Light Board

 Here are some valuable resources to help you learn how this board works.  The instruction manual (this is a huge, almost 4 meg, PDF file) & supplement.
 Windows version of the software! Load this on your computer and you can do everything the board can do. Except actually run the dimmers. You could cue your whole show and simply load it, via disk, onto the board. I don’t do this as I can’t see the lighting on the actors or the set. However, I’ve taken the show disk home to do things like print out the cues, print out the patch, play with effects cues, etc….  Expression/Express Off-Line Software v.3.1

Expression Off-Line QuickGuide, v.3.1

Personality Editor QuickGuide v.1.2

 I’d like to make a list of short cuts that people have grown to love. What tips do you have? Join the mailing list and send your suggestions there.  ‘ll grab them and post them here as well.

This is a manual two-scene pre-set 18 channel board. 

How to use the light board

The most important part of manual light board operation is to know what all of the sliders and switched do. On a two scene preset board there is the on/off switch, the grand master slider, the cross-fader, the independent master slider, and the X & Y sub-boards.

The grand master is a fader that controls the whole light board. When it is at 0, the whole board is off. When it at 10, the whole board is at full power.

The X & Y sub-boards have sliders on them that control all of the dimmers. Both sub-boards have the same number of sliders with the same numbers (labeled 1-18). The two sliders that are labeled 1 control the same dimmer. The same goes with the sliders labeled 2 and so on.

The reason for two sub-boards is so you can use the cross-fader. If the cross-fader sliders are in the up-most position, only the sliders on the X sub-board work. Any slider that is up on the Y sub-board will not turn on lights. The cross-fader is advantageous because you can set up a whole scene without the lights turning on. When you are ready to switch scenes you can move the cross-fader so that the sliders on the Y sub-board turn on.

When the red switches are in the up position (IND.) the dimmers work by the independent master. This one slider can bring up many dimmers at the same time. When they are in the middle position ( ) the dimmers work normally. When they are in the down position (OFF) the dimmers they control are off and will not work.

The light board operator knows what he/she does because a cue sheet is used. A cue sheet may look exactly like the board itself. It tells you which dimmers go up, whether there is an add or delete or cross-fade. It says what the count of the cue is and there is even space to write down the line when the is supposed to go.



Soldering is the act or process of forming joints upon or between metallic surfaces by means of a fusible alloy or solder whose melting point is lower than that of the metal to be united. After carefully cleaning the joint, a flux is applied to the cleaned areas to prevent oxidation, and a suitable quantity of solder is fused  on a joint by a pressure flame.

A powerful soldering station with process control that allows you to select the temp you want without changing the tip. It can have also tweezers with revolutionary  parallel action  between the tip ends and allows greater surface contact between the tip and the component is always useful. 


It takes some practice to make the perfect joint. The idea is simple: to join parts together to form an electrical connection, using a molten mixture of lead and tin (solder) with a soldering iron. A large range of soldering irons is available – which one is suitable depend on the budget.

The simplest and cheapest types of soldering station don’t have any form of temperature regulation. Simply plug them in and switch them on! Thermal regulation is “designed in” (by physics, not electronics!): they may be described as “thermally balanced” so that they have some degree of temperature “matching” but their output will otherwise not be controlled. Unregulated irons form an ideal general purpose iron for most users, and they generally cope well with printed circuit board soldering and general inter wiring. Most of these “miniature” types of iron will be of little use when attempting to solder large joints because the component being soldered will “sink” heat away from the tip of the iron, cooling it down too much. This is where a higher wattage comes in useful.

A proper temperature-controlled iron will be quite a lot more expensive, and will have some form of built-in thermostatic control, to ensure that the temperature of the bit (the tip of the iron) is maintained at a fixed level (within limits). This is desirable especially during more frequent use, since it helps to ensure that the temperature does not “overshoot” in between times, and also guarantees that the output will be relatively stable.Some irons have a bimetallic strip thermostat built into the handle which gives an audible “click” in use: other types use all-electronic controllers, and some may be adjustable.

Yet more expensive still, soldering stations and consists of a complete bench-top control unit into which a special low-voltage soldering iron is plugged. Some versions might have built-in digital temperature readout, and will have a control knob to enable to vary the setting. The temperature could be boosted for soldering larger joints, for example, or for using higher melting-point solders (e.g. silver solder). These are designed for the most discerning users, or for continuous production line/ professional use. The best stations have irons which are well balanced, with comfort-grip handles which remain cool all day. A thermocouple will be built into the tip or shaft, which monitors temperature. 

