Instructables

Color changing stage lights?

I'd like to make a light that will accommodate 2 or three light bulbs/spotlights/floodlights so that one comes on, and ideally fades into the other. It would be used in haunted houses.
I am pretty sure this is a simple build, but I'd appreciate direction or advice.  Or a full on Instructable.
A simple setup with a switch (foot pedal?) that simply shuts off one color and turns on another would do. 
A button that begins to fade one color out and another in would be better. 
One that can be set to fade from one to another automatically at a predetermined interval would be awesome.
Such a setup can be used to create a transformation effect as simple as Jekyll into Hyde or as elaborate as girl into gorilla.
The reason I would prefer it to be automatic is so it can be "plug and play" with only one actor, and work even if it's a different actor each night.

Probably something like this exists commercially, and
A), I don't know what it is called
B) I'm doing it for the Boy's and Girl's club, which has no budget, which means I'm paying for it, which means it needs to be as low cost as possible.
C) If I can build it well and inexpensively, I'd like to play with variations on the theme.

caitlinsdad2 years ago
There are standard light controller consoles that use the DMX lighting protocol which can be computerized and range from home disco light units to theatre use. I think you can build something with dimmers and regular light switches that you use for home wiring. The dimmer switches with the one-press automatic dim are more expensive so I would suggest you just assign a kid to control the fade of two lights like on a disco turntable mixer to fade between lights - more fun. Most people who have rewired up their home sockets should be able to get the parts and do this or get a pro. Use those dimmable flood lights in portable clamp on light fixtures or attached to extention cords to place the lights. Good luck.
justjimAZ (author)  caitlinsdad2 years ago
Maybe I could use two dimmer switches connected by a belt so turning down one turns up the other?
Unless the belt crosses over itself, they will turn the same direction.

try securing the 2 dimmers up, face to face. Tape the knobs together. Clockwise for dimmer a will then turn dimmer b COUNTERclockwise.

Are you planning this for next year? I was a bit surprised at how late in the season you posted.
justjimAZ (author)  Toga_Dan2 years ago
This is a project (or the base for several projects) for next year's haunted house.

Actually, crossing the belt is a good idea. I was thinking I'd just put one dimmer in upside down, but I'm having an unusual amount of trouble visualizing whether that would work.

I suggest mounting both dimmers sideways, and face to face. Tape knobs together. operator then thumbs knob up, and down. No belt to slip or fall off.

if you had the same person runnin lites evry nite, they'd get a feel for a smooth crossfade. But mech solution might be simpler for untrained, unrehearsed techie.
Toga_Dan2 years ago
Typicically this is done with 2 or more stage lights. The "bulb", or "lamp" in the vernacular of stage lighting, is usually 500-1000 watts. The bulb itself is not colored, but rather a colored gel is placed in front of the stage light. If the color was directly on the bulb, it would probably burn off with 1000 watts of light and heat.

The reason for so much power is that distances in the theatre are great, and you need lots of light.

If your distances aren't too big, you could make do with home lighting appliances. I've seen the #10 food cans (the ones that hold a gallon) used for stage lights in small spaces.

As for the switch, if you want cheap, a 3 way switch can be wired to change from 1 light to the other with a single flip of the switch. This doesn't get you the dimming, though.
justjimAZ (author)  Toga_Dan2 years ago
Thanks Toga Dan. I can maybe find such a switch and experiment with it.