Pharos offers DMX expertise to smaller-scale projects with new control range

Oct. 10, 2022
Entertainment/architainment lighting controls provider launches a line centered around a user-friendly device and interface for ‘high-quality’ granular color and effects control.

During the recent Light+Building exhibition, Pharos Architectural Controls debuted a new line of lighting controls offerings dubbed “Expert,” targeting the general architectural specifier and commercial end-user markets.

The UK-based company is known for its expertise in DMX controls for complex architainment lighting schemes, deployed at venues and locations such as the London Eye and Niagara Falls, among others. It is coming off a recognition year for its Pharos Cloud suite targeted toward system integrators, which received honors in the LEDs Magazine BrightStar Awards.

Jack Neill, product manager for Expert and Cloud, told LEDs Magazine that Pharos looked to distill its experience with dynamic lighting management for high-end architectural, landmark, and entertainment installations into decorative and functional lighting control systems.

While DMX lighting controls have long been used in the architainment sector, Neill said, “we’re seeing a shift to DMX control becoming more ubiquitous” in general illumination projects due to “its high quality [light] output with very specific color values.”

Unlike other controls protocols that deliver one programmed output result per fixture, Neill explained, with DMX, lighting effects are achieved through continuous information programmed into the DMX controllers with multiple channels delivering multiple effects commands — from fading to color changing to color temperature adjusting — to any number of compliant fixtures in the system library. A typical DMX system can send lighting output data approximately 25–35 times per second, he noted. “While it looks smooth in transition, [that kind of effect] demands an incredible amount of complex programming, which hasn’t been very accessible to the general lighting sector,” Neill said. “Expert is designed for more practical use which allows the operator to be ‘the expert’ without being an architectural lighting controls specialist.”

The Expert line includes Control, Touch, Repeat, and Switch hardware solutions:

  • Expert Control: A compact DIN rail enclosure features up to 1,024 channels of eDMX, two local DMX ports, one DALI port, and two pairs I/O onboard
  • Expert Touch: 5-in. touchscreen wall interface to access preprogrammed scene controls, and adjust schedules and intensity
  • Expert Repeat: DC-powered DMX splitter, with self-healing ports, for output distribution
  • Expert Switch: A one-in-four-out Power over Ethernet (PoE) switch

“We’ve launched loads of different integrations at a more cost-effective price point, that are more user-friendly for small- to medium-sized lighting projects,” Neill continued. “We’ve gone to great lengths to make this [portfolio] more intuitive, from the ground up.” Software functions include Spaces for grouping and managing fixtures; Scenes for establishing sequences and effects; and the State Engine, which “provides a whole new way of working with lighting control,” he said, “the way that [general users] think — we used simpler terms, like ‘night/day,’ ‘open/closed,’ to describe the setups” that users can achieve with the lighting designer upon commissioning the system.

“It’s been in the works for about two and a half years,” Neill said. “We’d been honing in on new use cases for our technology, figuring how we could bring that quality differential to new projects.” More so than the pandemic and even component supply-chain issues, he stated, the timing with the Light+Building launch in Frankfurt “felt just right.”

CARRIE MEADOWS is managing editor of LEDs Magazine, with 20 years’ experience in business-to-business publishing across technology markets including solid-state technology manufacturing, fiberoptic communications, machine vision, lasers and photonics, and LEDs and lighting.

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