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looking to buy new dimmer packs

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by zac850, Dec 7, 2003.

  1. zac850

    zac850 Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    I am looking for information to buy new dimmer packs for my school. I want to get information, and then submit it to the theater group who will dish out the money to buy it.

    It needs to be a DMX-512 type pack, and i need at least 12 circuts, but anything more then 16 would be a waist of money (our light board only goes up to 16 circuts)

    How much money would these cost? Where would I buy them? Is there a website, or a chain store, or what?

    Thank you very much,
    Zac
     
  2. DMXtools

    DMXtools Active Member

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    How many watts per channel do you need? Do you want portable packs or a rack-mount system that can be wired in permanently?

    In the 7-channel-plus range, I've seen mostly rack-mounts, except for some low-power stuff (I have three 8-channel "DIM-BAR" units from James Lighting, but they're only 300 watts per channel and microplex, not DMX).

    I seem to recall you mentioning, in another post, that the budget for your school is pretty tight and that you set up a portable stage in the gym. For something like that, portable packs would probably be best. They usually come in 4-channel, 600 watts/channel flavors. Three of them would give you your 12 channels.

    I do a little design work, off and on, for James Lighting. Right now I'm working on what will be their first DMX dimmer pack (everything up to now has been microplex) - 4 channels at 1200 watts/channel. It's still a few months away from production, but if you're not in a huge hurry, maybe I can convince them to make you a good price on a couple of them.

    Otherwise, there are several good units on the market. Some of the lighting dealers have taken to selling on eBay - browse musical instruments/pro audio/Dj equipment/lighting... I've been selling some of my DMX/microplex translators there. Unless you're really into electronics and can repair stuff yourself, I'd stay away from the used stuff, but there's a lot of new stuff on there, too, from reputable dealers and at lower prices than they can do "over-the-counter"... because there's less cost selling on-line from a warehouse than there is in operating a retail store.

    Check some of the lighting manufacturers' websites to get more information on exactly what they offer. On a limited budget, NSI, Leprecon and Lightronics all have fairly decent low-budget products. I'd stay away from American DJ and Chauvet - for the most part, their product lines are aimed toward the entry-level DJ market - extremely low prices, but questionable quality and reliability.

    Once you have a couple specific dimmer packs in mind, check for dealers in your area - manufacturers often have lists of dealers posted on their websites. Find a dealer actually in your school district and pitch him the idea of giving you a discount in exchange for prominent mention in your programs - he may not buy into it, but it can't hurt to try.

    John
     
  3. delnor

    delnor Active Member

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    I don't know how other people feel but there are in line tiny dimmers that attach to the side of instruments. They run about $240 a piece and don't require a "dimmer pack" at all they just need DMX to go from instrument to instrument and are addressable like a scroller would be. A solution like that may be much more cost effective.
     
  4. zac850

    zac850 Well-Known Member

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    yea, i am looking for something that would preferbly be portable, however, we are setting up a booth, so we might be able to put a dimmer rack type of thing up there....(im not sure of the exact specks).

    right now we have two 4 channel 500 or 600 watts/chanel, and i want to upgrade from that. They are from American DJ, and well, 1 of the circuts on each board dosen't dim anymore, and is always on, and one of the dimmer packs randomly goes into chase mode untill you hit it hard, so i want to get away from that.

    dose anyone know of the manufactures website, or a good dealer website where we could purchase, or look into these things (or if someone would like to donate them... :wink: :wink:

    Thanks
    Zac
     
  5. cruiser

    cruiser Active Member

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    Things really are different in the states, as I said we dont ahve dimmer "packs" just dimmer "racks", where you have both the terms.

    Our dimmer racks come in 12 channel units, if you look hard enough you can find them in 6channel units, but that will generally be more expensive.
    Majority of our racks are portable, except two that I know of, one made by Jands and one by LSC Lighting
    www.jands.com.au
    www.lsclighting.com.au
     
  6. DMXtools

    DMXtools Active Member

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    One of the neat things about DMX-512 is the idea that you can place the controller a long distance from the dimmer packs, so the dimmers can be close to the fixtures and you don't have to run a lot of heavy extension cords from your booth to the stage. You don't really want to put a dimmer rack in the booth with you. DMX cable is similar to mic cable (though it's not the same), and it just takes one of them from the booth to the stage, then daisy-chain from the first dimmer pack to the second, second to the third, etc., on stage.

    NSI recently introduced a nice portable pack that's selectable as two or four channels- in two channel mode it's 1200 watts per channel and in 4 channel mode it's 600 watts per channel. I've already seen them on eBay, new, for $185 each! Their website is http://www.nsicorp.com/ and the product announcement is right on the front page.

    Bear in mind that you CAN assign two or more packs to the same set of channels to get more power and more lights on stage. DMX-512 doesn't limit you to one dimmer per control channel.

    John
     
  7. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    DMX tools, I completely agree with all you say. That's the way I would go on a budget. It's probably not worth wiring up a large power feed to the booth or better yet back stage for a dimmer rack. Going little dimmer pack would be a better solution given it's edison cables can be powered up where ever it's needed.

    Putting the dimmers in the booth is also not much of an option. Getting from booth to stage would require a lot of cable. Certainly much more than a few DMX lines booth to dimmer packs.

    One not would be that in getting the little dimmer packs, you are probably going to lay out some kind of wiring diagram for the theater/gymn. You might have pleanty of outlets available in the gym but those outlets are probably only going to be on between two and four circuits plus a few more on stage. It will be easy to overload the circuits.

    Have the maintinence crew give you a copy of the gymn's blue prints and work with you in figuring out what including the overhead lighting is on what breaker so you can properly patch your load if you go that route. Blowing a breaker during a show would be a bad thing, but at least with a wiring diagram for the theater you could quickly and easily figure out what went wrong and what breaker tripped.

    There could also be options for power such as say a 12 channel buildable dimmer rack for the back stage and little dimmer boxes for the house booms and lighting postions. You might find extra power backstage already for a larger dimmer pack that will free up some power for other things, otherwise if your basket ball nets, audience risers or other things have automatic lifts to them they might be able to tap those circuits for you to power up a larger dimmer pack. That's all coordination with the school that should factor into what you buy.

    I'm also for buying used from a repuitable company however given the budget.
     

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