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Author Topic: any help appreciated - feeling rather foolish, lighting newbie!  (Read 626 times)

DickieSouray

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Hey folks,
Seems like a nice community here, wondered if anyone could help.

So there is a bit of a paradox here. All the gear - no idea!

Firstly, I was looking for (a) waterproof / (b) wirelessly powered i.e. battery / and (c) wirlessly controlled lights for an emerging theatre/spoken word events thing that I'm doing. I'm especially keen to do off grid performance in the outdoors (but also need kit for standard indoor set up). So rather than getting different kit for different things, I ended up - slightly on whim - buying 10 of these:

https://www.thomann.de/gb/varytec_battery_event_par_ip65_6in1.htm

(I think) they're pretty top-notch for what they are i.e. I assume it's unusual to get (a), (b) and (c) all in one device? So what I have is the starting point of some really good kit.

HOWEVER. I realise that I neither have a controller (hardware or software) and it looks like I'll also need to get some kind of device that mediates between the controller and the lights themselves that utilises Wireless-DMX (the lights are already have inbuilt receivers in).

The problem is, I am overwhelmed with the choice. I need it to be as cheap as possible but reliable and critically - simple to use as I'm not technically minded (it's only ten lights) and realatively adaptable... oh and ideally be good for off-grid/on-the-move as well as stationary in an indoor venue like my church.

Is there any point getting a hardware controller these days, when I could probably just use software? Also, if I want a waterproof/offgrid solution, hardware controllers presumably need to be powered and generally aren't waterproof. If I go for software, I'm an apple man, but would it be better on a Macbook or a iPad (i.e. touch-screen, more intuitive and potentialy with waterproof casing etc). Is free software out there or is it basically better to pay for something? I don't want it to be too complicated! And what about the hardware that sits between the laptop/ipad - what's the best for this? I presume I only need a transmitter rather than a transceiver as the lights are already equipped. Do certain transmitters work with Apple etc - and is there a transmitter/software combo that is known to be reliable? I presume the transmitter needs to be powered itself... assuming it goes via USB into the laptop/ipad for the w-dmx connection, presumbaly it can't be powered by the laptop/ipad as well and needs a small separate power source. A mobile battery - would this work? Again, I'm thinking on-the move.

SO many questions and probably everyone is face-palming right now. Hoping for some kind souls. Thanks so much folks!
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Paul G. OBrien

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Re: any help appreciated - feeling rather foolish, lighting newbie!
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2022, 11:03:43 AM »


The problem is, I am overwhelmed with the choice. I need it to be as cheap as possible but reliable and critically - simple to use as I'm not technically minded (it's only ten lights) and realatively adaptable... oh and ideally be good for off-grid/on-the-move as well as stationary in an indoor venue like my church.

Is there any point getting a hardware controller these days, when I could probably just use software?

There are numerous apps available for your device of choice, these generally aren't too complicated to operate but you would still need a wireless DMX transmitter and that must be powered somehow and hardwired to your device, so what was once a very tidy solution starts to get clumsy. There are portable DMX controllers with built-in battery power and a wireless transmitter available online from places like AliExpress, the only thing they lack is an IP rating but then would you really stand in the rain while doing a show or would you have some kind of portable shelter(umbrella).
I do a fair bit of lighting using wireless DMX, all these events take place indoors on AC power but I have little problem with connectivity between the controller and fixtures even in rather large venues as long as the transmitter antanna is elevated overhead of the audience guests. If your lighting fixture are also overhead then better again but even when they are rather obscured such as when used for uplighting I don't have problems with connectivity.
I use both hardware and software controllers, the choice of what gets used depends on the complexity of the show and who will be controlling it. There is a good argument for having real faders and controls as you don't have to take your eyes off the show to make changes, but software generally offers more sophistocated control options so there are advantages to each one.

One note on fixtures with built-in wireless DMX, they can act as both a transmitter and reciever so reliable control requires that all fixtures be set to slave mode. This ensures that you will maintain control if there is a momentary interruption in communication between the controller and a fixture.. which isn't unusual. If the fixtures aren't all set to slave then one of them will assume control in a situation like this and you won't be able to regain control without power cycling everything. Hopefully your fixtures have this option, in my experience it's usually only the dirt cheap($50) fixtures that don't have this option.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2022, 11:35:55 AM by Paul G. OBrien »
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Steve-White

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Re: any help appreciated - feeling rather foolish, lighting newbie!
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2022, 02:04:58 PM »

Trying to keep on topic.

