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Portable Light Board

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Charc, Feb 25, 2007.

  1. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    I've been trying to do something about the poor event lighting at my school, and after Friday, I'm determined to figure something out. On Friday we had a "Coffeehouse". Coffeehouse is basically where bands, singers, poets, etc. from the school perform. It's in intimate setting in a student lounge type area. Everything was pretty lackluster. Audio consisted of lots of individual amps, 6-8, one for each instrument / microphone. I was saddened by the quality of the audio set up. The school has a nice small sound board we can use in coming shows. I'd like to pose a secondary question here. I know next to nothing about audio. But it seemed to me that we should have each mic/instrument on a separate channel on the sound board, and then just output to one amp/speaker s.l and s.r.. Are there any cons to this set up?

    Anyways, back to lights. Lights for this show consisted of light spilling out of the building's vestibule, one rotating police style light, christmas lights strung around the 2 walls, and whatever light came through the the bay windows off the major road behind the actors. I've been debating in my mind how I can get more lighting there. The acts are barely visible, as all the lights were out. I really don't know enough about the power needs of lights to make any decisions right now. The only power I'll have access to is standard 3 prong outlets. I assume this won't be adequate for lighting needs. But I need to figure something out. It'd be nice if I could get 6-8 instruments, and some kind portable control board and dimmer unit. Manual control is preferable, and cheap. I've only ever seen one in my life. Any suggestions on portable set-ups? Low cost of course. And how to get lighting in this situation, because now it's pretty much useless.
     
  2. SHARYNF

    SHARYNF Well-Known Member

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    Led Pars are dropping in price every day it seems, and they have build in color mixing and dimming ability and draw minimal power.
    elation makes an inexpensive dmx controller the scene setter 24 that goes pretty inexpensively

    Sharyn
     
  3. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Lights:
    Get some of these (8 would be a good number):
    http://www.wiedamark.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=2015

    And this:
    http://www.bulbamerica.com/products/3514

    The LED cans have 4 channels each (Red, Green, Blue, master/strobe). So, if you get 8 cans, address them in pairs (2 cans get the same channeling, so that you can have 4 directly addressable groups of 2 cans each). If you want to have individual control over each can with an 8 can setup, you have to get the bigger AMDJ board that has 48 faders.

    For sound, bring all your inputs in (1 channel each), and send out a master left and master right signal to your left and right main speakers. That's just the way to do it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2007
  4. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    So, how would I set this up. No dimmers?
     
  5. Radman

    Radman Well-Known Member

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    Aye, no dimmers. Each can draws 30 watts. We're going to assume your outlets are 15 amps. So figure we can do about 1200 watts on a 15 amp circuit... Hehe you can put all 8 cans into the same plug and still make coffee. Mwahahaha...
     
  6. mbandgeek

    mbandgeek Active Member

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    you can check out some of the Chauvet products, They now make 4 channel dimmers for about $100.

    This is eventually the way that i am going to go, when one of the school bands starts doing gigs.
     
  7. mbandgeek

    mbandgeek Active Member

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    I personally feel that Led products are great, but for the cost you can buy 4 par 38's and I think that buying conventional fixtures will give you the same result for less money.
     
  8. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    At which point you have to buy dimmers, gels, and lamps for the fixtures. Still might be cheaper to go with the conventional PAR38's, but the fact that you can put 8 of them on one circuit, control them without dimmers, and won't have to buy replacements of anything unless you run those cans for 10 years straight.
     
  9. zac850

    zac850 Well-Known Member

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    As was stated, LEDs were perfect for what you need. You have no power, and I assume whatever wall outlets you have are being shared by everyone else in the area. So, LEDs are great.

    Don't expect any of these LED PARs to be as bright as a conventional PAR 38, but it sounds like it will work well for you.

    No dimmers. Simply plug the lights into the wall, and daisy chain the DMX from fixture 1 to fixture 2 and so on. Address the fixtures as soundlight suggested, and have fun!


