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156 TECHNOLOGY / PRODUCT REVIEW


David Morgan looks at two of the latest touch panel control systems developed with LED lighting in mind: Nicolaudie’s STICK 2 (left) and Pharos’ TPC.


TOUCHING THE VOID


As the use of colour changing LED lighting becomes more widely used across the spec- trum of lighting schemes, from simple resi- dential to complex architectural projects, the need has grown for a greater variety of lighting control systems and control panels. While the early lighting control systems were large and hidden away in a cupboard with the control panel having little in built intelligence, advances in technology now mean that some panels have enough com- puting power to control small to medium size projects on their own. The new genera- tion of panels can communicate directly with the DMX enabled luminaires without any hidden boxes in between. Two new panels which work in this way were recently launched at different ends of the market; the STICK 2 from the French company, Nicolaudie, which is targeted mainly at the residential and small archi- tectural market, and the TPC from Pharos which is designed for integration in large complex projects but can also be used on smaller stand alone projects.


NICOLAUDIE STICK 2 Nicolaudie has pioneered developments at the lower end of the DMX controller and software market. The STICK 2 is a new addi- tion to the Nicolaudie DMX panel range and follows the success of the STICK 1 which I reviewed a few years ago. The appearance of the STICK 2 is a welcome improvement on the STICK 1. Instead of the


rather functional plastic touch panel with 15 buttons used on the STICK 1 a simple square glass touch panel, available in black or white, with only three buttons is used on the STICK 2. It is designed to fit a standard wall box - the plate is 83mm x 83mm and only 10mm thick with an accessible mini USB data port on the lower edge. The three buttons are used to navigate between the 24 pre set scenes or fades, to change dimming levels and to control colour settings. The software used to set up scenes is the entry level simple system called ESA – Easy Stand Alone - which has fewer features than the more complex Nicolaudie systems ESA Pro and Sunlite Suite 2 Software which run on the STICK 1. Only one scene can run at a time with the ESA software. The number of DMX channels is limited to 128 but this should be sufficient for most residential projects and many restaurant or bar proj- ects as well. Mechanically, the design seems easy to install with six different screw fixing posi- tions for a variety of wall mounting boxes. A 5-way plug and socket connector makes wiring simple. The power supply is a small separate unit and the data sheet suggests that this can be fitted in a standard wall box which could cause some problems de- pending on the depth of the box. It is understood that the design of the STICK was undertaken in house at the Nicolaudie R&D centre in Montpellier office in France


over an eight month period although the research period was much longer prior to detail design and development. The STICK 2 is a very cost effective and attractive, simple DMX controller and seems likely to be widely used on smaller projects.


PHAROS TPC Pharos is an independent UK based com- pany and is part of the Carallon group, a product design company specialising in con- trol systems for the entertainment industry with a range of sophisticated systems for use in major architectural and entertain- ment projects. The top of the range LPC X controller can run up to 200 DMX universes. The largest number of DMX universes that Pharos systems have controlled to date is 650. The TPC (Touch Panel Controller) has been introduced at the lower end of the Pharos range and it can be used as a stand alone single DMX universe controller or as part of a larger networked lighting control system. Although it may be entry level, the TPC has so many bells and whistles that it is hard to mention them all in this short review. Prior to the introduction of the TPC Pharos used either their own push button con- trol panels or graphic panels from other manufacturers. Having their own panel will clearly open up a wide variety of opportuni- ties. The full colour screen of the TPC has capacitive controls and the layout and ap-


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