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Future proofing dimmers for one of the harshest environments on earth

Future proofing dimmers for one of the harshest environments on earth Main Image

LSC Control Systems innovate to counter corrosion at upgraded Sir Howard Morrison Centre

Rotorua is located on the north island of New Zealand and is renowned for its rotten egg smell, stemming from the high levels of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) concentrations emitted from local geothermal vents. But the smell isn’t the only issue. H2S also causes the rapid corrosion of certain metals, in particular copper, creating headaches for the technical team responsible for the upgrade of the Sir Howard Morrison Centre in Rotorua.

Having asked around overseas, Kevin Greene, Technical Design & Delivery Lead at the Centre, and consultants Shand Shelton approached LSC for a possible solution. The Australian-based designers and manufacturers of data distribution, power and lighting control systems, LSC rose to the challenge.

Jeff Morgan, LSC’s NZ Regional Manager, recalls, “We worked with Shand Shelton using their technical brief to select the appropriate product. One of the key feature requests was the ability for the dimmer racks to be flexible and allow for direct power of LED fixtures, as well as dimming conventional loads. The client also wanted the ability to change the configuration remotely. The GENVI dimmers were the obvious choice due to their TruPower relay bypass system, PTFD dimming and the ability to be controlled by remotely with HOUSTON X. We supplied a total of 40 GENVI units, in a mixture of rackmount and wall-mount variants, replacing all the old dimmers in the Black Box Theatre and the Sir Owen Glenn Theatre. ”

Kevin provided LSC and their R&D team with the requirements of the conformal coating required to shield and protect the circuit boards from the H2S, “It was not just a question of the gear surviving the tough environment, everything also had to be fit for purpose and one of the knock-on effects of conformal coating is the potential for overheating. We did a lot of testing.” LSC’s manufacturing department made four test PCBs and sent them over for corrosion testing., “The environment is so harsh you can expect to see decay within a month. Kevin made quadruple-y sure and waited four months before making a decision to go ahead.”

Jeff and Richie Mickan (LSC’s Technical Product Manager) travelled over from Australia in November to commission the dimmers, data distribution and LSC’s proprietary monitoring and remote configuration software HOUSTON X, “Although the software is used all over the world, this is a first for New Zealand. The beauty of it is you can talk to the dimmers from the office, change the patching and channel modes over the network, to whatever a touring company or the in-house production requires in either theatre space.”

Kevin and his lighting technicians were very appreciative, “Anything that saves techs time at the moment is gratefully received. It looks like the New Zealand theatre sector is going gangbusters, same as in Australia, with techs travelling back-to-back from event to event due to staff shortages. It’s good to make their lives easier.”

LSC Control Systems are flat out too, “This is the busiest we’ve known it in many years. Just like everyone else, COVID was a major disruption for us, but the recovery is quicker than we anticipated. For the last six months we have been inundated with orders. We design and manufacture all of our products in Australia, giving us far less exposure to shut-downs in China, so we are still able to manufacture our entire product range. If there are shortages of any components, our in-house R&D team quickly find an alternate solution.”