More advanced and expensive soldering iron stations use static-dissipative materials in their construction to ensure that static does not build up on the iron itself. It is useful to have a small selection of manufacturer’s bits (soldering iron tips) available with different diameters or shapes, which can be changed depending on the type of work in hand. Often, tips are iron-coated to preserve their life, or they may be bright-plated instead. Copper tips are seldom seen these days. Spare parts: it’s nice to know that spare parts may be available, so if the element blows, it is not necessary to replace the entire iron. This is especially so with expensive irons.


Paper work

The interdisciplinary nature of the work of the lighting designer is reflected by terms originating in architecture, and computer graphics. The performing arts design must provide a coordinated approach that encompasses all facets of the complex facilities. From space planning to systems design, all aspects must be made in coordination with each other to yield a successful project. 

The audience expects a place of convenience and comfort where the performance can be seen and heard without distractions. Performers and technicians need workable backstage areas and good theatre systems in order to do their work safely, comfortably and well. Management requires a facility that is attractive to audiences and artists alike and is efficient to operate. 

The design and engineering of these buildings involves integrating aesthetic considerations with acoustical requirements, audience access and seating, complex audio/visual systems, production lighting, architectural lighting, production communication, and ease of backstage operations. 

What is the best way to convey lighting ideas to design team? Students will gain an overall technical working knowledge of the tools of the trade, and learn how, and where to apply them to a final design. However essential technical expertise is our class stresses the artistic, conceptual, collaborative side of the craft. 

The simplicity and clarity of the lighting will help to create some of the most moving moments on stage and contribute to the emotional depth of the performance. It may be considered as a low-key but effective in establishing the place and the right ambience. The lighting has the quiet task of setting clear moods without exaggerations, giving the actors the prominence they deserve. 

The lighting designer’s concept is based on articulation, specificity and detail. The finished design must be extremely fluid, with some cues sharply defined while others flowed smoothly from on to another. The lighting designer can use scenic elements symbolically; the flashbacks lighting can be impressionistic; the lighting designer can project patterns and saturated colors. When the tension will be starker and more shadowy, the color saturation increases.




When your teacher tells you to cut the light at a certain point he wants you to use the shutters to cut the light off at a certain point. You adjust the shutters by pulling them out or pushing them in.  focus2
When focusing a light there are certain terms you must know so that when somebody asks you to focus a light when your up on a ladder, you know what you are doing.  fcsflg
When your teacher asks you to flag the light it means to swing your hand back and forth in front of the light. You are asked to do this so that your teacher can see where the light spot is .  fcsbrl
When your teacher asks you to run the barrel he wants you to loosen the hand screw on the lamp housing and to pull down the barrel until he tells you to lock it.  fcshtrs

Steps for Wiring

  1. Take off socket, use a screwdriver and take off the screws
  2. On the three prongs there are three screws, loosen them with the screw driver
  3. Cut off the wires using a Razor Blade and throw them out
  4. Slit the cover that is covering the wires with a Razor Blade
  5. Strip the three wires with the Wire Stripper until you see three gold metal wires. Match up the size of the wire in the holes of the Wire Stripper (Use the numbers on the Wire Stripper)
  6. Twist the three gold metal wires so they become tight and are easier to fit in the Prongs
  7. Take the green wire and put it in the green colored prong and tighten it with a screwdriver, take the black wire and put it in the gold prong and tighten it with a screwdriver, take the white wire and put it in the silver prong and tighten it with a screwdriver (it does not matter what order you put the wires in but as long as they go in the right prongs)
  8. Put back the socket, use a screwdriver to put back the screws

(To test if you have done this correctly plug in your outlet and ask your teacher or instructor to turn on the power, if it works than you have done it if it does not work then you should go back to the instructions or ask someone)

Tools you need for wiring

 112-1212_img  Tools you need f
 112-1213_img  The socket which includes the three prongs
 112-1216_img  The Wire Stripper
 112-1220_img  Another view of the socket with the three prongs


 A grounded, Edison plug  plug2

 An R40 150watt lamp, with its base off.
Some basic wiring tools. Linesman pliers, cable cutters, wire strippers, wire crimpers, needle nose pliers.  wirecut

Patrick L and Robert Raphael Technical Theater



There are plenty of tools for stripping wires. There is the wire stripper, it comes in many different forms and many different sizes. The many different wire strippers have colored handles, yellow , blue , and the red. The yellow handle is for more smaller jobs, such as stripping the smaller, thinner wires like the black, white, and green. The blue and red wire strippers are for bigger jobs like cutting cables and is for a more variety in wire cutting because of its variety of holes for different sizes of wires. Other tools we use is a box cutter and a screw driver. The box cutter is for pealing away at the shell of a cable. The screwdriver is for connecting in the wires in to the plug and screwing on the back to the front of the plug.

