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New High School Install

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by cw4u, Mar 2, 2009.

  1. cw4u

    cw4u Member

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    I've been tasked with designing a system for a local high school that is having a gymnasium with a stage on one end. Which in my opinion, it really cheap, but theatrics are not looked upon that much anymore, and FEMA is really adamant on replacing exact square footage.

    So, onto my question.

    I've worked up the following for the system:

    ETC 24+ Install Rack
    -22 D20s
    -2 R20s

    Three raceways with 8 stage pin outlets (two outlets per circuit) The raceways will house all ETC PARnels.

    Front throw truss with ten individual circuits all connected to ETC S4s (10).

    Two side horizontal trusses will have four circuits on each side. 4...maybe 8 ETC Pars on each side.

    DMX inputs will be on all trusses and on stage. Control via ETC Element??? Avo Pearl 2004, or Express 24/48.

    The stage (rough estimate) is 40' wide and 30' in depth.

    The problem that bothers me the most is that it won't be very expandable considering the rack will be full. Of course, I could always install some more dimmers off stage, but that's not a good solution.

    It's an extremely tight budget, and right now, all I have promised is electrical wiring and conduit to support any future expandability. Building is to be completed in May 2010, so I've got some time.

    I'm a big fan of ETC stuff, and in every install I've worked in, I've used either Unison or Sensor+ racks. So, I'm partial toward ETC. But I know they make good stuff. My reason for using all ETC luminaries is so that only one bulb will have to be bought.

    So, what needs to go, what needs to stay? Should I forgo the Sensor rack and getting something cheaper.

    Thanks.
     
  2. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    You have an unenviable task since you are so tight with gear as it is. ETC makes great stuff, but you may want to price out other dimmers to see if you can get a slightly larger count for the same price. There are other good names out there, just make sure they are DMX compatible.

    Depending on their distance from the stage, your par cans might not be the best choice, however, I imagine it was a budget conscious choice. It would be nice to see some Source IV's or Source IV Jr's there.

    FYI, they no longer make the Express, however they are touting a new board to be unveiled at USITT. I am looking forward to seeing it while I am there. Although it is a nice board, I have always thought of the AVO as more of a concert board, as opposed to a theatre board. However you do not indicate exactly what the space is used for, so it may work great for your needs.

    That is just my $0.02.

    ~Dave
     
  3. mrb

    mrb Active Member

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    I may be way off here, but what about wiring your electrics and trusses to socapex inlets at your dimmer location? Use cheaper dimmer packs now, then upgrade to sensor later as budget permits?
     
  4. jmabray

    jmabray Active Member

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    Go with Unison DRd racks with a SmartLink Processor in them. They will be more cost effcient than Sensor. You can also add a couple of playback stations for some basic architectural control for very little money to give them the capability to turn on some lights for rehearsal and the like without the need for having a console up and running.

    (You can do this with sensor as well, if needed, but the sensor processor will be more expensive than the Unison one.)
     
  5. Sony

    Sony Active Member

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    I do believe that the board they are unveiling is called the "Element" which is what he mentioned. Not sure on that though, so maybe he is planning on getting that board after it is released...which should be before May 2010.
     
  6. fredthe

    fredthe Active Member

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    A few thoughts...

    - Schools rarely have the money to "upgrade" later. Sometimes "something cheap to be upgraded later" ends up having to serve for 20+ years.

    - Good that you're planning for DMX to be available everywhere... though most should be outputs. I'd consider running ethernet everywhere, connected back to a switch. Consoles and Dimmers (from the same vendor) talk over ethernet these days, and ETC & Others make nodes to convert to DMX (in or out) when and where needed.

    - Consider adding some non-dim circuits to your trusses and raceways. That way the power for LEDs/Movers/scrollers/etc. is already there (since you've got the DMX...)

    - You mention "more dimmers off stage." Personally, I think ALL dimmers should be off stage. If you can, put them in a seperate (properly ventalated) room.

    - Remember, in a Gymatorium, you need to consider protecting anything in the house from flying basketballs/volyballs/etc.

