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Title: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Earl Teigrob on March 13, 2019, 12:16:42 pm
I need a dmx controller for simple scenes and chases but need to be able to adjust the overall brightness. Basically, as the night goes on, the lighting brightness needs to get lower. Iím hoping not to have to create seperate scenes and chases for each lighting level I need.

Thank you
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Earl Teigrob on March 13, 2019, 01:12:39 pm
All my lights are the same, so having a way to override one channel (the dimmer channel) while the chase is playing would work for me.
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Taylor Hall on March 13, 2019, 01:40:47 pm
I'm pretty sure a lot of the Eurolight desks have a grand master fader on them, been a while since I've looked at one, though.

You could also look into a software-based controller like QLC+ or Luminare, all you would need then is an appropriate DMX interface like an Enttec or DMXKing which would be about the same cost as a small physical desk.
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Steve Garris on March 13, 2019, 01:49:57 pm
When I was shopping for a hardware controller a few years ago the Master dimmer was on my list. I recently saw a thread with a newer $200 model designed for movers that had a master, but didn't save the link. From my old list there were only (3):
Magic 260 (discontinued)
Martin Freekie (discontinued)
Elation Operator Pro

The discontinued models can be purchased used. I'm sure there are others as well.
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Earl Teigrob on March 13, 2019, 02:20:25 pm
When I was shopping for a hardware controller a few years ago the Master dimmer was on my list. I recently saw a thread with a newer $200 model designed for movers that had a master, but didn't save the link. From my old list there were only (3):
Magic 260 (discontinued)
Martin Freekie (discontinued)
Elation Operator Pro

The discontinued models can be purchased used. I'm sure there are others as well.

Steve, thatís good to know. The more I think about it the more I realize that to most controllers, a channel is just a channel and can control anything. Only a controller that lets you map channels to colors or vic versa  would allow the controller to manage color intensity.

Software should be able to do this easily but for hardware itís going to take special setup or hard coded channels for specific colors.

The Magic 260 keeps popping up on my radar.

Thank you!!!
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Paul G. OBrien on March 13, 2019, 03:36:24 pm
All my lights are the same, so having a way to override one channel (the dimmer channel) while the chase is playing would work for me.

Have you tried it with your current controller? All your fixtures are the same so pulling down the slider for whatever channel controls the master intensity should do the trick. Now if your fixtures don't have a master intensity channel then you are SOL and another controller won't help.
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Earl Teigrob on March 13, 2019, 03:56:59 pm
Have you tried it with your current controller? All your fixtures are the same so pulling down the slider for whatever channel controls the master intensity should do the trick. Now if your fixtures don't have a master intensity channel then you are SOL and another controller won't help.

Paul, such practical advice!!! No, I havenít tried it on my existing controller which is a Adj operator 192 clone. Actually I never thought of the idea until after my first post, so I will give it a try and see what happens. And yes, my lights do have a master dimmer in the 10 channel mode.
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Dave Garoutte on March 13, 2019, 05:13:14 pm
An actual master dimmer reduces the increment on EVERY addressed channel.
If you have a color macro or internal program running, or have a mover, everything will go wonky.
In Luminair, for example, you can link similar faders, so if you move one, they all move.
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Jeff Lelko on March 13, 2019, 08:32:51 pm
I'm pretty sure a lot of the Eurolight desks have a grand master fader on them, been a while since I've looked at one, though.

Do you mean the Behringer Eurolight?  If so, yes, it does have a Main fader (i.e. Grand Master) though I'd never buy one of these boards today, and I say that still owning one. 

An actual master dimmer reduces the increment on EVERY addressed channel.

This is highly dependent on the board.  At face value, yes, a fader that reduces the value of every single channel on the board will cause symptoms such as what you describe, however any modern console worth its weight will have programming to sidestep this.  An example would be my ETC Congo Kid.  It has a true Grand Master fader (plus a Blackout knob), however both functions will only apply to channels flagged as "Intensities".  This can be an actual dimmer, the shutter on an intelligent light, or the dimmer channel on an LED fixture.  Attribute channels and anything else not marked as "Intensity" are unaffected by the Grand Master and thus hold position regardless of what the GM is doing. 

Many modern boards omit this feature since with even basic grouping and layering you can assign any content fader to be a "Grand Master" if you desire that capability.  That said, many desks still do include one which I personally have no gripes about. 

