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Friday, June 11, 2010

-- Technical Help With Older Effects --

I have created this section for reference and for others trying to restore and maintain these lighting effects. Also it is just some cool knowledge about some of these units. I have learned much over the years working with these units. Email if you have any additional info if you want to add something.

Also I repair and maintain classic units. If you have a technical question or need your unit repaired, please contact me. I can usualy help or point you in the direction.


Many of the older units use multiple motors to move arms, saucers, bulbs, boxes, mirrors, color wheels, dishes and almost anything else to make a crazy effect. If you are having a problem with a motor first check the power coming to it (easy to do with a meter). If no power present, trace backwards to the main power supply. Many of the units use a brush and slip ring assembly to transfer power to other parts of the unit.  The brushes ware down and even crack sometimes.  They are also spring loaded so if the springs ware out that can cause an issue.  The slip rings can become gummed up from dirt, dust and smoke.  If these become gummed up they will make a bad connection.  The best way to fix this is use a pencil eraser and scrub off the gunk.  Check fuses as well. If they are blown, make sure you replace with the same size and rating. If you have power at the motor and still nothing is happening the motor probably is burnt out. Be careful with these motors as some are AC and some are DC, as well as the voltages range from 12 - 24 volts DC to 110 - 220 volts AC with everthing else as well.

* Clay Paky, Sapro, Nisel & Coemar mostly use Crouzet motors (older units only). The problem is that they are not available anymore. Crouzet still makes the mini-motors, but are not the same specifications and are very expensive. The new ones don't fit on the lights and don't have enough torque to move the units. What I have done is have the motors repaired or opened them up and do a good cleaning. Make sure the stator and brushes have good contact as well as make sure the stator rotates. If it wont rotate you might have a broken bearing or bent shaft. If this happens the motor is usually not repairable. If you need to send it out for repair, use a motor rewind shop. I use Palmer's Electric in Stanford, CT.

* Novalight, Griven, BLUERED Company & Programmi Sistemi Luce use Micro Motors in their units.

* Martin uses Suhder Industrial Co., Ltd. for their synchronous motors (rotation). In all versions of the Starflash, Rainbow & Rainbow 2, Wheeler, MiniMoon & Magic Moon, as well as the mirror dishes inside the Adventurer, Voyager, Lynx 100 & Discovery use the same motor. Specifications are: 120 volt, 50/60Hz, 20/24 RPM CW/CCW


With the older units the technology in bulb making was not what is is today. Some lamps that were used were not made for disco/stage lighting, but rather for other applications. Example: 4515 sealed beam lamp. They come in mostly 6 & 12 volt versions. These were originally used for automotive applications.

You will find many units with bulbs wired in series in order to make the proper voltage. This was done in order to avoid using large, heavy transformers to make the bulbs operate at their correct specifications. Example: Coemar Comet 36 uses 18 - 6 watt bulbs in series to make the 220 volt power input. One cool thing you will find that these classic units use is that they have neon bulb indicators that light up when a lamp goes out. These are usualy red and next to every lamp. This makes it easy to know which bulbs is out without testing them all.

With units that used single bulbs you will proably find a large heavy transformer in it. Example: the Martin Rainbow 2 uses a 24 volt, 250 watt lamp and weighs quite a bit. When the now common 64514 bulb came out it got rid of this problem. It is rated at 110 volts and 300 watts. So using the newer bulb you eliminate the transformer and get an additional 50 watts of power. If you look at the Rainbow 2 vs. the StarFlash it is pretty much the same unit, just different bulbs.

Bulbs that were made for these type of applications usually are expensive and some are not produced anymore. In cases like this you will have to modify your unit and find a comparable light source. This can be tricky sometimes. If you change out or upgrade your unit make sure you use the same voltage and similar power output if you keep the same power supply to the lamp. With arc and discharge lamps you have to make sure the envelope (place where the arc is produced in the bulb) lines up with the aperture (Place where the light comes out of the unit). If you don't the light will have minimal output.

Tip: Most units used the 4515 & 4545 sealed beam bulbs. These are great, but with units that take many of these become heavy fast. Also the bulbs are only rated at 100 hours. I recommend using halostar lamps such as the OSRAM SYLVANIA 35w 6v AR111SSP4 PAR36 Halogen Bulb. It is made out of aluminum and weighs about 1/4 of the weight of the glass bulbs. Also it has 5 additional watts of power and is rated for 3,000 hours. The only concern is on the rear of the aluminum bulbs they have metal tabs that stick out further than the screw terminal on the glass bulbs. If this causes a problem you can remove them with a pair of tin snips.

Specific information on Manufactures:

* Satel: No longer in business. Company was based out of Madrd, Spain and produced some awesome lights from small to big. From rotating small single bulb oscillators to centerpieces such as the Gyroscope and Kum units. What was cool about Satel is almost all of their unis were available in Chrome and black painted.

* Martin: Still in business and going strong! Based in Denmark and produces effects from small "DJ" effects to large scanner and wash units used on touring concerts. Also has JEM, which is their smoke and haze product line. Martin never produced many of the large centerpiece lights most of the classic companies made, but still has some cool units. Martin produced a light named the Centerpiece that uses a MSR1200 lamp (See blog), but mostly effects with dichro dishes and rotating mirror drums.

* Clay Paky: Still in business and based out of Seriate, Italy. Clay Paky made small helicopter units, pin spots, rolling boxes, scanners, centerpieces and the only manufacturer that had "vibrating" effects. Today Clay Paky only makes intelligent lighting such as moving heads and large scanners. What is cool is that Clay Paky also updated a couple of their classic effects. The Astroraggi which is now the Astroraggi Power which uses a brighter 400 watt lamp instead of the 250 watt older lamp and also the Atlas which is the updated version of the Saturno. DMX control is also added in the new units.