    - You might also look at what Strand has to offer. In the recent high school theater renovation I was involved in they came in lower in cost than ETC, and the school's been quite happy with it. (Well, except for the Outlook architectural control part of it, but I believe Strand is trying to get away from Outlook anyway.)
     
  7. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    Avoid Strand (but this is just my opinion).

    ETC all the way.

    You can go Unison, but you lose some of the functionality of the Sensor rack.

    Keep in mind you can always buy a bigger rack and fill the extra slots with AFUs.

    Ethernet -> DMX is cool, but the nodes are still pretty pricey from what I understand.

    Keep in mind you can wire the install (control wiring) with ethernet cable instead of the pricier Belkin stuff.

    Always put curtosey circuits in. You do not know how many times I have cursed an installer because I needed to plug in moving lights or projectors and had no non-dimmable power. Of course ETC sells a non-dim rack unit, but two for an entire gym would never do.

    I can get you a good price on regular Source4's drop me another PM and I will see what I can do. You need something besides Source4 PARs.

    Mike
     
  8. cw4u

    cw4u Member

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    I know I'm going to be shot down for even suggesting this, but what about Leviton 12 Channel 1.2kw rack dimmers. I'm going to be using 575w bulbs in all the fixtures, so that would at least allow me to put two lights on a circuit if needed.

    I'm talking to the architect...again...to see about them drilling through the second story where the mechanical/electrical room is for the stage and running a sub panel for the lighting only. The panel would be able to support 10 of the above dimmers.

    I'll have them drop some power taps from the main power for non dimmed circuits. And, I'll make sure I can get the trusses as close to the stage or as high up as possible. I'm concerned about making sure the stuff doesn't get hit.

    Ethernet is already planned to be everywhere in the gym due to how technology is evolving so much. What about running DMX over ethernet with a repeater in there for longer runs just for in wall wiring?

    Right now, I need to get the dimmers selected. Didn't get the chance to talk with the electrical engineer today, but am doing that tomorrow.

    Thanks for all the help.
     
  9. mrb

    mrb Active Member

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    those leviton / nsi ones are junk.

    get the lex/electrol DX125, 12chx1.5kw/ch. Its around $1800 if i recall.
     
  10. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    I do not like NSI. Too much trouble for overpriced, cheap gear.

    This is just my opinion, but NSI is, to me, on the same level with Elation/AE and is a step below even Leprechaun or Strand, which is a step below ETC.

    I have run into a few problems in recent months (thanks Bill!) with NSI dimmers and higher level consoles. I will never spec them out unless clients are trying to cheap out on installs.

    Stay with ETC, either the Sensor, Unison, or SmartRacks.

    If they will do it I would certainly have a dedicated lighting panel (we always install one).

    You can have cages made to protect the trusses, but ideally you would like the trusses at a 45 degree angle to a point 6 feet above the stage floor.

    Mike
     
  11. renegadeblack

    renegadeblack Active Member

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    Can't stress enough to make sure that you have enough DMX. I just spent the last 2 hours balancing on I-beams trying to run DMX for the auditorium at my high school. Didn't even finish it! Also, it might be nice to be able to have some places farther back in the house to light from. The reason i just had to do all that work is because I needed some lights farther back in the house.

    DMX is cheap enough to put it in a lot of places.
     
  12. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Two thoughts:

    I would look at S4 Jr's or S4 Jr zooms instead of your Par kit. Price won't be much more and you get a lot more function out of them.

    As for the DMX everywhere... In order to be prepared for the future what you want is your own ethernet network just for lighting. Fortunately this is pretty cheap to do. Just put a few network jacks at each lighting position, at your dimmer rack, and at any control locations. As we go down the path of ACN implementation everything will be ethernet based. In the mean time, you will need to purchase DMX nodes which take the ethernet signal and translate it to DMX. Unfortunately, these boxes are somewhere in the $500 each range right now. However, in a few years you won't need them, you'll just plug the fixture straight into the ethernet jack. Unless you plan to purchase a bunch of intelligent gear right now, just buy one node for now.

