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Budget dimmers


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Hi... I've just been put in charge of running the stage in a large community centre. The only reason being is I also run youth and adult amdram groups. They wish to use theirs stage to it's full potential, by this I mean putting on plays, and operettas etc. The problem is they have no lighting set up. The only power to the stage is 240volt single phase. My questions are numerous to say the least but basically I need to know more about DMX dimmers. The budget for the fit out is very small and they would like to be able to pack up the running gear when not in use for a production. I've been looking at some of the dimmers sold on the net for around £250 but am confused by some of the terms. For instance, Transession, soundlab and

showtec all say that their 6 channel dimmers can run 3 phase or 1 but there will be a loss of power on 1 phase. Does this mean that the 10amps per channel is then reduced to just 5amps? I only intend using 500watt fresnels and PC's along with some par 56's with 300 watt lamps, so can I double up if need be?


Also, some of these dimmer packs look rack mountable but state they have to be hardwired? I want to put three of these units into a large flightcase on wheels so it all can be removed after an event and locked away. If you can help with any or all of this it would be great...




Rob :D

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Sorry Rob, (and welcome to the Blue Room).


But this is going to be one of those times when it's a case of you clearly know too little about the 'art' of the electrickery, especially when applied to theatre style kit.

Your best bet will be to cast around for sometone with the experience (may be someone here local to you...) to visit site and give you the low down in person because you need to know what you're looking at before you can give us reasonable info on which to base any advice. But once a proper install is fitted you would then find it much easier to run the plays safely and within the limits.


One thing I would say though is if you do look at purchasing, DO NOT go for the cheapest you can get - buy the best you can afford. Cheap dimmers can be notoiously unreliable and the dimer curves are often cr@p.

The other option, if there aren't too many shows per year, would be to hire when you need them.

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Is a big flightcase the way to go?


Do you have the rest of the 'stuff' already in place along with a big pile of leads to hang it all together?


Or are you going to be working off stands?

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Robert, I think it might be useful to give us a list of the equipment you already have and how many circuits/lanterns of which power you wish to use at any one time.

The single phase on stage, is that a single 13A socket, a ring main, or a 16A/32A/63A blue socket? (PaulDF's question)


Ynot is right that your best bet is to find someone willing to come and take a look, have a chat and advise you on-site. The permutations are not endless but might as well be.


You say that the budget is small, just how small? At some point the investment would better be spent on hires until income from use has garnered enough to make purchase worthwhile.


BR is a treasure house of knowledge and information but basically, how long is a piece of string is the most common question posted. Without details the answer really is; "How long can you afford?"

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