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PC Based DMX Control Board?

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by tbeck, Sep 8, 2005.

  1. tbeck

    tbeck Member

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    Hello,

    I am looking for a PC or Mac based DMX lighting control board for my school. Any reccomendations, we have a very minimal system, but are looking to expand.

    ty
    tbeck
     
  2. Foxinabox10

    Foxinabox10 Active Member

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    We went with the PC for a while at our school and it just didn't work out as well as expected. We're now working to get an ETC Express 48/96.

    What is your price range by the way?
     
  3. tbeck

    tbeck Member

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    Currently I do not know what our budget is, but i will know tomm., I would love to be able to afford the ETC Express, but i know it is out of our price range, only because we are updating our fixtures, as well.

    We currently have

    -NSI 7000 series board (16 channel)
    -8 par56
    -2 par64
    -2 15in. scoops
    -2 dds5600 20amp plug dimmers (4ch. each)
    -2 dds(??) dimmers (2ch. each)
    -whatever else we use we rent from a local lighting supply company

    like i said we have a very minimal system but we are trying to get out of having to rent what we use.

    Going PC based seemed like it would be easier
    currently I have found these two programs
    -Horizon by Entertainment Tech.
    -Emphasis

    If you have any experience with these or any other program please let me know.
     
  4. Foxinabox10

    Foxinabox10 Active Member

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    Someone else correct me if I am wrong, but I believe Emphasis is only an upgrade for ETC Express which brings in a computer for rendering of lighting plots and such.

    Check out Martin also. Remember though that many of these only take DMX, not the three pin data signal that your NSI dimmers send. I think it's time to install a dimmer system if you can talk to the administration. Lay out a three year plan of buying a dimmer system now and running all the outlets and buying a console. Then next year purchase some of the lights. And the year after purchase the remainder of the lights.
     
  5. tbeck

    tbeck Member

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    Thank you for correcting me, so that means emphasis is out. And our NSI board takes 5 pin. Also I dont have three years. I am a senior now, and the last tech teacher left last year so it is up to me to find out what we need and how to do it. Unfortunatley, our theatre dept. has no budget whatsoever so we must make what we spend (via shows,fundrasing). And dont we already have a dimmer system? correct me if I am wrong.
     
  6. moojoe

    moojoe Active Member

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    Martin does have one, along with some other small ones that i dont know much about.

    emphsis i think is like $15,000. its an upgrade to the express, expression, or insight line, where they tie in WYSIWYG design software into the board. increadible program, but def. overkill for a high school.
    is that the fixtures youll be controlling? or what else are you getting, if you say what your getting, ill recomend some programs to you, but i need to know what type of system you need exactly.

    (the reason i know an ok amount on this is because im going PC based in most of the theatres i work at, so ive been doing a lot of research)
     
  7. Foxinabox10

    Foxinabox10 Active Member

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    tbeck,

    I know where your coming from as being a senior, wanting to get things done, and only getting the money you make. I also know that I have a meeting with our principal next week to discuss nearly $100k in new equipment. The fact that you don't have a budget makes it reasonable that you ask for a large lump sum. Seriously consider approaching the principal or even superintendent for your school.
     
  8. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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  9. Foxinabox10

    Foxinabox10 Active Member

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    avkid,

    He doesn't need the gold upgrade. At max he needs the silver upgrade, since he isn't using moving lights, which is the only thing the gold has over the silver.
     
  10. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    WHy not leave your options for the future open? It's a good selling point for the adminstration to have purchased an expandable control system because it makes them look like they were thinking in the long term and not impulsively.
     
  11. Foxinabox10

    Foxinabox10 Active Member

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    avkid,

    I agree with you if it is in fact the administration paying for it. However, with regard to earlier comments by the poster, he'd prefer an ETC Express, which if the administation is paying, would probably be the solution. The software is being bought with ticket money, so budget, I believe, is more important at this time.
     
  12. moojoe

    moojoe Active Member

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    yea, i would go with a the physical console, especially the Express. while its not all...flashy...like pc software, ETC is kinda the standard, and if you know how to program an express and want to go into this industry, that would be a very good thing.
    also, an express is what, $2000? thats about how much most software will cost, with the neccesary parts, not including the computer. so maybe you should just do that?
     