    Also, with your sound set-up, musicians get antsy about microphones and amps and such. If your going to take the mics to a board, make sure theres at least one monitor on stage for them to hear themselves sing. I think its an ego thing for them.

    Also, what kind of music is being played. I would suggest not taking guitars and instruments to your console unless you really need to. If you do, don't DI the guitars, put a mic in-front of their amp. Gives a better guitar sound.
     
  10. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    I've never had to set up a board/system before so I don't really know much.

    That Scene Setter board looks pretty good. Those Weidman parcans also look good. I'm not sure exactly how to daisy chain these, and set up everything. What is the link between the board and the instruments?

    And I've never really understand the whole DMX deal, addressing stuff, or any part of it.
     
  11. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Here's the deal. On the back of the light board, there is a 3-pin XLR connector for DMX out. DMX stands for Digital Multiplex, and is the standard lighting control signal in the industry today. You use 3-pin DMX cables (available on the BulbAmerica site) to connect the board to the first LED Parcan. You then connect the output DMX connector of the first can to the input of the second can, output of second can to input of third can, and so on. You can use a standard power strip mounted on the lighting stand to hook the fixtures up to the wall power.

    Addressing: on the back of each LED Parcan, there is a series of small switches. You set the address of each fixture through this. Imagine the DMX signal as a postal system. If you set the first fixture to address 1, it receives the data that the system sends for addresses 1 thru 4, since each fixture takes 4 channels. You set the next fixture to address 5, and it receives the data that the system sends for channels 5 thru 8, and you do this for each can. BUT, since your control board only has 16 sliders (and you need 32 if you want to control all of the cans individually), you can
    address 2 fixtures to the same address. This way, they both get the same data. It's like sending an email to two people telling them to do something: both people (in theory) do the same thing. This is the same way that the LED cans work. If you address them to the same address, they will do the same thing, because they are receiving the same information.
     
  12. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    I really think I understand this stuff. There are some specific parts about DMX functions I don't yet comprehend. I've come across some diagrams about functions, and I don't quite understand it. Example:

    http://www.bulbamerica.com/files/MJC1_spec.jpg

    Would anyone care to enlighten (excuse the pun) me?
     
  13. Jezza

    Jezza Active Member

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    The diagram that you provided a link to is the DMX channel guide for an intelligent fixture, more than likely a mirror based fixture.

    As described above, DMX is a way for a console so convey information to dimmers, rotators, moving lights, etc. That diagram says, basically, that as you increase the value of the first control channel for that instrument, you will cycle through a variety of gobos and colors. On channel two, increasing the value will make in the instrument pan, and on channel 3, the intrument will tilt.

    A single DMX channel is gradiated as some percent of 256. So, panned all to the left would be 0 and all the way to the right would be 256. What simpler consoles do, is convert that value of 256 to a percent out of 100 so it is easier to understand. So, as you were to raise the fader on channel 2 from 0 to 100 or all the way up, the instrument would pan all the way from left to right. Get it? Its the same principle for all types of ML control.

    For your LED PARS, moving the fader on channel 1 will increase the value of red from 0 to 100. Channel 2 will give you green from 0 to 100. (0 meaning black and 100 meaning full on of course). Still confused?
     
  14. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Remember that postal system example that I talked about? Every instant, the postal system sends out new information to each address. Each new bit of information contains a value from 0 to 256 (0 being zero percent and 256 being 100 percent, if you want to think about it like that). So, those values on the card are for an intelligent, moving mirror fixture. The number values on the card refer to the signal that the fixture is receiving for that channel. The pan (left-right movement of the mirror) is 0 to 100 percent depending on the value of the channel, as indicated. The tilt (up-down movement of the mirror) is 0-100 percent depending on the value of the channel, again, as indicated. It starts to get alot more complicated after that, with different functions of strobe, rotation, gobo wheel position, color wheel position, etc.

    I'm working on making a sample "channel card" like the one that you linked to for the LED parcan, and maybe that will help explain things.
     
