noob with questions - equipment hookup

banditj13

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Nov 17, 2007
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somewhere in time
Hey all - I am a total beginner at lighting and light controls - having thrown myself into it for a small production my church is putting on. I have spent a few days looking up information online, for what it's worth... but have no other knowledge.
(I am a sound tech, not light tech)

Here is the equipment we have -

8 large sized lights (not sure on the "par" size?)

4 of these are plugged into a lightronics as-41 - not the as-41/412
(600 watts per channel - 2400 watts total)
it has MPX (I am assuming multiplex) in and out ports

The other 4 lights are plugged into a NSI ND4600
(600 watts per channel - 2400 watts total)
it has 2 MPX ports as well

Each of the dimmer packs are on individual switched circuits

The console we have is a ETA imagenation MC8C - 8 channel controller
The 3 pin port out is labeled as "ultraplex"... there are 2 ports out

The NSI dimmer turns all 4 lights on with no MPX control when powered on - all on, 100% -

Currently the lightronics dimmer is not turning on the 4 lights hooked to it - I need to make sure the fuses are good, and that the lights themselves are not blown - I do have power at the dimmer though


This system has not been used for at least 9 years - but the cabling is there... I just have to find the cable at the sound booth!

As it sits, the MC8C runs to the Lightronics dimmer, the Lightronics daisy chains to the NSI dimmer

I also have a spare NSI DDS5600 - with 2 blown channel fuses - not sure of its working status


What I need to know is if the MC8C ultraplex will be able to send proper timings and control signals to both the lightronics and NSI dimmers
Also, if I can't get the lightronics working, will the NSI work in its place, with the MC8C controller?


Sorry for the seemingly ignorant questions, but I can't seem to find a straight answer to these anywhere....


Thanks
 

Hughesie

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Aug 26, 2005
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Melbourne, Australia
that makes two of us,:shifty: i have no idea what you are talking about, but i wish you luck, hopefully someone will be able to help you
 

kwotipka

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Sep 28, 2007
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On the road
Each of the dimmer packs are on individual switched circuits
What do you mean by "switched"?


I also have a spare NSI DDS5600 - with 2 blown channel fuses - not sure of its working status
Try to find documentation online or somewhere on the dimmer itself that specifies EXACTLY what type of fuse to use. I have often seen fuses in dimmers that are not the correct ones but ones "that just happened to be handy".

Other than that, I put in some new NSI dimmers the other day that had the ability to switch between a few different protocols. Look for dip switches (other then the address switches) or menu options (if the dimmer has this). While not all protocols are created equal, something as simple as a dimmer should be fairly easy to control.

I applaud you efforts just remember to be safe when working with live dimmers. Pay attention to where the lights are pointing when on (ie, not 3 inches from a carpeted wall). Remember if it doesn't feel like the right thing to do, it probably isn't.

kw
 

icewolf08

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Jan 11, 2007
Location
Lititz, PA
So, as far as I can tell, from the lit of research I have just done, It is hard to tell if all these devices speak the same language. The Lightronics dimmer pack can speak NSI multiplex, but I am not sure if this is the same as NSI Microplex. My biggest concern about connecting the two different dimmer packs together is that NSI Microplex supplies a "phantom power" voltage so that the NSI controllers don't need to be plugged into the wall, but I don't know if that is compatible with the other components you have.

The only information I could find on the MC8C was in Japanese, so that is no help (unless you speak Japanese). I would have to imagine that if all of this gear was purchased together it would all work together, but you never know (well, someone might).

Here are some links for you though:
NSI manual
Lightronics Info
 

kwotipka

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On the road
My biggest concern about connecting the two different dimmer packs together is that NSI Microplex supplies a "phantom power" voltage so that the NSI controllers don't need to be plugged into the wall, but I don't know if that is compatible with the other components you have.
Correct me if I am wrong but isn't the voltage on pin 1 and the data on 2 with pin 3 being a common ground on most of those systems? Hince the problem with people who make mic cables and ground pin 1 to the hood of the connector. This in turns takes the B+ voltage to chassie ground.

kw
 

banditj13

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Nov 17, 2007
Location
somewhere in time
Thx kwotipka -

by "switched" I meant that we have a switch panel at the sound booth that turns power on to certain lights/dimmers on the light bar.
Each switch is on its own 20 amp breaker in the distribution panel.