Stripping the Wires

When you strip a wire, the first thing you do is to strip the outer shell of the cable using a box cutter. By doing this, you are exposing three wires. The wires you are exposing is the hot (black) wire, the neutral (white) wire, and the ground (green) wire. Take the yellow handle wire strippers (described above) and strip each wire, exposing enough metallic wire to connect to the plug.

Connecting the wires to the Plug

In the plug, there are three prongs with three connections. First connect the green wire (it doesn't matter what order you do it in) to the third prong by putting the wire in to the slot and screwing down. Now do the same for the next to wires. However, there is still a place for each wire. The black wire goes in to the gold colored connection and the white wire goes in to the silver colored connection. Now screw down the plug to the back of the plug with the three screws. Now, your plug should work, after you plug it into the socket.

How the wires come from the Electric Co. to our circuit breaker.

When the wires start off from the Electric Co. there are two wires, the black and the white wires. The black wires goes to a transformer outside the school, underground. The Transformer transforms the hot wire's (black) high voltage to a lower voltage, while the neutral wire bypasses the transformer and goes into the school. When the wires go into the school, the black wire goes into the distributor. It distributes the hot wire into three wires of 120 volts. The three wires are blue, red, and black. The three wires goes into the Transformer box. The circuit breaker, which is in the transformer box, limits the amount of power that goes into the outlet. At the bottom of the transformer box is a neutral bar where the neutral wire enters and then goes straight to the outlet. The ground wire then comes up from the ground and enters the transformer box and goes to the outlet. That is how the power comes from the power company to the transformer.

Calculating Watts, Voltage, and Amps

Calculating the voltage, amps, and watts is relatively easy is you know the equation. The equation is Watts /Volts = Amps or W/V=A. There is an easy way top remember this equation. The way is West Virginia, WVA is the abbreviation for West Virginia.

ex. 100w / 1,000v = .1 A

100w / 100v = 1A

100w / 10v = 10A


Patch Panel

 Here we can see all the circuits waiting to be used. These wires are connected to the circuits in the electric pipes.  murr008
 Can you say code violation? This box should be covered. ON the left we see conduit coming into the junction box. Hanging from the bottom are four circuits.  murr020
 Electrical network

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

An electrical network or electrical circuit is an interconnection of analog electrical elements such as resistors, inductors, capacitors, diodes, switches and transistors. It can be as small as an integrated circuit on a silicon chip, or as large as an electricity distribution network.

A circuit is a network that has a closed loop i.e. a return path. A network is a connection of 2 or more simple circuit elements, and may not be a circuit.

The goal when designing electrical networks for signal processing is to apply a predefined operation on potential differences (measured in volts) or currents (measured in amperes). Typical functions for these electrical networks are amplification, oscillation and analog linear algorithmic operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, differentiation and integration.

In the case of power distribution networks, engineers design the circuit to transport the energy as efficiently as possible while at the same time taking into account economic factors, network safety and redundancy. These networks use components such as power lines, cables, circuit breakers, switches and transformers.

To design any electrical circuits, electrical engineers need to be able to predict the voltages and currents in the circuit. Linear circuits can be analysed to a certain extent by hand because complex number theory gives engineers the ability to treat all linear elements using a single mathematical representation.

A number of electrical laws apply to all electrical networks. These include

Kirchhoff's current law: the sum of all currents entering a node is equal to the sum of all currents leaving the node.

Kirchhoff's voltage law: the directed sum of the electrical potential differences around a circuit must be zero.

Ohm's law: the voltage across a resistor is the product of its resistance and the current flowing through it.

the Y-delta transform

Norton's theorem: any two-terminal collection of voltage sources and resistors is electrically equivalent to an ideal current source in parallel with a single resistor.

Thevenin's theorem: any two-terminal combination of voltage sources and resistors is electrically equivalent to a single voltage source in series with a single resistor.

Millman's method: the voltage on the ends of branches in parallel is equal to the sum of the currents flowing in every branch divided by the total equivalent conductance.