On the lower end of the spectrum I believe the ChamSys QuickQ has a Grand Master and is worth a serious look in my opinion.  While I have yet to touch one myself this is a very promising board for the junior varsity market.  Most of the older Strand boards have a GM too, though given how the complexity of lighting has evolved over the past decade I'd strongly hesitate purchasing something created back in the 1990s or early 2000s - before LED fixtures became prevalent on the market.  Hope this helps!
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Dave Garoutte on March 14, 2019, 02:23:35 am
Based on the OP's wording, it sounded like he was looking at a simple controller, not a full featured pro console.
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: frank kayser on March 14, 2019, 08:59:06 am
Based on the OP's wording, it sounded like he was looking at a simple controller, not a full featured pro console.


That was my reading, too.  With all identical fixtures,  Earl has many options assuming all lights have identical settings.  If not, back at square one.  QLC+ or Luminaire would seem to be the better option than a hardware controller in my extremely limited experience. 


frank

Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Earl Teigrob on March 14, 2019, 11:01:16 am
An actual master dimmer reduces the increment on EVERY addressed channel.
If you have a color macro or internal program running, or have a mover, everything will go wonky.
In Luminair, for example, you can link similar faders, so if you move one, they all move.

Thanks Dave, So now I get how it works. This means that my lights need to be set I the color only mode so the dimmer affects only the colors and not other functions.
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Earl Teigrob on March 14, 2019, 11:18:25 am

That was my reading, too.  With all identical fixtures,  Earl has many options assuming all lights have identical settings.  If not, back at square one.  QLC+ or Luminaire would seem to be the better option than a hardware controller in my extremely limited experience. 


frank

I was planning to go the software route in the long run. The one thing I would love to do is sync lights and music in a timeline. Showxpress seems like one of the few (lower cost) software solutions that offers this feature? ...is that correct? if it wasn't for the timeline thing, then MyDMX seems to affer a lot of "cool" effects and a great GUI. Does anyone know if Showxpress has the master dimmer function? My thought was to start with a simple hardware console and move to a full featured software solution in time...but maybe I should jump right into a software console from the start???
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Steve Garris on March 14, 2019, 01:00:06 pm
I was planning to go the software route in the long run. The one thing I would love to do is sync lights and music in a timeline. Showxpress seems like one of the few (lower cost) software solutions that offers this feature? ...is that correct? if it wasn't for the timeline thing, then MyDMX seems to affer a lot of "cool" effects and a great GUI. Does anyone know if Showxpress has the master dimmer function? My thought was to start with a simple hardware console and move to a full featured software solution in time...but maybe I should jump right into a software console from the start???

I've been learning DMXIS, now called Show Buddy Active. It has a Master dimmer. It can be combined with Show Buddy for live timeline playback with tracks and video. I like that it is both Mac and PC based.
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Jeff Lelko on March 14, 2019, 09:47:15 pm
Based on the OP's wording, it sounded like he was looking at a simple controller, not a full featured pro console.

That was my general interpretation as well, but the OP has not specified a budget yet.  I wouldn't consider a QuickQ to be a pro console either, but something that helps to fill a very stagnant market for hardware boards that are more capable than the $200 ADJ products but not in the $5000+ bracket. 

...but maybe I should jump right into a software console from the start???

Earl, what's your budget?  Reading between the lines here, it sounds like you already have an ADJ DMX Operator (clone) but want something that gives you overall intensity control, better color control, and timeline playback.  Is that correct?
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Taylor Hall on March 15, 2019, 08:42:42 am
I was planning to go the software route in the long run. The one thing I would love to do is sync lights and music in a timeline. Showxpress seems like one of the few (lower cost) software solutions that offers this feature? ...is that correct? if it wasn't for the timeline thing, then MyDMX seems to affer a lot of "cool" effects and a great GUI. Does anyone know if Showxpress has the master dimmer function? My thought was to start with a simple hardware console and move to a full featured software solution in time...but maybe I should jump right into a software console from the start???
QLC+ does have such a feature, not sure about luminaire or others.
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Earl Teigrob on March 17, 2019, 11:21:08 pm
That was my general interpretation as well, but the OP has not specified a budget yet.  I wouldn't consider a QuickQ to be a pro console either, but something that helps to fill a very stagnant market for hardware boards that are more capable than the $200 ADJ products but not in the $5000+ bracket. 

Earl, what's your budget?  Reading between the lines here, it sounds like you already have an ADJ DMX Operator (clone) but want something that gives you overall intensity control, better color control, and timeline playback.  Is that correct?


