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Simple light system - How to?


Bajazz

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I play acoustic guitar, sing and blow a harmonica on stand, rock/pop/blues/folk pub music. Today, I don't have any lightening setup. Only a small lamp (par 38 or something) pointing at me at dark places, without color. Play at small venues.

 

Now, I see that some variation on lights could raise my show a few notches. It don't have to be desperate disco, but some kind of changes during the night. I want very little to carry.

 

One idea is to buy another lamp, add colors and a footswith or something. Then hang the to lamps on my speaker stands.

 

What's your thought?

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You can build yourself a footswitch fairly easily to control small to medium sized lamps; I've posted about it on here several times, so if you do a search you'll probably come up with more details. Basically, four heavy-duty on/off buttons (heavy duty enough to step on!), a metal electrical box, a big drill bit, a bit of wire, and four extension cords cut up equals one nice little light controller that you can activate with your feet. Build it with 4 female ends sticking out (one for each switch), one male end (to plug into the wall), and wire everything in parallel (if you do it in series, you'll have to turn one on before the next, etc).

 

Any hardware store should sell Par 38-sized bulbs in colors. I know here, we have Lowes and Home Depot that sell Sylvania floodlights in red, green, blue, and yellow. Get four Par 38-sized fixtures (I bought six drop-ceiling lights at an auction for $2 and just sliced the extra metal pieces that hold it to the ceiling off) and screw in the colored bulbs, and plug each one into a switch. Bingo, done.

 

The switches I bought are rated for 5A each; typically the ones you'll find at Radio Shack type places are only 2-3A. If you get the Sylvania lights I believe they're only 150W, so that should be fine. However, if you want brighter, you can pick up those 500W halogen worklamps... which are usually only about $10 bucks at any large store (Wal-Mart, Target, etc) and a pack of colored gels at any music/lighting store. Get some heat resistant duct tape and tape the gels to the front of the halogen lights (leave a bit of room for heat to escape), and plug each one into the box like the previous idea. Just be careful you don't exceed the maximum amperage capacity of the switches; 500W halogen lights will draw about 4.3A... if you only have a 2A switch, it's time for a potential fire somewhere!

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After you get the foot controller thing going, you could also invest in a strobe (about $10), a moonflower type thing (about $30), and a sound activated 4-color floor light (I call it a disco light) (about $25). Then plug them into the foot controller and use them sparingly for effects during a wild solo. Some rotating police beacons might be cool, too.

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Originally posted by Zeromus-X

Any hardware store should sell Par 38-sized bulbs in colors. I know here, we have Lowes and Home Depot that sell Sylvania floodlights in red, green, blue, and yellow.

 

I tried some of the colored floodlight bulbs and have been quite unhappy with them compared to the colored spolights I used to be able to get 20 years ago - the beams are too wide and wash each other out. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find any colored spotlight bulbs these days. Those cheap disco PAR38 fixtures ($20 ?) aren't bad, kinda look pro from a distance, and have gel holders so you can use white spot bulbs. Good trick, use a lower wattage non-halogen for the yellows so they won't overwelm the other colors. I use 150w halogens on the blues and 25w "R" type bulbs on the yellows, and mid-wattage bulbs on the reds and greens. Halogens have a lot more blue in them than regular bulbs so don't skimp on them for the blue lights!

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Originally posted by MDLMUSIC

After you get the foot controller thing going, you could also invest in a strobe (about $10), a moonflower type thing (about $30), and a sound activated 4-color floor light (I call it a disco light) (about $25). Then plug them into the foot controller and use them sparingly for effects during a wild solo. Some rotating police beacons might be cool, too.

 

 

I would stay away from the strobe. Cheesy and annoying. The rest is OK.

 

Keep it simple as possible to start with. Also, you do not have to use saturated colors if you go with the PAR 38 fixtures. 150W with pastels of the primaries will give you color and output.

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Originally posted by meegaleedo



I would stay away from the strobe. Cheesy and annoying. The rest is OK.


 

 

So what's wrong with cheesy? Yeah, you're right it can get annoying, but used sparingly, it's a great effect, especially during a 60's acid rock flashback number.

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