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Simple Question

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Madeen, Mar 6, 2009.

  1. Madeen

    Madeen Member

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    I know my inexpertise is probably annoying, but I'm doing an independent study at my highschool, and I'm trying to put together a quick reference guide for the theatre equipment we have. We don't have manuals or anything, and though I've used the equipment for several shows in the past, I've never received any formal instruction in it's use.
    The problem with our equipment is that the man who set it up did it alone, and never trained anyone to replace him. Unfortunately, he was banned from the school campus because he was buying alcohol for the students, and now we have a complicated setup that no one knows how to use beyond the basics.

    So, here is a simple question that I'm sure qualifies me as a complete newbie:
    Are channels generally used for single lights or groups of lights? With the setup that we have, it seems like the channels being used are set up with groups of similar lights of at least three.
    The submasters are then groups of the channels, but there is no way to control individual lights. So, is that normal?

    Thanks for your help.
     
  2. TheatreTekkie

    TheatreTekkie Member

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    every setup is different but yours is a common one. My suggestion would to just take the time to completly re work everything, Unlplug every fixture and the start lighting areas and patching accordinly. If your board has enough channles to opperate each light sepratley then that is an option also. The most important thing to look for and know is how many fixtures you can put on each circiut, if who ever set it up didnt have more than 3 per then that is what i would stick with. Go over that and you never know when you could pop a breaker mid show.
     
  3. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Occupation:
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    First of all, there are no questions that qualify you as a newbie. We are an educational forum so we are happy to help. You may want to browse our Wiki as there are many posts in the Glossary that define different pieces of gear and different parts of pieces of gear.

    Before I really answer your questions I have a couple for you that will help us make more informed answers. Can you tell us what kind of lighting console you have? If you can't tell by looking at it, post a photo. Also, can you tell us what kind of dimmers you have? Do you have a dimer per circuit system (each dimmer only controls one circuit (outlet) on stage) or do you have a hard patch panel (a place to connect the outlets on stage to dimmers)?

    On to your questions. Lets start at the beginning. A light (or multiple) plugs into a circuit. Each circuit (dim-able outlet on stage) connects to a dimmer. In a dimmer per circuit system you have one circuit hardwired to each dimmer. In a system with a hardpatch you can put multiple circuits into each dimmer. The dimmers provide power to the circuits.

    Dimmers are controlled by your lightboard. If we knew what board you have we could be more specific. However, for now I will assume that you have some kind of computerized lighting control. So, on your light board you can assign dimmers to channels. This is called the soft-patch. You can assign multiple dimmers to one channel or you can assign one dimmer to channel. You can then assign channels to submasters and groups. These are just ways to control groups of channels at the same time. Also, most groups and subs allow you to store the channels with level information so that when you bring the sub up and down it scales al the levels.

    So the simple answer to your question is that a channel can control one or more lights depending on how many lights are plugged into each circuit or dimmer and how many dimmers you patch into each channel. There also is no standard, as it depends on the needs of the show that you are working on.
     
  4. Madeen

    Madeen Member

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    Thanks for the responses. :)

    I have a Leviton Innovator 24/48.

    As for what kind of dimmers I have, I'm not sure... the manual says something about DMX 512. Is that what you're tallking about? It also says 1536 dimmers on 3 DMX Universes.
     
  5. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    DMX512 is what controls your dimmers. What you need to find is your physical dimmers.
    Could be this...
    [​IMG]

    or this...

    [​IMG]

    or even this..

    [​IMG]

    Look for whatever turns on fans when you turn on your lights. It could be hidden in a closet or something. It also could be small boxes mounted on your lighting pipes.


    If you could also let us know is what your lights are plugged into, either a raceway or small boxes. Raceways look something like this....

    [​IMG]
     
  6. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    DMX 512 is the control protocol that lighting consoles use to talk to dimmers and other devices. You will also hear people refer to the cable used to connect devices to the lighting console as DMX cable. The standard for the cable uses 5 pin XLR connectors.

    Due to the nature of how the data is transmitted from the console, each DMX output can only transmit data for 512 devices (dimmers on older consoles). This block of 512 is known as a universe. In general, universe 1 is 1-512, two is 513-1024, and three is 1025-1536. However on some consoles you can tell each DMX output to be a specific range if you wanted, so you could make one of the outputs 11-522.

    As for what I looking for, there should be some kind of label on the outside of your dimmers that says who made them. If not, you might take a picture and post it, and we would probably be able to identify them. However, if we have answered your question then doing so might be superfluous.
     
  7. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    While I am not that familiar with Leviton boards, DMX 512 is a standard control protocol for theatrical dimming systems. It's an 8-bit system which is capable of controlling up to 512 channels per universe. On the back of your light board there should be, based on the information you've provided, three DMX outputs. Each of these outputs represents 1 DMX universe, each capable of controlling up to 512 DMX channels, giving your board the capability of controlling up to 1536 channels of DMX.

    That's the control side in a nutshell, with a whole lot bunch of details left out.

    One remaining question is what are you controlling?

    What is your dimming system?

    How many dimmers?

    Are there any other DMX controlled toys?

    What types of lighting instruments are you using?

    How many of each type?

    There are more questions, but I'm out of time for asking them.

    Time to head out the door and go to work.:shhh:
     
  8. Wolf

    Wolf Active Member

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    I resent that statement "or even this" that looks like a step up from what I have
     
  9. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    That is exactly what I have. What I was trying to get at is the form factor of what the OP should be looking for. The dimming system could be anything from a small shoebox dimmers to large 96 racks.
     
  10. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    I have the exact same board. You are probably using just one universe (or less) of DMX. Look on the back of the board - there should be one cable coming out of the plug labeled DMX-A.

    If your dimmers are in a rack, they might be in the same room as your light board. Follow that cord and see where it goes. It might just be a box on the wall, but who knows?
     
  11. Madeen

    Madeen Member

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    Thanks for all the help!

    I believe I located the dimmers, I followed the sound of fans, but unfortunately they are behind a door located 10 feet off the ground that is bolted and locked shut. Hmmm...

    Also, lieperjp was right, we're only using DMX-A.

    Another question I had was about moving the lights. When the lights need to be aimed in a different direction, we have someone come in and use a ladder to do it. Shouldn't we be able to program the light board to do that, or do you have to get specific lights to do that?
     
  12. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    Nope; dimmers only dim lights. Conventionals are like that, where you have to get up there on the truss and physically make the mechanical adjustments to the light. Moving-head lights do let you change everything (except how the unit's hung) from the board, but they're also over 1K apiece for the cheapest oldest half-decentest one. And they're a whole other ballgame; you probably don't want them.

    Every theatre show -- and other show, for that matter -- has a different hang, a different plot that the designer comes up with. Before every show, there's a hang session and a focus session. It's unavoidable.
     

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