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Author Topic: DMX Lighting Controller for older system  (Read 3077 times)

Scott Payne

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DMX Lighting Controller for older system
« on: June 12, 2017, 11:58:20 am »

Hi (bit of a newbie to lighting)

I've been tasked with getting a School's old lighting system up and running and i'm wondering what would be the ideal DMX lighting controller for the system. As it stands the school has 6 PAR Lamp spotlights hooked up to a zero88 Betapack 3. The system hasn't been used for years but I powered it up and got all the lights working through using the manual controller on the front of the unit. The School would like to be able to dim and do strobe effects from a DMX lighting controller.

I've had a look at some lighting controllers and they all state "For LED", would these lighting controllers still work with this system? I know that most of the options on these controllers wouldn't work, but would they be able to dim etc...

Lighting controller I've been looking at http://www.terralec.co.uk/dmx_lighting_controllers/qtx_dmx6_dmx_par_controller/34389_p.html

I appreciate any help you'd be able to provide.

Thanks
Scott
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Stelios Mac

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Re: DMX Lighting Controller for older system
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2017, 03:00:21 pm »

You won't really get much of a strobe out of conventional par cans - A fast chase might be similar though.

Any DMX controller will be able to control channels individually, but ideally you'd want to look for one where you can store individual scenes and chases. I'm not at all familiar with that QTX unit, but it doesn't look like you can do that.

Why not go for something better you'd be able to expand upon in the future (more channels)?
That dimmer pack is quite pricey, why cheap out on a controller?

Since it's intended for school use, I imagine it would be children/students running it.
If that's the case, your best bet would be an easy-to-use/hard-to-screw-up controller with pre-recorded Stage Right/Center/Left lighting on separate faders, as well as a couple of chases/effects.
The QTX could work if you can store chases on it, but don't expect to get much in terms of "strobing" if you can't store chases on it.
Something along the lines of Luminair might also be a good choice, though perhaps "too much"?
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Simon_Barrett

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Re: DMX Lighting Controller for older system
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2017, 03:17:53 pm »

Hi, I am new here and it is my first post. I was mainly a noise boy but have a single universe USB DMX controller called the Bluelite X1 Mini. It ran my 12 - 24 par 64s without an issue along with some 8 lamp molefayes too. Could program chases with it and moving lights too if you wanted. Fully functional. The software was free but you needed to buy the specific hardware to make it work. Still got it. Just in case.

Sent from my LG-H850 using Tapatalk

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Jeff Lelko

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Re: DMX Lighting Controller for older system
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2017, 04:53:34 pm »

I've had a look at some lighting controllers and they all state "For LED", would these lighting controllers still work with this system? I know that most of the options on these controllers wouldn't work, but would they be able to dim etc...

Hi Scott, to answer your question - yes and no.  When using the industry-standard DMX protocol, the controller has no way of knowing which fixtures are plugged into it.  It just streams out data to whatever might be listening.  While the "for LED" boards will technically work for you, their features tend to be more applicable to color-mixing LED fixtures and thus may not be the best choice for you.  I'm also not familiar with the make and model of the controller you linked to.

Something along the lines of Luminair might also be a good choice, though perhaps "too much"?

I strongly disagree.  A tablet-based controller would not be my recommendation here for a number of reasons.

Before I make any blind recommendations, may I ask what your budget is?  Do you plan on sticking with just these few light or do you think you might grow your system down the road?  What's the typical use of your venue?  Plays, musicals, live concerts?  All of the above?

Either way, you'll find that there are two basic types of controllers that you can buy - "physical" controllers with buttons and faders (similar to what you linked...plus those much bigger), and "software" controller, where you use a computer or laptop with an interface to output DMX to your lights.  There is no shortage of threads here debating the pros and cons with each option.  Answers to the questions above will help to refine your needs.  Hope this helps!
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Scott Payne

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Re: DMX Lighting Controller for older system
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2017, 05:25:41 pm »

Thank you both for replying. You've already pointed me in the right direction.

Before I make any blind recommendations, may I ask what your budget is?  Do you plan on sticking with just these few light or do you think you might grow your system down the road?  What's the typical use of your venue?  Plays, musicals, live concerts?  All of the above?

The budget I've been given is pretty low due to upper management not being 100% about getting the lighting system back into some usable state. I would probably say 80 or less is what I'd be able to get away with at this time. If it turns out to be a success, they may want to expand the system at some point but I can't say whether that will happen or not. We have all the DMX cables, just not the controller. It hasn't been seen for about 5 years.

Another question - the Zero88 Betapack 3 has a 5 pin DMX input. Will a 5 Pin to 3 Pin cable still work properly?  as most of the lighting controllers i've seen are all 3 pin.

Thanks
Scott
« Last Edit: June 12, 2017, 05:27:54 pm by Scott Payne »
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BrianHenry

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Re: DMX Lighting Controller for older system
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2017, 06:22:57 pm »

For $100 usd you won't be able to get a very useful hardware controller. There are some free software packages such as QLC+ you can try out which can be pretty powerful. Also some of the major console manufactures offer their software at no cost iirc. These might take you longer to get used to but on the upside you'd be experienced with pro level workflow right off the bat. Id spend the limited budget on a decent USB/DMX interface from Enttec or the like.