There is nothing near the light bar, with the exception of the ceiling tiles above it.

Unfortunatly, the light bar is not movable, and is suspended about 20 feet in the air - I am waiting on someone to bring a lift to get to it :neutral:


Is there any harm in me plugging everything in as it is (assuming I get all the lights working) and seeing if the controller will work with the dimmers?

Thanks
 

icewolf08

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Correct me if I am wrong but isn't the voltage on pin 1 and the data on 2 with pin 3 being a common ground on most of those systems? Hince the problem with people who make mic cables and ground pin 1 to the hood of the connector. This in turns takes the B+ voltage to chassie ground.
kw
Well, that would be intelligent, and I didn't read all of the manual, and I have never used that gear before. It would certainly be nice if it was standard like that.
 

banditj13

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icewolf - I had previously pulled the manuals for all three dimmers

My biggest problem is the manual for the lightronics appears to be for the 41/412 - a different dimmer than the 41 - the 41 has no dip switches or anything. It simply has power in, 4 channels of power out, mpx in and out, and a dial for the starting channel (1,5,9 etc)
I don't recall the manual for the lightronics saying anything about phantom power....

I have the manual for the NSI, but I am confused about micro, multi, and ultra plex...:neutral:

I have hesitated in plugging the control in, as I knew the NSI was sending phantom voltage... The crappy manual that ETA included with their board says that the mc8c can be powered by the dimmer, but doesn't give me any pinouts on it....
 

kwotipka

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Ok, here is a simple test you can do:

If the console uses a wall wart power supply, do not plug it in. Plug 4 low wattage lights into the console (60w is fine). Using a TESTED (pin 1-1, 2-2, 3-3) mic cable, plug the dimmer and the console together. If the console powers up, see if it can control the dimmer. (Make sure that all of the dip switches are set to off for the address or check the menu to make sure that the dimmer is set to channels 1-4.) If it can control the dimmer, power down the dimmer and do the same with the other dimmer.

Most of the NSI line and quite a few others put voltage down pin 1 so that it would power small consoles. I think that the current is only about 1A max so it wouldn't work with larger consoles.

Hook the two dimmers and the console together. When you operate channels 1-4, both dimmers should respond (since you set them that way).

If the console does not come on when you power up the dimmer, either the dimmer doesn't support this or the low voltage regulator in the dimmer is bad. If neither dimmer powers the console, then it must be powered via an external power supply.

Also, don't get phantom power (audio) and power down a separate pin confused. They are two separate things.
 

banditj13

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Nov 17, 2007
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somewhere in time
thx... I will try that once I get a lift to the church - I will haul the dimmer and a tested cable up with me and see what happens...

I really appreciate the help - I just want to get these thing running for the Christmas program we are doing!
 

icewolf08

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Well, if kwotipka is right, and all your cables are wired correctly, then hooking everything together should work just fine. You would have to set the starting addresses of the separate dimmer packs to unique addresses that don't overlap and set the lightronics dimmer pack is set to NSI mode. If the controller says that it can handle to phantom voltage then it should work.

I have not worked with this gear before, so don't blow yourself up.

Also why not stop by the new member board and tell us a little about yourself?
 

kwotipka

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I feel *fairly* comfortable with my recommendations. The voltage regulators in the packs should be able to deal with anything up to about 30VDC. I have seen most of the damage done to these things by miswired cables. You will know pretty quick if it works or not.

Why not check back here a few times before you do your test just in case I have completely lost my mind and someone else has a better suggestion.

kw
 

gafftaper

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Hey Bandit, the repair guy at my local theater place knows about all this old gear and I'm sure could answer all these questions but he won't be in until Monday. As has been said be careful. If I were you I would make sure I had a multi-meter with me and use it a lot to make sure there is no live voltage going the wrong way before I touch anything.
 

kwotipka

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kwotipka - I have reviewed the wiki of dmx512 - but I am still confused - because the gear I am working with doesn't seem to use dmx - am I right?
They are not the same but 512 IS the protocol that you will see in the higher end rigs and moving lights. I think that Microplex (NSI) and the others like it were designed more for small dimmer systems for bands, small venus, etc that needed more of a plug and play solution. While you cannot connect DMX to Microplex, they do make boxes that convert them. It mostly has to do with the electrical characteristics of the signals then the protocol itself that is why they are not compatible.

