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Thread: What Are The BEST PROJECTORS Today?

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    Default What Are The BEST PROJECTORS Today?

    Well after over ten years of NOT playing with lasers anymore the BUG has hit me again. Iím ready to spend a few thousand or more on a nice ILDA projector that will be sufficient for small close up venues! Is KVANT/PANGOLIN still the BEST choice? Does anybody else compare to them? Iím seeing all these Chinese projectors on eBay at unbelievable prices for the power! My gut instinct has always told me if it sounds to good to be true, then it probably is. Should I really go for a PB4 compatible projector so I can expand my show as I have the funds? Iíd like to start small with the right projector and then add higher power projectors ďifĒ the occurrence happens to take me to larger venues or maybe even outdoor events. I donít want to buy a projector I will have to sell or scrap later due to incompatibility. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thank you all for your time and consideration. Mark
    Last edited by markerney; 03-01-2020 at 14:41.

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    Quote Originally Posted by markerney View Post
    Well after over ten years of NOT playing with lasers anymore the BUG has hit me again. Iím ready to spend a few thousand or more on a nice ILDA projector that will be sufficient for small close up venues! Is KVANT/PANGOLIN still the BEST choice? Does anybody else compare to them? Iím seeing all these Chinese projectors on eBay at unbelievable prices for the power! My gut instinct has always told me if it sounds to good to be true, then it probably is. Should I really go for a PB4 compatible projector so I can expand my show as I have the funds? Iíd like to start small with the right projector and then add higher power projectors ďifĒ the occurrence happens to take me to larger venues or maybe even outdoor events. I donít want to buy a projector I will have to sell or scrap later due to incompatibility. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thank you all for your time and consideration. Mark
    Hi Mark, Welcome back to the insanity. As I am sure you are well aware, the saying is "Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one." That being said, I won't use the term "best". But yes, Pangolin remains the most widely adopted control software/hardware in the world (but there are a number of other quality control options out there - different strokes for different folks) and Kvant is still regarded as a quality alternative to many Chinese offerings. While "Best" is subjective, I think that title is really held by projectors made by Michael Sollinger but, it takes giving up vital organs to afford them.

    While there is still a lot of crappy winky blinky boxes around, several Chinese companies have significantly upped their game over the last ten years, most notably Lightspace, Able and Goldenstar. And you can buy US legal projectors from US sources - Walt Meador for Lightspace and John Loughlin for Goldenstar. Pangolin is now representing Kvant. X-Laser USA has also gotten away from the weekend warrior DJ market and manufactures a number of quality products as well.

    I don't know what you consider starting small but, I will tell you that in my opinion, a Kvant Clubmax 2000 like the second hand one recently listed in the Buy Sell thread would be an excellent choice.
    Last edited by Bradfo69; 03-04-2020 at 10:07.
    PM Sent...

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    Default Thank you Brad!

    I really appreciate your time and consideration man! Iíve been out of the game for QUITE a while but my heart keeps pulling me back! Lol After building 4 very primitive projectors in my lifetime (but learning a lot in the process) I really believe I can create some amazing effects with the new equipment on the market today. Iím really set on a CubMax 3000 PB4 as my starting point of an array of projectors. Would you know the pros and cons of that particular projector and itís limitations? Thank you again for your time, consideration and obvious outstanding knowledge of the industry today! Mark

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    Quote Originally Posted by markerney View Post
    I really appreciate your time and consideration man! Iíve been out of the game for QUITE a while but my heart keeps pulling me back! Lol After building 4 very primitive projectors in my lifetime (but learning a lot in the process) I really believe I can create some amazing effects with the new equipment on the market today. Iím really set on a CubMax 3000 PB4 as my starting point of an array of projectors. Would you know the pros and cons of that particular projector and itís limitations? Thank you again for your time, consideration and obvious outstanding knowledge of the industry today! Mark
    A 3 watt projector is an excellent all around choice for an awful lot of uses. If I didn't have so many others in the 3 watt range, I would have considered buying a couple I've seen for sale recently. I have a CM1800 I bought directly from Justin at Pangolin a few years ago and I have (4) 6+ watt Clubmax's en route via FedEx as I type this. One of the things I actually enjoy the most about my 1800 is it's dead silent. No fan noise so it's been a great bedroom projector. Solidly built. But aside from that, Clubmaxes come with Compact 506 scanners which are superior to most Chinese scanners. They scan wider, faster and run cooler and quieter. Should have infinite longevity as well. There are still some good scanners from China but, the 506's were a game changer when they came out and still are. The drivers tend to be better as well. As far as con's, really... its price. They're just simply expensive to buy. If you're making money with it, then it's not so bad and, if your making money with lasers in the first place, you should probably be using better quality projectors anyway. Majority of people tend to love them and those that tour with them say, they're always reliable. Yes, I've heard the random Kvant horror story but, you hear the random Sony, Apple and Bose story as well.
    PM Sent...