  15. len

    len Well-Known Member

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    Forgive the nitpick, but that's not always true. A lot of dmx boards use a 5 pin out for dmx. The reason being is that a lot of the smaller boards like Leprecon, Lightronics, etc., also can output MPX for traditional dimmers. Also, the standard for dmx is 5 pin, not 3. However, some desks, and a lot of fixtures, will accept the data from a 3 pin connection.

    Charcoal,

    To get your lighting running, first find out if you have a small lighting controller suitable for this coffeehouse, that outputs dmx. It will say dmx out (or should) if it does. If you're still not sure, check the manual, the mfg. website, or call the mfg. If you don't have one, they are available used for under $300 (ebay, etc.) or new for a little more.

    Second, leds are great. But know there are some limitations. Whites won't be that great. And certain other colors aren't available, such as some ambers and greens. For this specific use, I doubt it will be a problem.

    Also, some led fixtures, typically in the lower price range, have limitations on the dmx address they can be set at. That shouldn't be a problem for you but be aware of it.

    Once you have the equipment, connect from controller to the first light, then from there to each additional light in succession. If you have lights set to individual addresses you don't have to wire them in that same order.

    As for cable, you can probably get away with mic cable. Although true dmx cable will have a different resistance than mic cable, it should be ok for short runs. However, if you see things not right in one or two lights, cable is usually the culprit.

    There's a lot more to know, but that should get you started.
     
  16. BillESC

    BillESC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Set up is simple.

    Board >XLR> Fixture 1 > XLR > Fixture 2 > etc.

    Addressing will depend on your controller, many of them have fixture buttons. Each fixture button will represent a number of channels (DMX Addresses.)

    For example, the Chauvet DMX 55 or ADJ DMX Operator each use 16 channels per fixture button. For these boards the addressing is 1, 17, 33, 49, etc.
     
  17. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    Hey guys, thanks for all the great replies. I think I have a pretty good mental picture here. I believe I'll have to make my sales pitch soon so I've been doing research and compiling a list.

    1 12 ch 2 scene LSC controller
    1 12ft tripid with 8 hanging points, 100 lb capacity
    4 ADJ PAR64 LED
    2 200w par46
    2 par 46 200w bulbs
    1 250w color changer
    1 400w black light
    1 4 ch dmx dimmer
    1 8 x 10ft dmx

    1 moving head instrument that we already own, but don't know much about
    1 weird spinning instrument we already own, and i don't know much about
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2007
  18. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Unless you really need the color changer for a special purpose, drop it. Same goes for the blacklight. Change out your 2 PAR46's for 4 PAR38's and get the Osram 120W flood bulbs for them:

    http://www.bulbamerica.com/products/16002

    http://www.bulbamerica.com/products/15528
    (This bulb package gives you replacement bulbs for each PAR38 as well as a first set of bulbs).

    If you plan on controlling the moving head with a controller that you are going to purchase now, you should get one with moving light capability, such as:
    http://www.bulbamerica.com/products/3510

    Otherwise, looks good.

    Get the AMDJ LED pars, the tripod, the cables, and the dimmers. For the rest, refer to my recommendations above.
     
  19. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    Yea, the lighting system is supposed to be versatile, so the color changer & black light are for dances. Also I thought the color changer could double as a spot-light, where as the pars are for more area lighting. I added the normal pars, to the LEDs for circumstances like administrative presentations etc. where good simple white light is desired, where as the PARs could be slightly off color. Do you think the 4 par 38s is that much better than the two par 48s, and what's the deal with Osram lamps? And what is so special about the moving light capabilities on that board? The other thing is I'm trying to keep this as low budget as possible, without defeating the purpose by purchasing cheapo stuff. My school is not terrible well endowed, and I've heard there is a budget; sadly, it's probably not enough.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2007
  20. BillESC

    BillESC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Suggestion. Forget the 400w UV Cannon and get the UV Wash in its' place. Much better output, smaller in size, lighter in weight and costs less.

    A pair of Par 46s will serve you better than Par 38s for the application you've presented.

    You can get much better DMX cables for the same price in other places.
     

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