  13. Foxinabox10

    Foxinabox10 Active Member

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    The Express 24/48 is about $3300 the best that I've seen and the 48/96 is about $4500. He probably just needs the 24/48 for the size of venue and number of lights and dimmers.

    Can you say fundraising?
     
  14. moojoe

    moojoe Active Member

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    hmm. wow, i thought it was cheeper.
    how about looking at Leprecon boards?
     
  15. tbeck

    tbeck Member

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    ty for everyones input, but im pretty sure i want to go PC based. Getting a PC is no problem, and can be arranged through the tech. dept. at my school. For a minimal or no cost.
    Ok, so we will be using dimmer packs, we will probably get 2-6 more dds4600 packs, along with about 20 or so ellipsoidals. I havnt decided whether I want Strand SL's or ETC Source 4's (I have used and operate both, but personally I prefered the strand, I know ETC is the standard). Also we may, purhase cyc wash lights and respective dimmer packs if I have the budget. So I need to be able to have an expandable system, hence why I believe going PC is the most cost effective way.

    Like I said I would love to get the ETC Expressions, but as other people have pointed out it is ~$4000, I dont think so.
     
  16. len

    len Well-Known Member

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    There's a lot of pc based solutions, but I would only consider (especially for a theatre environment) the two that offer playback faders, which are Hog PC, and Martin Lightjockey. Hog pc works more with playback faders than LJ does, but I still prefer LJ for a lot of other reasons. And total cost, including a good computer is still far less than an ETC desk.

    Computer (high estimate) - $1,000
    LJ - $1,200 - $1,400
    Martin Fingers (has faders and stuff) $900 on ebay
    Good Touch Screen monitor (really useful) $800.

    With fingers you can have individual control over 48 conventionals (or you can patch in as many as you want, but there are still only 12 x 4 banks of faders), plus a lot of other buttons you can configure any way you want.

    Also, I know a guy who is an expert who has trained people around the country ;-)
     
  17. moojoe

    moojoe Active Member

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    I'm just wondering why your so into PC based control?

    you can use something like Hog2PC http://highend.com/products/controllers/Wholehog2pc.asp which is free to download (Here), just look for HogIIPC but the thing is, you then need to buy the DMX to USB widget, which is $1200 since the software is free, and i would suggest getting the Programming wing since it makes life so much easier. this software is great, and its what i use constatly, but its made more for moving lights and a lot of complicated lighting actions, not high school productions.

    thats why i suggest an actual board. all of the pc based systems are for advanced lighting, normally with moving lights. what you need though it seems is just a simple 2 scene preset.
     
  18. LikeAStory

    LikeAStory Member

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    PC Based DMX controller

    This is not a recommendation, just something to check out.
    As I know nothing about these apart from seeing them from time to time in catalogs but they seem affordable, and are pc based.
    I'd like to find some reviews on them as I'm curious too.
    Anyway, below is a link to info on Dove Systems'
    DMX PC based controller.


    Link to info on Dove Systems DMX controller
     
  19. tbeck

    tbeck Member

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    Why wouldnt I want a PC Based system? I realize that its for more advanced lighting, but it can be used with basic lighting as well, making the system in the long run cheaper than buying a board.

    I like this HogPC system, it has upgradability. And its a PC based system.

    One more quesion, Where do I buy it from? Directly from High End? Or are there resellers, so that it will cost less?

    Ty
     
  20. moojoe

    moojoe Active Member

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    well the software itsself is free. the second link is the download. but you need the widget. check your local theatre supply store, or contact BMI Supply or Production Advantage (quick google search for both). i would highly suggest the programming wing if you were going togo with that since programming an entire show on the keyboard is absolute hell. hogPC is awsome, its what i use almost exculisivly, and i just love it.

    i would suggest an actual board though for learning purposes mainly, but also because it may be cheeper. just look into both options, dont only look at PC controllers. it will limit your options. you may find the perfect actual board if you look.
     

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