My budget is lets say under $500 for hardware, $500 for software.

I would like to start on a hardware controller that I could always use as backup in case my computer solution carps out. I found an Elation Magic 260 that is amost new so I am going to give that a try first. Getting my fixtures mapped into it might be a bit of a challenge but Im sure Ill get there.  It does have a master fader but after reading the manual Im unsure if it really does what I want. When running a 'show" as they call it, can the master fader knob control the brightness of the entire show? I guess im about to find out. Ive got a DMX king USB interface that should work with QLC+. This might be a good place to start on the software side because it is free. Ill probably end it with Showxpress just for the timeline feature. Programming lights to music for s spotlight dance would be fantastic.

Thank you all for your help and advice.

Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Earl Teigrob on March 17, 2019, 11:22:34 pm
QLC+ does have such a feature, not sure about luminaire or others.


Taylor, what feature are you talking about. Master Dimmer? or Timeline?
Thank you.
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Earl Teigrob on March 17, 2019, 11:53:22 pm
That was my general interpretation as well, but the OP has not specified a budget yet.  I wouldn't consider a QuickQ to be a pro console either, but something that helps to fill a very stagnant market for hardware boards that are more capable than the $200 ADJ products but not in the $5000+ bracket. 

Earl, what's your budget?  Reading between the lines here, it sounds like you already have an ADJ DMX Operator (clone) but want something that gives you overall intensity control, better color control, and timeline playback.  Is that correct?


Jeff, thank you for your feedback. In a hardware controller I just want simple scenes that can run as a chase with the ability to control the overall brightness. In a software solution, I would like it to be able to do some very cool effects, have a master dimmer feature and do a timeline. No real budget but under $1000 for a solution would be in line.
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Taylor Hall on March 18, 2019, 08:16:37 am

Taylor, what feature are you talking about. Master Dimmer? or Timeline?
Thank you.
I was specifically referencing the timeline feature, but it has the grand master fader as well.
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: duane massey on March 18, 2019, 11:42:04 am
Magic 260 would be a possibility IF your fixtures would match one in the existing library. Been years since I used one, but I remember the two things I didn't like about were the lack of ability to edit fixture profiles and the lack of ability to record speed/fade rates for individual chases. As long as you are using simpler fixtures or ones that are in the available profiles it might be a good choice for you.
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Dave Garoutte on March 18, 2019, 12:22:35 pm
One interesting feature of DMX is that if the controller stops, generally the lights stay on.
You lose control, but at least it doesn't go dark.
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Steve Garris on March 18, 2019, 04:15:18 pm
The Magic 260 will do everything the OP wants to do. Creating fixture profiles is easy - I had to for every one of my lights. The only thing it won't do is well is moving heads.

When running the 260, you have scene buttons that are quick & easy to choose, as well as a fader for the fade rate, which you can set to slow fade or instant between scenes, and another button push will get you to chases. The Master brings all of my lights up & down very nicely, but my mini-movers instead spin around. I haven't used in in a while and I'm thinking of breaking it out again.
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Jeff Lelko on March 18, 2019, 04:24:44 pm
Jeff, thank you for your feedback....no real budget but under $1000 for a solution would be in line.

No worries, and Iím glad to hear that youíve found something that should work well for your application.  In terms of software, the majority of the platforms on the market will meet your needs in one form or another.  MagicQ PC plus a wing or Onyx (formerly M-PC) with a wing are both very solid choices.  MagicQ will be a bit over your budget, Onyx will be a bit under. 

Just as an aside (mostly for those following along), software isnít inherently better than hardware.  In fact, many would argue the opposite Ė myself included.  The difference really comes from comparing budget boards that are targeted at casual DJs or bands to the more fully-featured consoles that youíd find on tour or in a theater.  20 years ago software-only controllers werenít really an option yet Ė you bought hardware Ė usually as much as your budget could afford.  Combining that with the fact most bar/club/band lighting rigs were halogen Pars and maybe a few Roboscans or Trackspots if you had money, the basic budget board such as the ADJ DMX Operator found its niche and hasnít seen any tangible updates since. 