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    I would also be remiss if I didn't also say you owe it to yourself to look at your calendar in August and see if you can get away for a few days to come to SELEM. It's not a bad drive from where you are, located in Newton North Carolina on the western side of the state about an hour east of Asheville. SELEM stands for the South East Laser Enthusiasts Meet and it's the granddaddy of LEM's. Mecca for laser geeks and the largest gathering of us in North America and close to being the largest in the world. The Laserfreak group in Germany is the largest but, we're getting there. It's grown from being a dozen or so people over two days to being in the mid 80's in terms of attendance and is damn near a week long now. It's difficult to really put into words but, I have been known to say there are a few life altering experiences that tend to stand out. A wedding, the birth of your first child and, your first SELEM. It's up to you to rank the order. You can read all about it in the Meet and Greet thread. But there are a lot of us that plan our entire life around attending SELEM each year and we draw internationally as well. It has a little something for everyone.
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    Default Iíll Be There Bro!

    Iíll definitely be there brother! Iím ALWAYS down in North Carolina! Iíll definitely put it in my schedule and make SURE to be there! I really appreciate your advice and sharing with a sure laser fanatic! ME Mark Erney Lol (4) 6+ coming! Sweeeeeeet! Sounds like watts of fun! You must be a reseller or touring. My dream job! Im a strong believer in ďyou have to love what you do to be successfulĒ! Just a couple more questions when you have time to reply.... How is everybody synching there laser inputs to music now days like in planetarium shows? The old ADAT days have to be over by now or are they? I think I still have an old BLACK FACE in my closet that I never got around to modifying. Lol But curious as to the BEST way to snych songs now? Also is the, I believe itís called the PASS option on KVANT systems a wise investment if I plan to do audience scanning? Safety first has ALWAYS been part of my company slogan! And finally the grating block DMX control option KVANT offers seems to me to be a must have option for effects. Whatís your take on those available options. Again, I appreciate all of your time and consideration. You must be a pretty cool guy! If you ever need a hand with an out of date operator or help with shows or anything, please donít hesitate to contact me via my web site or this thread. Looking forward to your reply and best wishes to you and your family for a happy, healthy, and prosperous year this 2020! Mark Erney
    Last edited by markerney; 03-06-2020 at 14:12.

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    Quote Originally Posted by markerney View Post
    Iíll definitely be there brother! Iím ALWAYS down in North Carolina! Iíll definitely put it in my schedule and make SURE to be there! I really appreciate your advice and sharing with a sure laser fanatic! ME Mark Erney Lol (4) 6+ coming! Sweeeeeeet! Sounds like watts of fun! You must be a reseller or touring. My dream job! Im a strong believer in ďyou have to love what you do to be successfulĒ! Just a couple more questions when you have time to reply.... How is everybody synching there laser inputs to music now days like in planetarium shows? The old ADAT days have to be over by now or are they? I think I still have an old BLACK FACE in my closet that I never got around to modifying. Lol But curious as to the BEST way to snych songs now? Also is the, I believe itís called the PASS option on KVANT systems a wise investment if I plan to do audience scanning? Safety first has ALWAYS been part of my company slogan! And finally the grating block DMX control option KVANT offers seems to me to be a must have option for effects. Whatís your take on those available options. Again, I appreciate all of your time and consideration. You must be a pretty cool guy! If you ever need a hand with an out of date operator or help with shows or anything, please donít hesitate to contact me via my web site or this thread. Looking forward to your reply and best wishes to you and your family for a happy, healthy, and prosperous year this 2020! Mark Erney
    I manage a banquet and conference center so lasers began as an up-sell to weddings, proms, sweet 16's and such, in my own venue but, have grown to include working with a couple of bands at venues around the mid Atlantic. I'm really still a glorified hobbyist. And personally, I prefer the term spendmoneyist over laserist when referring to myself. I have barely a fraction of the knowledge about lasers compared to most on this forum. That being said, I'm on the board of ILDA, embedded in the production of SELEM and, have attended laser meets on three continents. I read a lot and then regurgitate a lot to new people.

