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FAQ and Useful Lighting Links


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This FAQ is now replicated, extended and superseded by the one on the Blue Room Wiki, here.


The Blue Room Lighting FAQ



What do the numbers on Par 64 lamps mean?


Par 64s use various different type of lamps, which have a fixed beam angle and can't be varied in the way that profiles or fresnels can. Par lamps give out an oval beam, hence why you will usually need to rotate the lamp inside the parcan to achieve the focus you are after.


The most common lamps (and their closest 120v equivalents in brackets) are as follows :

CP60 (FFN) - clear lens, beam angle of 9x12º - VNSP (Very Narrow Spot)

CP61 (FFP) - frosted lens, beam angle of 10x14º - NSP (Narrow Spot)

CP62 (FFR) - lenticular (stepped) lens (looks like a car headlamp), beam angle of 11x24º - MFL (Medium Flood)


The following lamps are also available, but encountered less frequently :

EXG (240v) - beam angle of 57x21º

CP95 - grided lens, beam angle of 70x70º - WFL (Wide Flood)

FFS (120v lamp) - lenticular lens, beam angle of 24x48º


Par 64 lamps also come in 500w flavours, with slightly different beam angles. These are number CP86 (VNSP), 87 (NSP) and 88 (MFL).


[N.B. - the number in ParXX (e.g. Par64) is the diameter of the lamp in 1/8ths of an inch]



I need to make up some single-phase extensions. What cable should I use?


13A or 15A TRS - 1.5mm/sq

16A TRS - 2.5mm/sq

32A TRS - 6.0mm/sq

63A TRS - 10.0mm/sq



What size colour do I need for a ......?


It's impossible to give a full list of colour sizes for every available lantern in a limited resource like this. However, here are a few of the more commonly-encountered sizes (all in millimetres) :



Prelude - 150 x 150

Cantata, Harmony - 185 x 185

Alto - 245 x 245

Coda500, Nocturne - 240 x 214

Coda1000 - 285 x 240

Iris - 395 x 305

SL 19, 26, 36, 50 and zooms - 160 x 160

SL 10 - 305 x 305

SL 5 - 405 x 405

Patt.23 - 100 x 100

Patt.123, Patt.23N, T-Spot - 165 x 165

Patt.223, Patt.743 - 215 x 215

Patt.243 - 298 x 298



Minuette F, PC, profile - 125 x 125

Minuette flood - 220 x 230

Starlette 1k fresnel - 185 x 185

Sil 30, Sil 40, Freedom - 185 x 185

Sil 15, Sil 25 - 245 x 245

Sil 10 - 205 x 205



Source4 19, 26, 36, 50 - 160 x 160

Source4 10 - 305 x 305

Source4 5 - 356 x 356

Source4 Par, Parnel and Zoom - 190 x 190

Source4 Junior Zoom - 155 x 155


PAR64 - 250 x 250



I've found an old Strand lantern and I'd like some more information on it


Try visiting the Strand Archive at http://www.strandarchive.co.uk. On the site is a huge database of old and new equipment alike, and should be able to provide you with detailed information about your lantern. You can also get info on Strand's line of control equipment past and present, too.


What software is available for creating lighting rig plans?


Good, but expensive, software includes:





Cheaper software includes:


LX Designer


Free, but less good, software includes:

Sweetlight (requires specific hardware)

Google Sketchup


There are plenty of other 2D CAD packages out there to explore, all of which will do the job one way or another.



I'd like to be able to work on the programming for my show before I go to the venue. How can I do this?


By visiting the website of your manufacturers desk you can download a piece of software called the offline editor. This allows you to work or edit your show on your PC as if it was the lighting desk.


The manufacturers that offer offline software are:


Strand (for the GSX, 300 and 500 series)

ETC (for Expression 3, Insight, Express and Congo Consoles)

Zero 88 (for the Frog, Fat Frog, Leap Frog, Bull Frog & Mambo Frog)

Avolites (for the Pearl & Diamond 4)

Flying Pig (for the Wholehog 2)

MA Lighting (for the GrandMA)

Jands (for the Vista)


Clicking the links will take you to the relevant websites.



I've downloaded and installed the Strand Offline Editor, but when it starts I get an error message asking for "TNT.dll". I'm using Windows XP. Whats going wrong?


