I just acquired four Technobeams and...

ih303ih303 Registered User
edited September 2010 in HES Automated Lighting
Just recently I purchased four used Technobeams, four Trackspots, a Technobeam LCD controller, and an Intellibeam LCD controller. I've got some questions that hopefully you good people will be able to help me out with.

First, a few general questions:

1. What's the best approach to controlling these fixtures? Should I use the LCD controllers or should I get a USB to DMX interface so I can go PC-based?

2. If I want to use the LCD controllers, is it possible to upload preprogrammed scenes to the controller from an external source, i.e. memory card? And if so, can I get preprogrammed scenes from either someone here on the forum or somewhere else?

Now some specifics:

1. I'm running one version of the firmware on two of my TBeams and another version on the other two. I tried the process in the manual to update from another machine to no avail.

2. On one of my TBeams, the colorwheel seems to be stuck in between two colors. It still rotates, but settles on the border rather than on the color itself.

3. The Intellibeam controller has a problem with the intensity setting. When I try to crank it up, it always drops the value back down to zero.

4. The positioning laser on two of my TBeams work great, on one of them works ok, and on one of them doesn't work at all. Not sure where to even start on this one.


I understand this is a lot to ask and appreciate any information I can obtain regarding these issues. Thanks again.

Comments

  • PuffyfishPuffyfish Registered User
    edited July 2010
    ih303 wrote: »
    Just recently I purchased four used Technobeams, four Trackspots, a Technobeam LCD controller, and an Intellibeam LCD controller. I've got some questions that hopefully you good people will be able to help me out with.

    First, a few general questions:

    1. What's the best approach to controlling these fixtures? Should I use the LCD controllers or should I get a USB to DMX interface so I can go PC-based? Ans: Go DMX! An MLC-16 or Light Jockey is my preferred means of control in a club.

    2. If I want to use the LCD controllers, is it possible to upload preprogrammed scenes to the controller from an external source, i.e. memory card? And if so, can I get preprogrammed scenes from either someone here on the forum or somewhere else? Ans: Good luck on the memory card thing... Go DMX.

    Now some specifics:

    1. I'm running one version of the firmware on two of my TBeams and another version on the other two. I tried the process in the manual to update from another machine to no avail. Ans: There are two versions of T birds. Black stripe and Silver stripe. Earlier versions only go so far up.

    2. On one of my TBeams, the colorwheel seems to be stuck in between two colors. It still rotates, but settles on the border rather than on the color itself. Ans: I'm betting the motor has a bad spot and is worn out. Replace it. Color motors get the dog crap abused out of them.

    3. The Intellibeam controller has a problem with the intensity setting. When I try to crank it up, it always drops the value back down to zero. Ans: Go DMX problem solved.

    4. The positioning laser on two of my TBeams work great, on one of them works ok, and on one of them doesn't work at all. Not sure where to even start on this one. Ans: Be glad they work at all. The lasers usually didn't last long and the replacements were $300 for a $10 4mw.


    I understand this is a lot to ask and appreciate any information I can obtain regarding these issues. Thanks again.

    Hope this helps. Go DMX!
  • jeeperjeeper Registered User
    edited July 2010
    yeah what he said!
  • ih303ih303 Registered User
    edited July 2010
    Thanks for the feedback.

    I looked into the whole Light Jockey thing and was able to just go and download it from Martin's website. Obviously, I need a DMX to USB converter which I was able to find on Ebay. If I get that, will Light Jockey work?

    From what I can tell, the whole LJ system sells for over a thousand bucks. Of course, I'd rather not spend that much if I can help it. Is it really as simple as getting the software for free and then getting the converter? Something tells me it isn't.

    Also, on the subject of LJ, is it possible for me to go somewhere to download libraries of sequences for my lights? I'm kind of short on time and really don't have much experience programming these things. If I can avoid starting with a blank slate, I will.

