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Control Lighting



  • Planning for a stand-alone video installation where I'd also like to control some lighting.  This will not be a major theatrical lighting situation, rather, maybe 6-8'ish small lights that will need to fade in and out at specific points during a 60-min looping multi-channel piece.  I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT LIGHTING or about automating lighting.  Advice as to where to begin experimenting, what hardware is needed, and how to control through Isadora will be most appreciated.

    CK

  • Tech Staff

    Your best bet wil be an Entec USB to DMX device that works with Isasora. My knowledge about lighting is very minimal but all the users who use DMX use one of these or highly rate them. http://www.enttec.com/dmxusb.php



  • Thanks for responding.  Do I need any other hardware?  Does it work like this:  Isadora communicates w/ENTTEC DMX via USB which hooks up to DMX light fixtures?  How many lights can be controlled via one DMXUSB Pro interface?

    [ Sorry, completely ignorant in this dept. ]

  • Tech Staff

    You need a lighting desk or some kind of console, you might get away with wiring it as you describe but I can't see how. There are tons of other users in here who can help you out. I'm sure they will reply soon and help you out much better than me. Check back tomorrow :-)



  • Actually you are right, you dont need a desk if you use the Enttec and Isadora, it might take a little time to get it all worked out though, Mark has made some great tools for working with DMX but they are not so plug and play- search the old forum I think there was a good example patch there for the enttec. The other caveat is the only lights you can control with this method are LED lamps, if you want to control real lights you also need a dimmer. There are some cheap low wattage 4ch dimmers out there that also have a midi input as well. These little ones will not power a high wattage theatre lamp though.

    http://www.avshop.ca/lighting-amp-effects/controllers-dimmers/dimmers-amp-power-switches/elation-cyber-pak-4-channel-dmx-dimmer-switchmidi
    Here are some of the el cheapo DMX LED pars
    http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/american-dj-38b-led-pro-dmx-led-par-can
    Fred


  • Thanks Fred.  Going to cruise the old forum.  Back w/more questions...


  • Tech Staff

    You want this link for interfacing an Enttec compatible interface. I use the controllers from DMXking.com .. they cost less and work well.
    http://forum.troikatronix.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?post=9813;search_string=Enttec Lanbox MATRIX;t=search_engine#9813

    I have found controlling DMX pretty straight forward using Isadora, and I had not dealt with DMX at all before getting into Isadora.



  • Thanks DusX.  Not sure yet whether I'll be using LED lights or small incandescent bulbs for this one.  In other forums they talk about the difficulty of getting a smooth fade in/fade out w/the LEDs.  Would it be necessary to get a dimmer/relay pack that is specifically geared towards LEDs?

    example: 

    Chauvet DMX-4 LED Dimmer Switch Pack


  • Tech Staff

    Sorry I can't say.. I don't haven't had any LED fixtures. I have been controlling lasers and Dimmer packs with incandescent bulbs so far. Just got a LED uv panel but haven't been able to play with it yet.



  • You don't need dimmers to cointrol LED fixtures; they plug into the wall and the intensity and colour is controled by the DMX signal. You DO need dimmers to control any type of incandecent fixture including most conventional theatrical fixtures.  The 4 pack dimmers referenced above also plug into the wall, making them very flexible, but you must be careful with your load: max 500 watts per channel, 1800 watts total, all channels combined.  The ones I use have 2 AC plugs (the one above has only one), allowing for twice the load.

    Better quality LED's do provide a smooth fade in/out. It doesn't have anything to do with the LED's themselves, but rather the control circuitry that's built into the fixture.  It's a "you get what you pay for" kind of situatuion.  Also watch out for the native colour temperature of LED's. It can wreak havoc on your artwork.

    Where are you located?  It sounds to me as though you need to engage the services of a lighting designer, or at least a technician, who would be able to advise you...

    Cheers,

    Hugh



  • Thanks for all the info Hugh.  No doubt I value what lighting designers can bring to the table.  For a project such as this one though, I'd like to be able to go the DIY route, if I can swing it with the help of some tips from those in-the-know. +++C



  • if you're looking for LED fixtures that fade well, the newest generation of ColorBlasts by Color Kinetics are supposed to be pretty good -- old LED fixtures get really jumpy and bumpy in the lower intensities when fading, but most newer ones have gotten better....