Unfortunately, the Strand Offline Editor doesn't work in Windows XP, not even in a DOS box. Theres a few ways round this, but they're all a bit cumbersome. You can find a discussion of this here.


The most elegant solution we've found so far is MarcTs' RAMdisk version of the OLE, more details here.



What software can I run a show from and what about USB-DMX Dongles?


There are lots of PC based lighting control products, the good, the bad and the ugly. Most are bad or ugly, good to look at are...





Chamsys MagicQ



Dongles comes in all shapes and sizes, from built and tested commercial offerings to 'open source' projects...






What's the pin-out of a Socapex/Lectriflex multicore?


Socapex :

1 = Circuit 1 Live

2 = Circuit 1 Neutral

3 = Circuit 2 Live

4 = Circuit 2 Neutral

5 = Circuit 3 Live

6 = Circuit 3 Neutral

7 = Circuit 4 Live

8 = Circuit 4 Neutral

9 = Circuit 5 Live

10 = Circuit 5 Neutral

11 = Circuit 6 Live

12 = Circuit 6 Neutral

13 to 18 = Earth


Lectriflex (Harting) :

1 = Circuit 1 Live

2 = Circuit 2 Live

3 = Circuit 3 Live

4 = Circuit 4 Live

5 = Circuit 5 Live

6 = Circuit 6 Live

7, 8 = Earth

9 = Circuit 1 Neutral

10 = Circuit 2 Neutral

11 = Circuit 3 Neutral

12 = Circuit 4 Neutral

13 = Circuit 5 Neutral

14 = Circuit 6 Neutral

15, 16 = Earth



What's the pin-out of a DMX cable?


Pin 1 = Ground

Pin 2 = Signal -ve

Pin 3 = Signal +ve

(These pin numbers are true for both 5-pin and 3-pin connectors, although strictly speaking 3-pin connectors should not be used as they don't comply with the official DMX512 standard.)


Some older Martin fixtures (such as the Roboscan Pro 518 and Robocolour 400) use the older Martin Protocol which switches Pin 2 and 3 so the pinout is

Pin 1 = Ground

Pin 2 = Signal +ve

Pin 3 = Signal -ve


If using these fixtures along side fixtures with standard pinouts, you'll need to create an short adapter (M-F, for use after the last standard fixture, and F-M for use before the next standard fixture) using the wiring shown below







Do I need to terminate my DMX line?

Yes, all runs of DMX data should be terminated - this will prevent 'reflections' of stray data coming back up the line and corrupting the signal.


To make a simple terminator, all you need is a 5-pin XLR plug and a 120-ohm 1/2-watt resistor. Simply solder the resistor across pins 2 and 3 of the XLR (sleeving the legs of the resistor is a good idea to prevent shorting).



What's the pin-out of a 4-pin scroller cable?


Pin 1 = Ground

Pin 2 = Signal -ve

Pin 3 = Signal +ve

Pin 4 = +24v or +48v DC



Why do I sometimes see two current ratings given for fixtures with discharge lamps?


During the fraction of a second that a discharge lamp is striking, it pulls more current than it draws while running (perhaps several times as much). This can cause problems if you're trying to run several moving lights from a single power feed - the rating of the feed might be sufficient for the operating current drawn by all the units, but if all the lamps strike at once the current peak that's drawn momentarily might be several times what the supply's rated for - at best this can cause a voltage drop sufficient to prevent the lamps from striking, and at worst it can trip the circuit protection device.



Where can I buy second-hand lighting equipment?


AC Lighting's second hand and stock clearance list.

Stage Electrics.


10 out of 10





What's this I've been hearing about a change in the colours of 3-phase cables?


The IEE published an ammendment to their wiring regulations, specifying new cable core colours for single-phase and 3-phase installations. The old colours (red/yellow/blue for phases, black for neutral) have not been used since the end of March 2006. The new 'harmonised' colours (brown/black/grey for phases, blue for neutral) have been used since then, though it is not necessary to replace any existing installation.

For further information, please refer to the IEE website.



How can I use two lighting desks to run one rig, for example one to control generics and one to run moving lights?


There are two ways this can be done.


1) Use two seperate 'universes', i.e. the generic desk runs to your dimmers and moving light desk uses a seperate DMX tie line or cable to go the first moving light and then daisy chain out. This keeps everything seperate, and is less likely to cause problems.