    Again, thanks for the reply.
  • JeffMJeffM Registered User
    edited July 2010
    Here are a few things to look at on the T-beams. First of all, The black or grey stripe have nothing to do with anything. The early versions were grey and the newer ones are black. The guts are the same except for 2 things. The newer versions are capable of iris and have the motor driver for the iris on the mother board. And the extra wiring is there for the iris. That's it. The firmware can be uploaded to older and newer versions by doing the cross load. I know this because I own both styles of these units and have since they were first made in 1998.
    your color wheel sticking could be missing teeth of the plastic gear that turnes the color wheel. I have had to replace them on both color and gobo wheels before. No guaranty that is what it is, but from your description, that would be worth checking.
    The LCD controllers have parameters from 0-99 on each function to include the backlight. If you keep going on direction with the cursor, it will be at 99(full bright) then go to 0 ( out completely).
    The technobeam LCD controller is capable of running both iris and non iris T-beams and will also run the studio spot 250 as they are the same fixture internally and have all the same parameters in the same order.
    One important thing to also check on the T-beams is that you are setting them up in the right mode. The same mother boards and firmware is in the technoray and technopro, Also there is a full 18 ch mode and a reduced 14 ch mode.
    Make sure you are running them all the same. The 14 ch mode will not respond with the LCD controller. Only works with DMX.
    Now, for simplicity, DMX will be more efficient for you and allow you to seamlessly control all the fixtures you have all together.
    Light Jockey can do the job or you can use Hog PC. There are also a few inexpensive boards out there that can marry all these together as well. However, don't let the price drive your decision. Reason being is that you will notice how spending the extra money can at times save you a lot of programming work down the road because of the capabilities of one control system to another. You will also find that the I-beam and trackspot are very choppy on pan tilt in DMX mode because there was no 16 bit processing in them. If you are doing medium to fast movement you will never notice, but slow movements will be obvious.
    Personally, I would save your money and get the Hog widget if you plan on doing any live and on the fly stuff. LJ can run stuff well once it's programmed, but is not good for being able to grab the lights and modify function while the lights are running.
    And if you ever plan on doing events where you need cues, scenes, and running Cue to Cue, LJ again will not do it for you.
    Hope this helps.
    Oh and one more thing. Check the T-beam with the color problem for anything hitting when you have the fixture off and turn the color wheel by hand. Sometimes things happen and you could also have something hitting the tab on the edge of the wheel
  • ih303ih303 Registered User
    edited August 2010
    Thank you so much for the response! Here are my thoughts...
    JeffM wrote: »
    The firmware can be uploaded to older and newer versions by doing the cross load.

    I tried to crossload from a fixture with v2.2 to a vixture with v1.6 with no success. At one point, the word "lock" came up so I wondered if there was something internally that put a cap on the firmware. Couldn't find anything online about it though.
    JeffM wrote: »
    your color wheel sticking could be missing teeth of the plastic gear that turnes the color wheel.

    How do I get to those gears? I'm new to this and need a good place to find out how to disassymble these bad boys. Oh, the LCD screen is also displaying "COLOR SENS ERROR". Do those ever need to be cleaned? And if so, how would one go about cleaning one?
    JeffM wrote: »
    The LCD controllers have parameters from 0-99 on each function to include the backlight. If you keep going on direction with the cursor, it will be at 99(full bright) then go to 0 ( out completely).

    What's happening with my t-spot controller is this: I'll start to crank up the intensity, then at some pont (highest I've ever got it was like 40) it automatically jumps back to zero. I'll try again and get it to 32 - then it jumps back to zero. I'll try again and get it to 6 - then it jumps back to zero. Ad infinitum. See what I'm saying? I'm sure this is not normal behavior.
    JeffM wrote: »
    The technobeam LCD controller is capable of running both iris and non iris T-beams and will also run the studio spot 250 as they are the same fixture internally and have all the same parameters in the same order.

    Sorry if this is a dumb question, but my other lights are t-spots. Are these similar to studio spots?



    So here is my current situation. I've got one week before the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally when I'd like to have all my lights up and running. Out of my four t-beams,

    1. Fixtures 1 and 4 work like a dream, although 1 has v1.6 and 4 has v2.2 firmware, and I can't seem to crossload from 4 to 1 (see above).

    2. Fixture 2 has a color wheel that used to just be off a half a color, now the color wheel barely turns at all. and when it tries, it makes a clicking noise.

