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bhays

dmx enclosures finished

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I tackled one of my last remaining building projects today; the enclosures for my dmx moving heads. There is a reason that this project has been put off till near the end..I have honestly been stumped on how to make these. I am sure there are better ways to do this, but this was the only idea that really popped into my head and time is running out..so here goes.

base.jpg

Both the tops and bottoms of the enclosures are made of circles cut from 3/4" MDF and sheet metal rings. The rings were drilled and screwed every 2 inches to the MDF disc then riveted together. The edges have beads of silicone inside and out. The base has a duct made of 2" pvc and 2 90's that serve as a a means of getting the power and dmx cables inside and also as an air intake for the cooling system.

cooling_fans.jpg

The tops are constructed the same way and have two holes with cooling fans sucking outward. The two fans amount to 100 cfm combined and seem to work pretty well. I ran the lights on a test pattern for a couple of hours and the temperature inside the enclosure only raised 17 degrees over room temperature. The little arches of plexi protect from rain/snow getting in. I will probably cover the outside openings of the arches when I put the units out for the season.

lexan_cylinder.jpg

The centers are made from 1/16" lexan (aka polycarbonate/tuffak/etc.) bent into a circle and glued with approximately 1" overlap. An arch is then cut in to the bottom to fit over the 2" pvc duct in the base. I paid about $50 for a 4x8 sheet of lexan and have a 3x4 piece left over that I am going to use for covers on my led par cans. It is very important that you use lexan as 1/16" plex is too brittle and will snap on either side of the glue joint (learned the hard way)...also, make certain that you do not get the non-glare stuff as it will diffuse the spotlight from the dmx fixture. (learned that the hard way too. 1/8" won't roll into a cylinder this small (at least not by myself and there would have been no way to clamp it). I just rolled the lexan into shape and used two pieces of 1x2 clamped on each end to hold the seams until the glue bonded. Wherever you buy the lexan, they will have glue for bonding it. I paid $8 for a large tube of it and only used a small portion of the tube.

complete_unit.jpg

Here's a shot of the enclosure assembled.

mirrored_ball_rotator.jpg

Sitting out in front of each enclosure will be one of these mirrored ball rotators I threw together. That way I can shine the various snowflake gobos, etc. on the mirrored balls and do the light flurries thing.

inside_tree2.jpg

The enclosures sit inside mini z-trees with one side left out. I am using eight of these trees in the display this year and two are modified to hold the dmx lights. Of course, there will be garland and lights on the outside of the tree.

both_units2.jpg

Here are both units assembled. I only got one dmx light out to test fit and function with..there are two matched.

spot.jpg

The lexan cylinder doesn't seem to distort the light beam at all, nice crisp spot.

snowfall.jpg

Here's a not-very-good shot of the mirrored ball effect.

Like I said, I was stumped on how to build this. I am eager to see how others have built enclosures for their dmx lights. I am sure someone has done something better.

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Looks like a lot of thinking and work went into this. Good job. I wonder if the plastic cover off the old sound boxes that the old impact printers would do the job. Thought about using them to cover my LOR or power centers.

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That's a great way to protect DMX stuff! Plus, it uses PVC!:]

I just wish I could afford to put DMX in my display!:laughing:

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LightsByGreg wrote:

Hi, what kind of places can I find the Lexan at?

Thanks,

Greg

There are industrial plastics and rubber supply houses in most areas. They supply hoses, tubing and belts for industry as well as all sorts of plastic, plexiglas, etc. products. This route will be way cheaper than Home Depot, etc. I buy all my stuff at the local General Rubber location, they have branches all over the country.

http://www.generalrubber.com/index.html

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Very nice design. I would worry about the fan arches allowing snow/rain in. An idea would be to use PVC pipe in a U shape. The parts needed would be 2-3" street 90's and 1-3" closet flange for each fan. A closet flange is what your toilet attaches to on the floor and street 90's have a "socket" on one end and a "plug" on the other, by using them you wont have to buy any pipe. Attach the first 90 to the flange and the second 90 to the first, this will leave the opening facing down.

Edit: I had another idea to rain/snow proof the fans. They look like they are far enough from the edge for this to work. Make a second top disk with no holes in it. Attach a ring of stiff wire mesh about 2 inches wide around the top disk. Then attach the other side of the wire ring to the top of the enclosure. Does this make sense? The fans would blow up into the space between the two disks and be able to vent out the sides. Any rain would have to blow in sideways to get to the fans.

I like this method better, the PVC pipes out the top would bebulky and probably stick out of the tree.

Dan

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PipefitterDan wrote:

Very nice design. I would worry about the fan arches allowing snow/rain in.

Dan,

I have been troubled by the possibility of sideways rain/snow as well. I had thought of the second disk with wire mesh previously, but was concerned you could still get a lot of moisture in if it were a windy rain. I really liked your pvc idea, but I was also concerned about the weight and size issues. I had originally built these enclosures with legs and took those off to fit inside the tree and really don't have any spare height to work with.

