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I need to build a "squeezer", pronto! Need guidance.

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Mark Suszko
I need to build a "squeezer", pronto! Need guidance.
on Jul 22, 2011 at 3:14:21 pm

So, I have a Source Four Junior with what I assume is a 1K lamp in it, darned thing is waaay too bright for the application, but I have to work with what I've got on hand. It is just throwing a soft breakup gobo pattern on a wall, but it is about 25% too hot, and I don't have enough distance to move it back far enough to use the inverse-square law. I'm also out of wire mesh scrims that would fit. And a lower-power lamp won't arrive in time for the job.

Our light grid has no dimmers, just individual breakers, so I'm looking to build an inexpensive but safe "squeezer", or dimmer, that won't melt down if attached to a 1K light, and hopefully won't add a lot of hideous hum or buzz to the audio.

A squeezer is something we've needed around the shop a long time, it will get lots of use in other lighting setups once we have one, so this job coming up is the perfect excuse to get one finally. But squeezers I've found in a casual google search are near a hundred bucks and only handle up to 600 watts. Can I build something that's not a joke, and can handle 1K, with off the shelf parts, inexpensively?

I know absolutely one of you guys here will have a great answer for this. Standing by.


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Dennis Size
Re: I need to build a "squeezer", pronto! Need guidance.
on Jul 22, 2011 at 3:38:25 pm

Source 4 lekos don't take 1000w lamps; and a junior can only take a 575w max. You should use a 373w lamp.
That being said, you can just buy a "premade" 600w dimmer at your local hardware store or Home Depot .....and it should only cost you about $30.
You could also just buy regular metal window screen for about $3, instead of using expensive scrims ... OR you could just clip your existing scrims to the color frame holder with binder clips .... OR you could use a 7 1/4" piece of nd.3, or nd.6, or nd.9 in your color frame holder -- "flavored" to taste.
good luck

DS



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Mark Suszko
Re: I need to build a "squeezer", pronto! Need guidance.
on Jul 22, 2011 at 4:11:52 pm

Dennis, thanks for the quick response.

When the thing cools down, I'll double-check the lamp and see if I can tell what wattage is inside (I inherited this instrument from another closed-up shop and it came without documentation, this is the first chance I've had to fire it up).

If it is 600 watts or less, you think a hardware store dimmer would be adequate? I am trying to look ahead to using it with various practicals on location, as well as maybe with our Lowels, but usually, this squeezer would just stay with the Source Four. Perhaps a 600- watt one will do for the immediate need, I can swing a 20-dollar rheostat if I can be sure it will hold up for the junior and it's lamp. A hundred-dollar rheostat for a 1K, I will have to save my box tops for.:-)


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Bill Davis
Re: I need to build a "squeezer", pronto! Need guidance.
on Jul 22, 2011 at 6:02:08 pm

Mark,

The Harbor Freight Chinese Router Dimmers are about $17, handle up to 15 amp loads and are RF silent in my experience.

ITEM 43060 on their web site.

I have half a dozen of these around and use them on shoots with Arri 650s all the time.

Doesn't really pay to build your own any more when these are so cheap and effective.

YMMV, good luck.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Conner


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Mark Suszko
Re: I need to build a "squeezer", pronto! Need guidance.
on Jul 22, 2011 at 7:10:02 pm

Harbor Frieght is walking distance from here, I often visit it for lunch as part of an exercise walk... most manly-smelling store in the area:-)

I'll check it out.


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Dennis Size
Re: I need to build a "squeezer", pronto! Need guidance.
on Jul 24, 2011 at 5:12:23 am

I've used those variable speed router controls from Harbor Freight and have never noticed any ill effects -- so go for it. Just remember that you'll have a color temperature shift that will be very noticeable if you dim very low.
You should really purcahse the 375 watt lamp if it's as bright as you say, especially since you'll most assuredly burn your existing lamp out soon (they don't have a very long lamp life).

DS



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Mark Suszko
Re: I need to build a "squeezer", pronto! Need guidance.
on Jul 27, 2011 at 9:34:49 pm

Picked up a Harbor Freight router speed control for 15 bucks (they have a sale coming up). I tried it on my Rifa and the color balance change wasn't very critical, however, the range of change available was only about 25% lower than full output. WHich is not adeal breaker, but the custom squeezer our engineer made for me with a quality rheostat has a fuller range, and so would be more flexible to use on various practicals powered by incandescent bulbs.

I would say the HF brand dimmer looks serviceable, at $15 it is practically a throw-away item, but you can spend a little more to make your own, and get much more range.


