Light problem?

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Light problem?

Postby lesclarke » 25 Nov 2007, 20:39

I don't work very many parties and half are in the home, half in halls etc. Did a party at house today and problem came up that has occasionally cropped up before - not enough light!

Some people spend lots of time, effort and money decorating, but the emphasis in the lounge is on lighting that looks good, and is relaxing, rather than actually letting you see anything!

Today,with beams and a low ceiling, and only wall lights, it left the whole playboard area just too gloomy. The helpful father produced an inspection light from the garage, and I hung it off a spare hook I carried, stick into one of the beams. It worked well and all went very well.

Does anyone else carry a spare light for 'home' use?
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Postby lesclarke » 27 Nov 2007, 16:26

I suppose the easiest type of light to carry for this type of situation is a small clip-type light with a 60w bulb, and attach it high up to one side, an extension lead would of course be handy.

Out of interest I looked through the Screwfix and Machinemart catalogues to see what battery-powered 'worklights' were available. There has been a lot of development with small, bright led torches. Some very small torches produce impressive performance and run-times from small batteries, but you wouldn't want them shining in your eyes. Leds also produce quite a cold light.

Found a led worklight with a 2' flexible neck and a clamp attachment on Machinemart site, so there's a chance you could get the light where you want it, but not sure it would have the power?

One good thing about Machinemart is that when you are filling in your details, there is the usual choice of 'titles' to select, Mr Mrs, Ms etc....
...but you can even select 'Professor' if you wish to.
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Postby Chris » 27 Nov 2007, 18:20

Yes Les, I always carry a clip-on light - 40w is bright enough - and use it most of the time when performing indoors. As you say, many places either haven't sufficient light or the light is in the wrong position.

I clip it to top of proscenium shining down onto the playboard.

The ideal lights for playboard use would be two, on extensions from the front of the playboard, angled outwards. The light would be thus cross frontal lighting.
Whatever lights you use, don't be tempted to have them too bright. Bright light washes out colour and flattens features.

I would be very wary of using any direct lighting at all if the puppets were gloss painted. If you have shiny puppets much better put up with the gloom. Take consolation in the fact that kids' eyesight is very sharp.


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Postby Tony James » 28 Nov 2007, 01:38

Outdoors at this time of the year it can be more than gloomy! For the next few weeks i shall carry an old but perfectly serviceable 12v Power Station which used to be the back up power for the PA.

If you look in a good camping/caravan supplies shop you should be able to pick up pairs (together) of spotlights. They are independently angled.

The bulb is one of those flat push in halogen type. But if you look around you'll find styles which come with a lens which seems to defuse and warm the light.

Serviceable, practical and affordable..

Now lets see if, for the very first time, I can load a picture on here to demonstrate.

Good heavens, I managed it!!!!

Now, it was a lights switch on so it was very dark beforehand. Even here, there's not a lot of street lighting and for sure it wasn't bright. It looks brighter than it was because i lightened the picture.

The two mini spotlights were clipped top stage right, behind the prosc arch. One angled down and the other down and across. You can see it is effective. Those lights are going out for their fifth season.

If you're struggling to make out the scene it's right at the beginning, Judy has just made her first entrance through the prop window stage left and Punch has turned to approach her, so you are seeing his back.







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Postby Chris » 28 Nov 2007, 10:53

But wasn't this picture taken with flash?
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Postby Tony James » 28 Nov 2007, 11:13

Yes, it was Chris - you can see the light reflected on the backs of the people's heads closest to the camera. But it was taken from well back and the original was much darker.

In fact, when I first saw it I thought it was too dark to use but lightening it brought up the detail. The only drawback was this also enhanced the reflected light on the back of the heads but I wasn't going to try playing around with that aspect.

However, you can see how well the interior is lit and it's really quite bright. These caravan spotlights are tiny unlike most domestic lights and with the advantage outside that you're on 12v DC rather than 240v AC.

Mind you, they still generate heat so keep them away from contact with the cover, the tabs and similar. .
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Postby lesclarke » 28 Nov 2007, 12:22

I made a light a few years back, from domestic 12v mini spotlight fittings, mounted in an aluminium pudding basin, on an aluminium lazy tongs arm to get it in the right position, hanging outside from top right proscenium.

Coincidentally it was for a regular Xmas switch-on event.

I uses smallish sealed lead-acid batteries for power, and the problem was that the 20/25 watt dichroic (sp) bulbs use a fair bit of power and light for 2 shows by 30 mins would drain a battery that would run my small 15watt amp for about 30 hours.

I noticed recently that there had been a development in led bulbs to replace these original dichroic type, and the main advantage is that they use about one eigth to one tenth of the power, and run cooler.

I found info on an eco website where they were recommended for small
self contained lighting systems for outbuildings with no mains power and run from solar panels. I was about to order a couple at £5 each, but they were out of stock. They are available elsewhere for £10, so I'm 'thinking about it'.

Amongst the info on this newish design it explained that some, unlike early led spot bulbs, can give a wider beam spread (25deg) and a warmer colour, and I found one that was described as such, and could be suitable. But for now I think for indoors anyway I'll just keep it simple with the clip on light.

