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Work and House lights

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by renegadeblack, Jan 3, 2009.

  1. renegadeblack

    renegadeblack Active Member

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    I am having some similar issues as tech1000 is having, the drama and band teacher turn on our stage lights and I'm assuming that the folks tech1000 are dealing with actually turn off the lights when done, but at my school they don't.

    I have plans already for giving them control of lights that is appropriate for them, but I have a problem with the fact that when our dimmer system is out of commission, there are absolutely no lights in the house. It's pitch friggin black.

    We have a Colortran Innovator 48/96 board with an i Series 96 rack. It has support for I believe two universes. I am wondering what would happen if I were to get another smaller dimmer system, possibly even a few portables, and plug that into another universe and use just that for just house and work lights. If I were to do that, I could give them access to just that dimmer system, and when the main system is being cleaned or something of the sort, there are still house lights.

    I'm thinking just some generic sort of dimmer, I'm not sure what type yet, then run DMX for it to our booth, then for the feed that's coming from the booth, plug it into our Leviton 1000 series that should be waiting for me at school after vacation. From there, plug it into the smaller dimmer system. I'm thinking two Leviton ND 4600's as we have about 6 different channels for house lights and 1 for work. As far as addressing goes, would it be that I set one at 97 and the other at 101? Or would it be completely different setting them on different universes?

    No I don't intend to do this myself, just wondering what would be the most cost effective method.
     
  2. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    The real question is why? How often are you dimmers off? It isn't like you are cleaning them every day, generally one only needs to clean the filters every 400-ish operational hours (depending on how dusty the environment is). If you have lots of down time on your dimming system then it would seem like you have bigger issues. Also, why can't you do your routine maintenance when the space is not in use?

    Also you have to consider that your house lights and work lights are probably hardwired into the dimmer racks and probably require a significant amount of power to operate. Putting in portable dimmers for this is probably not a viable option, you would probably need some other dimmer rack. Ultimately this is probably a very costly operation that is very far from anything that could be DIY. This probably falls under the category of renovations which would probably require permission from the district, a bid process, and all that jazz.
     
  3. iLightTheStage

    iLightTheStage Active Member

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    If you are on a separate universe then you don't need to start at 97, you can start at 1 again. However, if you are using two boards to control one dimmer rack, you need to make a way of switching between the boards, because both can't communicate to the rack at the same time. So you either need to physically swap dmx cables, or build a switch (I don't know of a cheap dmx switcher off-hand).

    You dont' really need to go into another universe for it because you still have dmx addresses 97-512 available on universe 1, but it is all about what makes things easier and more sense for you.
     
  4. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    Yeah, you shouldn't have to do that sort of thing.

    Do you have any sort of architectural system?

    Back in college the houselights and stage works in our mainstage (used as performance space, rehearsal space, load-in space, and classroom) stayed on pretty much all day, and in the evenings for rehearsals too. no problems there .. but that was 6 scoops and then the houselights.

    To solve the pitch-blackness, a ghostlight may be worth looking into. Keeps people from tripping when they're walking from the door to the architectural panel (that you should have) to turn the lights on.
     
  5. renegadeblack

    renegadeblack Active Member

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    I don't like having all my eggs in one basket so to speak. There are absolutely no lights in there that aren't controlled by the rack.

    As for a switch, I don't believe that I would need one because the Leviton 1000 series has an in and an out. You put an input from your main console, and then there's an output that actually goes to the rack. It's pretty cool, if this thing sees that all of a sudden, there are channels that are up and it looses signal from the board, it will either hold the scene or go to an emergency scene.

    Also, is there a DMX out from the i96 rack?
     
  6. renegadeblack

    renegadeblack Active Member

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    We have entry buttons by all the doors that turn on lights on the rack that go through a remembrance board that is smashed to bits (scenery).

    We have no architectural system whatsoever, all we have is the rack. I like being able to control the lights from the board, I don't think that we would be able to do that with an architectural system though.
     