House Lights

This is a 250watt lamp that is used for the house lights.  murr017
The top of the ceiling. You can see two house light cans connected via conduit.  murr018
The catwalk in the cove.  murr019
Can you say code violation? This box should be covered. ON the left we see conduit coming into the junction box. Hanging from the bottom are four circuits.  murr020
 This is what's above the ceiling  murr021

Lighting Units

ERS (Ellipsoidal Reflector Spotlights) are also sometimes known by their brand names, especially Leko, short for Lekolite, the name given to them by their inventors, Joseph Levy and Edward Kook. ETC’s Source Four has become a very popular ERS throughout the industry, and some people use the term Source Four to refer spotlights in general. They come in many forms, and are the most numerous and important instrument type in use. The flexibility of the ERS allows them to fulfill the bulk of the lighting roles in the theatre, from area lighting to close specials, from long throws from the back of the house to shin kickers on the stage.

ERS’s may have more than one focusing lens, while all possess internal shutters for cropping the emitted light, and all accept a color gel in front of the lens and a gobo in front of the shutters. ERS’s may have bulbs mounted axially, or with the base either up or down (it is important to hang a lamp in the proper orientation). The lenses are smooth and full, not stepped, and it is the lens or lenses that move in the ERS, not the bulb and reflector assembly as in the fresnel.

The ERS improves over the efficiency of the fresnel by surrounding the bulb in an ellipsoidal reflector, with the filament of the bulb at one focus and the aperture to the lens housing at the other. The shutters and gobo are ideally in focal point of this apature. (In UK: the term ERS is not often used. An ERS is simply concidered a very good profile.)


This is a 6″ Fresnel. The Fresnel uses a Fresnel lens, hence, its name. This unit provides a soft, circular light and is often used for back light and down light. At least in our theater.

Fresnels are typically 8-, 6- or 4-inch, referring to the diameter of the lens. The lens is the distinctive ‘Fresnel lens’ type, with a ‘stepped’ appearance instead of the ‘full’ or ‘smooth’ appearance of other lenses. The stepped nature of the lens causes a corresponding pattern of circles of light, so Fresnel lenses are usually ‘stippled’ on the flat side. This pattern of small bumps helps to break up the light passing into the lens to smooth out its eventual pattern.

Fresnels use a spherical reflector, with the filament of the bulb at the focus. Due to this, the bulb and reflector cannot move independently of one another, and remain a fixed unit inside the housing. It is this unit that is moved back and forth inside the lamp to focus the fresnel. This is done by a slider on the bottom of the light, or by a worm track.

Fresnels are not very efficient. The reflector cannot be larger than the lens aperture, and thus all the radiated light that is neither reflected by the parabola behind the bulb or emitted directly through the lens is absorbed by the casing as waste heat. Additionally, the degree to which the lamp may be focused is limited by the length of the housing. The tighter the focus (‘spotted in’) the less light is able to escape. Thus fresnels are not good for tight focus on small areas. Fresnels also lack internal shutters, and must rely on barndoors, large metal flaps that may be mounted just beyond the color slot at the front of the light. Due to these restrictions, fresnels are most often used at middling distances for area lighting. Fresnel bulbs are almost always ‘base down’: mounted with the bulb up. Burning these lamps upside down will shorten lamp life significantly. (In UK: Fresnels are not spotlights, they are Fresnels.)

 thumb fresnel
 This is a 1000Q Follow Spot. Altman.

One word of caution. Please have at least two people to raise or lower this light on it’s stand. I’ve seen, too often, somebody trying to lower it and get their hand caught and pinched.

Click on the Follow Spot to see close up pictures of the light’s parts. Including the inside. 

 Some of our units are Altman 360 units. (left)  The difference being that they lack the Q. So?? The Q stands for Quartz which is the type of Lamp used. The Non-Q units use an Incandescent Lamp. You can tell the difference just by looking at the unit. The lamp housing of the Q unit (right) is straight up on the top. The incandescent unit’s lamp housing is shaped like a Banana, off to one side.  360q360
 siriscclamp  shtters2
 PAR (Parabolic Aluminized Reflector) lights resemble car headlights. They possess a lens, but the lens is an integral part of the lamp housing, and its position relative to the filament cannot be altered. A notable exception is ETC’s Source Four PAR, which uses the same halogen lamp as their Source Four ERS. In this case, the lens is a separate piece from the lamp. The relative position of lamp and lens remains unalterable.

The lamp produces an intense oval pool of light with soft edges. The only adjustment is a knob that allows the lamp/lens unit to be rotated within its casing, thus changing the orientation of the oval. The type of lens may be changed, options include wide flood (WFL), medium flood (MFL), narrow spot (NSP), and very narrow spot (VNSP).

These types of instruments come in varying diameters, the most common being designated PAR56 and PAR64. The number indicates the diameter of the housing in eighths of an inch (e.g. a PAR64 is eight inches in diameter).