In the mid-2000s with moving lights getting better (and cheaper) along with LED fixtures becoming more prevalent even to the weekend warrior, a void became present between the budget DJ boards and the 5-figure professional consoles.  Numerous makers of large consoles capitalized on this by creating standalone software similar to the versions of their larger consoles that could work with a simple USB-DMX adaptor and offering said software for free in hope that users will adopt it and return to purchase wings and full-sized consoles when future growth warranted it.  ChamSys and Martin are two of the more notable brands to use this marketing tactic Ė both with great success.  Other brands such as ADJ and Chauvet created their own flavors of software with varying degrees of popularity and price tag, and a number of third-party programs also popped up as well such as Freestyler and QLC+ with the expected level of support to match.  Mid-level boards such as the Elation Trio, Strand 250ML, and ETC Smartfade Series made some effort on the hardware front but still lacked the horsepower and workflow seen in software and of course the larger consoles that were available at the time.

What Iím getting at is that you get what you pay for Ė the budget boards are great until theyíre not.  I feel that oftentimes weíre spoiled as an industry these days by $30 LED Pars working 90% as well as name-brand units costing 10x the price as well as countless developers practically giving their control software away for free.  Never has it been easier to get so much for so little cost.  At some point though, something has to give and the time comes where you need to spend real money for a real console to get the professional features that youíve come to need.  When the right time is to make the jump is of course up to the user and his/her specific situation.  Between the ChamSys QuickQ boards coming on the market as well as some degree of promise from the LightShark series maybe weíll finally see some love towards the consumers who want hardware but canít justify spending $5k or more on it. 

<Getting off Soapbox>
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Taylor Hall on March 19, 2019, 07:45:27 am
snip
I definitely agree. I cut my teeth on a 128ch controller in high school, so when we decided to add lighting to our rental inventory I was excited to get back into it. That is, until I saw how much a desk would cost that we wouldn't grow out of in the space of 6 months. Going from a halogen mindset to a LED mindset quickly told me that we were going to eat up even 100 channels fast. Our initial buy in was for a dozen LED pars and two movers and that alone took up over 50 channels and we knew that was going to increase hand over fist with our rental schedule that year alone. That was three years ago and now we have as many small movers as we do pars and a decent sized ballroom will easily occupy two universes without breaking a sweat.

We looked into controllers and desks with that in mind, and a full-fledged single universe desk was going to run us several grand, a massive buy for an outfit still in its infancy. We decided to go the software route to start since it was free apart from the DMX interface itself and continue looking for hardware in the meantime. Worst case we'd have a backup in case the desk failed or we needed to do two lighting events at one time. But as we continued to grow, we found that the software scaled effortlessly and gave us access to features only available on production-grade desks or software costing many hundreds of dollars. Our only limit was how many universes our DMX interface could handle. Now that we have a solid perch in our second universe, ArtNET is our next step which the software also utilizes. Basically as long as development continues, we don't see much reason to move away from it unless we run into rider requirements.

I would have killed for those QuickQ boards back when we were looking originally, they would have been a much less bitter pill to swallow for a hardware controller. That said, I'm excited that such things exist now, even if it continues to severely blur the line between weekend warrior and full-time outfit.
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Dave Garoutte on March 19, 2019, 12:41:07 pm
I had a band LD come to a regular gig I set up with Luminair.
I gave him the fixture address list and he plugged his board into my wireless DMX and was good.
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: duane massey on March 19, 2019, 04:26:07 pm
I still recommend the Elation Showdesigner 1 and 2 controllers, best value for the money. They don't have a master dimmer, but they are powerful, quick to program on after you learn the procedures, can be backed up to a card, are great for use by sound guys who also have to run lights IF you set  up programming in advance.
Not suitable for theatrical purposes or most church applications and (like any control system) may ot be all you're looking for, but for $ 750 and $1,500 there's nothing even close on the market.
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Scott Holtzman on May 05, 2019, 05:52:54 am
Magic 260 would be a possibility IF your fixtures would match one in the existing library. Been years since I used one, but I remember the two things I didn't like about were the lack of ability to edit fixture profiles and the lack of ability to record speed/fade rates for individual chases. As long as you are using simpler fixtures or ones that are in the available profiles it might be a good choice for you.
Duane, you can make new profiles on your PC and upload them.  There is also PC scenery designer software.

I got a lot of good service out of the Magic before I got a show designer 2. 

I also run Show Express on a little mini pc bolted to the back of a 27" touchscreen.  Love that too.  Not sure what next step is, there is some new products in the sub 5k lighting market that look interesting.  I would not mind a used Congo kid if one showed up in the states.



Sent from my VS996 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Jeff Lelko on May 05, 2019, 01:14:08 pm
I would not mind a used Congo kid if one showed up in the states.