    As for Dimmer racks... There are haters out there for every brand that isn't ETC. You are not installing lighting for a Vegas showroom that will be on 100 hours a week. We are talking about a Cafetorium that will go weeks or even months without being used. Then they get used for one show and sit for months again. DO consider Strand dimmers. Also take a look at the smaller middle of the road companies like Leprecon, EDI, and Lehigh. Yeah they aren't sensor dimmers but they can be an excellent choice on a budget depending on your NEEDS. I know a school with EDI racks that have been in use for over 30 years. No they aren't fancy but they get the job done.

    It seems one of my jobs around CB is to remind people that everything has it's place in the market. We can't all afford Mac 2k's or Sensor dimmers. We also don't all NEED Mac 2k's or Sensor dimmers. There are lots of people out there for whom a little AMDJ gear is all they NEED. Everything has a place and a market. I know a church that has been using two NSI shoebox dimmers for at least 10 years. They turn them on once a week for a little over an hour. While I'm not a huge NSI fan, the simple fact is they don't NEED more than that. They installed an entire lighting system for under $2k. It meets their NEEDS. It seems to me that it's too easy for us to get fascinated by the latest greatest gear and think everything else is junk. When there is a lot of great old reliable technology still out there doing the job and providing what people actually need.

    Don't be tempted to rule out products because they aren't as cool as the latest product out. Start with what you need and what your budget is and find a way to make a system fit YOUR NEEDS.
     
  13. Sony

    Sony Active Member

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    ^^^ Well said! I completely agree with [user]gafftaper[/user], you don't always need the latest and the greatest. The Strand A21 or C21 Dimmers are a good choice, I have 2 Strand CD-80 SUPERVISOR racks (192 Dimmers total) at MVPAC and they are bulletproof. From what I can tell the C21's are newer technology based on the CD-80. With the money you save you can possibly get better equipment or MORE equipment elsewhere.
     
  14. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    The other cool thing about the Strand C21 Racks is that you can get sinewave modules for it if you need them, unlike ETC where you need an entirely different rack for sinewave dimming. Not that everyone needs sinewave dimmers, and the modules are expensive, but it can be a useful option.
     
  15. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    But never sacrifice quality for quantity.

    There is a reason ETC is the industry standard. Not only is their gear better quality but their customer service is head and shoulders above anyone else's (very valuable for schools).

    You don't have to go with Sensors, ETC also makes Smartracks for the budget conscious. But there is nothing like an ETC rack for compatibility and reliability.

    I have had too many problems when people cheap out with Strand, Lep, Elation, AMDJ, etc.

    I know not everyone can afford ETC, and for them the other solutions are fine. I have outfitted spaces with installed and portable Elation, Lep, and Strand systems. But there is nothing like ETC. Period. End of story. If you can afford ETC gear there is nothing like it. You get what you pay for. If you have to step down, the the installed Strand racks are a good compromise. If you cant afford that, then the installed Lep stuff will get you by. If you absolutely have to then the Elation shoebox stuff will get you by.

    I know people who have been using Elation shoeboxes for years and they have functioned fine. However I installed 12 of them for one theater, and 2 of them arrived non-functioning, and 8 more were lost in the first year. Strand stuff is pretty good quality, but Heaven forbid if something goes wrong and you need tech support (the same can be said for Martin and HES). Good luck my friend.

    But, with your budget, if you can afford it, then go ETC. Why compromise on quality unless you have to?

    Mike
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2009
  16. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    This I cannot argue with, ETC definitely leads the way in customer service. If you have a problem at 2AM, ETC tech services might not pick up, but they will call you back within about 10 minutes.

    I don't think that it is fair to lump Strand in with Elation and Leprecon as they are light-years different on all fronts. Strand gear is of significantly higher quality and cost than Leprecon or Elation. They were the industry standard for a long time before ETC took over the market. Consider that it is only recently that companies like Cirque du Soleil have begun switching from Strand to ETC or MA Lighting (mostly due to the death of the 500 Series consoles).

