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Old 13th September 2005, 03:31 AM   #11
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Thanks for all the replies so far.

I want to keep it low-power mainly for safety reasons. And I don't want to overload the venue since we already have our amps and everything plugged up already. But also, we don't need that much power, since the lighting fixtures will be 10-12 feet maxiumum from the stage. Since this is a makeshift situation, it will generally be a lot more crowded. The lights may be just a few feet in front. So they'll need a wide angled throw and not so much power. Does Par38 Cans sound reasonable?

I'm still researching on a controller. I could write a program that automates exactly what I want, but I just wanted an idea of how other people would do this. I might even be able to do a program that converts MIDI to DMX, but I'm still learning how all this stuff works.
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Old 13th September 2005, 04:41 PM   #12
Schaef is offline Schaef  United States
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The more I read about what you want, the more I really think you want to look at purchasing some equipment rather than building. It might be a little more expensive, but I think you'll be much happier with it.

However, having said that, if you want to fabricate, look into using dimmer systems with a central controller. That way you only have high voltage from the dimmer pack to the lighting instrument. All other connections can be low voltage. (Whether it be MIDI, DMX or your own proprietary protocol) To get an idea of what I'm talking about, jump over to Leprecon go to their service section, and look at the documents for the LD360 dimmer packs. They have the schematics on line and will show you how they handle things. These packs feature standard 110V outlets, so you can basically plug any 110V lighting fixture into it.

Also, if you go with a standard protocol, you can add store bought instruments later with little to no problems.

Next, don't even think about moving instruments, any that you might find that are cheap, aren't worth the headache.

As to the par38's they'll probably work, as long as you put the right lamps into them. A bit of information that'll help you determine what's right for you, and how to use them properly, learn to read the spec sheets on lighting instruments. Don't just go to an online catalog and randomly pick instruments based on price. Go to the manufacturer's web page and get the Data Sheet for the instrument. It'll give you beam throw, intensity and beam diameter for standard lamps.

For example, for the par38, I went to Altman Lighting and looked up the par38 instrument under "Theatrical lighting". The data sheet for it states, with a flood style lamp, at 10 feet, it'll create a pool of light approximately 11 1/2 feet across. Using this type of information, you can see if how the instrument compares to other types of instruments and see what really fits what you want, and then figure out what comes closest to meeting all of your needs, namely light output, beam throw, diameter and cost.

One final note, if your band mates have experience with microcontrollers, then I'd highly recommend looking at DMX, its a pretty simple protocol, uses a serial interface, and you can get dongles that attach to the USB port of a computer for little money. I can look up some web addresses if your interested in going this route.
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Old 13th September 2005, 06:49 PM   #13
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Okay I think I've figured out how this works. I know it's been explained a few times already in this thread, but it's just sinking in. The Dimmer Pack provides the power for each light. And the Controller tells the dimmer how much power output to give each light. Right?

For the dimmer pack, four channels should be enough eh? I could run Red, Blue, and Yellow on each side symmetrically. And then the extra channel could be used for strobe or something.

For the controller, I would like to fabricate it to save all costs. Besides using manual sliders, I would like to be able to program/set certain scenes that I can cycle through using my custom footswitch. I'm not sure how to do that though, since sliders are analog and programs are digital. If I can get a USB-->DMX-512 interface, I could create a controller application that does exactly what I need. We already have a computer on-stage for synthesizer sounds. So I could just hook the Dimmer Pack to the computer via DMX cable and be done with it.
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Old 13th September 2005, 06:51 PM   #14
dnsey is offline dnsey  United Kingdom
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Many years ago, when I was in the same position (no money, part-time roadie/tech), I made a small flyable lighting rig which worked well.
Based on a 'half hexagon' about 4 ft across, it held six coloured PAR flood lamps in batten holders, two on each of the three 'front' sides.
By suitable selection of colours, switching and dimming the lamps individually would produce a surprising variety of effects as the overlapping beams interacted. Cheap, simple and easy to transport!
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Old 13th September 2005, 08:04 PM   #15
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Konnichiwa,

Quote:
Originally posted by noodles
If I can get a USB-->DMX-512 interface, I could create a controller application that does exactly what I need.
You can get DMX-512 commercial Interface cards and there is a DIY Job of parallel port to DMX using an Amtel uP:

http://llg.cubic.org/dmx4linux/avrdmx.html

I remember using PC's that had a simple cereal port to DMX Converter to drive all sorts of Light stuff (manly loads of big "scanner" lights, somthing like this:

http://home.wtal.de/Mischka/DMX.html

This might also help:

http://members.optusnet.com.au/~rowanmac/opendmx.html

For long term future proofing using a PC with DMX Interface and commercial (try finding 2nd hand stuff, possibly blown up for repair) DMX based dimmer packs will be an excellent choice.

Once you have the Dimmer packs you can add any type of "PAR" can you like, or my favourite $ 10 Halogen Flood lights.

Sayonara
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Old 13th September 2005, 08:21 PM   #16
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We scored a bunch of USB to DMX converters from colorconnetics (i think) that they had built for road demos. Ill see if I can track down how we got them.

Milo
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Old 14th September 2005, 02:46 AM   #17
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came across this.

http://www.goldmine-elec-products.co...m=19&mitem=100
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Old 14th September 2005, 03:39 AM   #18
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I don't think those cast light, they just light up similiar to traffic lights. My original LED plan would consist of an array of super-bright diodes.

Just got back from Wal-Mart. I went to look at some items I could use and all of them priced at about $10 each light. One thing I saw in the home lighting section was a 85w Floodlight (can't remember the manufacturer) with a pre-colored bulb. They had red, green, and blue for about $6 each. I would like to use regular floodlights and gels (so I have the freedom to swap gels) but these look okay to me. It also means there's less parts I have to buy. Has anyone had experience with these or does anybody strongly advise against them? I might just pick up one of them and test it out. There were no specs on the box besides saying it was Par 38 compatible and 85 watts.

I saw one coffee can guide, they used a porcelain lamp base. That seems a little heavy compared to just getting a socket. So I was wondering if a complete base was really necessary.
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Old 14th September 2005, 05:12 AM   #19
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Ah, thank Google. I found the floodlights I was just talking about. They're made by GE. And it looks like Wal-Mart is charging half what these prices are.

I'm pretty sure I'm going the computer-controlled DMX route. By conforming to the standard, I'll be able to add on in the future or use my rig in different setups. I've never used DMX equipment before, so I still need to learn how it all works. From what I understand, you pick a channel and then send it an 8-bit code. That sounds way too easy for some reason.

Right now I'm looking into DIY dimmer pack and a DMX USB interface. It will probably be $150 for both of those, which is pretty good. But I'd like to cut costs as much as I can.
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Old 14th September 2005, 12:17 PM   #20
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I build a diy lighting system using a mains controller - this - and the option footswitch, and a load of GU10 spots mounted in twos on small bases, with single IEC connections for both lights. I have 12 bases in total.
I then used some coloured GU10 bulbs (found buying plain ones and colouring them myself worked out cheaper) and spread them around the stage, so as the controller changes you get change in colour & movement around the stage.
I would upload a photo of the lights, but I'm not at home. Will try to support this with one later.
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