Jump to content


Photo

home made dimmer box


  • Please log in to reply
11 replies to this topic

#1 mark shogren

mark shogren

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts
  • Student

Posted 27 September 2006 - 12:44 PM

Anyone know of a site where I can look at clear instructions for making a simple light duty dimmer box for dimming practicals?

thanks much
  • 0

#2 Rupert MacCarthy-Morrogh

Rupert MacCarthy-Morrogh
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 28 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • Cork, Ireland

Posted 27 September 2006 - 12:55 PM

Hi Mark
Not sure if thats such a good idea, find a good electrician and ask them to make you one or buy one off the shelf, mains electricity, can (and does kill) Are you based in The US or Europe?

What do the rest of you guys think?

Regards
Rupert MCM
  • 0

#3 JD Hartman

JD Hartman
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1690 posts
  • Gaffer
  • Edison, N.J. U.S.A.

Posted 27 September 2006 - 02:05 PM

Hi Mark
Not sure if thats such a good idea, find a good electrician and ask them to make you one or buy one off the shelf, mains electricity, can (and does kill) Are you based in The US or Europe?

What do the rest of you guys think?

Regards
Rupert MCM


I think if I lived by your suggestion, I'd wouldn't have built or repaired half of the equipment I use today. The original post(er) is seeking advice because he isn't sure of his skills. That is a good quality right there.

I'm going to conclude that the person lives in the USA and is dealing with 115vac. Assembling a dimmer is a simple project and uses standard, off the shelf electrical components. I'll take one of my units apart and take a few photos, make a parts list and wiring diagram and email it to you.
If you are still unsure of yourself after having constructed it, maybe you could ask someone else to review your work. You would be surprised at the number of electricians, plumbers, welders, skilled trades, etc., who will bend over backwards to help someone out who shows a genuine interest in their craft.
  • 0

#4 darrin p nim

darrin p nim
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 95 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, Ca from Portland, Or

Posted 27 September 2006 - 02:14 PM

I have made a few, fairly simple and really useful for practicals. The dimmers that i have made are rated for lights 600w and less, though on a short term can dim a Mole Tweenie which are rated @ 650w. I dont really know the names of the parts off hand or what the specs are on each but im sure Mr. Hartman could help out. It really doesn't take a rocket scientist to make one.
  • 0

#5 mark shogren

mark shogren

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts
  • Student

Posted 27 September 2006 - 02:29 PM

I think if I lived by your suggestion, I'd wouldn't have built or repaired half of the equipment I use today. The original post(er) is seeking advice because he isn't sure of his skills. That is a good quality right there.

I'm going to conclude that the person lives in the USA and is dealing with 115vac. Assembling a dimmer is a simple project and uses standard, off the shelf electrical components. I'll take one of my units apart and take a few photos, make a parts list and wiring diagram and email it to you.
If you are still unsure of yourself after having constructed it, maybe you could ask someone else to review your work. You would be surprised at the number of electricians, plumbers, welders, skilled trades, etc., who will bend over backwards to help someone out who shows a genuine interest in their craft.



Thanks Mr. Hartman,

I would Greatly appreciate that information, it sure is tru that I'm not sure of my skills but I'm eager to learn from the experienced. I am in the US dealing with 115vac, and would love a peek at those picks and the wiring diagram. '
'
Mark Shogren
  • 0

#6 dan brockett

dan brockett
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 66 posts
  • Producer

Posted 01 October 2006 - 11:50 PM

Hi Mark:

Not sure how much your time is worth but for simple dimmers for practicals, I have had outstanding results with these 1500 watt dimmers that are actually marketed as router speed controls at Harbor Freight. They retail for the grand sum of $12.00 ea. and are pretty nice for the money.

http://www.harborfre...temnumber=43060

If you add up a few trips to buy boxes, wiring, knobs, capacitors, etc. plus your time in assembling and testing a homemade dimmer, you may find these to be a superior value.

Best,

Dan
  • 0

#7 Rupert MacCarthy-Morrogh

Rupert MacCarthy-Morrogh
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 28 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • Cork, Ireland

Posted 02 October 2006 - 07:54 AM

I think if I lived by your suggestion, I'd wouldn't have built or repaired half of the equipment I use today. The original post(er) is seeking advice because he isn't sure of his skills. That is a good quality right there.


The reason I ask if he was in Europe or the US, was that I was going to show him how to make a 230V on if he was here in Europe. I have over years build most of my own control kit, but if some young guy fried himself (or worse someone else) what would that teach him? All I'm saying is a little learning and electricity are a dangerous thing.