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Todd Terry
Re: I need to build a "squeezer", pronto! Need guidance.
on Jul 27, 2011 at 9:59:35 pm

Ahh... that makes perfect sense.

I can't tell you how many times I've looked at those router controls and thought "Hmmm... what an easy, fast, and cheap squeeze box"... and fully planned to pick one up the next time I needed another squeezer. But now, thinking about it, since those are built as motor controls, they don't want you to be able to "dim" them down very much and burn out a motor so the rheos are choked off at a certain point. I shoulda thought of that immediately, but didn't.

Thanks Mark, saved me the fifteen-dollar lesson. :)

Yep, just build your own.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Bill Davis
Re: I need to build a "squeezer", pronto! Need guidance.
on Aug 3, 2011 at 6:30:56 pm

For the newbies, yes, I'd HIGHLY recommend you build your own. You'll learn a good bit about simple electrical device construction which is great. (no real electronics knowledge is needed since most of these I've ever encountered are really just packaged Lutron dimmers in a field box.)

But I'll still argue that there's a place for the HF units in many kits.

Mark, you don't like the lesser range, and I get that. But combined with a standard scrim kit, that 25% dimming will get you a pretty WIDE range of output possibilities - with less color shift than if you cut off the light intensity by using a LUTRON style squeezer to dim it further for mere convenience.

And ignoring the time value of one's efforts, a Lutron 600w dimmer, weatherproof box, cable, plugs, and weatherproof i/o fittings will likely run you $30-40 for each squeezer you make. Trivial enough in itself, but for a 5 light kit, that can add up fast.

Once again, horses for courses.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Conner


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pete pearce
Re: I need to build a "squeezer", pronto! Need guidance.
on Jul 28, 2011 at 3:59:56 am

You can use a house hold dimmer from Home Depot and make a dimmer for up to 650 watts for around $25.
or
You can back the light up 6 feet.
or
You can use a scrim. A scrim is a wire that will take down the intensity. A green one is a half a stop. The red one is a full stop.
or
You can use some nuetral density gel and knock the intensity down.
or
You can pan the light off a bit so it's not so bright.

pete pearce
music video director


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Mark Suszko
Re: I need to build a "squeezer", pronto! Need guidance.
on Jul 28, 2011 at 4:38:58 am

You know how I know you don't read before you post?:-)


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Todd Terry
Re: I need to build a
on Jul 28, 2011 at 4:52:36 am

Hahaha... I was just thinking that, Mark, but too chicken to be the smartass who said it.

I know you are an experienced professional of many years, but some other things to remember:

1) an instrument can be turned off by the switch OR pulling the plug
2) the part called the "bulb" gets hot during use
3) those wires aren't just decorative... think of them as the "electricity hoses"

(Insert eyeroll here)

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Mark Suszko
Re: I need to build a
on Jul 28, 2011 at 1:37:42 pm

Actually, I regret the snippiness now, I've had a tough month, but I shouldn't let it affect me like that. It's just that I took express pains to cover all the other bases alluded to in the very first post, specifically to eliminate a lot of wasted time going over the alternatives I've already ruled out and going off-topic into algternatives already explored. So if you read the first post, you already know what I can and can't do. When I read a new thread, I may have a response ready to pop right then, but I try to hold off until I've read the whole thread first, for the same reason. Someone else may have already covered it. But I shouldn't have gone for the easy zinger there, and I'm sorry. If I can get some sailing time in this weekend, I'm sure I'll be a better man next week.


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Bob Cole
Re: I need to build a
on Aug 11, 2011 at 9:03:37 pm

I have three dimmers. One is very cheap, looks like the Harbor Freight dimmers, and works just fine. I use it to control my Source Four. The others are "flicker/dimmers" from Magic Gadgets. Rather expensive, but solid (although I have had to repair the socket on one). I use their 2K Flicker/Dimmer and the "Shadowmaker," which controls three outputs on separate lines, and can generate effects such as "chases," candlelight, bonfires, or lightning. I've simulated a glowing tv set as well. Even when used just as dimmers, the Magic Gadgets devices are great -- they can start with very little current, instead of needing a certain (medium) level to make the circuit work. When used for flicker, the MG Flicker/Dimmers control minimum and maximum values for each line.

I use the Flicker function rarely; I use the Shadowmaker mainly as a lightboard for my sit-down interviews. I put the Shadowmaker near my camera, and control the intensity of hairlights, lighting on chroma key backgrounds, and an eyelight.

Wikipedia has some interesting articles on the inner workings of dimmers; my main take-away is that some dimmers dissipate energy in the form of heat, and others actually draw less electricity.

Bob C


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