    3. Fixture 4 powers on (motor led comes on and fans start), but the display shows only " ' ' ' ' " or " 0000 " (with asterisks in the zeros) or " , , , , ". It doesn't respond to power cycling or any button pushing. I found another thread on this forum that mentioned these types of displays. I tried crossloading the firmware from another fixture, but the unit I tried crossloading from couldn't even find fixture 4. From the sound of the thread, it sounded like the solution was a diode or driver chip or something.

    4. I realized I only have half of the factory lithos. The people who owned these units before me took out the other half and filled them with cheap, metal gobos of snowflakes, bubbles, and snowmen. lightparts.com has replacement lithos but they cost ~$40 ea. That's $160/light or $640 for the lot. Do these ever come up used anywhere for less?


    One other thing. I'm in the Air Force and went to tech school for electronics, so I have a basic understanding of this stuff. But 30+ yr old circuit cards from B-1 bombers are very different from what I see in these lights. Since I own these things, I want to learn how to work on them. Where do I start?

    Thanks so much for your replies so far. I live in a small city where no one's ever even heard of HES. This place forum is like a lifeline for me. :)
  • JeffMJeffM Registered User
    edited August 2010
    You have so many different issues going on.
    Let's start with the trackspots and get them out of the way.
    You can run them on the Intellebeam controller or a universal controller from HES, but not with the Technobeam controller.
    The trackspots are 7 ch fixtures as are the Intellebeams.
    Now onto the Technobeams.
    If you noticed, you had to hold down the menu button to unlock the fixture menu to access addressing the fixture or modifying any section in the menu. When your one particular light had the work lock in the window, it was because you had not held down the menu button long enough to unlock it's menu. When cross loading firmware it is best to just work with 2 lights at a time. The one with the firmware that you wish to upload from and the one you are uploading to.
    Also, make sure all the Technobeams are set for the correct power they are plugged into.
    Look on the back side of the front cover and the settings are explained there.
    Do not switch these setting while fixture is plugged into power!
    @ usually means that it's not set for the correct
    voltage.
    With the light sitting upright and facing you with the front cover off, you should see a gobo wheel to your left and color wheel to your right.
    On the light that is not rotating the wheel or sits at a half color, you may want to take the main guts out and lay it on a table so you can get better access to all the gears and motors for inspection.
    Lay the light on it's back side with front cover facing up. Pull the handles off the bottom where the power cord is. They are allen heads
    After this, pull the black plastic base out of the way. You will notice a small wire going to the XLR data card. Unplug it from the main board. If you look at the bottom on the left and right side of the untit; just inside the case, you will see some rails that the guts are riding in. There are 2 small philips headed screws that need to be removed. Now you can slide the entire guts of the light out of the case. As you do this, be looking into the top of the case whereyou have revealed 2 wires going to the top of the fixture. These are your pan and tilt wires. Disconnect them before trying to take the guts completely out of the fixture. And don't worry, they are labeled so you can easily reconnect them later.
    With the guts out on a table, you can now ispect all the plastic gears driving the color wheel.
    If the gears are good, then take your finger and rotate the wheels, and notice the resistance that each one has. Normally when a motor is bad, you will notice that it doesn't turn well by hand and in some cases not at all. In rare other occasions, it turns very freely, but not as often. You can actually plug the guts into power and watch the wheels calibrate. The color and gobo wheel will turn during calibration. If you don't see them turn, then it is possible that you have a bad motor or broken gear.
    These lights are really simple to repair and maintain.
    If you need replacement Gobos, I have a source for them, but not sure of their current inventory. they have many used Gobos from technobeams.
    If you get stuck, let me know and I will give you my contact info and I will talk you through this stuff.
  • ih303ih303 Registered User
    edited August 2010
    Jeff, thank you so much for your help. I talked to Chris at LightParts.com yesterday and also played around with everything a bit more so I've got a bit more info to help guide things.

    RE: Crossloading
    When I saw the word lock, it was when the fixture I was crossloading from was going through process of trying to locate other fixtures to load to. I was told I probably had two fixtures with Iris c-boards and two without which explained why they won't crossload. He told me I could tell by looking at something on the c-board, but I wasn't near my lights at the time so I couldn't check.

