Single Gang DMX Controlled Dimmer

StradivariusBone

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I was just daydreaming a bit about my wife's school's "cafetorium" and thinking of the many similar types of spaces that you might find at elementary schools. Her lights are controlled by a number of single-gang residential-style dimmer switches that are in a "booth" where the only window faces toward FOH and nowhere near the stage.

With all the advances in tech with smart home stuff, I was wondering why no one had come up with a product to solve this problem. Almost every elementary school I've been in has a similar setup. How hard would it be to take your regular dimmer switch and replace the pot with a controller that decodes RS-485? You could even put in a throughput so you could network the 8-12 dimmer switches together and then wirelessly control it from a cheap laptop setup. It'd be a great solution to the cafetorium problem.
 
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BillConnerFASTC

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Clayton NY 13624
I think a lot of separate devices is always going to cost a lot more than a pack - like shoe box dimmers. Are the lights spread out? Already hard wired? Fed by separate circuits?

Look at X-10. I think it does what you want but sluggishly. May not interface normally with a "console".

LED is the answer - dimmer built in.
 

sk8rsdad

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There are any number of control systems these days in the "smart home" category. Lutron, Leviton, and others have many product offerings. I haven't found any that support DMX but there are several that have WiFi, IR, or 0-10v support. However, they might not be approved for commercial use, which I would think a school ought to require.
 

tdrga

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Central TX
I was just daydreaming a bit about my wife's school's "cafetorium" and thinking of the many similar types of spaces that you might find at elementary schools. Her lights are controlled by a number of single-gang residential-style dimmer switches that are in a "booth" where the only window faces toward FOH and nowhere near the stage.

With all the advances in tech with smart home stuff, I was wondering why no one had come up with a product to solve this problem. Almost every elementary school I've been in has a similar setup. How hard would it be to take your regular dimmer switch and replace the pot with a controller that decodes RS-485? You could even put in a throughput so you could network the 8-12 dimmer switches together and then wirelessly control it from a cheap laptop setup. It'd be a great solution to the cafetorium problem.
I think ETC is already addressing this segment of the market with their ECHO architectural products: https://www.etcconnect.com/Products/Architectural-Systems/Echo/

Here a video about the products from ETC CUE this past weekend: The ECHO product intro starts at about 16:20.

-Todd
 

Chris Pflieger

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Indiana
The only good solution is to tear those out and install a (multi)dimmer pack.

Dimmers that fit into a one gang box have a lot of issues - heat dissipation, wiring termination space, high & low voltage separation, power supplies (boxes weren't required to have a neutral), no economies of scale (ie each dimmer would have to have the same electronics), etc., etc.

In other words, you get a crummy, and expensive, dimmer.


ETC is about the only one that makes a single channel DMX dimmer and it's designed to connect to a four square via nipple, not mount in a single gang.



Or, they could retrofit the space with DMX and 0-10V fixtures and never need dimmers.
 

RonHebbard

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Waterdown, ON, CA
I was just daydreaming a bit about my wife's school's "cafetorium" and thinking of the many similar types of spaces that you might find at elementary schools. Her lights are controlled by a number of single-gang residential-style dimmer switches that are in a "booth" where the only window faces toward FOH and nowhere near the stage.

With all the advances in tech with smart home stuff, I was wondering why no one had come up with a product to solve this problem. Almost every elementary school I've been in has a similar setup. How hard would it be to take your regular dimmer switch and replace the pot with a controller that decodes RS-485? You could even put in a throughput so you could network the 8-12 dimmer switches together and then wirelessly control it from a cheap laptop setup. It'd be a great solution to the cafetorium problem.
@jfleenor Care to comment??
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

microstar

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Jan 19, 2014
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Lawton, OK
Mentioned above, the ETC Foundry UFD 600 watt dimmer module is a pretty slick retrofit solution for lots of small installs. While it will not fit inside a single gang box, it is designed to attach to the outside of almost any kind of electrical box, being only 2x3.5x3 inches. Best of all, it operates on DMX512. Biggest drawback in the OP's situation is that many switch boxes do not contain the neutral wire, which the UFD needs. https://www.fullcompass.com/prod/542412-etc-ufd-600w-dmx-phase-adaptive-dimmer-120v
This could also be a real winner when LED PAR lamps are retrofit in ceiling cans, as the UFD can do forward or reverse phase dimming and 600 watt capacity would control a lot of LED PAR lamps.
 