Also in Europe a 'home made' dimmer shocking someone (or more likely going on fire...) is a quick way of getting chucked off the set.
  • 0

#8 JD Hartman

JD Hartman
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1690 posts
  • Gaffer
  • Edison, N.J. U.S.A.

Posted 02 October 2006 - 10:47 AM

Hi Mark:

Not sure how much your time is worth but for simple dimmers for practicals, I have had outstanding results with these 1500 watt dimmers that are actually marketed as router speed controls at Harbor Freight. They retail for the grand sum of $12.00 ea. and are pretty nice for the money.

http://www.harborfre...temnumber=43060

If you add up a few trips to buy boxes, wiring, knobs, capacitors, etc. plus your time in assembling and testing a homemade dimmer, you may find these to be a superior value.

Best,

Dan


Sometimes you can't put a value on the experience gained by doing things yourself.
As for price, just rough numbers here: Lutron 600w rotary dimmer $5, 2 gang metal box $2, duplex receptical $1, power cord $5, cover plate for box $2, romex connector $.35. Total $15 or less, depending on shopping/scavenging ability. You can get usable 14 gauge power cords off DOA air conditioners. Just use the round cords, not the flat ones. Even if it was cheaper, do I really want to send my money to China, which is where 99% of the Harror Freight junk comes from. Do you think their quality or design safety is any better than something you have built yourself?
I still intend to post some images and parts lists for simple 600w and 1000 or 1500w dimmers.
  • 0

#9 dan brockett

dan brockett
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 66 posts
  • Producer

Posted 02 October 2006 - 02:24 PM

Even if it was cheaper, do I really want to send my money to China, which is where 99% of the Harror Freight junk comes from. Do you think their quality or design safety is any better than something you have built yourself?
I still intend to post some images and parts lists for simple 600w and 1000 or 1500w dimmers.


Hi JD:

No offense intended to the DIY crowd here, I am currently at work on my own homemade Kinos (two different types with two different approaches, actually), I love DIY. But the value equation is quite different than with dimmers. If the Kino I would like to buy is $1,200.00 and I can create my own equivalent for around $200.00, that extra $1,000.00 provides a sizable cushion for my time that I am expending on creating these lights.

But as a business person, I do need to look at how much my time is worth. I work 16 hours a day, 5-6 days a week. I make good money. Probably too good to spend my time assembling something as low dollar as a dimmer box for practicals. Your situation might be different? Not being an electrician or gaffer, but having pretty good experience with electronics, I am sure I could easily buy the components you use and wire up my own dimmers. Based upon your list, I would have to spend a minimum of two to three hours, visiting at least two different stores/supply houses to obtain the required components. I would think it would take me at least another hour or two to wire up, assemble and test the components as well. For practicals, the value equation does not work for me, I would be losing money to make my own. If it's for a hobby or I am on my day rate to make them, I would be interested. But my employer would not pay me to make dimmers.

As far as the Chinese/Harbor Freight value connection, I think that is debatable. Yes, Harbor Freight does carry a lot of junky, low-end merchandise, I'll give you that. Don't forget though, we live in a capitalist society and the best value, even if it's Chinese made, will always, eventually win out in the marketplace. Yes, we are a WalMart nation but that is the consequence we pay for price and conveneince, not quality.

But Harbor Freight also has some decent stuff on occasion as well. I have been using half a dozen of these dimmers for about six months though and they are built quite well. Metal plate and substructure with a plastic box. I own two of the Mole Richardson really nice 1k dimmers and yes, they are built much better but they should be at about ten times the cost. Point being, do I really need a military spec dimmer for practicals? Probably not. I have also used the $3.99 dimmers from Ikea but they are much cheaper than these Harbor Freight dimmers and I do break those. So far, I have not broken any of the Harbor Freight dimmers and I have been using them a lot. No noise issues so far, no flickering, no fires, sparks or funny smells.

As far as quality and safety, these dimmers (router speed controls) are CE and UL approved, have a fuse and a grounded 48" black 14 gauge power cord. Good enough for me! I have never had a problem with them with practicals and small tungsten instruments. I agree with your approach if I was creating dimmers for my large lights, these probably would be a bit cheap for that usage, but for practicals, they are a find IMHO.

All the best,

Dan
  • 0

#10 JD Hartman

JD Hartman
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1690 posts
  • Gaffer
  • Edison, N.J. U.S.A.