* Kremesa: Another company that was based out of Madrid, Spain and now out of business. Kremesa made the smaller single bulb scanner units up to the huge Krypton and Alien units.

* Sapro: This company was based out of Saint Maur (Paris), France, but no longer in business. Sapro made some of the first moonflowers such as the Light and Sound Flower as well as classic saucer and rolling box units.

* Novalight: This company is truly unique. Still in business and based out of Viterbo, Italy they made some unusual lights over the years. Check out their site for specifics on what they produced. I only have the Revolution effect from them, but it is truly awesome! Imported in the US by Omnisistem.

* NESS - Show Pro - Optec - DJ USA (LyteQuest): These are all brands under the main company NESS. The company is no longer in business. It was purchased by Gemini in the 90's and became LyteQuest. Gemini still makes mixers, turntables, speakers and other audio products. LyteQuest had a short life and Gemini eventualy closed operations involving lighting. It's a sad story, but some of the effects are still around and I pick them up if I can find them.

* Coemar T.A.S & NAT: Coemar is another Italian light company who is still in business. At one time they had the T.A.S. line which was for club and D.J. lighting and NAT which was very unique scanners. Based out of Castel Goffredo, Italy this company made some awesome units such as the Venus, Magic Titan & Colbri. Today coemar makes large moving heads, scanners & theatre lighting.

* Programmi Sistemmi Luce: Sill in business. Based out of Montecolombo (Rimini), Italy thay made some really cool units. Look at the pictures of the RotoStar and Star Craft units. Also produced an effect called the Vector, Alien and that is awesome!! Today the company still produces a full spectrum of lighting from small effects to stage lights, strobes, lasers and intelligent lighting.

* Omnisistem: The US importer for Novalight, Programmi Sistemi Luce and Pearl River Lighting they offer a full range of stage and club lighting. Based out of Kent, Wasahington (Seattle) they provide products such as special effects, lasers, foggers sound equipment & controllers.

* Times Square Lighting: Based in New York City, USA this company is still in business and produced some small effects, but nothing major. Today they make mostly fixtures for theatre and stage applications.

* Light Engeneering: Still in business and based out of London, England they made smaller effects and now make some realy cool custom mirror ball like sculptures. They also offer smaller light and stage products. Custom design is their main business now.

* VEI / SuperStar Lighting: VEI is the US importer for SuperStar Lighting. The company(s) offer super cool lights, ofton cheaper than the European brands. A lot of their product line is copied from original cool European designs and reproduced. Most of the time not as high quality as well. From all of the Asian imports though these lights are the best!

* Lampo: Another Italian light company. Company made units of all sizes from DJ effects to large centerpieces. Company is still in business and is based in Castel Goffredo (MANTOVA), Italy near Bologna. Today the company is split into 2 product lines...Lampo which produces the stage, theatre, live and disco lighting and Sagitter which produces the more professional units.

* Nisel: Another Italian light company that is no longer around. Originaly based out of Sedico, Italy they made a bunch of oscilators, UFO and cosmos ball units.

* BLUERED Company: No longer in business (Actually only open for a few months). Company was based out of Via delle Industrie, (Venezia) Italy. I only have minimal information on this company. They made some really interesting units. Nothing big, but nevertheless unique.

* ACR: Based out of Switzerland only a tiny bit of info is known about this company. They produced a few different fixtures such as the MacSpot, MacArgus, MacFog and other lights that used a common large pan and tilt drive system. ACR also made a bunch of laser units in the early 90's.  ACR also made a really cool rotating ball effect named the Supernova.

* Kreluz, Coperluz, Fabriluz: 3 Brands from the same company. Not sure why there was 3 brands but they made some awesome units such as the L12 Plus.

Specific unit problems and tips:

* Coemar Venus M 4 & Coemar Piovra: The original bulb used is S400N (later units had a MSR 1200 or MSR 400.  This is for the original units). This bulb is no longer made. Comparable bulbs that will work with the ballast in this unit are MSR400, HTI400, or MSR575. I used the MSR 400 in my units. I had to elevate the base to line up the bulb to where the original one was. See the pictures to see how I did it if you want to reference.
The motors used on these units are 24 volt DC Crouzet with Stegmann Gearheads (Which is why they are reversable).  These are no longer made so DO NOT THROW THEM OUT.  They have to be rebuilt.   
The pin out is as follows:  Pin 1 is DC Common (for all 4 Motors), Pin 2 is Fan Hot, Pin 3 is Lamp Hot, Pin 4 is AC Common / Neutral (for Fan & Lamp), Pin 5 is Motor 2 (Saucer) Hot, Pin 6 is Color Wheel Hot, Pin 7 is the Half Moon Track Gear Motor Hot and Pin 8 is the Base Motor Hot.
*If you have an issue with the motors not responding to the controller or if the motor fuses blow constantly this is usually the main drive chips for the motors.  There are 2 for each motor and these are mounted to the large heat sinks on the board.  The replacements are BDX53C (NPN) and BDX54C (PNP).   

* Lightcraft/NESS 460 Dimmers & Relays have an internal fuse besides the individual ones on each channel. The LED's still might show output, but the channels will have no power if this fuse is blown.

* Optec Beam Scan: Control for this system is from an audio source only. Do not try to use 0 - 10 volt or other control methods to trigger these lights as they will be damaged.

* Nisel UFO's and other units that use the same common base have a small belt that always seems to go bad. The replacements are simple vacuume cleaner belts available at any appliance center. Also any of the units that use the Osram 41905 SP bulb the new bulb is Osram 41900 SP. The 41905 is no longer made.

More to come soon when I get time and as I work on units!