Brush up on your computer skills — continuing education is now a fact of life. As this year's crop of lighting product honorees amply demonstrates, the days are fast disappearing where you can just plug stuff in and get to work. With the exception of a handy, “Gee why didn't I think of that” timesaving tool, the inventive new products below show a continuing refinement of cutting-edge technology. From the inevitable Palm Pilot application to two — count 'em, two — terrific new refinements in dimmer technology, this year's winners reflect an industry focused on the future.

Show Control Interface


This handy device receives a multitude of input signals that can be converted to numerous serial outputs. Common-Sense is configured using the PC software Sense-Edit, which allows all input-to-output relationships to be programmed using a visual interface. The judges praised this product's intuitiveness. “As shows become larger and more complex, such simple methods of format protocol conversion are really beneficial,” one said. Circle 201 on Reader Service Card

Distro Panel


“A real timesaver, especially for industrials,” said the judges of the HotShot distro panel. The panel converts two-phase power into three-phase, allowing two ¼- or two ½-ton motors to be run using one 20A circuit. It can also be configured with custom plugs, includes a phase reverse switch, and comes in black, yellow, and orange. As one judge noted, “This is something you would've done yourself if you'd had the time.” Circle 202 on Reader Service Card

DMX Accessory


The compact lighting board taken to its next logical step, the Figment DMX is a handheld moving light console with many DMX troubleshooting features that operates on the PALM PDA or PALM OS. Since it is handheld, the user has immediate and stage-floor (or flyrail) access to lighting instrument libraries, patching matrix, cue lists, keyboard commands, macros, and other useful data. “The big thing here,” the judges noted, “is that it's portable, portable, portable.” Circle 203 on Reader Service Card

Dimmer Rack II


With the SLD Series, Strand has concentrated its efforts on re-engineering the module for a system. The concept is to have one module that can operate on any voltage system in any environment worldwide. Designed to interface fully with its proprietary ShowNet ethernet system, the SLD Series features high-performance chokes and dimmer status reporting to Strand's 300 and 500 series consoles, and a plug-in component design that eases maintenance. Circle 205 on Reader Service Card

Dimmer Rack I


Rosco/ET's Capio System, which puts the company's Intelligent Power System® (IPS) dimmer technology in an economical high-density rack, is an attempt at providing an integrated approach; even the rack was re-engineered. In addition to documentation that's stored in the software and total preconfigured ethernet connectivity, the rack design itself has “all the features a master electrician could ever want,” the judges noted. Circle 204 on Reader Service Card

Moving Light


“Here we have a fast-reacting, accurate, and simple-to-program DMX-controlled automated luminaire,” said the judges of the latest winner from Vari-Lite. Smaller than other washlights, the VL2402 features zoomable beam spreader optics, CYM color mixing, a separate fixed color wheel, and a high-performance dimmer/strobe mechanism. “Nice, deep, saturated dichroic colors, smooth zooms, and extremely even, flat fields,” noted one judge. Circle 206 on Reader Service Card