Posted 02 October 2006 - 03:52 PM

Hi JD:

Your situation might be different? Not being an electrician or gaffer, but having pretty good experience with electronics, I am sure I could easily buy the components you use and wire up my own dimmers. Based upon your list, I would have to spend a minimum of two to three hours, visiting at least two different stores/supply houses to obtain the required components. I would think it would take me at least another hour or two to wire up, assemble and test the components as well. For practicals, the value equation does not work for me, I would be losing money to make my own. If it's for a hobby or I am on my day rate to make them, I would be interested. But my employer would not pay me to make dimmers.

As far as quality and safety, these dimmers (router speed controls) are CE and UL approved, have a fuse and a grounded 48" black 14 gauge power cord. Good enough for me! I have never had a problem with them with practicals and small tungsten instruments. I agree with your approach if I was creating dimmers for my large lights, these probably would be a bit cheap for that usage, but for practicals, they are a find IMHO.

All the best,

Dan


Dan,
I'm not trying to start a flame war here. Someone asks for information, I'll provide it. I will dispute your statements about time and parts. All of the components for a 600w or 1000w dimmer can be bought at a single location: Home Despot, Lowes, Menards or you local electrical wholesale. If you are building anything, grip equipments, electrical, "what have you", it probably isn't a one-off. So you build it assembly line style, even if you are the only worker on the assembly line. Three hours per dimmer, more like one hour for a three or more dimmers.
CE and UL listing mean nothing to the Chinese. The labels may be as fake as all the comsumer goods they conterfeit. Did you actually measure the size of conductors in the power cord with a Brown and Sharpe wire gauge? Or is that the claim on the box? I will not support the efforts of the Chinese to put Americans out of work, by buying inferior goods.

What will you do when the film industry leaps over to China, because they can hire entire crew for a bowl of rice a day?
  • 0

#11 mark shogren

mark shogren

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts
  • Student

Posted 02 October 2006 - 04:53 PM

Dan,
I'm not trying to start a flame war here. Someone asks for information, I'll provide it. I will dispute your statements about time and parts. All of the components for a 600w or 1000w dimmer can be bought at a single location: Home Despot, Lowes, Menards or you local electrical wholesale. If you are building anything, grip equipments, electrical, "what have you", it probably isn't a one-off. So you build it assembly line style, even if you are the only worker on the assembly line. Three hours per dimmer, more like one hour for a three or more dimmers.
CE and UL listing mean nothing to the Chinese. The labels may be as fake as all the comsumer goods they conterfeit. Did you actually measure the size of conductors in the power cord with a Brown and Sharpe wire gauge? Or is that the claim on the box? I will not support the efforts of the Chinese to put Americans out of work, by buying inferior goods.

What will you do when the film industry leaps over to China, because they can hire entire crew for a bowl of rice a day?



Wow,

Guess I opened a can of worms here. Anyway, thankful for all the advice and still looking forward to the info JD.

Mark Shogren
  • 0

#12 JD Hartman

JD Hartman
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1690 posts
  • Gaffer
  • Edison, N.J. U.S.A.

Posted 03 October 2006 - 07:13 AM

No Mark, you didn't "open a can of worms". Everyone is here to exchange information. There is a fine line that you cross, where the value of what you build, exceeds the the time you spent on it.
I always read the, "Build a Daylight Balanced Fluorescent, Just like a Kino" articles. One day a clever person will finally pull together all the right pieces and all of us will have 4 bank Kino look-a-likes in our kit. The lamps are available (sources other than Kino), the lamp holders and wiring harnesses already exist (thanks to our friends in the Marine aquarium hobby), the reflectors/housing (corrugated plastic from the sign industry), copper wire for hinges, but the ballast, electronic ballasts abound, but the slick looking Kino packaging stymies me (I don't do sheet metal work).
Sorry for the delay in photos, parts lists, but the week ended badly, damaged equipment and requests for favors: Can you wire an Edison on this? (A Strand-Century, Leko that is older than me); Can you find me some globes for it?

I apologize to everyone here, for veering off topic into anything remotely political in my last post.
  • 0


Ritter Battery

Metropolis Post

Technodolly

Wooden Camera

CineLab

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

FJS International, LLC

Abel Cine

Aerial Filmworks

rebotnix Technologies

Paralinx LLC

CineTape

Visual Products

Rig Wheels Passport

Tai Audio

Glidecam

Broadcast Solutions Inc

The Slider

Opal

Willys Widgets

Metropolis Post

rebotnix Technologies

Willys Widgets

Abel Cine

Visual Products

Opal

Aerial Filmworks

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Technodolly

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

The Slider

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Tai Audio

Ritter Battery

Wooden Camera

Rig Wheels Passport

CineTape

CineLab

Paralinx LLC

FJS International, LLC

Glidecam