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Thomann's Cool Online Guides: Effects Lights

5. FAQ

On this page you can find frequently asked questions:


What is DMX?

DMX512 was originally intended as a data transfer system for use between interfaces supporting proprietary protocols. It soon became the primary method not only for linking controllers and dimmers, but also for linking more advanced fixtures and special effects devices such as fog machines and moving lights. A DMX512 controller is connected to fixtures or devices in a ‘multi-drop bus topology’, commonly called a daisy-chain. Each device has a DMX ‘in’ and usually a DMX ‘out’ connector, sometimes marked as DMX ‘thru’.

What is a Gobo?

A Gobo is a small flat disc made of either metal or glass. Metal gobos are punched or laser cut with a pattern through which light can pass, thereby projecting the pattern in the beam. Glass gobos work in exactly the same way, but are printed or etched with a pattern, and just like photographic slides, can be full colour.

Do I need a haze machine?

Although not essential, haze in the air enhances the beams of light emitted by effect lighting, and adds particular definition to gobo patterns. The smoke produced by a haze machine hangs in the air for longer than that of a smoke machine and is therefore much more efficient in terms of fluid consumption. There are many different types of machine and many different densities of haze fluid available, so clear advice should be sought as to what is best suited to your needs.

Do I need a lighting controller?

For a small mobile or fixed installation, the use of a lighting controller is not usually necessary - using effects lights in stand-alone mode will create a decent lightshow without the hassle of having to program all the parameters of each effect. When using the lights in this manner, a simple power switcher can be used to turn each effect on or off. However, in a night club, on stage, or for a larger installation where a really good lightshow is desired, a lighting controller is a necessity - it will give independent control over each parameter of each fixture, allowing complex sequenced effects to be programmed.

What limitations are there?

In smaller venues, flower effects work well, but they may struggle to compete against other effects when used in larger installations as their typically deep colours tend to get lost in bright open white beams. Any fixtures that have an open white beam in which colour filters are placed will have more impact in larger venues due to their brighter light source.

Can I upgrade the lamp in an effect?

Under no circumstances should this be attempted as it can be extremely dangerous, especially in effects that use a discharge lamp - in this situation, the electrical control gear is specific to the lamp and will be seriously damaged if the wrong type of lamp is fitted. The cooling system of a fixture is only designed to deliver the correct amount of air flow for the factory fitted lamp, so if you were to fit a higher rated lamp then the build-up of heat could irreparably damage the fixture, or worse still cause a fire.

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Effects Lights overview


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