So, here's my solution. Closet flange and 2" P-Trap. I moved the fans to the inside (still blowing out) then ran a bead of silicone around the bottom of the closet flange before screwing it down. Then I stuck the P-Trap's into the flange...tight fit but you could see a tiny bit of daylight from underneath. So, I just pressed them far enough down into the closet flange to run about a 1/2" bead of silicone around the edge and presto - water tight. The light has been running for about 45 minutes now and it seems like it is cooling just about as well as before. Less than 10 degrees above room temperature last I checked.

cooling_fans_revised.jpg

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Those are very impressive enclosures. Your final design looks like a winner. Are you planning to wet test these before the season? I would be interested in hearing the results.

I am already planning on building a couple of your b-trees (a single sectioned Z tree if you will). Now if only I could afford some DMX lights!

Frank

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One other question.... Did you cover the MDF with sheet metal? It wasn't clear to me in reading your original post. I would be some what concerned about the MDF soaking up water. If I remember correctly MDF tends to act like a sponge...

Frank

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FrankR wrote:

One other question.... Did you cover the MDF with sheet metal? It wasn't clear to me in reading your original post. I would be some what concerned about the MDF soaking up water. If I remember correctly MDF tends to act like a sponge...

Frank

I thought about covering the mdf with sheetmetal but was concerned about moisture getting caught between the sheetmetal and the mdf. I put many coats of paint on the mdf which seems to have sealed it pretty well. I left the enclosures outside when the sprinklers ran in the yard so they were subject to a pretty good artificial downpour and not a drop got inside.

I do plan to put down a layer of plastic sheeting under them when I put them out for the season, however.

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Oh, man!

Those things could do double-duty as alien cryogenic "wombs" at Halloween!

Just fill with water, stick in a baby alien "embryo" (with a blue light) and BAM! Instant horror show!

Seriously.

I want pics!

Edit:

Add fog effect.

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bhays wrote:

So, here's my solution. Closet flange and 2" P-Trap. I moved the fans to the inside (still blowing out)

Are there vents somewhere to let fresh air in? It might be better to have one fan drawing in outside air and have the other fan blowing out.

TED

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TED wrote:

Are there vents somewhere to let fresh air in? It might be better to have one fan drawing in outside air and have the other fan blowing out.

TED

The 2" pvc at the bottom where the power and dmx cables come in is also a fresh air vent.

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bhays wrote:

The 2" pvc at the bottom where the power and dmx cables come in is also a fresh air vent.

That's a good point. It is probably an advantage to have air coming in on the bottom and going out the top. However you have 2 inches coming in (less if you figure some is blocked by wires) and 4 inches going out. It might help to equalize that some. Maybe you can add another 2 inch opening at the bottom on the opposite sidefrom where the wires come in. (Of course that may be completely unnecessary if it is already staying cool enough.)

TED

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From the LOR forum...by bhays

ChaseH wrote:

BTW What company makes those lights? They look great, andI'd like to look into something like that.

Mine are Elation Focus Spot 250's.

http://www.elationlighting.com/product.asp?ProductIDNumber=1233&cat=Moving%20Head

There are a lot of companies making similar items, however; Martin, High End Studios, American DJ, Chauvet, etc.

___________

You can Pan, tilt, change colors, use it in strobe mode, where the shutter opens and closes really fast, you can use different gobos, etc.

If you're more interested, go to http://www.lightsondisplay.com and click the 2006 movie. Mike used a DMX intellegent light and a video projector.

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Sounds pretty solid then. I just remeber a bad experience leaving an untreated sheet of MDF out in the yard during a freak summer rain storm... The sheet was of no use after that.

As for the are flow I would need to do the math on it but the fans would be the controlling factor not the amount of exit opening. As long as the fans are not moving more air then can come in through the bottom then there is no issue. On the other hand if it can't then air would try to come in anywhere it could. potentially creating an opportunity for moisture to get in. However; I would doubt that would be enough to do any damage... Just my .02 I am a software guy not a mechanical engineer...

Frank

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Oh yeah, mdf will swell like a sponge in presence of water, it's almost amazing.

Does anyone know how to calculate air volume? The two fans combined move 100 cfm...

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To figure the volume of the enclosure the simplified formula is

(3.14 x the radius x radius)x the hight this will give you cubic inches, divide by 1728 to get cubic feet.

Just a bit of trivia knowledge for everyone, if you double the diameter of a pipe you quadruple the area. Thus a 4" pipe can handle the flow of 4-2" pipes.

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PipefitterDan wrote:

To figure the volume of the enclosure the simplified formula is

(3.14 x the radius x radius)x the hight this will give you cubic inches, divide by 1728 to get cubic feet.

Just a bit of trivia knowledge for everyone, if you double the diameter of a pipe you quadruple the area. Thus a 4" pipe can handle the flow of 4-2" pipes.

So, by that math... the enclosures have 39.25 cubic feet of volume. The two fans are moving 100 cfm, so totally exchanging the air in the enclosure over twice per minute...

Seems sufficient for cooling. Thanks for the equation.

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