    ADAT was replaced by Alesis HD24 so you were able to store material on swappable hard drives and, some companies actually still distribute to their planetarium accounts that way. Generally though, most people are doing their timeline work in Beyond - Pangolin's flagship software. But as I've mentioned before, different strokes for different folks so you will see avid users of things like LSX, Showeditor, Moncha, Digisynth, Lasergraph DSP and a number of others to produce their timeline shows. For the preserved shows the WAV format is widely accepted and a brilliant electronics designer and old school lover here DZ (David Zurcher) has a number of great, more modern ways to work with that material including the WAV-USB box available from his web site.

    You've got a LONG road ahead before even considering audience scanning but yes, PASS is necessary. If you want to go down that slippery slope, set aside at least $10-$15k and time for training, equipment and such. It's not an exercise for the faint of heart or light of wallet. Nor is it truthfully worth it. You can find out a whole lot more at SELEM than I'll type here.

    The grating wheel is a pretty slick option but not a necessity. I have a couple projectors with effects wheels like that but, to be honest, I've only ever used them at home in the living room. It's not been something that translated well to large crowds as an add on to a projector. If you want effects for a large audience, better to build a dedicated box just for those effects. Whether it's lumia or a beam table with various wheels. torture tubes, gratings and other exotic glass.

    Thanks! And happy 2020 to you!
    PM Sent...

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    Default Thank you Brad! And Congratulations!

    Itís awesome Iím speaking with an ILDA member of the board! Congratulations on that! Iíll be joining the association this week and maybe taking the LSO training this coming Wednesday. As far as audience scanning Iím going to hold off on any plans until I get down this long and winding road a lil bit. Lol Iíve spent my life on the road, so I ďmayĒ be able to get there a little bit sooner than the average hobbyist. And yes ďhobbyistĒ is where I put myself today. Lol But Iím determined to join the family and see what I can do. I know theyíll be roadblocks here and there both financially and legally but Iím determined and dedicated to pursue my true love! I have a ClubMax 3000 PB4 in my shopping cart at KVANT and will complete the purchase tomorrow. I want to buy new so I get the support and warranty. Unless you may suggest otherwise? COUPLE MORE QUESTIONS .... The LSO and LOS training seem to have some redundancy. If I take ďand passĒ the laser safety officer training do I really need the operator training also? Is there any material available on the web I can study in preparation for the Laser Safety Officer training to get me a head start? Iím also going to take your advice on the workbench option and just build my own. I definitely have the skill set to do that. David who I believe is the father of laser light shows is someone Iíd really like to meet. Does he attend SELEM? Could you share his web site with me so I can take a look at the WAV-USB box heís developed? And one last question before I dive back into the insanity. Lol Is there any way I can get the ClubMax 3000 PB4 projector from KVANT any cheaper than $4400? I registered as a dealer but KVANT has not contacted me for credentials to become a dealer. I know and am sure through my web site traffic I can get them some customers for sales and rentals. Itís been a week since I registered as a dealer but no contact from them as of yet. Should I call Justin? Or somebody else at KVANT? Would you have direct contact info? Thank you again for your time, consideration and sharing your knowledge! Looking forward to meeting you in AUGUST. Maybe by then Iíll have a couple more projectors and can contribute to the event. Iím stoked about it and now that I know about it I could kick my self in the ass for not keeping up with the forum because I was working in Asheville August 2018! Just down the road from the event! I owe you a favor for all your info and support. I think I can be a valuable asset to the team. Thanks again and looking forward to your reply. Oh yeah, LAST BUT NOT LEAST QUESTION..... What would be a good model overall POWER METER now days to cover the full spectrum of safety concerns? When you get a moment to answer. Thanks again in advance for sharing the knowledge and expert advice! Mark Erney
    Last edited by markerney; 03-08-2020 at 06:46.

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    [QUOTE] Iíll be joining the association this week and maybe taking the LSO training this coming Wednesday. [\quote]

    Cool. You can join at the hobbyist level which I believe is just $99. The LSO class is certainly worthwhile but, I don't know what the experience is like doing it online. I did mine live and it was about 10 hours with the exam.

    As far as audience scanning Iím going to hold off on any plans until I get down this long and winding road a lil bit.
    Good idea. There is too much more to discuss than I can find time to type here.

    But Iím determined to join the family
    Bingo... that's exactly what a core group of us IS for me. We're pretty easy. :-)

    COUPLE MORE QUESTIONS .... The LSO and LOS training seem to have some redundancy. If I take ďand passĒ the laser safety officer training do I really need the operator training also?
    No. The idea behind the LOS was that there are often people who work for production companies that don't need full blown LSO training. Road hands and riggers and such. So it was an option created to give them some education about laser safety but without all the math.

