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Difficulty with Strobe


zman
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I have a Chauvet ST-800X strobe. This thing is not behaving at all. It is only 2 channels, flash and intensity.

All I want this to do, is to flash once, when I want it to. I have been playing with this thing for weeks now to get it to be consistent. I thought I had a recipe to make it work, and now that is back to inconsistent as well. Let me try to describe my test sequence.

I set up 4 flash points, timing divisions at .1, below is a mock up of what one flash point looked like. I put these 2 seconds apart.

Flash channel 80%

Intensity Channel 100% 100% 100%

I sort of had to pre-load the intensity by .2 seconds to get it to flash. I spent a lot of time to figure out this combination, and it was working rock solid in all my trial runs. I attempted to move into a real sequence to get it to work, and i get almost nothing. I can even turn on both channels at 100% and no flashy or hardly any and certainly not when I expect it to. I went back to my test sequence, and it's back to being inconsistent. Where it would flash 4 times, now it flashes anywhere from 2-3 times and never the say way twice. Strobes have to be able to fire when you want them to, it can't be rocket science.

Any suggestions?

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LightORamaDan

I took a look at the manual for the ST-800X strobe. As far as I can see the strobe has three modes. Standalone, master/slave and DMX control.

In DMX control, the strobe does not appear to be synced. That is, there is no absolute guarantee when it will fire. Now in master/slave sync mode, the strobe is designed to fire when told to by the master so that all of strobes connected are fired in sync.

There are strobes that are designed to be "triggered" to fire exactly when told to do so. As far as I can tell, this strobe is not one of them when run in DMX mode. You are going to get random results with this strobe. When you tell it to start firing, it is going to start charging a capacitor at a rate based on the number of flashes per minute. When it fires will be "sometime" after told to do so.

The fact that it will fire "on command" when running in the master/slave mode indicates that there is some circuitry in the strobe that may do what you want but it is not documented how to trigger it.

I am not a strobe expert but I believe that this information is correct.

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Dan, thanks. I guess I don't fully understand the concept of a DMX fixture not being able to fire on command, because I thought that was the intent of DMX. I did call Chauvet and they were wishy washy on this, and in the end said that the unit most likely would not work the way I wanted. :D

I call American DJ and talked to one of thier reps, and put him through a battery of questions. He was a bit confused till I painted the full picture for him and told him about his competitors product, and he said that it did not make sense, but that his product would work how I wanted it. :)

SOOOoooo, long story short, Am DJ has a strobe comparable to the Chauvet unit I had. The Guitar Center close by had one, and well, guess what? This works as I thought it would! :cool:

Dan my wife loves you. You saved some gray AND what little hair I have left!

So IF you want to use LOR iDMX and fire STROBES stay way from Chauvet. At least until I can test my other strobe. Looks 2 Chauvet Strobes will be on Ebay soon. :shock:

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Guys,

I am not so sure the bugs are worked out of the strobe situation. Even with the new Am DJ device, I am getting inconsistent results. Based on some input with Dan, I will be doing some more testing later today.

So my statement about Chauvet vs Am DJ may not be completely true, more to follow.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Steve Constantino

Most low end DMX strobes will act this way. All the DMX will do for you is act like a basic remote that happens to be controlled by DMX. If you want it to be triggered on a cue with only one flash you need a professional strobe light. Here are a few that mite help.

http://www.highend.com/products/effects/dataflashaf1000.asp

http://www.martin.com/product/product.asp?product=atomic

They cost a lot, but they work very very very good. I have used them both.

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Steve thanks for your input. My findings, after Dan so gently and elegantly pounded the information into my head :) is just that. Low end strobes are not 100% predictable in this application. The Am DJ unit was better than the Chauvet however.

Problem is, as you mentioned, these are expensive units, and I need to really think about spending $400-$600 per device, cause I need 2 minimum.

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michael.farney

I have the Martin Atomic, and it works great. It does allow you to turn the channel on 100% in the sequencer and it will fire ONCE at the correct time. Of course, it can do many, many other things. The great thing with DMX is you can switch between the different modes as often as you like. It's not a dip switch setting.