  7. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    A Unison system (ETC's architectural system) will integrate with your main system infrastructure, so you have pushbuttons at some entry doors that turn on dimmers that you can also drive from the board. Your Remembrance system that has been smashed to bits is an equivalent, I believe. I'm tempted to say "This is why we can't have nice things".

    As to all the eggs in one basket, in some applications the houselights are in a different, smaller rack than the stage lights, but usually this is a Unison rack or a shorty Sensor rack. Often they're in the same rack. It's not a big deal, because how often do you have to down the rack? If your feeder goes out, it'll go out to a second rack as well.
     
  8. renegadeblack

    renegadeblack Active Member

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    The Remembrance system it was understandable (from what I've heard) as to why it happened. A piece of scenery on it's way out the door to the work room hit the Remembrance panel on it's way out which is right next to the door, the scenery went runaway and hit it. Everyone who I've spoken to has said that it's in a rather stupid location, but I couldn't say for sure.

    I was looking at the Unison system that you mentioned. Looks interesting.

    In terms of it going down, I'm assuming that you mean mains by feeder. The lights are on their own feed, I would put this other system on an entirely diffrerent line. Also, we are off the grid, we have a tri-generation system, some of our lights are on backup battery, I was thinking that this would also enable us to run house and work lights off the backup entirely, though I'm again not sure. I'll suggest a Unison system though, budget season is coming up.
     
  9. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    So you do have an architectural system, what you describe is what most architectural do. Most systems allow you to control dimmers in your racks from button or fader stations as well as the console. [user] waynehoskins[/user] describes how ETC's system works, but there are many systems that do this:
    Other than that I stand by what I said before. You are talking about a major electrical renovation, not really just an install of a few dimmer packs. I would think that it is worth looking into having your current system repaired before you replace it.
     
  10. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    We are talking about down time, not power failure or other failure. You mentioned that if you take the rack offline you don't have lights. The question is why you take the rack offline. Regular maintenance should be able to be done when the space is not in use.

    As for backup power, only emergency lighting should be connected to backup power. You will have to talk to your local fire marshal or some other local AHJ for the rules on that.
     
  11. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    +1 for repair your existing Remembrance system. Probably reasonably inexpensive to do, and better.

    Alternatively, you could push for a system upgrade to Sensors and Unison and an Ion (used to be an Expression), but that would get you negligibly more functionality than you had before the scenery smashed your architectural panel.

    And none of this addresses the problem you brought up initially, which is people not turning off the lights they turned on when they went into the space. If anything, an architectural system is your best bet on this. Or post signs that say "hey stupid! turn the lights off when you leave!".

    Again, why does your rack go down (especially if it's got a backup genny) when people are in the space? It sure sounds like you're throwing money and technology at an organizational or coordination problem.
     
  12. renegadeblack

    renegadeblack Active Member

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    I seem to be doing a poor job of explaning things here. We don't have a problem with it constantly going down, I'm just thinking that it doesn't quite seem right to have it setup like that. I may be wrong, but it was something that I realized when I was cleaning out the filters on our rack. We are to some degree getting the remembrance thing fixed, more so, replaced. What do you guys have for the most part, do you have any other lights in your theatres that aren't controlled by the dimmers or is everything right there?
     
  13. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    It is becoming increasingly common to have one dimming system that controls all the dimable lights. With the abundance of relay modules and other types of available modules for dimming racks even more things can be controlled from one rack with an architectural system and a lighting console. So it is not a bad thing to have everything in one rack.

    The original system here in my theatre was 6 Strand racks. Four racks housed the dimmers for the stage while the other two house the dimmers and relays for everything else. Everything could be controlled by the console or the architectural system. We are currently in the process of upgrading to an ETC Sensor+ system, it is a phased process, we did the first 4 dimmer racks and then we will do the last 2 when the monies are available. So while our system sort of separates the architectural from stage, it doesn't have to be that way, and many systems aren't.

