Sunday, January 21, 2007

Techie trauma

I'm having lighting issues tonight. By "issues", I mean that of the three BigLites I'm running, none of them started up correctly. Might have something to do with the moisture from the snow; so much for the manufacturer's claim that they're weatherproof. They were even covered by tarps overnight. As of now, one of the three fixtures is working, and I just gave up on the other two. I'm done in 15 minutes, so even if I manage to get them functioning it's too late to run them. And, the guy who hired me (one of the small gods of the techie universe) spent three hours here tonight, and he couldn't make them work either. Gaaah.

Techie-geek digression: I think the problem concerns the position sensors. When you start up a moving-head light fixture, they have to home themselves so they know where they are. All of the functions (pan, tilt, focus, iris, colors, etc.) run themselves all the way to one extreme, then all the way to the other. This way, it doesn't matter where the fixtures were when you powered them down last time; they always know their current position, because it's measured relative to the extremes it sets when you home it. A set of sensors tell the fixture when it's at the extreme. If the sensor (or the hardware that monitors it) stops working, the fixture keeps trying to push itself to one if its extremes, and never realizes it's there. That's what the fixtures seem to be doing. I'm thinking it's in the controller, rather than the actual sensor; there are other problem indications that the controller's having trouble. For one thing, the onboard LED display keeps saying things like, "Pan=OKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK". For the fixture address (a DMX code between 1 and 512), one of the fixtures says "DMX=3140". On the totally non-functioning fixture, the display is full of question marks. Not a good sign. I'm assuming they'll be okay when they dry out. I hope.

The last two nights on the roof were easy; today might be my karmic payback. I don't like doing a bad job with anything, even if the problems are things not under my control. It might be my enormous techie ego -- problems I can't solve really bother me. I'm a good techie, so it's a rare situation. But when it happens, it messes with my sense of order.

2 comments:

David Lapham said...

Sounds like a rough night. It's always bad when things stop working right when you need them to start. People always look at you like they think you're just forgetting to push a certain button, and you could actually make it all come to life in a few seconds if you were just paying attention. At least your boss was there to see the problem first hand.

But, I love that they're actually called "Big Lites". I saw these at PLASA -- and that's really the only way to describe them. or maybe, in your case, "wet lites"...

Jeff Mountjoy said...

It actually made me feel better that John from Stage Tech spent three hours there and couldn't get them functioning either. I would've felt dumb if he would've walked in and pushed a button and made everything work. And it would've been different if I showed up on my first night and they didn't work; I'd assume it was me. But they worked fine the first two days, so I didn't feel like I screwed up anything myself....

Hey, David! Congratulations on your engagement; we just got your announcement this week! We're happy for you two. Best wishes!