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Author Topic: Room Lighting Control from the 70's  (Read 8425 times)

Mike Sokol

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Room Lighting Control from the 70's
« on: December 20, 2013, 07:48:10 pm »

I just did sound and lighting for a kids' play at a local ballroom that was a big deal back in the 70's, but which hasn't had any electrical upgrades since then. Lucky for me I borrowed a bunch of LED stage lights so my total power load for lighting was easily under 15 amps. Same for the PA system which easily fit into another 15 amp service. I was a bit scared about the idea of doing ANYTHING on their main lighting panel except for turning off the chandeliers at the appropriate times. 

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Mike Sokol
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Mike Sokol

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Re: Room Lighting Control from the 70's
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2013, 11:40:44 pm »

What, no comments?  ;)  Isn't it beautiful???

I'm going to look at the sound and lighting tech for another little diner theater tomorrow. I've been warned that the power there is REALLY scary. And this was by someone who thought the above panel above was acceptable.

What happens in these old buildings around my town is that old wiring is grandfathered in UNLESS you upgrade part of the wiring. Then the entire mess needs to come up to code. I think some localities are a little more proactive and require periodic inspection and code compliance. But not in my own little slice of electrical heaven...
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brian maddox

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Re: Room Lighting Control from the 70's
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2013, 11:44:36 pm »

What, no comments?  ;)  Isn't it beautiful???

I'm going to look at the sound and lighting tech for another little diner theater tomorrow. I've been warned that the power there is REALLY scary. And this was by someone who thought the above panel above was acceptable.

What happens in these old buildings around my town is that old wiring is grandfathered in UNLESS you upgrade part of the wiring. Then the entire mess needs to come up to code. I think some localities are a little more proactive and require periodic inspection and code compliance. But not in my own little slice of electrical heaven...

This one looks familiar to me.  Can you say where it is?
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TonyWilliams

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Re: Room Lighting Control from the 70's
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2013, 11:45:04 pm »

In my part of Tennessee, that would be considered a piece of antique art.
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Tommy Peel

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Re: Room Lighting Control from the 70's
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2013, 11:48:57 pm »

I was thinking "wow...." when I saw it. Pretty crazy stuff.

Sent from my Nexus 4 running OmniROM 4.4 KitKat using Tapatalk Pro

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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Room Lighting Control from the 70's
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2013, 11:56:35 pm »

Pushmatic? OUCH.  Nothing, absolutely nothing about that installation gives me confidence.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Room Lighting Control from the 70's
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2013, 12:02:27 am »

What, no comments?  ;)  Isn't it beautiful???

I'm going to look at the sound and lighting tech for another little diner theater tomorrow. I've been warned that the power there is REALLY scary. And this was by someone who thought the above panel above was acceptable.

What happens in these old buildings around my town is that old wiring is grandfathered in UNLESS you upgrade part of the wiring. Then the entire mess needs to come up to code. I think some localities are a little more proactive and require periodic inspection and code compliance. But not in my own little slice of electrical heaven...
Off-topic, residential wiring moment ahead-

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  My house has an Federal-Pacific main panel and a Zinsco sub-panel.  The Zinsco was the original main, so it has the range outlet & HVAC on it.  When the mud room/laundry was raised to floor level (to accommodate HVAC return) they had to move the service entrance.  It seems the expeditious way was to install the FPE panel at the new service location and run 6' of #2 back to the Zinsco.  I did a circuit map after moving in and don't overload my circuits, but an expensive electrical upgrade is in my near future.
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"Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."  - Kurt Vonnegut

Chris Clark

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Re: Room Lighting Control from the 70's
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2013, 12:43:17 am »

I thought my high school was bad, we had one of those giant green lever controlled dimmer panels that looked like an analog controller for the Death Star's laser. (I don't even know how to describe it other than a bigger version of this: http://www.ibmring362.org/ghostwalk/images/dimmerboard2.jpg complete with a "wheel" for controlling multiple masters at once.) Breaker panel built into the side that controlled the outlets and sodium lights in the gymatorium... The last time I used it for the stage lighting, in 2003, it put on a light show that went with a bang... Their fix? Turn off the breaker for the offending lever and put electrical tape over it. As far as I know it is still there with the same piece of tape over it, still being used for their band concerts. At least it didn't have pushmatics...
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Steve M Smith

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Re: Room Lighting Control from the 70's
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2013, 05:03:14 am »

When I was at school in the 1970s/1980s, I used to work the theatre lights with 12 Rank Strand rheostats like these:



Each rheostat had two channels with three way switches.  Down was permanently on, middle was off and up was through the rheostat. Occasionally there was a need to separately bring up the lights on both channels. The trick was to bring up the first one then quickly flick the switch from up to down and bring the rheostat down to use on the other channel.  If you were quick enough, you could move the switch without causing the light to flicker.