    Note that I am not saying that Strand is better than ETC, but I think that they deserve a bit more respect. They are one of the older companies still in the industry. They know what they are doing and they do a pretty darn good job of it. The fact that people are still running Strand dimmers that are 20+ years old is pretty impressive, and the ETC Sensor dimmer have not even been around that long! Also consider that Strand is still in a state of flux with the Genlyte and Phillips buyouts. Who knows? In a few years they may actually get a good tech support set up. They could go the other way as well, but we should hope for the best.
     
  17. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    I am with you 100% icewolf. I was not lumping Strand in with Lep and Elation as much as not putting them in the same class with ETC. If you don't have the money for ETC (although we are not talking about significant amounts of money at that end of the spectrum) then Strand is your next best option.

    The Old CD80's are darn near indestructible. but very lacking when compared to the Sensor, Unison, and Smartpack series (which it should be considering they are how much older?), but even at that they are so old that they should start dropping soon.

    For me the scale looks something like...

    ETC----------------Strand-------------------------------------------------------Lep-------Elation/NSI

    Mike
     
  18. Sony

    Sony Active Member

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    No one was telling him to go buy CD80's...which everyone agrees is outdated. However the C21 racks are completely modernized rack based off the reliable CD80.

    MVPAC was originally slated when it was built 10 years ago to receive ETC Sensor racks, however they opted to install CD80 Supervisors instead in order to save money. The money that was saved was then used to buy at LEAST 10 more ETC Source 4 fixtures as well as other things and the CD80 have been incredibly reliable. We have only had ONE failure of the CD80 rack in the 10 years we have had them, the Processor in Rack 2 failed one year due to a lighting strike and got stuck in PANIC mode. No modules have ever given us any trouble and the Strand System Wide Controller works like a charm. They have also never been shut down in the 10+ years ether, my boss leaves them running 24/7/365 except obviously during the occasional power outage. This is more than we can say about our House dimming system which is an ETC Sensor rack that has been treated equally and has been plagued with overheating and termination problems. Then the ETC Digital Address System (DAS) which controls all of the house lighting system, failed after 3 years of use and was fixed and failed again a day later and still doesn't work to this day.

    Now don't get me wrong...I love ETC gear, and it is way better today than it was 10 years ago. I would recommend it to anyone who has the money.

    My point is that Strand equipment itself can be just as reliable if not more so than ETC, sure they have some Customer Service issues, but reliability of the equipment is about the same and I may even go so far as the say, from my experience, that Strand racks (At least the CD80's) may be more robust than ETC Sensor racks (at least the old ones.)
     
  19. jmabray

    jmabray Active Member

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    And I hate to tell everyone ETC is not always the highest priced gear out there. Pricing on a job depends on too many factors - and that's why racks are POA items.

    Also - Strand is typically right there in terms of cost with ETC. Sony may have been able to buy 10 more source 4's on his job, but that's only 3 grand - which (depending upon the size of the job) is usually not much money in the overall scheme of things.

    I agree that Strand has some robust products, but they are not more robust than ETC.
    Both the C21 and Sensor rely on the same technology. So if they are the same in those areas - then it does come down to customer service.

    Everybody's stuff is going to break - there is nothing you can do to prevent that - it's what the company does when it's stuff does break that can determine the outcome of your performance/wedding/hotel event/whatever....
     
  20. cw4u

    cw4u Member

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    So, I've decided to go with the ETC SmartPack dimmers. They were around $1800 for 12/1.2kw. I can live with that price.

    I gave the specs to our electrical engineer and told him I wanted the capabilities to install 10 of them. Will we ever get there, probably not, but I'd rather have more than enough power than not enough.

    What is the recommended space between PARnels I should have? The stage is 40x30' and I was told about 100 foot candles should suffice. Is that wrong? The cans will be suspended about 18' in the air, which would be a 12.5x12.5 area of light at full flood. I was thinking more along the lines of a light every 6 feet. Recommendations?

    I did get rid of the PARs and put S4 Jrs in their place. I'll put ethernet in the correct places.
     

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