Yes, it's pricey and big. But it will do everything you want and more. And, it's too bright. You'll definitely want to lower the intensity if you're in a residential area. At full power, it will light up all the houses BEHIND the strobe light across the street from the reflection off my house.

If you have any questions about Atomic, be sure to let me know. I can test something out for you if it's something I haven't tried.

I got mine new on ebay from Center Stage Lighting. It was $385 then, but looks like their price is higher now.

*Edit: Why do you need 2? What is your application? If you're trying to light up a small part of your yard space, then these units are not for you. They are too big and powerful.

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Michael,

I have 2 viewing angles for my home. This year (2008) the yard is getting a good makeover plan. If you check out my website, and the pics, the main angle before was the front of the house going down our little private road. My mega tree was on the side, in the side yard. Due to traffic problems, that side yard will now be my animated vignettes, and the front will be more static vignettes.

So I want one for each viewing angle so when they go off, you get that effect.

Michael and Steve do you have any knowledge of this strobe at all?


Diversitronics Super Strobe 50S-2

It appears to be the same type of strobe as has been mentioned, however I found it on a site that has it for WAY cheaper than any of the products you have mentioned.

Mark

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michael.farney

zman wrote:

Michael,

I have 2 viewing angles for my home. This year (2008) the yard is getting a good makeover plan. If you check out my website, and the pics, the main angle before was the front of the house going down our little private road. My mega tree was on the side, in the side yard. Due to traffic problems, that side yard will now be my animated vignettes, and the front will be more static vignettes.

So I want one for each viewing angle so when they go off, you get that effect.

Michael and Steve do you have any knowledge of this strobe at all?


Diversitronics Super Strobe 50S-2

It appears to be the same type of strobe as has been mentioned, however I found it on a site that has it for WAY cheaper than any of the products you have mentioned.

Mark


This is not a DMX strobe?
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Michael,

Dang, I feel dumb now. I all my reviews, I guess I completely blew PAST that fact, cause now that I go look at thier catalog, you are correct. No wonder it was cheaper than anything out there! Scratch that one.

Mark

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michael.farney

Could you put the strobe at the corner of the house to light both sides? If you back up 30-40 feet from the corner and have a clear shot, the atomic could do it. Believe me, it's bright enough. The further you back up, the better it would light both sides. You're not going to out range the atomic moving it too far back. It would still light fine at a couple hundred feet.

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I may have to play with that. I have the 2 Chauvet units that I can mount temporarily and test. My thought was to put the one on the front of the house, up higher toward my talking wireframe, Rudy, and the one on the side at the very end of the house, what would be left of the mega tree as you look straight at it. That one corner gets somewhat blocked with a large planter area that has 4 huge cedar trees in it. Those cedars are the 4 red/white trunks you see, with the blue river running though it. There is no clear line of site from my donation box (entrance) to that corner of the house. But at those prices, it behooves me to make one work instead of 2.

Mark

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michael.farney

What exactly are you trying to light? I'm assuming you're just trying to light up the house. Looking at this picture, it could go in the left corner right next to flash the dog. It looks like this positioning will produce a couple of long shadows on the house, but a stobe is such a quick, shocking event I doubt anyone would notice. If you back the strobe up all the way to your cedar trees, I bet you could get a decent flash on both sides of the house. Maybe move the mega tree further from the house? You might get weird shadows from the mega tree.

If you had two strobes, wouldn't you position them to light the house anyway? How much gain will you get from 2 strobes as opposed to one between the house and cedar trees? I've only got the pictures on your website to go by, but I think I was able to piece together your layout.

For others: http://www.woodinvillewonderland.com/Display_2007.htm


Attached files 153503=8880-wood.jpg

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Ding the light bulb just went on. So you say aim the strobe AT the house. I was looking at other displays like Marty Slacks, where the strobes were aimed AWAY from the house toward the crowd! In you case that corner by Flash would work. I guess I never thought of that approach.

