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Strobe on dimmer

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Charc, Jan 9, 2008.

  1. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    So at my internship I got a chance to see a Dataflash in action... hot stuff! I'd ask to borrow one for my upcoming show, but running data to the stage would be such a headache. I'm opting for using existing strobes on a dimmer, if at all possible. The strobes we have are old, just plain old. I mean they like 60's old, but I can't place the decade exactly. (Or someone made a more recent strobe that looks old?) Anyways, would it be possible to run these on a dimmer? I'm not quite sure what the response time of an SCR dimmer is, but this, of course, would be used to simulate a lightening effect. Without direct control over frequency, this could get a little difficult. I'm thinking now perhaps a better option is to use something different, but also on a dimmer. I will proceed to go hit-up the "search" button.
     
  2. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Haven't we taught you anything? A Dataflash or AF1000 and almost every other strobe must have a constant source of power, not a dimmer.

    I do seem to recall an Ellipsoidal Strobe module where one plug went to constant power and the other plug went into the dimmer to control the rate of the flash, but can't find it on the internet right now. it's not on my favorite strobe site, Diversitronics. Just rent a Martin Atomic 3000 and run the DMX to the stage, great strobe.
     
  3. cutlunch

    cutlunch Active Member

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    Hi Charcoal. It is possible to run an old strobe off a dimmer. It may not be a good idea for both the strobe and dimmer but they will probably survive.
    But you need to put a dummy load on the same channel you are running the strobe on. This is because the dimmers normaly have some voltage output all the time < 20v normally it will just make the filament in a lamp glow.
    With a strobe this voltage gets stored in the strobe and slowly overtime the energy builds up until it reaches a level high enough to flash the strobe. To overcome this, put a light of say, 100 watts on the same channel in the dimmer room or somewhere the audience can't see it's light output. Making sure to put it somewhere safe so it can't heat anything up when the strobe is on. So when you don't need the strobe the light will use the excess energy to heat it's filament. When you need the strobe bring up the dimmer channel to full.
    This is how it was done for years before DMX strobes.
    It should work for you. But give it a try before you start rigging for the show.
    Hope this helps.
     
  4. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    But, Mr. Leffew, I can't run data to the stage... unless... I run DMX through the audio snake, and sacrifice 100 ft of mic cable to return the second universe from the canopy to the booth.

    Ghost load won't be a problem. I'm just worried I won't get a useable effect from a faux strobe.

    Btw, damage to the strobe I can live with, damage to a dimmer? Not at all.

    So what is damaging to the dimmer? Would it be possible to modify a strobe into constant on, and then modify frequency via the dimmer?

    (The 360Q strobe looked stupid.)
     
  5. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    Absolutely not, you know better!
    (foot putting down time)
     
  6. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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  7. cutlunch

    cutlunch Active Member

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    I have done this without damaging a TRIAC dimmer, it could possibly put a spike back to the dimmer but it's not to likely. Some of the old hands will correct me if I am wrong.

    You will have to use the speed control on the actual strobe to set the speed. But if this is a rehearsed show that should be no problem and unless the strobe is knocked it should stay close enough to what you have set.

    No! you can't modify the dimmer. This method is only if you can't get a proper DMX Strobe setup properly. I take it your old strobe is basically on/off with a speed control and preferably no intensity setting?

    Hope this clears it up.
     
  8. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    B-b-b-but the d-d-d-data-f-fl-f-flash d-d-d-does it-t:

     
  9. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    Ah, so the charge gets stored, when it reaches a certain level, poof, discharge?

    So the stored charge will dissipate if the power to the strobe gets cut? If so, then fine, I can figure out how to get 1 flash out of the strobe, and do everything from the board.
     
  10. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    I can't believe I'm going to say this but....I was in one school that had 4 "party strobes" on the same dimmer circuit. The rate of the strobe changed depending on what level the dimmer was at. But yes, we all know that strobes are in general unfriendly to dimmers. I seem to recall that even a dimmer parked at 100%, so it is essentially an on/off switch, will still put out "dirty" power.


    Charc, a 360Q strobe, or now S4 strobe, isn't silly, imagine how useful it would be with a lightning gobo.
     
  11. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    I don't like the caps on my 360Qs to have 4pin whips, thanks very much.
     
  12. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    Charc, the stored power does not immediately dissipate when you disconnect the power. Even if the flash has not been set off, a strobe can still store a punch. Ever heard of a capacitor? Those can hold their voltage for years.

    The "continuos blinder effect" of the dataflash is deceiving. Essentially what the strobe is doing is charging and discharging at a rate so fast that your eye cannot tell when it is off and when it is on. Thus, the cycle blends together and appears to be a constant source. Any strobe can theoretically do this, but on the cheap strobes this would give them a VERY short life. That's why High End makes the Dataflash, and Spencer's Gifts doesn't.

    And it's not like your going to light your whole stage with 360Q strobes, you would probably only have one or two at the most on a stage your size. I don't see why you're so against the idea.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2008
  13. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    The lesson here is, go rent some bloody DMX cable for $50.
     
  14. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Blasphemer!! Turn in your lighting card, your privileges are hereby suspended until further notice. The Dataflash and AF1000 are made by Lightwave Research/High End Systems. Martin makes the Atomic 3000.

    Charc, here's your solution. We're using it right now to control 8 pairs of VL3000Spots, and 8 Atomic3Ks with scrollers, in the audience.
     
  15. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    Psht, yes I've heard of a capacitor. I just wasn't sure how long that energy was stored, it makes sense now when I think of a disposable camera flash.

    I'd be running data cable all through the house! A big no-no. I'd like to return rented goods in one piece. 'Sides, not worth that much $$ for one effect.

    Plan B. A S4 with a half shutter cut, and a rotator with a "custom" gobo with a small opening... yep, that's the plan... it won't work at all, drat!

    I'll just play SFX, eff it.
     
  16. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    Honestly, even I know that.
     
  17. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    Wait, what?! You want to give them to me, and pay shipping? Awesome.
     
  18. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    I've been pwn'd. :silenced: :oops: :doh:

    Derek, I had just corrected myself before you posted that, hoping no one had noticed, so, yea.............I could give an excuse like, I had a long day or something, but no I'll just take this one like a man and say "my bad". What, I don't use strobes very often. "Derek will never look at me the same"

    I'm going to go crawl into a corner and cry myself to sleep, and have a nightmare in which all the Source 4's point and laugh at me, and I'm cursed to a world of rusty 360Q's.

    Oh, and for charc's strobe effect, does anyone make a flicker wheel anymore?
     
  19. Pie4Weebl

    Pie4Weebl Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    I think the real moral of the story is don't sit in your small apartment living room with 8 led par 64s set to automode while listening to techno, all that strobing I can hardly see!
     
  20. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Now Charc, if I sent a truck to your theatre with $175,000 worth of VL3000s, A3Ks, and W-Dmx, would you really know what to do with them? I suspect I'd have to throw in a grandMA, as I don't think your Strand 300 could keep up. But I'll see what I can do.:)
     

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