Sorry Scott, I don't plan on selling mine anytime soon!  The Congo Jr. seems to turn up more frequently though.  Keep an eye on GearSource, UsedLighting, Reverb, etc. and sooner or later one will pop up.  With ETC now owning the Hog Series I don't think we'll see any new serious entries into the busking market anytime soon, so unless you feel like adopting a Hog or MA console holding out for a Cobalt desk might not be a bad idea...hence why I have no plans on letting mine go! 
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Scott Holtzman on May 05, 2019, 09:02:18 pm
Sorry Scott, I don't plan on selling mine anytime soon!  The Congo Jr. seems to turn up more frequently though.  Keep an eye on GearSource, UsedLighting, Reverb, etc. and sooner or later one will pop up.  With ETC now owning the Hog Series I don't think we'll see any new serious entries into the busking market anytime soon, so unless you feel like adopting a Hog or MA console holding out for a Cobalt desk might not be a bad idea...hence why I have no plans on letting mine go!
The LD we hire frequently runs Hog on a PC with midi wings.  Other than that we have no Hog or MA desires. 

I find Cobalt easy to approach.  I will start looking for one.  They are ideal for our size.

Jeff,. Your early ruminations on the Cobalt pushed us in that direction.

Sent from my VS996 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Jeff Lelko on May 05, 2019, 10:22:32 pm
Jeff,. Your early ruminations on the Cobalt pushed us in that direction.

Thanks Scott, I'm glad that my input here is valuable.  Yeah, Cobalt is a really nice platform.  I forget if I said it here or over at Controlbooth, but when the acquisition of HES by ETC was announced I predicted the end of Cobalt and sadly I was right.  It's just unfortunate that despite a name like ETC behind it, Cobalt was unable to unseat any of the busking heavyweights, especially in the United States.  I believe ETC has pledged 4 more years of software updates for Cobalt (plus the indefinite hardware support) so I'd still buy with confidence.  Just make sure you get a Congo desk that runs Windows 7 and Cobalt! 

Desks aside, you can still buy Nomad which runs both Cobalt and Eos.  So long as you don't need more than 12 universes Nomad has the horsepower and runs the full package.  The official ETC wings along with MIDI controllers and custom keyboards can help with tactile control.  I'd still go for the full console if you have the time to wait for one, but the Nomad option can be had today if you're under schedule pressure to make the upgrade.  While I'm not in Ohio all that often anymore I'll be happy to demo my Congo Kid next time I'm in the area if you're interested! 
Title: Re: Dmx Controller with Master Dimmer
Post by: Scott Holtzman on May 05, 2019, 11:16:33 pm
Thanks Scott, I'm glad that my input here is valuable.  Yeah, Cobalt is a really nice platform.  I forget if I said it here or over at Controlbooth, but when the acquisition of HES by ETC was announced I predicted the end of Cobalt and sadly I was right.  It's just unfortunate that despite a name like ETC behind it, Cobalt was unable to unseat any of the busking heavyweights, especially in the United States.  I believe ETC has pledged 4 more years of software updates for Cobalt (plus the indefinite hardware support) so I'd still buy with confidence.  Just make sure you get a Congo desk that runs Windows 7 and Cobalt! 

Desks aside, you can still buy Nomad which runs both Cobalt and Eos.  So long as you don't need more than 12 universes Nomad has the horsepower and runs the full package.  The official ETC wings along with MIDI controllers and custom keyboards can help with tactile control.  I'd still go for the full console if you have the time to wait for one, but the Nomad option can be had today if you're under schedule pressure to make the upgrade.  While I'm not in Ohio all that often anymore I'll be happy to demo my Congo Kid next time I'm in the area if you're interested!

Jeff,  no, not in any hurry.  I want a busking console as Show Express and the Show Designer are starting to be limiting (but still useful).  For any serious lighting work we hire out to an LD that has a great inventory, the aforementioned Hog PC and he has a late model Avolites Pearl (I love the rotating scene wheel) I have watched him and others busk on the Pearl and they fly vs. the hybrid systems.  That is what got me interested in console upgrades. 

I would love for you to visit, that would be awesome.  I could have some Platinum's, Chinese beam clones, Hotbox's and a few other fixtures setup in the shop so we could check out the workflow.  Take you out for a fine meal too, we have some great dining in CLE.  Do you know when your next visit is? 

Thanks again Jeff.