    Is there any material available on the web I can study in preparation for the Laser Safety Officer training to get me a head start?
    Sadly not really. Life experience. And I will admit I just missed passing the first time around and had to take it again. But I'll give you two clues.... first, you need to be a good test taker. Some people simply aren't but, if you don't freeze up and, have the ability to apply logic to your answers, you'll do ok. Second is that it is open book, open notes, open internet, and you can have a scientific calculator. A big part of it is not necessarily that you can spit out the answer from memory but, that you know the resources to look for to find the right answer. Predominately multiple choice answers and I believe you have an hour and a half to take it. One thing you can do in advance is study and know the various medical parts of the eye.

    Iím also going to take your advice on the workbench option and just build my own. I definitely have the skill set to do that.
    Good for you. Its no longer a money saving option but, more of an education on how everything works together and how to fix things that inevitably break.

    David who I believe is the father of laser light shows is someone Iíd really like to meet. Does he attend SELEM? Could you share his web site with me so I can take a look at the WAV-USB box heís developed?
    Hahaha..... while DZ IS a God, no... the title of Father of Laser Light Shows is Ivan Dryer who sadly passed away a couple years ago. Founder of Laserium. Yesterday, March 7th was actually International Laserist Day, named last year in his honor. And yes... DZ is a very important integral part of SELEM. His website is www.aldebaran-systems.com.

    And one last question before I dive back into the insanity. Lol Is there any way I can get the ClubMax 3000 PB4 projector from KVANT any cheaper than $4400? I registered as a dealer but KVANT has not contacted me for credentials to become a dealer. I know and am sure through my web site traffic I can get them some customers for sales and rentals. Itís been a week since I registered as a dealer but no contact from them as of yet. Should I call Justin? Or somebody else at KVANT? Would you have direct contact info?
    Do you mean you went directly to Kvants website or, do you mean Pangolin's website? Pangolin is the registered dealer in the US but, I don't think that prevents you from buying and importing from Kvant. Pango has the pop up about registering as a dealer and, just like you, I never heard a word. But yes, I would suggest just picking up the phone and ask for Justin. Someones in the office nearly 24 hours every day.


    Thank you again for your time, consideration and sharing your knowledge! Looking forward to meeting you in AUGUST.
    Likewise

    ...because I was working in Asheville August 2018!
    Lucky bastard. (said affectionately)

    I owe you a favor for all your info and support.
    Nah.... Just come to SELEM. That's thanks enough.
    PM Sent...

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    Quote Originally Posted by markerney View Post
    Oh yeah, LAST BUT NOT LEAST QUESTION..... What would be a good model overall POWER METER now days to cover the full spectrum of safety concerns? When you get a moment to answer. Thanks again in advance for sharing the knowledge and expert advice! Mark Erney
    There have been a few discussions on suitable power meters over the years on here, that tend to get buried. One I could find that is useful is https://www.photonlexicon.com/forums...ht=power+meter

    Essentially you want a meter that can measure what appear as relatively low power levels in the mW range. The power meters that are used to check the output performance of projectors are usually 'thermopile' detectors, (which convert heat to an electric signal). Their shortcoming is that they react quite slowly (in relative terms), and most don't have the resolution required for exposure assessments. For this reason you should instead be looking for a silicon photodiode device, which are far more sensitive to lower levels of light. The thread in the link has some further discussion on this. At the moment, I'd still suggest Thorlabs as being the most cost effective, and value for money solutions. Their recalibration process (this side of the pond) is quite swift too. There are some high end devices that claim to do the task specifically. If I'm honest, I've had disappointing from those. So for the time being, the standard photo diode power meters offer the best solution.

    All meters commercially available are currently a compromise, and none of them do the task perfectly. Even the four 'better' devices I recently posted about here https://www.facebook.com/pg/LaserSaf...=page_internal They all require a bit of extra effort on the part of the person undertaking the measurement.

    If you start measuring scanning effects it is important to have an understanding of what the shortcomings are, which typically mean knowing that your instrument has the bandwidth to accurately report the exposure created by the effect. Most can't unfortunately. But that doesn't render them useless, as long as you you can justify a workaround, which is often possible.

    Over the years I've written several blogs about the this and related topics https://www.lvroptical.com/blogs.html Hopefully some of these will be useful.

    You're asking the right questions, and there will be plenty to think about. But it is possible!

    James
    Laser Safety
    https://www.lvroptical.com
    https://www.facebook.com/LaserSafety

    - Laser Show Safety Training & Audience Scanning Workshops.
    - Effects Assessment, and Realtime MPE Measurement
    - Pangolin PASS System Integrator

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