    Leprechaun Dimmer packs are one of the brand names of the ones referred to above -- you can get the kind with two AC plugs on them (but make sure you plug them into two DIFFERENT circuits -- not just the two different outlets on the same circuit! :P )
    a single universe of DMX has 512 channels -- a DIMMER that is controlling a single or a couple of lamps only requires one DMX channel (there is a dip switch or digital addressing method on the dimmer packs that tells it what number of DMX to "listen" for.....so if you give a 4-channel Leprechaun pack the address "1", it will respond to DMX channels 1 through 4. 
    LED lights and automated fixtures require more than a single DMX channel. for example, most typical LED fixtures have RGB -- so the red is on a channel, green on a channel and blue on a channel -- sometimes they also have a separate channel for intensity (these ones are the kinds that would generally fade nicer without affecting colour quality). so once again, a 4-channel LED fixture addressed to "1" will respond to DMX channels 1 - 4 with each channel controlling a single parameter (red, green, blue, or intensity). some moving lights that do lots of stuff (pan, tilt, gobo, rotate, etc....) can take up many channels (24, 36, or even more). so 512 channels of DMX usually goes a far way, unless you're working with many moving lights.
    also keep in mind, that addressing various fixtures the same, will allow you to control them all at once. 
    i don't know a lot about Isadora in the lighting world, but any other lighting specific questions, feel free to throw them my way! :)
    raha


  • Raha's points about "jumpy and bumpy" must be emphasized. I bought a cheap-o LED light to do testing with Isadora, and was shocked by the "stair-stepping" as I did a fade. Very ugly!

    Best,
    M

  • Tech Staff

    Thanks for your detailed post @raha.

    As many of you know I have used Isadora for many years now but lighting has always been one area that I know little about. My new job is very keen for basic interactive lighting so I have been reading up about it.

    From what I can gather I need a Entec USB pro and then from that one DMX output I can connect it to 6 lights (daisy chained) and then fade one of the six in and out when one of six videos is chosen.

    So:

    Isadora>Entec>LX1>LX2>LX3>LX4>LX5>LX6

    How does Isadora talk to the Entec box is it serial?

    LX1 - ch1 - 4

    LX2 - ch5 - 8

    LX3 - ch9 - 12 and so on....

    Thanks!


  • Tech Staff

    Hi Skulpture
    You probably will want to use the entec actor found here: http://forum.troikatronix.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?post=9813;search_string=Enttec Lanbox MATRIX;t=search_engine#9813
    The USB pro uses serial over usb, so you will need to setup a serial connection.
    With the 1 universe you should be able to chain many lights. 6 for sure. It depends on the nuber of control channels per fixture. If its a rgb led fixture it will likely have 4 channels, 1 for Red, 1 for Blue, 1 for Green, and 1 for Brightness... some will have additional for things like strobe features etc.. in the case of 4 channels per fixture you can connect  over 100 of them to your single universe controller.
    If all lights are the same then addressing will likely be... Fixture1: ch1 brightness ch 2red 3green 4blue , Fixture2: ch5 brightness ch 6red 7green 8blue , Fixture3: ch9 brightness ch 10red 11green 12blue.
    Each fixture will have a dip switch that you have to set to its first channel. So Fixture1 will have the dips set to 1 (they are in binary.. often a chart is supplied) Fixture2 dips set to 5 and fixture 3 dips set to 9 etc..

    Hope this helps.


  • Tech Staff

    That helps a hell of a lot! Thanks.

    They will be basic spot lights so no RGB (hopefully) just "Warm White" I think they describe it as.
    I for some reason thought I'd need a dimmer pack or something? I think i'd need one if I was using 240V lights am I right?
    Cheers again and Ive downloaded the patch. ;-)

  • Tech Staff

    Dimmer pack.. maybe.. depends on the lights.
    If they are incandescent and don't have built in DMX dimmers you will need one.
    The addressing on them is pretty straight forward. Again it would have a Dim to set.. and then usually one dmx channel per output.



  • Please note that the patch found in the old forum doesn't run smoothly on newer releases of Isadora.  Please use the patch attached here which has fixed the problem.  Mark is also working on a fix that will make the old patch work again.

    Craig

    b3a12f-enttec-lanbox-matrix-v1.3.izz


  • Tech Staff

    Wow brilliant! Thanks @CraigAlfredso


  • Tech Staff

    @CraigAlfredson
    What changes were made? I added a trigger-text actor and a control pulse to the old one and had it running perfectly last weekend.


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