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New lighting console

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Corbettlight, Jun 29, 2009.

  1. Corbettlight

    Corbettlight Active Member

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    Hey guys. this is my first time posting here, but I have read many threads in the past month or so.

    I am a high school student who is the main lighting designer/operator for the local children's theatre. My high school is not big enough to have a theatre department :/.

    Anyway, right now we have a Leprecon 624. They have been running on this for a long time, but we don't even have enough control to light the stage without dead spots. I have been looking into it, and have decided that the ETC Element would be the pefec upgrade for us. What do you guys think?

    Also, our dimming situation is awful. We have several NSI dimmer packs that are mounted on the ceiling with the lights plugged into them. They all have MPX control. I went to the local dealer recently, and said that ETC makes a little box - model number I/F 501 - that can convert the DMX signals from the board into MPX for our dimmers. Any input on that?

    Honestly, our lighting situation is not good. We literally have 24 lights to light an entire stage. For our last show, we had 8 FOH lights, 6 lights on the first over-stage board, 3 lights on the second, and 4 on the third, along with 4 channels of CYC lighting. I am looking into getting more dimmer packs for more lights in the future, which will be easy to add with the Element 250.

    Thanks!
     
  2. NickJones

    NickJones Active Member

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    With 24 lights an Element may be overkill, unless you intend to hire more gear. You looking at more gear does not mean you are going to get it, and I doubt a school with under 30 lights will throw that much money at a console that most of the features will not be used. The time of Pre-set is pretty much over expet in venues where the operator is completely inexperienced. So a 24 channel preset console is out of the question. So here is what I would look at if I were in your situation. Zero88 makes small products that could fit your needs. They are cheap. Personally I find some of there consoles a bit too simple, but they have 1,000 cue cue stacks so you can program scenes, backup to USB & OLE, lights up to make it look like you are doing something clever, and they also run in preset/submaster mode so anyone at your theatre can push up a single fader and the lights go on. They are cheap (ish) and would probably suit you better than an Element (despite there awesomeness) Check out some of this. Jester 24/48
    This console is simple, and alows you to control 24 channels in preset mode or 48 submasters/channel faders in run mode. Simple but does the job. Also if you want to get moving lights, LEDs and all that fun stuff, there is a ML version, the same thing with a few more wheels.

    I'm sure there are hundereds more consoles that would do the job, but this is the one I thought would suit your situation the best.

    As for the Analogue to DMX converters, yup, that's what you want to control your NSI dimmers, they are called Mux converters. This will cost you a few hundred bucks but brings your dimmers out of the dark ages.

    As for 24 lights to light a stage, PAR cans are your friend, and most importantly are cheap and give a good wash, so you have less dark spots.

    As for the dimmer packs, they are expensive, especially if you aren't going to use them all. Maybe look into one or two of the 4 channel DMX dimmers just to get you going on those speicals.

    Just my 5c

    Nick
     
  3. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    First off, I think that you are confusing a few concepts here. You say that you don't have enough control to light the stage, but what it really sounds like is that you don't have the instrumentation or dimming capacity to light the stage. Unless you are at the point where you have significantly more dimmers than control channels on your console, control is not a problem for you. Consider that if you have more dimmers than control channels, you can overlap the addresses of some of the dimmers and put two lights on a channel.

    Now, it sounds like you don't have enough fixtures or dimmers to actually light the stage, but again this is relative. How big is the venue and how are the lighting positions laid out?

    You are not necessarily wrong to want to get a new console, and Element is not a bad choice. However, you may want to look into upgrading gear and instrumentation as well. You should find a qualified electrician to figure out if you can add more dimmers. You may want to buy more lights. Then if you have the resources, buy a new console.
     
  4. NickJones

    NickJones Active Member

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    Alex is right, no point buying your 250 channel console if you will only ever use 40, or can't get the power to get more dimmers. I can't stress enough not to buy one without thinking this through. Alex's pont about getting more lights & dimmers is also true, sure you may have a whiz-bang console but if you can't light up the stage properly, it won't look great. So fix up your rig so you get a full wash, then start thinking consoles.
    Nick
     
  5. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    I'm guessing you don't have $30,000 to fix your problem. Because that's the minimum of what it would take to get you a good console, some more GOOD dimmers, and a fixture package.

    Step one (like Alex said) is to get an electrician in there to tell you if there is power available to even consider adding more dimmers.

    IF you have the power to support more dimmers then add them with fixtures. So if you add four channels make sure you can afford to add four fixtures. No sense adding dimmers you can't use.

    Next switch to a computer based control system. There are lots of options discussed around here do some searching. I believe you can get yourself up and running for about $300. No it won't be an Ion but it will do a lot more than your current system. Get all the dimmers and fixtures you can afford. Think about upgrading the console later.

    Finally don't freak out about the analog dimmers. There are TON's of analog dimming systems out there. Just get a converter if you need it.

    Where are you at? Do you have a relationship with a local dealer? A good dealer will come out and help you figure out a solution you can afford.
     
  6. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    I agree with everything that has been said so far.