Now this is 15 year knowledge and the brain is not what it use to be. It seems as though I have had one manufacturer connected to another that used microplex. That said, the NSI's I installed a few months back had a 512/microplex switch. If the output of the board is labeled DMX512 and not some sort of "plex" then it won't work. However I would guess that that will be a 5pin connection anyhow.

Here is some info I dug up:

Microplex is the control protocol used on most NSI lighting consoles. This system uses a single three conductor cable to transmit
up to 128 channels of relay (or pack) control. For short distances (50 feet or less) a standard microphone cable may be used to
carry both the control signal and the DC power source for NSI control consoles. Longer distances may be accommodated with 18
gauge or better cable to reduce voltage losses of the power supply.

-----------------------------------------------------------

from: http://www.epanorama.net/links/lights.html#mpx

Microplex (MPX)

As for the control system for the dimming system, today's industry-wide lighting protocols are multiplex (MPX) and DMX-512. Multiplex is known by a variety of names by different companies; it may be called microplex or LMX-128. This communication signal is normally transmitted from your lighting console to your dimmer via a standard microphone cable. Multiplex can offer a maximum total of 128 channels, and the distance between the console and the dimmer should not exceed 125 feet. If your application can accept these limitations, then multiplex is a valid option.

The Micro-Plex (MPX) method is aimed at low-cost, short-run, dimmer control applications where standard XLR mic cables can be used with the dimmers and the controller chained in a way that's very similar to MIDI communication. NSI Micro-plex is capable of supporting up to 100-128 dimmer channels. However, the more channels, the slower the refresh rate. NSI Microplex (MPX) is proprietary control protocol used by NSI (Leviton). Some devices from some other companies support this protocol also. The pinout for Microplex 3-pin XLR connector is the following:

* 1 = Common
* 2 = +12V DC (+15V on some information sources)
* 3 = Micropex data

Here is a quick overview of protocol (unofficial information): The Microplex signal line swings from around +8v to -6v. +8v is Fully ON and 0v is Fully OFF. Negative voltage, -6v, is a sync pulse. The protocol starts off by sending a 5ms sync pulse (-6V). This sync pulse resets the channel counter in the dimmer boxes to zero. After the pulse, the level for the first light is send for 0.25ms. If the light is to be off, then the level will be zero volts, if light full on the voltage is +8V. Next a 0.25ms sync pulse (-6V) is sent. This increments the channel counters on the dimmer boxes. The dimmer signal levels and 0.25ms pulses are repeated until all the channels have been sent. The process begins again with the 5ms sync pulse. The actual specification could be slightly different than this quick overview.

There are two basic Microplex variants: NSI's version normally supports 64 dimmers, but in certain cases does 96; the Leprecon and Lightronics versions support 128 dimmers. The version used by Lightronics is called LMX-128. The 3 companies supporting this protocol seem to agree on almost everything but basic signal timing parameters, making interoperability a bit dicey. They all use 3-pin XLRs wired as follows: common on pin 1, console power on pin 2, and signal on pin 3. The mux control signal is 0-10 volts.

* Microplex (MPX) Project by Infidigm - This project will allow you to build an interface from your PC to Microplex dimmer boxes. The Microplex (MPX) project is a collection of the interface and supporting software.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Way more information then you will probably ever need:

http://www.epanorama.net/links/lights.html

Hope this helps:

kw
 

banditj13

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Joined
Nov 17, 2007
Location
somewhere in time
So I was digging around in the supply closet yesterday at church and found another dimmer...
So now I have a spare lightronics as-41 - not out of reach on a light bar!

So I hooked it up to the control board, hooked some incandescents to the dimmer, turned it all on-

Had power at the controller, but the LEDs were dim, and the board acted as if it were locked up....

measured voltage across pins 1 and 2, and only showed somewhere around 1 volt dc... weird....

So, I had some spare XLR jacks, and re-wired to eliminate power from the dimmer, hooked up a wall wart, and could control the lights

Now the problem is that the incandescents flash, rather than just being on steady...

am I still missing something?