I started with a couple of cheap DMX controllers and both the Chauvet and ADJ had faders fail.  Not doing a poo-poo job on the thread.  I switched over to running Chauvet Show Express for the DJ system.

So, question is to Paul or anyone else running low end DMX controllers - do they hold together long enough to be useful?

Paul you mentioned using a combination of both hardware and software controllers.  That's the direction I would like to go with Software control on the main lighting system for Dance Floor universe with a variety of fixtures including a dozen moving heads.  For the DJ console I would like a hardware controller so the DJ can set his lights to preference during the show (par cans in the truss focused down onto console areas).

The faders in both the Chauvet and ADJ were cheap and let dirt in which rendered them with glitches.  I messed around with cleaner and eventually just pitched all of them into the recycle bin and went with a Software solution.

Looking for something simple to just control two RGBW pars that I can mount in the DJ desk and run a DMX cable up to the truss.
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Paul G. OBrien

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Re: any help appreciated - feeling rather foolish, lighting newbie!
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2022, 09:02:27 PM »

So, question is to Paul or anyone else running low end DMX controllers - do they hold together long enough to be useful?

Paul you mentioned using a combination of both hardware and software controllers.  That's the direction I would like to go with Software control on the main lighting system for Dance Floor universe with a variety of fixtures including a dozen moving heads.  For the DJ console I would like a hardware controller so the DJ can set his lights to preference during the show (par cans in the truss focused down onto console areas).

I really don't like the Chauvet DJ stuff, it's noticably "cheap" even compared to the direct Elation/ADJ competition.

If you have a software system already setup why don't you add a midi hardware controller to get the physical controls, this could be a really simple touchpad if all you need is some parcan color presents for the DJ.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2022, 09:05:58 PM by Paul G. OBrien »
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Steve-White

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Re: any help appreciated - feeling rather foolish, lighting newbie!
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2022, 08:47:26 PM »

I really don't like the Chauvet DJ stuff, it's noticably "cheap" even compared to the direct Elation/ADJ competition.

If you have a software system already setup why don't you add a midi hardware controller to get the physical controls, this could be a really simple touchpad if all you need is some parcan color presents for the DJ.

I want these fixtures separate from the software controller universes.

This may be the ticket right here:  https://www.elationlighting.eu/sdc12
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: any help appreciated - feeling rather foolish, lighting newbie!
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2022, 09:13:19 PM »

So, question is to Paul or anyone else running low end DMX controllers - do they hold together long enough to be useful?

I've got a Behringer Eurolite going on 17 years if that counts for anything!  Not that I'd really recommend something of that nature in this decade...

Paul you mentioned using a combination of both hardware and software controllers.  That's the direction I would like to go with Software control on the main lighting system for Dance Floor universe with a variety of fixtures including a dozen moving heads.  For the DJ console I would like a hardware controller so the DJ can set his lights to preference during the show (par cans in the truss focused down onto console areas).

That's actually similar to what I did prior to buying my larger ETC desk.  I had the Behringer running strobes and relay packs for effects lights and MagicQ PC running my moving lights.  It was okay.  I've done similar master/slave setups with one console triggering a second which is being run as a media server for pixels.  The one advantage to going this route is that with the DJ's controller feeding into your controller you'd always have the ability to override or at least take control of the full system.  A MIDI controller into your software can be programmed the same way.

This may be the ticket right here:  https://www.elationlighting.eu/sdc12

These are very popular in the special effects industry as well as for basic troubleshooting on larger systems.  That's really about it.  I'd wager you'd be better off with something like the Chauvet Obey 4 - at least that one gives you some nice color macros and other goodies.  Any sub-$100 controller likely won't last a decade, but assuming that it's paid for on its first gig then you really can't complain...  Hope this helps!
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Paul Johnson

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Re: any help appreciated - feeling rather foolish, lighting newbie!
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2022, 03:29:49 AM »

That varytec is a neat fixture. 7 hours use on a 6 hour charge would work for me - and I have some of their other kit that's been unused and been solid. Thomann rarely sell anything that is naff due to their warranty. I use some non-waterpoof uplighter and they are great and so quick to rig. The only thing to remember is that when you have lots, charging needs managing - a small flight case with notches for emerging cables, so you open the lid, pull out the cables and off you go - just a single mains cable.
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ProSoundWeb Community

Re: any help appreciated - feeling rather foolish, lighting newbie!
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2022, 03:29:49 AM »


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