2) Use a DMX merger, such as the ELC DMX Merger 2 in 1 (http://www.leprecon.com/elc/mini_dmx_merger.htm) or the Compulite DMX Merger (http://stagetec.co.uk/php/index.php?sectio...;contentid=1305) which enables you to use both desks in 'tandem' and combine their DMX outputs into one stream.


Due to the serial multiplexed nature of a DMX signal, using a simple passive 'Y-lead' splitter to link two consoles into one DMX line will not work!



How Do I Light A (Rock) Concert?


As with any creative process, there are few rules other than the ones you make for yourself.


This is a subject which has been discussed many times in the Blue Room, so have a read of the following for ideas, opinions and inspiration by the bucketload...


Rock Concert Lighting

Music Lighting, Inside Drums

Help with a 4 colour Wash, Which 4 colours?

Light show

Live band lighting, sorry I know it aint theatre

Your favourite colour combinations, live band on a small stage


...If you have any remaining questions on the subject of concert lighting, please try (as usual) to add them to existing threads.



What lighting equipment should I buy for my school / college / church / village hall / other small venue or system?


A number of ideas and opinions on this subject can be found in the following threads...


Small DMX Desk, Possible Ideas?

Lighting desk recommendations

Advice Wanted, Typical School Stage

Desk And Dimmers For Installation, strand or zero88

General Lighting Rig, Help with some general lighting question

Use of movers

Small hall setup, shopping basket?

Small (CHEAP) 4ch DMX dimmer stand mounted

buying new lights, trying to build a better stock

Refurbishment Time, A lighting designers best friend BUDGET!

Small Spots, Time to spend some cash...

cheap profiles, cheap lamps but good performance

School Friendly Lighting Rental

Small Desk

Lighting Desks, Help me pick one

Secondary School Equipment, What do you have?

Control console help needed

Dance studio lighting, Some ideas on equipment please!

new dimmers + desk, for school, on the cheap

lighting desk recomendations, lighting desks

Which Moving Heads (250W MSD)?, Advice on moving head unit

second hand dimmers, (as above)

expanding my rig, what first

El-cheapo moving head advice

A cheaper alternative or waste of money ?

I need some suggestions for a new lighting rig..., School drama refit on a budget

High School Upgrade, Huge overhaul, what should we use?

House Lighting, for new install

Which Lighting Desk?, Lighting Desks, so many to choose from

What desk for med size generics + intelligents, a fair few contenders - tight budget

Controller Suggestions, 24 Channel for Movers and Conventionals

maXim in Schools, Any experience

Advice for small rig, Drama studio needs a controller

new dimmerpacks, school upgrade

New control desk for controlling intelligent lighting fixtures, Again it's for school

Lighting Problems, in large hall used for church meetings

Crowd Wash lighting, Church/Concerts

Lighting With Low Ceiling Height

School upgrade

What lighting do you recommend?

New control and dimming for amateur venue, Help me spend money

Smallest/ Cheapest Theatrical Console

The Cheapest Possible Light Rig

Dimming house lights

Small lighting rig, that will not make my job more complicated

A new Control Desk for a school

what fresnels to buy, any suggestions?


This FAQ is now replicated, extended and superseded by the one on the Blue Room Wiki, here.

Edited by bruce
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Useful Lighting Links


(N.B. - there are literally hundreds of links to technical production sites available on the Stagelink Website)



http://www.gamonline.com/catalog/splitgel/index.php - some useful information from GAM about the use of split colours.


Stage Lighting 101 - very good introduction to the basics of lighting design.


The Lighting Resource - huge site with links to just about everything light related.


The Association Of Lighting Designers


The Society of Television Lighting Directors


Modelbox's CAD symbols page - free downloadable CAD symbols for plan drawing.


Tom Baldwin's Tech Data Pages, including a very useful connector pin-out data page.


Lighting symbols in JPEG format - a zip file full of plan symbols in .jpg format, for use in graphics software.


USITT DMX512 FAQ - a list of frequently asked questions surrounding the DMX-512 control standard. Very useful resource.

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  • 2 years later...

As it says at the top, in suitably huge letters:


This FAQ is now replicated, extended and superseded by the one on the Blue Room Wiki, here.


This version remains for historical interest, and as a placeholder. You are encouraged to refer to, and contribute to, the wiki version.

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