Patching Systems

A performance venue will stage many different productions over the course of its life. Each one will come with its own specific lighting requirements. Luminaires will be moved around the venue from show to show to get the right angle and effect for each performance. For this reason many more stage lighting outlets are provided than are actually used at any one time.

If we could provide a dimmer for each outlet it would be easy to simply plug in a fixture at the desired location, address the dimmer from the lighting desk and be in business. Indeed in a number of top line venues this dimmer per outlet model is in place. However, more common is a system whereby a smaller capacity dimmer system addresses a numerically superior outlet network via a patching system.

Simply put the patching system is the interface between the stage lighting outlets and the dimmer outputs. Numbered cables on the patch panel connect to the corresponding outlets around the venue via the building wiring. The outlets that are being used can then be connected (patched) to the available dimmer outputs. The benefits are twofold in that less dimmers are required than in a dimmer per outlet system and faulty circuits can quickly be re patched to another dimmer outlet so the show can continue uninterrupted.

In some cases it may be desirable to locate all the dimmers in one location away from the performance space and provide an outlet panel in the auditorium closer to the fixtures. In this case an output panel rather than a set of input tails would be appropriate.

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