PARs are used constantly in Rock and Roll shows, especially in combination with smoke/hazer machines which make the path of the beam visible. Because of the lack of control over the beam diameter, shape, and sharpness the PARs are rarely used in a FOH (front of house, the lighting position suspended over the audience) position, particularly in theatres, but are used often as top light and for special effects.

Strip or Cyclorama (Cyc) lights are long housings typically containing multiple bulbs arranged along the length of the instrument and emitting light perpendicular to its length. The strip light housing often contains bulbs of multiple colors (usually the primary colors) with each color controlled by a separate electrical circuit. Varying the intensity of the different colors enables the lighting designer to establish mood or time of day.

Scoops are circular fixtures that do not have any lenses. They have a reflector at the back of the fixture that directs the light out of the fixture. Since they do not have any sort of lens system they are cheaper than other fixtures. However, the downside of this makes it so that you can not focus the light at all (even PAR’s allow for more control than scoops).

House lights and Work lights – House lights are incandescent or fluorescent floodlights. House lights provide light for the audience before and after performances and during intermissions. Work lights provide general lighting backstage, or in the house. House lights are often controlled by dimmers, but are sometimes on simple switches. Work lights are almost always switched only. House and work lights are usually off during performances but are occasionally included in the lighting design to establish focus or emphasize plot elements.

bullet Moving lights or intelligent fixtures were originally implemented in 1972, but the first computer-controlled stage lighting fixtures began to gain widespread acceptance in the concert industry in the early 1980’s. As the digital age progressed, the cost of these fixtures was reduced and they slowly started being used in more ‘traditional’ theatrical environments. Intelligent fixtures are currently used in almost all major theatrical productions.

Usually relying on compact arc lamps as a light source, these fixtures generally use stepper motors connected to varying internal devices to manipulate the light before it escapes the fixtures front lens.

Examples of internal devices are:

bullet Color wheels with dichroic lenses used to change the color of the beam.
bullet Pattern wheels with gobos used to change the shape of the beam.
bullet Shutters used to ‘dim’ or ‘strobe’ the output
bullet Automated lens trains used to focus the beam.
bullet Irises used to change the size of the beam.
bullet Gate shutters to ‘square off’ the beam.
bullet CMY color wheels using subtractive colors to change beam color by inserting dichroic glass filters with varying levels of color filtering into the optics chain.
bullet Prisms

The majority of these fixtures also use stepper motors to enable movement of the light fixtures output by either moving a mirror which reflects the beam, or by moving the entire fixture lens train. This allows the fixture to cover large areas by varying the X-Y coordinates of the beam. Higher performance fixtures use stepper motors for pan and tilt motion.

Moving lights are controlled in many ways. Usually the fixtures are connected to a Lighting Console, which outputs a control signal. This control signal sends data to the fixture usually in one of three ways – Analog (which has largely been phased out), DMX (which is the industry standard control protocol), or Ethernet Control (which is still in development). The fixture then takes this signal and translates it into internal signals which are sent to the many stepper motors located inside.


Follow Spot

 This picture from the rear end of the spotlight has the focusing rod extended. When the rod is extended, it blurs the outer edges of the light, whereas, when pushed in, the edges of the light are sharp and defined. The red part of the rod closer to the lighting unit can be turned to make the size of the light bigger or smaller depending on which way it is turned. This is the iris. When turned counterclockwise, the area of light becomes smaller when turned clockwise, the area becomes larger. There is a black wheel between the body of the light and the iris is the shutter, which can be used when a quick blackout is called for.  follow5
The picture to the right is that of the insides of the Alt Spot 1000Q. To the left, is the 1000 watt lamp used in the spot. It is a Tungsten-Halogen lamp, which is the only lamp designed for use in the spot. Behind the lamp is a fan which cools the light. (a 1000 watt lamp can generate a lot of heat. As always, use caution and protective gloves if it's necessary to replace the lamp.) Between the lamp and the end of the spotlight is a lens which focuses the light. This is controlled be the focusing rod.  follow4
This is a picture of the gel controls. There are six levers that, when in the
lowered position, raise the gel up in the path of the light. The seventh knob is used as a dowser, which is completely opaque. When in the lowered position, it acts as a shutter and blocks the light completely. More ideal for smooth fade outs. The gels are held onto the casing by four thumb screws which can easily be removed, giving easy access to the gel frames inside the unit.
Once removed, this is what the gels look like. They are set up in a boomerang fashion so that when the lever is lowered, the gel and frame move up into the path of the light, coloring the light on stage. The other gels and dowser are in the upright position and do not have an effect on the light.  ustech14