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I have the Martin Atomic, and it works great
Isn't that the same one TSO uses in concert? I'll bet it lights up the neighborhood... :)
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michael.farney

tsmith35 wrote:

I have the Martin Atomic, and it works great
Isn't that the same one TSO uses in concert? I'll bet it lights up the neighborhood... :)


Tsmith:
Yes, TSO uses Atomics. Not saying that influenced my decision. :) Ok, so it did. But I wanted a strobe that would last and be able to work in any application I could dream up and be bright enough to do it all. I did some research and turns out the Atomic was a great fit and quite possibly the brightest strobe on the market.

Zman:
You might want to be a little careful aiming an Atomic at the audience. Doing so at a concert is a little different than aiming at a public street. :)

You can crank this thing up to 3,000 watts -- you'll have no issues getting a good flash on the house and a good reflection backward into your display, especially if there is snow. The reflection may be as bright as your Chauvet or AMDJ units anyhow. (I'm being serious. At 1500-2000watts, the reflection off my house was lighting up the houses across the street.)
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michael.farney

On the off chance you're going to be in the Chicago area sometime, drop me a line. You can stop by and check it out. I know I personally feel better about buying products like this when I've been able to play with them first.

Or, come to the Chicago Mini! I know it's really far for you, but you can play with my entire DMX lineup all night long as well as enjoy other Christmas offerings and enthusiasts. :):):):):) (Of course, the cost of that trip is more than the atomic. :?)


Edit: The best part of the night is going to be playing with the atomic. The mini location borders a golf course. We're going to see if we can light up trees on the other side of the course. I've never been able to range test this bad boy, so I am quite excited to see how it turns out. I am expecting we won't be able to find anything that is out of range. :)

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Did you have to put the Atomic on a separate 120V high current circuit? I see it's fused for 20A with a 33A peak current, though the blinder effect (continuous output) is amazing and would be well worth it for the wow effect. It appears that with the MAX-15 lamp and 240V, the Atomic draws the same current at twice the voltage, thus doubling power.

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michael.farney

tsmith35 wrote:

Did you have to put the Atomic on a separate 120V high current circuit? I see it's fused for 20A with a 33A peak current, though the blinder effect (continuous output) is amazing and would be well worth it for the wow effect. It appears that with the MAX-15 lamp and 240V, the Atomic draws the same current at twice the voltage, thus doubling power.





No. The Atomic is used so sparingly it doesn't require a separate circuit. It would depend on your usage habits. Unless you're using this continously or having special effects back to back like in a club environment, it does not consume a lot of power. Also, in most cases you wouldn't be using it at 100%. It's too bright for that. The one place I use it for 20 seconds, I have to run it at 40% to balance the effect right so it looks the same a zap strobe. If I truly strobed my yard at 100% (3000 watts), you wouldn't be able to *see* any of the other Christmas lights.

I have all my dmx stuff (several yolk lights, several wash lights, one effect light, the atomic), room lighting, ceiling fan, 2 computers, and a monitor all on the same 15 amp circuit. I have never tripped a breaker, and honestly, I don't expect to. Here's why it's not a problem. My 2008 show has one blinder effect each hour, and most of the lights are off at this time. The atomic remains dormant except for a few power punches -- it's only active 23 seconds total out of every hour. 20 of those seconds are at 40%, so they don't even count. This means I'm only over-drawing the line 3 seconds of every hour. This is not enough to warm the line, even if the spike is 33amps as you suggest. In addition to this, my display only has dedicated 20 amp circuits, so all this extra stuff like the room lights, fan, and computers won't be factor and the atomic will be on a 20 amp line. Finally, unless I physically run out of outlets, this will be on a dedicated 20 amp outlet for the display anyway.

The Atomic CAN draw a lot of power depending on how you use it. You will want a dedicated circuit if you use the device often or do several special effects in a row (like blinder). It just so happens the few times I use the atomic, the other DMX items sharing the line are off.
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