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Thread: Need help with theatrical dimmer for house lights

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Charleston, SC
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    Question Need help with theatrical dimmer for house lights

    Hey guys!

    Remember the auditorium that we're going to be renting for SELEM 2007 this summer? Well, it turns out that they have a small problem with their lighting panel (no, it doesn't affect us for SELEM). Anyway, given the massive experience base we've got here on the board, I thought someone here might be able to help point them in the right direction re: getting it resolved... So here goes:

    They have an old dimmer board for the house lights. It's *separate* from their main lighting pannel. There are several separate dimmers for the house lights; a couple circuits are for the main house lights, and there's at least one other one for the floor lighting and chair/seat lights. The panel is not linked to any other secondary control; you either dim the lights from this pannel or you flip the breaker backstage and kill them that way.

    One of the dimmers doesn't work anymore. It only controls like 6 lights or so near the orchestra area. The only way they can turn these lights on or off is to use the main breaker panel. They've been limping along by just leaving those lights off and using the rest of the house lights that still work from the dimmer. But it's been over a year, and it's becoming an inconvenience.

    I asked them why they didn't just replace the dimmer, and Reggie said that the company went out of business, was bought out, and went out of business again. Not sure who exactly owns the rights to the company now... Evidently it's not quite standard, off-the-shelf stuff.

    Now, I'm no expert when it comes to theatrical dimmers, but can it really be that difficult to fix this? Is there any reason why you couldn't just replace the whole dimmer?

    I'm hoping that someone with more experience can jump in here... If you need more infomation, tell me what you need and I'll get it. (I've already got Reggie trying to find data on the manufacturer, the model number, and the estimated current rating for the dimmer.)

    Like I said - this doesn't affect what we want to do for SELEM this summer. But since Reggie is giving us a discount on the rental of the auditorium, I figured if I can get him some help with his house lighting, then that's the least I could do in gratitude...

    Come on guys - someone's got to have an answer to this...

    Adam

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    denver,co
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    I have run into this before. Unfortunately if it is a old no longer supported system, finding replacement dimmers or even discreet components can be really hard, if not impossible. Sometimes it is as easy as replacing the output triacs ( if they are still made), but usually it makes more sense to replace the entire dimmer rack with something that is supported and you can get replacements for.

    If they already have a dimmer system for the stage and some extra room in the rack they should just wire the house into that. Use a dmx merger and $100 little dmx controller. They make little ones that will fit inside of a standard gang box.

    Without more information I am just guessing...

    Chad


    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Adam, I think you said you're bringing your o'scope? I should be able to fix it. Especially if you bring your o'scope with you. I haven't bothered to replace mine since I ran my chair across the face and broke off most of the knobs. If I can't fix the dimmer, I may be able to replace it. I'll see what I can dig up.

    David

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Chad;

    Good thinking about using the stage lighting panel - I didn't even think about that!

    David:

    Hot diggety! I *am* going to bring my o-scope. Really glad that you're willing to have a look at the dimmer! (I'll be Reggie will be thrilled too!) (I should have remembered all your experience at the Planetarium; it figures that knowledge would come in handy some day.)

    Adam

  5. #5

    Default

    You might be able to replace with a 'Phase Angle Regulator' or 'Phase Control Regulator'. Those are usually sold as small modules for industrial process control. They might cost a bit but you get convenience, high current capacity, and some tolerance to inductive and capacitive loading.

    Some UK examples:
    http://www.powercontrollers.net/all_products/

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