D is for DMX
January - April 2017
Not being confident about my applications to the BBC and Royal Albert Hall as broadcast apprentice and tech crew respectively, I turned my attention to learning about DMX. That might seem odd, considering I’ve been doing lights for a while; albeit either Sound2Light stuff for DJs, self-contained for mood lighting or working as crew for events that used intelligent lighting.
Using an old Windows laptop (800MHz AMD X2 CPU, 2GB RAM) and ADJ My DMX 2.0 (not the best, but good for learning with), and my disco rig all linked up via a Showtec buffer (I bought one after Big Clive gave it a good review), I tried to teach myself the basics of lighting control. I’m still learning and have had no formal training. You’ll recall I thought about learning to orchestrate something similar to The Forum in Aberdeen at that 2ManyDJs gig…
Soon after, I was with Audiowave at Mains Castle in Dundee lighting a rave with Josh Butler, Mirko Di Florio & Griff, organised by Emphatroit - an event which I had been booked, cancelled and then booked for again. I had my scanners, LED PAR cans, 1500W Xenon strobe light and effects - and a lot of nerves for my first ever DMX gig. I think I did ok losing my DMX virginity.
A friend called me in flap mid-week; she was getting married and her function DJ had let her down at the last minute. I assembled a suitable rig and set off to the reception venue, The Queens Hotel Forfar. Another friend had agreed to DJ off an iPad with Spotify, however internet gremlins abruptly cut off the first dance, requiring me to setup my MacBook to DJ from for the rest of the night.
Angus Sports Awards
I was asked to help my boss from the Webster Theatre install the lighting for the Angus Sports Awards held in The Reid Hall Forfar. While he was focusing the pars I was wiring up the LED batons and pars creating washes up the walls and on the attendees. We found some interesting items left by workmen above the lighting bridge: several emergency light battery packs, duff LED modules and an old “newspaper”.
Around this time, Ross wanted several rather rude custom LED floodlights made for his pub (The Salty Dog). I made this with off-the-shelf circuit boards and RGB LEDs, with a capacitor dropper acting as the power supply. You can visit the Salty Dog in Dundee to see it in use.
DJ Ross and I continued to do disco nights for Klozet Dundee. We tried - partly because of the noise complaints from above the rear of the bar - a new location, with Ross out front with the customers, which worked well.
Club 67 Birthday Party
We had another birthday party in Club 67 (The Celtic Clubbie), where some guests complained my lights were too bright.
Dundee Dance Event was upon us, and I know I say this every year, but I wanted more lights and more sound. I did lights for Medina Bar & Grill; and lights, sound and AV for the Salty Dog & Pillars Bar. I’d installed my usual rig consisting of every scanner I own, LED bars and cans, fairy lights, festoon lights with Chinese paper lanterns and a massive Xenon strobe light.
There was the usual faffing about with a table to put decks on, the usual power problems (running 2 mains cables for clean power and to avoid tripping breakers), and the usual inability to enjoy myself as I was concerned about sound & lights. This year, Darren was the official Salty Dog photographer and at intervals he lent me his memory card to dump photos onto my laptop for playback on the karaoke screens. Windows only crashed a handful of times.