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DIY 1K and 2K dimmers

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Rick Wise
DIY 1K and 2K dimmers
on Feb 18, 2014 at 8:14:57 pm

Anyone have good plans for making DIY 1K and 2K dimmers? And/or, sources for "cheap" dimmers to handle 1K and 2K. I'm not finding much online.

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Todd Terry
Re: DIY 1K and 2K dimmers
on Feb 18, 2014 at 8:31:50 pm

Howdy Rick...

Not telling you nothing that you don't know (but some uninitiated readers of this post here might not, so I'll bather), but a dimmer for an instrument that big is no different than an ordinary little squeezebox... it just has a bigger rheostat in it. The big difference of course is if you go to an electrical supply shop and get a typical home-lighting 300w or 600w rheostat, it's about 15 bucks. But a 1000w one is $100+.

Here's one cheat though that you might find helpful....

Harbor Freight Tools sells a "Router Speed Control" for 20 bucks...

http://www.harborfreight.com/router-speed-control-43060.html

In actuality this thing is nothing more than a 1Kw rheostat. Now it does have a drawback... they "choke" it somehow so that it won't dial down to zero (since you shouldn't do that with an electrical motor, which is what it is made for), but I think it will go down to about 20%.

That won't help you with your 2K instruments, but might be a cheap solution for your 1Ks.

T2

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



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Todd Terry
Re: DIY 1K and 2K dimmers
on Feb 18, 2014 at 8:37:26 pm

By the way, I got curious and looked on eBay. You can find cheap Chinese-made high-wattage rheostats there dirt cheap. I mean CHEAP. I found a 2000w 110-220v for less than five bucks.

If you search, put in a wattage (1000w or 2000w or whatever) and use the search word dimmer instead of rheostat.

T2

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



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Rick Wise
Re: DIY 1K and 2K dimmers
on Feb 18, 2014 at 8:38:11 pm

Thank you, Todd, I knew you'd have a solution. The Harbor Freight version is probably all I need. Some guys sell the same thing on eBay for a lot more money.... (I find eBay is usually the worst place for anything related to film equipment, way over-priced. There are occasional exceptions.)

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Mark Suszko
Re: DIY 1K and 2K dimmers
on Feb 18, 2014 at 10:36:30 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Feb 18, 2014 at 10:37:00 pm

I own three of the Harbor Freight speed control units, which I use for "squeezers", and they perform well and are well-built, considering they come from... Harbor Freight. Hard to beat for the price. It doesn't bother me that they don't dim past 25 percent or so, because I'm using them in combination with scrims and screens and proper bulb selection. If you need it still dimmer, you should get a smaller instrument, I say.

One thing you should NEVER buy at H.F. is their cheap $4-$5 machetes. My sons were using one in the yard to clear out some overgrown vines, when the handle failed and sent the blade flying several feet to stick into our old wooden fence. Inspecting the handle; you see what look like rubber-covered screws holding the two halves of the handle onto the tang of the blade. Turns out those screws are SIMULATED screw heads made of rubberized plastic, and the whole thing is only heat-molded plastic. Hit anything hard, and the handle fails. Just lucky my wife's machete-using policy was to require just one kid outside at a time, or we might have had quite a tragedy happen.

I took the pieces back to the store to confront the manager. He apologized and offered a refund, but I was more interested in them canceling the sales of the shoddy product and maybe hurting someone else. They still sell those things, though, and it makes me pretty mad. Went to Ace for the next machete, and it cost just 2 dollars more, for a longer blade and real screws bolted THRU the tang.


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Todd Terry
Re: DIY 1K and 2K dimmers
on Feb 18, 2014 at 10:58:18 pm

Oh, as I'm sure you know, Mark, there's a whole long list of things you should never buy at Harbor Freight....

Or do you have a workshop full of bright orange "Chicago Tools" power tools? :)

I'll have to confess though, I have bought a power tool or two there in the past, though... but my justification is that I'll only do it if I need something for one job.

I did buy a cheap HF reciprocating saw, when I needed it for one thing. It did burn out... after a couple of years. Yes, my friend with the $400 Milwaukee did laugh at me... but mine was 19 bucks. I could use the saved $381 to buy some other decent tool that I would use on a regular basis.

So yeah, be picky about what you buy there. Machetes, no. Power saws, no. Spring clamps? Yep. Black furniture pads that are almost identical to Matthews sound blankets but are only five bucks? Absolutely.

T2

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



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Mark Suszko
Re: DIY 1K and 2K dimmers
on Feb 19, 2014 at 12:10:53 am

Lol. the $20 recip saws are actually very good, include a quick-twist-release spring-loaded blade chuck.

Besides the blankets, the nuts, bolts, screwdrivers, flashlights, tarps and related do-dads are handy. I bought their folding trailer kit and it's been great so far: it carries my sailboat to the lake, hauls stuff across town, and folds up in the same space as a pingpong table so I have the car, boat, fixit bench and trailer all fit a one-car garage.


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Bob Cole
Re: DIY 1K and 2K dimmers
on Mar 8, 2014 at 6:38:11 pm

Memories of cheap junk... I bought a Chinese-made box cutter (matte knife) at WalMart. When I was bearing down on a piece of wallboard, the handle literally fell apart in my hand. The box cutter was "metal" but it cracked. I was lucky not to hit the blade with the palm of my hand.

Like you, I thought of the safety hazard more than the need for a tiny refund. I went to WalMart, complained to the manager, and told them it should not be sold at all. I never followed up to find out whether they listened, but what a hazard.

LIkewise, Harbor Freight is full of junky, cheap stuff. But the dimmers are fine. Just don't tell them you're looking for a dimmer because they won't know what you're talking about. I have 4 of the "router speed controls" that Todd talked about, and they all work well. (I really appreciate the workmanship of my "Magic Gadgets" 2K Flicker/Dimmer. But I'll never spend that much money on a dimmer again.)

Bob C


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