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WiFi control comes to studio lighting

17 August 2010
WiFi control comes to studio lighting

Photon Beard has developed a new, low-cost wireless control system for studio lighting that promises to simplify set up.

The new Wi-Light will be launched at IBC and promises to reduce, or in some cases eliminate, the need for traditional wired DMX-controlled systems, which are time consuming and messy because of multiple cable requirements for each luminaire.

"Wi-Light does away with the need for in/out DMX leads making installation very quick and easy – simply hang the light and apply power, link it to the wireless network and it is ready to use," explained Peter Daffarn, Photon Beard’s MD.

Despite the ubiquity of wireless devices in other applications, the lighting industry continues to use multiple, wired data links to carry the universal DMX512 stage lighting and effects control standard. "This is suitable for conventional incandescent lighting, but many of the new generation of efficient, low-heat lighting fixtures work best with a direct, wireless control connection."

Wi-Light is primarily designed as an add-on to Photon Beard’s DMX-controlled series of Highlight fluorescents, but it can also be used to control a mixture of fluorescent and incandescent lighting systems.

It consists of one master transmit/receive module, which can be located at studio floor level; and individual receive modules or dongles added to each light source or dimmer. The master unit can also be configured as a receiver for point-to-point links or as a repeater to cover wider areas. Transmitter range varies but is typically up to about 100m, which is adequate in most installations and can be extended using repeaters.

The small receiver module or dongle fits to the base panel of a Highlight, on the outside of the casing. The master unit takes a conventional DMX512 data stream from a standard control desk. An assignable block of channels are selected from the input stream and transmitted via wireless. The original address positions of each channel in the block are preserved, which means users can set the receive address on each light source in the usual way.

However, the basic DMX512 standard sends data continuously, even when nothing changes, and this is extremely wasteful in a wireless system, so the Wi-Light transmits only the changes – using a special protocol designed to make best use of wireless control in a lighting application. All parts of the Wi-Light system are bi-directional, so that the master can pull information from a receiver.

Each Wi-Light has a unique identity that is added to all transmissions. To close the network and eliminate interference, each receiver can be remotely set to respond to only one transmitter. It also includes error checking, which is not part of the DMX512 standard. Its 2.4gHz operation and compliance with FCC regulations mean that it can be installed worldwide, including the USA.

This is intended to be the first of a family of products that will be added to the Photon Beard range to provide cost effective and easy-to-install control options for small- to medium-sized TV studios.

www.photonbeard.com

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