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Controlling house lights with DMX

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Yohann Park:
Hello everyone.  I had a question.  We have about 28 incandescent house lights that are controlled in groups of 4 by seven household dimmers mounted in the wall by the entrance of the house of worship.  Is there anyway I can get them to be controlled by DMX?  I am trying to figure out a way to do it without resorting to massive construction.  THanks in advance.

Christy L Manoppo (okky):
Yohann Park wrote on Thu, 22 April 2010 15:46
Hello everyone.  I had a question.  We have about 28 incandescent house lights that are controlled in groups of 4 by seven household dimmers mounted in the wall by the entrance of the house of worship.  Is there anyway I can get them to be controlled by DMX?  I am trying to figure out a way to do it without resorting to massive construction.  THanks in advance.


Well, if you said it's a household dimmer.. then I think there's no way (maybe, cmiiw) you can do that.
Some ways including replacing those dimmers with a DMX ready dimmers. Like Lightronics AR-series. Link

Yohann Park:
I guess I should clarify.  As far as I know it, These lights are on 3 different single phase circuits.  I suppose I need a dimmer that can take multiple single-phase lines and output  to the 28 lights that we have setup.  I don't know if that's possible or not.  That's why I am asking.  I don't know of any products yet.  Thanks!

George Linkenhoker:
It actually may not be that bad.  You would have to have an electrician to do some work for you but you would be looking for a small set of installation dimmers that respond to DMX and probably something which is designed for use with architectural controls (like wall panels that you hit a button and it does a preset look) unless you wanted/have a control console.  This would be a product line similar to the ETC Unison system, though several companies like LighTronics and Leviton make versions that function similarly.  You said you have four segments of house lighting control, so you would need four channels of DMX dimmers capable of supporting the load your lights represent (10 amp or 20amp).

I would assume that the old house dimmers would be removed and their boxes simply plated over as junction points where the line will be spliced while the dimmer would be installed in your electrical space and the lighting fixtures electrical feed pulled from the breaker panel and into the new dimmers.  The dimmer rack will also have to have a hard connection to a main power box.  Again, all stuff for a good electrician.

Hope that helps,

George L.

Arnold B. Krueger:
Yohann Park wrote on Fri, 23 April 2010 15:32
I guess I should clarify.  As far as I know it, These lights are on 3 different single phase circuits.  I suppose I need a dimmer that can take multiple single-phase lines and output  to the 28 lights that we have setup.  I don't know if that's possible or not.  That's why I am asking.  I don't know of any products yet.  Thanks!



You didn't give the wattages of the bulbs, but you implied their wattage by saying that they are on 3 different circuits.

On the worst day of your life, you could simply use 3 separate dimmers, all responding to the same DMX address so they are slaved together.  Depending on the rating of the dimmers, this may all work out pretty naturally.

For example, a very common sort of DMX dimmer has one 15 amp input and 4 ouputs rated at 5-10 amps each. This might naturally drop into your existing wiring scheme.

There are a ton of different kinds of DMX dimmers. Don't think for a second that the TYPICAL DJ or general sound/lighting company catalogs even scratch the surface!  Google is your friend. Manufacturers to start with might include Leviton, Lightronics, and Leprecon.

There are theatrical lighting specialists in most larger cities that specialize in this sort of thing and have in-house system design staffs.

Frankly, your biggest problems are probably going to be mechanical - finding a place to stash the DMX dimmers which are generally far larger than standard manual dimmers, and extending the wiring.

You also need to consider how a custodian or usher is going to control the room lighting when there are no technical people around to run the lighting board. There are simplified controllers for this purpose.

Since you are working with the lighting in a public building, make sure that a professional electrician OKs (preferably does the work), whatever you do.

We put our sanctuary architectural lighting under DMX control a few years back, and it was a gigantic step forward.

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