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Jeff Lelko

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Re: DMX Lighting Controller for older system
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2017, 06:50:31 pm »

I have to agree with Brian here - for the budget you're talking you won't get a hardware console with any real capability.  That said, for the money you can still get a hardware console that will turn the lights on.  Strobe and chase effects will be hit or miss depending on your choice (not to mention any "strobe" effect won't be terribly effective with these particular light fixtures), but it'll work.  Going with a basic software option will give you much more capability assuming you have a computer or laptop at your disposal.  On the flip-side, software consoles tend to have a much steeper learning curve and might be more involved than you're looking to go.  Again, no shortage of debate threads on here if you want to read into all the details.  MagicQ PC and M-PC are two of the more popular programs on the market right now with a notable mention to many others.  The bright side is that you can download them for free just to take a peak and see if it's something you'll like before spending any money. 

Another question - the Zero88 Betapack 3 has a 5 pin DMX input. Will a 5 Pin to 3 Pin cable still work properly?  as most of the lighting controllers i've seen are all 3 pin.

Yes, though technically it'd be a 3 to 5 pin cable since the male and female ends of a cable aren't interchangeable.  Also, when buying make sure you're using a proper DMX cable and not mic cable.  Hope this helps!
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Stelios Mac

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Re: DMX Lighting Controller for older system
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2017, 03:04:19 am »

The budget I've been given is pretty low due to upper management not being 100% about getting the lighting system back into some usable state. I would probably say 80 or less is what I'd be able to get away with at this time. If it turns out to be a success, they may want to expand the system at some point but I can't say whether that will happen or not. We have all the DMX cables, just not the controller. It hasn't been seen for about 5 years.

Another question - the Zero88 Betapack 3 has a 5 pin DMX input. Will a 5 Pin to 3 Pin cable still work properly?  as most of the lighting controllers i've seen are all 3 pin.

Thanks
Scott

Will it be you running the lights? Teachers? Students? This will be a huge deciding factor as to which sort of controller you will want to go with.
The minimum I would recommend for a hardware controller is something along the lines of a SceneSetter 24.
Keep in mind though, lighting controllers are generally pretty pricey next to audio desks, thus most controllers at this price range are very similar.

By the sound if it, you might have to re-lamp those PARs sooner or later, keep that in mind. Are they bright enough with consistent brightness among all the fixtures?

The adapter cable will work just fine; Originally DMX was intended to use 5pin XLR plugs (2 pins not attached to anything), but later on (mostly DJ-grade) equipment manufacturers started including 3pin connectors on their products; The plugs were cheaper, and everyone had 3-pin audio cable (which is not the same as DMX cable) laying around, it made sense to them.

MagicQ PC and M-PC are two of the more popular programs on the market right now with a notable mention to many others.

That's what I'd normally suggest as well, but if it's students running lights I would definitely avoid it at all costs. What the OP should be looking for is something where the students will have a really hard time screwing up - And that is very easy to do in a controller as capable as Martin's M-PC software.
Hence my suggestion of Luminair as middle-ground.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2017, 06:43:29 am by Stelios Mac »
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Daniel Levi

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Re: DMX Lighting Controller for older system
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2017, 06:41:30 am »

Would a S/H behringer lc2412 fit the bill if you could get one cheap enough. 12x2 faders (A/B with crossfading between the 2) chases, programs, midi control and even an analogue output.
Sent from my Lumia 625 using Tapatalk
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Scott Payne

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Re: DMX Lighting Controller for older system
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2017, 10:11:53 am »

Hi everyone,

Thanks for all the responses and feedback you've given me. Been a big help in getting my head around some of this stuff. I'll read through the replies and have a think about what direction we want to head with this.

Thanks
Scott
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Scott Hofmann

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Re: DMX Lighting Controller for older system
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2017, 10:19:21 am »

Would a S/H behringer lc2412 fit the bill if you could get one cheap enough. 12x2 faders (A/B with crossfading between the 2) chases, programs, midi control and even an analogue output.
Sent from my Lumia 625 using Tapatalk

IMHO the LC2412 is the worst light board ever made. A cheap NSI or Lightronics console, even a used one, would be far superior in terms of ease of use.
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Scott Hofmann

Jeff Lelko

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Re: DMX Lighting Controller for older system
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2017, 09:24:00 pm »

Hence my suggestion of Luminair as middle-ground.

That's not what I'm getting at.  In my opinion Luminair would be a poor, if not at least cumbersome choice here because of the secondary equipment needed to get it working.  The product has its niche and does it good job when utilized appropriately, but this isn't a good application for it. 

IMHO the LC2412 is the worst light board ever made. A cheap NSI or Lightronics console, even a used one, would be far superior in terms of ease of use.

I don't think I'd go that far, but it's a different flavor of board when compared to others in a similar price bracket.  I like mine, and it's held up well over the past 12 years and still works to this day.  The board does feature a number of surprising features that usually aren't seen on products under $1k, but in compromise it can be rather difficult to program and even more difficult to modify programs after the fact.  It'd work here too, but Scott P. would have to spend a little time getting to learn it.

My personal recommendation here would be a Chauvet Obey 10 or Obey 40, depending on how much that budget can be stretched.  I honestly don't really care for the board due to its limited nature of control and obvious missing features (Grand Master, bump buttons, etc.), but it'll check the boxes, be easy (enough) to use, and comes in on budget.  Just my personal input though! 
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ProSoundWeb Community

Re: DMX Lighting Controller for older system
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2017, 09:24:00 pm »


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