I've just had a thought, for outdoors, there are lots of bicycle front light systems , single and double, with rechargeable battery packs, all neat and weatherproof that may do the job. Again though, run-time may be a problem, and cost may be an issue, bike stuff tends to be pricey for what it is.
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Postby johnstoate » 28 Nov 2007, 12:38

I've always used 12v./10w car sidelight bulbs in pairs up to now, 12v. and reasonably low battery drain, mounted above the skylight.
However, I am at present experimenting with one of those 'lightsabre' kids toys, - They come in a choice of about 4 colours, use led instead of bulbs, and are therefore low drain. The ones I'm trying at the minute work on ordinary little AA(A?) dry cells and have a convenient switch on the handle.
Thus far, for less than a fiver each, I'm suitably impressed!! :D
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Postby Tony James » 28 Nov 2007, 12:44

You're right about the drain on the battery Les. The old Power Station I use is not in it's first flush of youth, it's otherwise retired and after a couple of shows it's pretty well tottering.

I shall watch with interest the developments in led lighting. When they first appeared i thought they were a novelty but are obviously becoming more practical.

I also carry a small - I think it's 8 watts - fluorescent tube light which I can hang in the frame and I use it for pulling down as it doesn't make the same demands on the battery. It's not a good light though for performing as it's too bluey white and cold looking. but it's also useful to have in the car anyway in case of a lighting need in the winter.At this time of the year it's going dark at half past three.

But in general it's only two months of the year that the show needs lighting outside. I'm sure I have but I can't remember when I last worked outside in January and February and needed lighting. It's just this run of November and December

As for parties, around here they are mainly held in halls or hotels rather than at home so I don't find an illumination problem in those places.
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Postby lesclarke » 28 Nov 2007, 15:04

I've mentioned a while back the problem with Power Stations Tony. Whilst very useful, and like all things down in price these days especially if you shop-around, they use sealed lead-acid type batteries which need an 'intelligent' charger to maximise their performance and their lifespan.

All batteries deteriorate as soon as they are in a state of discharge, sealed lead-acid perform well as far as low self-discharge when not in use, but must be fully charged as soon as possible once used. Power Stations have their own charger,( and you can buy a cheapish charger £10-£15) for other stand alone sealed lead-acid batteries.) But they don't do the job properly, it needs a charger that starts to charge, assesses what state the battery is in and then I think it charges at one rate, and at a lower rate later. The 12v sealed lead-acid must reach something like 13.5 v to maximise it's power and get the best life out of it, otherwise each time it is discharged and recharged it 'holds' less power.'

I think Maplin still do a 'proper' charger for about £35.

With leds using about one tenth of the power, they seem to be worth watching. I mentioned in my original posting recent designs of led torches. I have a new small 5inch led torch which runs on 3 AAA batteries, and outperforms a big 3 cell maglite type, run time supposed to be 5 hours.

The problem of using it to light the playboard area is that it's so bright you wouldn't want to inadvertantly look into it. Thinking of John's light sabres, (do you have the full Luke Skywalker costume John) there are 'diffusers' available to spread the light, unfortunately they are of a design that resembles 'an item for personal massage.'
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Postby Tony James » 28 Nov 2007, 15:59

Yes Les. I remember you talking about proper chargers some while back. I must confess I hadn't detected any noticeable falling off in recharging capacity with Power Stations although I experienced that with the PA internal battery system.

I used a Coomber PA. The everything all in one box with its own built in batteries and charger, tape deck and radio mike receiver. I found their batteries needed replacing during the third season. Meantime I bought the 12v Power Station as support and back up.

I discovered that the Coomber actually ran on 24v DC when on its own batteries. Connecting to the Power station it drew 12v and so the output was slightly but not noticeably down.

I ran that Power station for ten years and then did something stupid. I lent it to a guy with a 4x4 which wouldn't start on a showground and the thing was never the same.afterwards.

It wasn't that important as at the same time I switched for outdoor use to a Mipro PA with twice the output of the Coomber (which I still use indoors).

The Mipro also runs on 24 v DC internal batteries but they are much bigger (and heavier!) ones than the Coomber and I'm still on the original set. However, because of the high output and the power required there is no 12v facility.

So I bought a rather expensive (about £80/90 now) Power station from Halfords which has a built in inverter. It also has a compressor which i thought a bit unnecessary till one day I had a flat tyre and then wasn't I glad of it, miles from home on a Sunday night.

I normally run the first show of the day off the Power station and then switch to the internal batteries. The PS is hooked up all day so if the internal batteries ever failed mid show, all I have to do is stoop down (I can keep one figure in view on the playboard as cover) and push a switch and the PS takes over.

That provides a lot of peace of mind.. The Halford's brand PS has a very slow recharge even after just one twenty five minute show. It takes about twelve hours. What I don't understand is if I use it for two shows it recharges for almost the same period. Most strange.

The old 12v PS, recharges very quickly. It could power all four shows and recharge in something like five hours..But that is a direct 12v whereas the Halford's one is providing 240v AC via the inverter.

I'm pleased with the Halfords although the first I had refused to charge soon after i got it and they exchanged it.
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Postby lesclarke » 28 Nov 2007, 17:26

Your slower charging Halfords PS may have suitable 'proper' charge system, after all you get what you pay for.

I've no experience with Coomber etc built in batteries, but the stand alone items I use, even with an 'intelligent' charger, still don't of course last forever. Similarly, I find that they are fine for about 3 years, but then there is always the chance that after this they will suddenly let you down.
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Postby Chris » 28 Nov 2007, 17:34

Lesclarke asks:
Thinking of John's light sabres, (do you have the full Luke Skywalker costume John)


<blockquote><center>Having scoured the various Fansites I have found this picture which
should answer your question Les.<br><br>
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Postby lesclarke » 28 Nov 2007, 18:42

Well, I'm convinced!
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Postby johnstoate » 28 Nov 2007, 21:49

Oh, very amusing, I didn't know my alter ego was quite so photogenic! - Thing is, Have I been seduced by the darkside?? :lol: - I've definitely overdone the fake tan on me mitts!
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