StradivariusBone

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I realize the correct way would be to straight wire the circuits to the closet and install a small dimmer unit or install a small dimmer rack/shoebox. The neutral problem is one I hadn't considered and that would be a deal-breaker for anything electronic in a box. But I vaguely recall reading something about the neutral now being required in residential and maybe that was a thing in commercial prior?

And this is just daydreaming, the right way in this place (as Bill said) would be to straight wire everything, hang a bunch of LED's and run data or do the wireless thing. The problem in this case is hanging would be involved since it's replacing P38 tracklights suspended from a drop ceiling. It'd be nice to be able to convert over the dumb dimmer with something slightly smarter.

I suspect if it ever became a thing it'd be ArtNet instead of DMX anyway. I wonder if the smart switches could be hacked to be networkable in such an environment?
 
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derekleffew

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And this is just daydreaming, the right way in this place (as Bill said) would be to straight wire everything, hang a bunch of LED's and run data or do the wireless thing. The problem in this case is hanging would be involved since it's replacing P38 tracklights suspended from a drop ceiling. It'd be nice to be able to convert over the dumb dimmer with something slightly smarter.
Once again, I'll point to this nifty device:

https://www.1000bulbs.com/product/4305/NORA-NT327W.html?clickid=0004b247c2761dd90aec857075eb3f50

Make sure it's compatible with your make/model of track. Slap a stick of Unistrut a couple of inches away, and parallel to, the lighting track and you're done.
 

Coop165

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Jul 31, 2019
Location
St. Augustine, FL, USA
Mentioned above, the ETC Foundry UFD 600 watt dimmer module is a pretty slick retrofit solution for lots of small installs. While it will not fit inside a single gang box, it is designed to attach to the outside of almost any kind of electrical box, being only 2x3.5x3 inches. Best of all, it operates on DMX512. Biggest drawback in the OP's situation is that many switch boxes do not contain the neutral wire, which the UFD needs. https://www.fullcompass.com/prod/542412-etc-ufd-600w-dmx-phase-adaptive-dimmer-120v
This could also be a real winner when LED PAR lamps are retrofit in ceiling cans, as the UFD can do forward or reverse phase dimming and 600 watt capacity would control a lot of LED PAR lamps.
This is what I'm working on for my theatre's two stages. I want the houselights to be controlled by the console. The pilot will be in our black box but, hopefully we can scale it up to control the multiple circuits controlling the main stage house. Got one on my workbench now, but a bit confused on how to wire it up to mains. Ideally, I want to test it by wiring edison plug male and female to it. I already have the DMX cable ready to go for the test.
 

Bob David

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Jul 17, 2019
Location
Edmonton Alberta canada
I was just daydreaming a bit about my wife's school's "cafetorium" and thinking of the many similar types of spaces that you might find at elementary schools. Her lights are controlled by a number of single-gang residential-style dimmer switches that are in a "booth" where the only window faces toward FOH and nowhere near the stage.

With all the advances in tech with smart home stuff, I was wondering why no one had come up with a product to solve this problem. Almost every elementary school I've been in has a similar setup. How hard would it be to take your regular dimmer switch and replace the pot with a controller that decodes RS-485? You could even put in a throughput so you could network the 8-12 dimmer switches together and then wirelessly control it from a cheap laptop setup. It'd be a great solution to the cafetorium problem.
I do a lot of school retrofit lighting systems and very often our customers are looking for a relatively low cost but relaible way to transition to LED from a traditional dimming system including the simple 600w type wall dimmers. often the school electrical contractor can bypass/remove the old wall dimmer and we will add a ColorSource console/Relay system in place using the old 120v wiring and the wireless DMX via ColorSource.
 

BillConnerFASTC

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Jan 30, 2010
Location
Clayton NY 13624
This is what I'm working on for my theatre's two stages. I want the houselights to be controlled by the console. The pilot will be in our black box but, hopefully we can scale it up to control the multiple circuits controlling the main stage house. Got one on my workbench now, but a bit confused on how to wire it up to mains. Ideally, I want to test it by wiring edison plug male and female to it. I already have the DMX cable ready to go for the test.
I was just looking at install manual online the other day at ETCCONNECT. For one or two circuits needing good dimming, a good solution. Its my solution for controlling track lights in control rooms and follow spot areas. Once in a while for an architect selected decorative fixture I can't find in LED with a driver.

But if scaling up for multiple circuits, more economical beyond 3-4 to go to a pack product usually.