    First thing you need to do is fix the dimming situation, and get more fixtures. Look in to getting used fixtures - 6" fresnels, PAR56s, etc. If you can, get some new Altman 65Qs - they're about a hundred bucks a pop.

    Knowing the kind of place that we're probably talking about, you're likely going to be getting more shoebox dimmers to put up in the ceiling. If you can, get used Leprecon LD-360HP dimmers. Those things are indestructible, and take DMX. You should supply them with two independent 15 amp circuits.

    What model of MPX dimmers are you using?

    In terms of control, I'd second the Jester range from Zero88. You might look at the Jester TL or TLXtra if you want keypad control - they're fairly low priced as far as keypad consoles go, and include moving light support if you want to do that, but are still a lot more than the Jester consoles on the lower end of the price range. No, it's not an Element, but hey - it'll do a lot more than your 624.

    You might also consider LED Pars (specifically the Colorkey 10mm or 1W units) if you want to get more flexibility from fewer fixtures. A wash of the Colorkey 10mm fixtures could be good for your saturated colors.

    You will also need a converter box if you switch to a DMX console - which will be a small additional cost. Try to get one from the actual manufaturer of your MPX dimmers, that's usually the best way to go.
     
  7. Corbettlight

    Corbettlight Active Member

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    Wow, thanks for all the input. We have several 6" Fresnels just sitting around because we don't have enough dimming. In addition to a new console, we are also going to be getting some more dimmers. The only new lights I would really appreciate having are LED strip lights, LED pars or Source Fours or Source Four Jr.'s. We have some empty circuits on our circuit breaker panel that we could wire up for some more dimming channels. As for doubling lights on channels, most of our dimmers do not have the required wattage for that. Our dimmers are mostly NSI DDS 6000, but we have one DDS 5600. We also may be forced to find a new space, which would not be very easy, in which case I have no idea what we would have to work with.

    For our last show, we had 6 spotlights on the one and only FOH bar, 2 S4 PARs, and one special which was an OLD 360Q. On the forst over-stage bar, we had 3 S4 PARS and 3 6" Fresnels alternating. The second bar had 3 S4 PARS, and the third bar had 4 6" Fresnels. Then we had 3 4-cell CYC lights for the back wash. The 4 on the back row were wired to 2 channels.

    Thanks guys!
     
  8. FatherMurphy

    FatherMurphy Active Member

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    One benefit to keeping the Leprecon LP-624 is that (assuming it has the digital/analog output option on it) it will output all three control signals simultaneously (0-10 analog, MPX, and DMX), so you can keep using the dimmers you have while adding more, without spending money on converters. The 600's can be softpatched to run up to 96 dimmers, so you have some room to grow. One caveat is that there never was a MPX standard, so mixing and matching manufacturers doesn't always work reliably, although sometimes a problem can be dodged with addressing.

    Dark spots on stage usually aren't a console issue... I'd be more interested in more lights than a new console if I were you. I've spent a lot of time on 600's, so if you're not familiar with what it can do, pm me and I'll walk you through some of the tricks. 24 channels isn't always a bad thing.
     
  9. Les

    Les Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I think you should cut the LED lighting out of your wishlist for now. They are way more expensive than conventionals even if you were budgeting dimmers with the conventionals. The affordable LED strips and pars probably wouldn't cut in your situation. You need stuff that will last and put out some light. With the budget I'm assuming you have, you will get neither of these out of the products in said price range. You might see about pushing those S4 Jr's though. They are about the most affordable, yet high performance ellipsoidals out there. Not sure about S4 pars however... You could get several standard pars for the price of one S4 par. It sounds like you need to stretch a dollar so I would go with standard steel parcans. You can get aluminum "China Cans" for about $20 a pop. Though I don't exactly endorse them, they can cheaply get a lot of light on stage.
     
  10. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    I agree that S4 Jr. units should be at the absolute top of your list. Great units for the money.

    I don't think that S4 Pars are a good choice for your application considering the flexibility of a good ol' Altman 6" fresnel in smaller stage situations, and the low cost of the fresnels.

    If you do get "China Cans", I've dealt with some units from Optima Lighting that are decent in build quality and had one of the best clutch mechanisms of any of the China Cans that I've seen. These were PAR46 units. Some PAR46 NSPs might be a good addition to the inventory for soft-focused specials - they're only 200 watts, but they're great for getting through broad washes of color to hit a special for someone standing at a landing on a stairwell, for instance.

    But your priority right now is apparently dimming, so go with used Leprecon gear if you can. High quality stuff, and you can get the LD-360 HPs for a decent price used.
     
  11. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    The IF 501 is a Leviton (parent company of NSI) product, not ETC: IF 501 > Lighting Control Networking > Lighting Management Systems > All Leviton Products from Leviton Electrical and Electronic Products.

    I agree with others that an Element should be low on the list of your priorities, as it won't address any of the existing issues you've stated. It appears you need more fixtures and dimmers before a new console.
     
  12. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Post immediately above has been moved here from another thread.

    [user]LightingManEvan[/user], see the thread (which has been "stickied" in this forum): Help me pick a console!. This is also a topic that has been discussed ad nauseum, so try a search.
     

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