DMX AT YOUR FINGERTIPS

In the not-too-distant past, playing back the cues for a production required a complete, dedicated lighting console, even if the same set of cues was being endlessly repeated in a son et lumière, a museum exhibit, a retail display, or architectural control. The adoption of a standard digital communications protocol (DMX512), together with the advent of the affordable and(relatively) reliable microcomputer, has produced several generations of computer-based controllers. Control desk software is loaded onto the computer, which drives either a DMX interface device, or is fitted with a DMX communications card. Today, playing back the cues for a production requires a complete, dedicated computer, even if the same set of cues is being endlessly repeated.

DMXPlayBack from ENTTEC in Melbourne, Australia, looks very similar to many of the devices already available: A computer connects to the half rack-width box, which puts out a stream of DMX512. The resemblance however, is entirely superficial. The computer, which can be either a Windows system or a Palm PDA (personal digital assistant), is only required to configure and program the PlayBack via its RS-232 serial port. Once the cues are loaded, the PlayBack is a complete standalone DMX512 controller that can run any one of the 26 show sequences in its non-volatile memory.

Built around a high-speed integrated processor chip which handles all input, fade processing, and output, the PlayBack can store either snapshots of an incoming DMX stream or scenes downloaded from a computer. The channels actually being stored in a snapshot can be defined, although the PlayBack always generates a full 512-channel frame. Using the optional data compression capability (where only the changes between cue states are recorded), it can store up to 2,000 scenes together with their delay and fade times.

Replay of a show sequence can be initiated by powering up the PlayBack, by a switch closure on one of the external inputs, or by an instruction received via the RS-232 socket. The number of times a show sequence is to be repeated can be defined, or the device may be configured to repeat a sequence, only while the switch on an external input is held closed.

The accompanying control software is a serious implementation of a control desk, with an expandable library of robotic fixtures, and a standard ICBF (intensity, color, beam, and focus) approach to attribute editing. While lacking some of the bells and whistles of a Flying Pig Systems Wholehog II, the software is certainly more than sufficiently serviceable to put together a basic production. Besides, if you need the functionality of a Wholehog, you can bring one along to do the programming and capture each scene into the PlayBack. The control software, which is currently available for the Windows (95/98/ME/NT/2000) or the PalmOS PDA platforms (PalmIII, IBM WorkPad, Handspring, etc.), may be downloaded free of charge from the ENTTEC website at www.enttec.com. The concept of being able to make adjustments to the program in an installation with the PDA in your pocket, rather than dragging out the Avolites Sapphire yet again, is very appealing.

Perhaps one of the most exciting features of the PlayBack is the publication of the RS-232 communications protocol for the device. This allows anyone to develop their own applications to drive the PlayBack. More importantly, it allows the PlayBack to communicate with any device with a serial port, such as a show controller, an energy management system, a smart home controller, or even a modem. Not only does the PlayBack execute cues on serial command, it also confirms that execution is complete, something your console operator never has time to do.

The DMXPlayBack is CE-approved and available now from ENTTEC for US$350.
Andy Ciddor

BLACKLIGHT BEAUTY

The Artisan series 150W spot-to-flood fixture produces a powerful blacklight effect in a lightweight, stylish package. Featuring a one-piece, hydroformed, multifaceted reflector with an adjustable socket, beam spread adjustments can easily be made to create a medium-to-wide beam using a small knob on the unit's side. It is specially designed for interior retail display illumination, and commercial and accent applications, and comes with an electronic ballast. Wildfire's deep violet silicate filter ensures maximum UV-A output with minimal visible light transmission, while the fixture's cutoff switch allows for safe and easy relamping. It is available in 120V and 240V versions and is constructed from corrosion-resistant die-cast aluminum. A durable black and powdercoat finish, stainless-steel hardware, and a Wildfire lamp are part of the 7lb (3.2kg) unit, and the fixture is available in pendant, outlet box, or yoke configurations.

Wildfire Inc.
Los Angeles, CA
Circle 134 on Reader Service Card

SPOT ON GERTIPS

Techni-Lux has added the Servo Spot 50 to its range of fixtures, and reports that it can be used in virtually any type of setting or application. It pans 530° and tilts 285° for reaching every area within a venue, and its DMX protocol offers 8- or 16-bit resolution for precise positioning. Smooth movement at any speed is easily achieved using high-resolution stepper motors. A condenser lens optimizes light across the arc and the focus is fully motorized. Other features are a color wheel with 11 dichroic filters plus white; interchangeable rotating gobos; tri-faceted rotating prism for 3D effects; 0-100% dimming; and an adjustable-speed strobe effect. Also offered: an advanced display for access to multi-function menus, 3-pin XLR connectors, forced ventilation with adjustable speed for quiet applications, and a magnetic ballast. Easily mounted with its universal mounting plate and handles, it weighs 44lb (20kg) and the MSD 250/2 lamp is included.

Techni-Lux
Orlando, FL
Circle 135 on Reader Service Card

CONTROL AND COMMAND

At the Frankfurt Musikmesse/Pro Light & Sound show, Elektralite displayed its range of consoles, plus new editions, the CP20xt and CP20, a controller/console designed for both club and live situations. With up to 512 DMX channels, 960 cues, 96 chases, 48 macros, and 96 positional focuses onboard, this controller has ample power, the firm says. To ensure that this power is controllable, all of these features can be accessed instantly via just 24 buttons which provide direct access to fixtures, colors, gobos, and any other feature designated by the operator.

