth on a short cable direct from the console. If it flickers in place but not in the booth then you have a DMX issue. Otherwise it's a fixture or console issue.
    2. Reroute your DMX around "bad" fixtures.
    Worry less about brand and focus on symptoms. I've found non-compatible brands are usually low end stuff. Altman and Philips gear usually behaves very well. Beg, borrow or rent a DMX tester or even another small console.
     
  7. FMEng

    FMEng Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    What kind of cables are being used?
     
  8. DavidNorth

    DavidNorth ETC Rigging General Manager Premium Member Fight Leukemia Departed Member

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  9. NeroCaesar

    NeroCaesar Member

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    I'm currently using 5 pin dmx cables (Brand I'm not sure). I did think it might be a bad cable but it seems to be only certain units in the chain that are flashing (The chains are max 10 units and terminated). And I've swapped cables.


    I'm currently testing lower dmx speeds, I put it to low and I still had a flash. It may be possible that there is a decrease in the frequency but that is hard to judge. As indicated they are on Auto Fan, the noise seems to be more so the high pitch of the circuitry, which is unfortunate. I'm a month from my next show opening, so I will be trying a bunch of things.

    Aye I felt the same way, I hope the brands are good enough to be n the same chain. I currently have a unit in the booth and testing to see f it fires off. I have a DMX cable tester, is there a device that tests the signal quality?
     
  10. RickR

    RickR Well-Known Member

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    Fleenor Gizmo and Goddard DMXter will list signal specs, speed, break length and such. They also have 'flicker finder' that's great for dirty sliders and bad cables. I believe both do a cable test that is more than a continuity/short test. An oscilloscope will also show the signal, if you know how to use one and how to read the results. ;) See http://www.controlbooth.com/threads/dmx-out-from-etc-wall-jack-panels.37293/page-2#post-324290 for examples.

    It's quite possible that a partially bad cable would not bother all the lights on a string. DMX is networking not just a voltage pass, so things get complex really fast. Slower DMX speed will often allow signal to pass in poor conditions. Frankly my first thought on your strobing symptom was a power interruption that caused the fixture to re-boot. Many units flash on boot, do those?

    The 'problem' is that DMX is so robust that it can work with broken wires, no/over termination and a lot of noise, until suddenly it doesn't. Serious detective work is needed. Verify every piece of equipment and test in a methodical way.
     
  11. NeroCaesar

    NeroCaesar Member

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    Hmmm good point... The Phillips Showline Par 155 zoom does flash when the dmx disconnects... it me be a result of the unit losing connection, even if the rest of the units stay connected... This would lead me to think it is the lighting unit though. Such as internally the signal got dropped. I am splitting the signal with an entec splitter, I havent seen any one on here bad mouth them yet, hopefully its not that. I'm still trying to catch my test unit in the booth.
     
  12. Les

    Les Well-Known Member

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    Just so we're covering all our bases; how are you powering these?
     
  13. NeroCaesar

    NeroCaesar Member

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    Straight up 120v non dim circuits with edison to powercon on a dedicated 20a breaker
     
  14. Les

    Les Well-Known Member

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    Good! That settles that. :)
     
  15. NeroCaesar

    NeroCaesar Member

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    Update: I put the unit up in the booth next to the board with a 10' dedicated dmx cable, and five mins later it flashed. I even went from '8 bit simple' to '8 bit enhanced' and it was no good. Luckily from limited tested it seems that after the dmx connection is made live it will only randomly flash once (5mins later or 2 hours later).

    Other tests show that if I turn the unit on and then off, it is more likely that it will flash sooner. I had a unit that was never turned on after the light board turned on, and it took 2 hours for it to flash.
     
  16. RickR

    RickR Well-Known Member

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    Next question: is it just one fixture or one type of fixture that's trouble?
     
  17. JimOC_1

    JimOC_1 Active Member

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    Is the slave setting turned off on all of the units?
     
  18. NeroCaesar

    NeroCaesar Member

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    There are a few fixtures, I have about 30 of them but, only about 3 or 4 flicker.

    They should all be set to Slave, but I will now check them all.
     
  19. NeroCaesar

    NeroCaesar Member

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    Update:
    The 155 Par SL Zooms: Once I turned down the DMX speed (All the way) to "Slow" the flickering stopped... So yay... Does any one know if there are any negative side effects of slow DMX?

    The Altman 250w LED Phoenix RGBW: I returned 3x of the Phoenix units due to them powering down and turning off. Everything seemed fine till today when two more (different) units shut off during a rehearsal until I unplugged it and plugged it back in. They are plugged into two different non dim circuits and part of 2 different DMX chains.

    In addition I now have to return two more (different) PHX units because from 20%-30% intensity they are flickering... I am frankly really disappointed in these units, not to mention they are fairly loud in large numbers. I feel stuck with them... I did test swaps and it is definitely the PHX units.

    Does any one else own these guys? Are you having these problems too? Altman reps?
     
  20. Les

    Les Well-Known Member

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    I'll ask my boss tomorrow since he is in town. I haven't personally heard about any of these issues and we've installed a lot of PHX's.
     
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