    RE: Fixture not responding
    I made sure the voltage switches were all set the same to rule that issue out. When I mentioned this error to Chris, he said somthing about a "Time Relay" something-or-other. (again, I was in my car and should have written it down) He said he could fix it for a couple of dollars worth of parts plus labor if I sent him the circuit board. Is this something I could test or even repair myself? A few dollars on parts makes me think they're pretty common parts.

    RE: T-Beam Color Wheel
    I'll pull the fixture with this problem apart tonight and inspect stuff. Again, Chris said it's either the sensor or the motor. Something about motors from certain manufacturers being bad. I wish I could figure out exactly what the problem is. I'd probably just pull the motor or whatever out of my other t-beam that's not working and just roll with three fully functional fixtures at the rally.

    RE: Intellabeam Controller
    I realized the whole 8-channel DMX thing for the trackspots yesterday and gave up trying to use a technobeam controller. But my Intellabeam controller is infuriating. Couple of issues on this one:

    1) Again, the master intensity wants to stay at zero. I can crank it up and see the lights fade in, but it always drops it right back down to zero.

    2) Menu => Setup has no arrow to the right of Edit/Copy to get to erase like it shows in the manual. I was thinking maybe the zeroing problem was due to some strange setting and wanted to clear it out but I don't see the option.

    3) Menu => Submaster is set to fixture four and I don't know how to clear that out. I'm wondering if this has anything to do with my master intensity problem.

    I know most of you guys use DMX, but I simply don't have the money at this point to drop on Hog 3PC or LJ. I'm trying to work with what I've got.

    Thanks in advance for your help.
  • ih303ih303 Registered User
    edited August 2010
    Just an update here on my progress...
    ih303 wrote: »
    RE: Fixture not responding
    I just overnighted the circuit board to LightParts yesterday. I'm hoping it will be a relatively easy/cheap repair.
    ih303 wrote: »
    RE: T-Beam Color Wheel
    The problem here was the colorwheel motor. I was able to rule out the color sensor by going to the Info=>Sens=>Sens4 (I think that's the one for the color wheel) and manually rotating the color wheel so that the tab was at "6 o'clock", then toggling it back and forth while watching it switch from "on" to "off" on the screen. Once that was figured out, it was just a matter of pulling a motor out of my non-responsive unit and putting it in this one. Thanks to Don at Light Parts for helping me out on that one. :)
    ih303 wrote: »
    RE: Intellabeam Controller
    A couple of things I noticed on this issue - First, I figured my problem might be a result of some previously loaded user setting. But when I went to erase all the settings, I noticed that when I went to Menu=>Setup, the options stopped at "Edit/Copy" (there's supposed to be an "Erase" option to the right of that indicated by an arrow pointed right). It turns out I had v1.01 of the software which lacked some of the features and also was documented to have problems with some of the internal components. Solution? I ordered an old memory card that the good people at Light Parts are going to load with v1.09 of the OS so that I can upgrade the software. Hopefully this will be all I need to get this unit working. (crosses fingers)
    ih303 wrote: »
    I know most of you guys use DMX, but I simply don't have the money at this point to drop on Hog 3PC or LJ. I'm trying to work with what I've got.

    The Enttec dongle is looking better and better by the day. It's still my plan to upgrad to DMX, but I figure I should at least get my controllers working so I can sell them to help recoup some of the money I'm dumping into these guys right now. Plus, I'm using these fixtures at the Sturgis Rally this coming week and really don't have the time to learn any software before then.

    I'd love to go with the Hog 3PC but simply can't justify spending that kind of money, especially when I know very little about the software in respect to all the other dmx software available. Any thoughts?
  • bigdarkspotbigdarkspot Registered User
    edited September 2010
    I really like my Enttec dongle and Chamsys Magicq software. I wish i had hard handles to grab, but at least it works well and is reliable.
  • IntensityderenIntensityderen Registered User
    JeffM you seem to be the most knowledgeable person I've found recording the Technobeam LCD controller. I've been using the controller just fine with my Technobeam i for years, but today the iris is stuck completely on with both fixtures and I cannot find the iris parameter in the programming menu. Did my controller revert to an old firmware version or am I just completely not remembering how to change it in the controller? Thanks so much! My love for Highend goes all the way back to my Technobeam 400s!! LOL
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