Group One Ltd.
Farmingdale, NY
Circle 136 on Reader Service Card

LIGHT AND SOUND

The American DJ Quadra-Force and the Double Squeeze are two sound-activated effects units that offer multiple heads in a single package. The Quadra Force is a complete four-unit lighting system that features independently moving units projecting multi-dichroic rotating moonflower beams. The four units are linked together master-slave to produce a mini-orchestrated light show. Each of the four units has a different gobo pattern, which are interchangeable. The unit is fan-cooled.

The Double Squeeze uses two independent motorized plates, each with six dichroic filters that spin back and forth to project patterns. It weighs 25lb (11.3kg) and uses the 82V/250W lamp.

American DJ
Los Angeles, CA
Circle 137 on Reader Service Card

EXTERIOR EXPERTISE

At the Frankfurt Musikmesse/Pro Light & Sound show, Martin Professional unveiled the Exterior 200, a compact and powerful 150W short-throw CMY color changer in a stylish weatherproofed housing much like that of the LDI Award-winning Exterior 300 (on the advice of designers and specialists, the firm has incorporated a 150W source into the 200's smaller exterior housing). Developed for outdoor use, its asymmetrical wide-throw flood beam suits it for applications where projection distance is limited. Features include 6,000-hour lamp life, built-in light sensor, field angle of 70° (optional beam angles are easily interchangeable, adding to the unit's versatility and beam-shaping functionality), memory presets, and DMX control; it also has an IP 65 rating for tough outdoor conditions.

Martin Professional
Sunrise, FL
Circle 138 on Reader Service Card

PURE AS CRYSTAL

With the Crystal-Lux halogen lamp, SLI Lighting brings to the US electrical market the first indoor halogen BR floodlamp in a soft glass shell. It is available now in the BR 30 style, and shortly in BT 15s and G 25s as well. Energy savings are significant: The Crystal-Lux 60BR30 FL120V delivers the lumens of an 85W incandescent flood from only 60W. Other styles provide similar increases in performance. Key to the new lamp's soft, uniform illumination is a cool-running halogen burner that functions in the same glass shell as the familiar standard incandescent lamp; the hard glass PAR shell with its familiar faceted lens is no longer needed (with the soft glass shell comes the soft light of incandescents). Coupled with a halogen source, the Crystal-Lux gives off halogen's pure white light, all for about 30% less energy, the company says. It is said to be ideal for a host of indoor applications (wherever incandescent floods are now used) and meets all state and national electrical and energy efficiency regulations.

SLI Lighting Inc.
Mullins, SC
Circle 139 on Reader Service Card

STUDIO COLORATIONS

To meet the demands of TV and theatre designers, High End Systems has introduced a lower color temperature lamp source for its Studio Color®. The Indy 575 is an incandescent lamp that gives designers the ability to match the color temperature and color rendering of a conventional lighting rig. At a lower color temperature of 3200K, this lamp source allows designers to create deeper reds and warmer ambers with color mixing. These colors are more difficult to achieve with the higher color temperature of the MSR 575/2 discharge lamp normally used in the Studio Color. To install, remove the MSR575/2 discharge lamp from the Studio Color S or Studio Color 575 unit (with electronic ballast; it does not work with the Studio Color M with a magnetic ballast), and plug in the Indy 575. No adjustments or modifications to the fixture are needed, not even for the voltage. The fixture will recognize the lamp and operate it correctly, completely automatically.

Indy 575 uses a patented filament design constructed to maximize efficiency with the reflectors in the Studio Color 575 fixture. Dimming is currently mechanical and will also be electronic in future fixture software versions. Electronic dimming offers smoother dimming and longer lamp life, as the lamp is on only when being used.

High End Systems
Austin, TX
Circle 140 on Reader Service Card

NOTABLE ADAPTATIONS

The Pro Power Supply is a lighting power unit manufactured by Adaptations Company for powering low-voltage lighting systems. It is offered in a variety of load capacities, of which the maximum are 1,000VA at 12V and 2,000VA at 24V. The patented Pro Power Supply offers many control features for superior low-voltage lighting performance, including CVR, IDF, EVD, LND, PPS, and CLT control circuitry.

The CVR circuit maintains the correct voltage at the remote G-Track fixture heads. The CVR circuit and EVD features work together to ensure that each remote fixture emits the same lamp lumens. Neither the quantity of fixture heads nor the proximity of the fixture heads to the Pro Power Supply has any adverse effect on lamp intensity. The IDF circuitry provides full-range dimming capability for the Pro Power Supply. The IDF circuit is controlled by a low current input signal supplied from any wall box dimmer.

The G-Track System is a new linear low-voltage lighting system. The G-Track raceway is powered by a Pro Power Supply power unit. The lighting system accepts Glass Track series fixture heads — these heads have the versatility of a track fixture with the area lighting capabilities of a recessed fixture. Glass Track head styles range from wall washer to general area light.

Adaptations Company
Dedham, MA
Circle 141 on Reader Service Card