    Want to see a really big example of architectural and stage systems that are totally integrated? Take a look at the LDS conference center. All of the lighting through the entire building is controlled from an ETC Unison system connected to the myriad of dimmer racks that they have. This includes all the hallways, chandeliers, theatres and the main auditorium, etc.

    Now, I am not familiar with the Leviton racks, but you shouldn't need to power them down to clean the filters unless you need to take the racks apart to get to the filters.
     
  14. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    We just had 3 Sensor (48)'s installed here, and everything is on dimmers except for a select few fluorescent lights in the wings on our grid. The dimming system is functional 24/7 except if we take it down for maintenance. For Sensor racks at least, it isn't even necessary to take the system down for filter cleaning, unless you pull each and every module out and clean them one-by-one. Even then, it would only take a couple hours of downtime to have the entire system dusted. So for every 500 hours of operation, there are only 2 hours of downtime, max.

    Having everything tied together is actually very common. ETC Unison is a great system for coordinating architectural controls and theatrical controls, but it would not be by any means a minor fix for you. It would be a complete renovation. You should look into repairing the system you have, or possibly upgrading with your equipments' existing manufacturer, if there is any simple expandability in those systems. I'm not at all familiar with those systems, so I can't give you more info on that, but I can tell you that unless your entire dimming system is defunct and the school HAS to replace the majority of it, it is not feasible to switch to ETC Unison/Sensor.
     
  15. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    A quick look at the C'tran website implies that the iSeries/E racks are current, or at least recent. It's their take on Sensor, and the modules bear a striking resemblance to their ETC counterparts. Probably they're not compatible, but one is designed after the other.

    Looks like they still know what the Remembrance panels are too. It should be a piece of cake to replace your damaged panel.

    Most places only the worklights aren't on dimmers or relay modules in the rack .. and that's chiefly because it makes more sense to be able to turn the grid works on at the wall before you go up there than it does to press a preset. Probably safer too, but that's beside the point. Rehearsal light and houselight, there's no reason for it not to be on dimmers, the same rack(s) as your stage lighting circuits.
     
  16. Sony

    Sony Active Member

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    Like everyone else says a lot of places today have all of their lights on the same dimming system. It's much easier to diagnose and solve problems for one system than it is multiple systems. From the sounds of it to me you are looking for problems in the system where none exist. Fix the Rememberance system and you will be fine!
     
  17. renegadeblack

    renegadeblack Active Member

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    As it turns out, you don't have to power it down to get to all of the filters, I thought that there may have been more filters behind the dimmers, but there weren't. I just can't help but think that it's not right that if for some reason the rack is broken, there aren't any lights in there until it gets repaired or replaced. Not even house lights. It just seems very strange that there isn't something separate.
     
  18. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Well, you should have some kind of emergency lighting, and you should have a couple spare dimmer modules and if there isn't a local dealer for the gear then you might consider having a spare control module around. If you had a failure that was not a gear failure (power, etc) then your emergency system should kick in. Also, intentional or not, the school would never install a system that wasn't safe or didn't comply with local codes and laws, so it should be safe to use as is.
     
  19. renegadeblack

    renegadeblack Active Member

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    I do have a few spare dimmers, and there was some guy in recently to repair the emergency lighting recently. I mean, I guess it's OK, but it just doesn't rub me the right way.
     
  20. Sony

    Sony Active Member

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    I'm sure the school has a backup system. Emergency lighting is required in any public building. At MVPAC certain lights in our house lighting system are connected to an ETC ELTS system which bypasses the dimmers and connects them directly to the backup generator if the power fails. It is impossible to turn off the lights while the genset is running without cutting the service. There is no off switch and there is no circuit breaker in the dimmer room for it ether as the backup genset control and breakers are in a completely seperate room in the building. I'm sure your school has some type of backup system, maybe if you were to take a picture of your schools dimmer closet and post it here we could be of some more assistance in maybe recognizing what type of emergency system you may have.
     

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