Although ours had the output sockets on the front, they were not used.  It was internally wired to two multi pin connectors on the back of the large trolley they were mounted on.  There was also a large power connector on a thick wire.

At the age of 13, I was allowed to open up the access panel in the floor, plug in the multi way connectors and the power then go into a cupboard to turn on the power.  I was also allowed to climb a set of steps to adjust the lights twenty feet above the hall floor - all without supervision.  I doubt that would be allowed today (and possibly wasn't really allowed then).


Steve.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2013, 05:13:38 am by Steve M Smith »
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: Room Lighting Control from the 70's
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2013, 08:57:31 am »

On the plus side, it is mounted on a block wall, so little to kindle a fire with though that doesn't help those that actually have to touch it!  It must have been "upgraded" a time or two though-surely they didn't build it from that hodge podge assortment originally.  Around here, when we do an upgrade, they really can't tell us the scope of it-just make us do what we do do right.  I suspect because if they required an overhaul it would be cost prohibitive in a lot of cases and they figure any improvement you do is a good thing and shouldn't be discouraged.

Often for me the hardest part is deciding what I am willing to leave-given that being the last electrician there could bring me an unwelcome invite if something happens-and the scariest part of that setup is probably what you can't see-I dare you to open it up and take a pic next time you are there!  I agree the Pushmatic needs to go-but there is t least one modern panel I no longer install do to not so nice things happening!
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Mike Sokol

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Re: Room Lighting Control from the 70's
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2013, 01:45:47 pm »

On the plus side, it is mounted on a block wall, so little to kindle a fire with though that doesn't help those that actually have to touch it!

Yeah, a lot of the receptacles are mounted right where the carpeting comes up the wall a bit, so that's fire hazard as well. I'm guessing that block wall and electrical panel will probably be the only things left standing after the rest of the building burns down.

I just got a look at my upcoming diner theater gig this morning, and there's a 12-channel dimmer board from the early 80's that has 9 channels still working. And it has a 16-channel Biamp mixer in a wall rack from the same era. Lots of basic on/off switches routed right into the table-top for connecting various lighting circuits into the still operating dimmers. Looks pretty safe with no visible exposed wires, but I'm guessing that spilling a coffee on the table would be a very bad thing. Plus the booth is tiny with an 18" by 24" window to look out at the stage area. Not going to be a comfortable gig, and I'll be mostly deaf and blind to the stage action.

I keep telling the play director I'm not really a lighting guy, but one time I knew what the Grand Master fader did, so I was promoted to Sound AND Lighting. Yikes!!!!
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Jonathan Johnson

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Re: Room Lighting Control from the 70's
« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2013, 03:45:05 pm »

I just did sound and lighting for a kids' play at a local ballroom that was a big deal back in the 70's, but which hasn't had any electrical upgrades since then.

Considering that every single dimmer looks different, I'd say there have been about 24 upgrades over the years.  :P

By any chance, do some of the labels say "here be dragons?"
« Last Edit: December 23, 2013, 03:50:41 pm by Jonathan Johnson »
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Mike Sokol

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Re: Room Lighting Control from the 70's
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2014, 10:30:28 pm »

Here's another goofy 50's lighting panel from a church near Washington DC. There's a bunch of twist-lock dummy plugs on the front, and I suspect you used patch cables to tie it into a non-existent second panel. Nobody there knew exactly how it was tied in or what it did, so I'm making an educated guess since it's next to a newly added modern dimmer box and there's a bunch of unused Edison receptacles in the ceiling where the old lighting pipes used to be.

No, I'm not going to power this up or try anything cute. Looks too scary to play with.

« Last Edit: January 05, 2014, 02:26:21 am by Mike Sokol »
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Mike Sokol
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: Room Lighting Control from the 70's
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2014, 10:37:28 pm »

If you change your mind, set up a video camera first-might get some nice arc flash footage :)!
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Mike Sokol

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Re: Room Lighting Control from the 70's
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2014, 10:42:49 pm »

If you change your mind, set up a video camera first-might get some nice arc flash footage :)!

I'm going back there in the morning to run a church service for them, so while that's a tempting idea, I think not....  :o
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Mike Sokol
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Chris Clark

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Re: Room Lighting Control from the 70's
« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2014, 02:57:56 am »

By any chance, do some of the labels say "here be dragons?"
Not that I could read, but did you notice the one labeled "VOID"? (right under, ironically, a hole in the backing plate)  :o
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Re: Room Lighting Control from the 70's
« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2014, 02:57:56 am »


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