Portable Dimmer

Our theatre is buying alot of new stuff for our up and coming season. Along with Cable and Microphone's, My manager is putting a Blackbox theatre in His classroom. what I am looking for is portable dimmers, that have DMX, and enough power to have 2-3 Par 46s on each channel (about 100 watts each)but i would also like it two be able to drive Sourc-fours in out theatre if I ever need extra Dimmers. We have 20 amp outlets in the room. I have been looking at Leprecon and Lightronics. I would like to have 8-12 channels. And if possible cheap, but not low quality.

Applied and ETC dimmers are by far the best mobile dimming systems on the market.

ETC Sensor Racks are extremly popular and I acually have a picture of one that I will be posting in a bit as apart of another topic.

Applied has the OMEGA series and is also a very popular protable dimming system.
im looking more towards the tree mount dimmers, we have somewhat limited power in the room, maybe 4-5 20 amp circuits,
digitaltec, I have not looked at NSI
Leviton NSI recently introduced a low-cost 4-channel 2400W tree-mount dimmer pack, the D4DMX. It's practically identical to a low-cost pack from American DJ and probably made in the same Chinese factory. From either supplier, the pricetag is under $250. The pack only comes with Edison sockets, and is rated 2400W overall, but a maximum of 1200 watts on any one channel. This means you could safely run 1000 wattt lamps on two channels as long as the total for the other two was 400 watts or less (a couple 150W PAR38's or something). NSI, Leprecon and Lightronics all offer DMX options for most of their higher quality packs as well. There are several other companies making tree-mount ("shoebox") packs - these are the ones I'm most familiar with.

One thing to be careful with any time you're looking for outlets to plug your portable packs into, is to be certain the outlets are on separate circuit breakers. In many cases, buildings are wired with all the outlets in a given room on the same breaker, or split between two breakers. It's very rare to find an outlet with a breaker all to itself unless the circuit is dedicated - for instance a kitchen may be wired with a dedicated circuit for the refrigerator (I'm not sure when this became an NEC requirement - in older buildings this may not be the case).

Remember that just because you have 20 amp outlets in the classroom that it first does not mean that you have more than two if not at best four opposing walls worth of opposing power circuits actually feeding the room in most cases. This both means lots of cord feeding one dimmer pack and no matter the amount of outlets unless wired specirfically for your needs will not be sufficient for a lot of power in the room. Also it means that say the common exterior wall will be using the same circuit breaker for more than one class room. In other words, you had at best hope classroom number one does not decide to show a slide show during rehearsal. This all in addition to overhead lighting at times also circuited similar. Worse yet, if it's in an older building the wire feeding the outlets might not be rated for maximum load. Some amount of looking at such issues will be necessary to look at in outfitting the room. Get the schools maintince supervisor to sign off on the use of the room first in covering the theater department's liability on this issue. That way it's the school and not just the theater responsible if there is a problem in this way.

Just my usual comments about actual power available verses what seems to be a lot of outlets to tap for it. Test what is from where, ensure it's not going to be a problem and if possible have them wire the room specific to your use of it. Given a two 20 amp channel 2.4Kw shoe box dimmer, I would see if at least the two prime dimmer packs can be plugged into a split bridge outlet powered from two seperate breakers sent directly to them. This would be pleanty of power for such a room.

Lots of dimmer companies out there. CAE/Leprecon is my prime source for such shoe box dimmers but you get what you pay for.

Other notes: Altman 3.5Q5 Lekos are nice along with Altman #100 3" Fresnels/Inkies for this application. Other companies offer somewhat similar fixtures especially in the Fresnel if you want a higher wattage lamp. The baby Altman can also be similar to a mini fifty degree ETC but I believe a Altman with a HPR lamp will offer better wattage ranges between HX-400, EHD, FLK and HPR than a ETC with HPL 375 and HPL 575 for this use.

This all with the PAR 46 to which I would recommend to stock the Osram Very Wide Flood in addition to the medium and spot. Teh VWFL has a beam angle of 60x65 degrees as opposed to just 27x13 in field angle on a medium. Can be useful at close proximity. This is given a shorter snout lighting fixture because a Wide flood would not work with most stage and studio cans given the normal snout length. Might have to convert a track lighting fixture to stage use for a short enough snout in taking advantage of the wash lamp. This in additon to Q-Lites and other wash lights that will probably be of use.

In general, Juno and other low and line voltlage track lighting might be an alternative lighting fixture and hanging system which could work very well in a classroom studio. There is lots of possible wash lights even Lekos available for that line in addition to PAR lamp fixtures up to PAR 56 in size. Two circuit Juno light being optimum in circuiting given a lot of tracks would be necessary after that run to a more perminant power/dimmer source. In the end it could be as difficult to wire up such a power distro system as hanging pipe or unistrut plus offering sufficient power sources to light the fixtures. Also with the Juno system you can get dead for power hangers and power outlet taps in order to hang and power up more normal or stage lighting fixtures from it. (Kind of depends upon budget, amount of use and perminance of the room for the application but I would go with it in addition to the Unistrut below.)

I would also go Unistrut for the lighting grid instead of pipe in being cheaper overall for a small space both to mount and in cost. Easier also given the lower ceilings in keeping throw distance but you would have to be careful of heat treating on the ceiling and more careful with cable attachment to it. Safety cables by way of eye bolt and unistrut nut and washer will still also be necessary. If dropped ceiliing, the minimum proximity to the tiles of fixtures no matter if pipe or unistrut would have to be kept at 18". For plaster ceilngs it can be less.

Another thing I remember was Gam I believe them to be "stickups." Do they still make them? Good short proximity fixture. PAR 20 fixtures would otherwise be cheaper to get for close up work than the rest given they and the Inkies will have a high theft ratio.

You are also limited in the cordage you can do. It might be necessary to install the outlets closer to the ceiling as opposed to cords dropped from it and tapped across black boards.

Hope the notes help. New theater spaces are fun to work on construction and development of.

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