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Lighting up the Javett Art Centre with Helvar intelligent lighting

A Helvar Lighting Control System Overview by Bruce Schwartz of Electrosonic SA

The Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria recently opened with great success. A core part of any art centre or gallery is the lighting. Lighting up a gallery has come a long way since the days of simply mounting energy consuming track light fittings around the venue, and blasting light at various pieces of art.

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The new Helvar lighting control system was a collaboration effort designed by Joao Vegas (Paul Pamboukian and Associates Lighting Design) and Electrosonic SA Pty LTD’s Bruce Schwartz (Live Events Director), and was installed by Sensor Electrical. The lighting and control system in the Javett Art Centre was designed around excellent quality of light, along with the flexibility to control both the position and the intensity of each and every track lighting fixture to suit the dynamic needs of the gallery by non-technical staff.

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The lighting system consists of LED track mounted lighting fixtures with different beam angles to suit different applications. Each row of spots along a given track can be controlled from an intensity point of view or turned off, allowing for subtle or bright lighting as needed per installation or exhibit.

Each track has 3 Dimmer Channels embedded within it, to which the LED Track Spots are clipped in and the appropriate track number is selected on the fixture. Each 3-channel track is wired back to the applicable distribution board in a traditional way.

There is also a range of Colour Tunable White Light Fixtures that provide lighting to the installed Echophon Panels. This enables the entire mood of the gallery to be changed on a seasonal or exhibition basis. The Helvar system also controls the colour temperature values and their intensity.

The lighting control system supplied by Electrosonic SA is from world renowned lighting control company, Helvar. The core of the system is DALI-based (an international lighting control standard) and comprises of 5 x Helvar 910 Dali Router devices which communicate via the DALI protocol to 31 x 4 channel Helvar 454 Trailing Edge 4 x 500w Dimmers and 7 x 8 Channel Helvar 498 Relays. The Helvar 910 routers have 2 DALI universes per unit for a total of 10 DALI universes controlling the gallery.

The 910 routers are then connected to an Ethernet Network to create a large distributed Dali-based control system over the entire gallery. A dedicated Helvar Wi-Fi network has been installed with 6 access points around the gallery to provide seamless coverage when setting up the lighting levels. A Helvar 8800 uSee “Brain” (User Interface) is the core of the system and provides the link between the Wi-Fi Network and the DALI Router system. The Helvar Designer IS software platform is the front end and provides a dedicated web page interface for the user to set and, most importantly, store lighting levels to be reached at any point.

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In order to provide simple and local control over the devices, a tablet PC has been provided. Access to the system is via the Helvar uSee interface, with password protection for different user access levels.

All the user needs to do is to access any one of the wireless points and login with the supplied username and password. Any wireless device i.e. laptop, iPad etc. with a web browser may access the system via a secure IP address.

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Each area is named in the software and the user simply selects the appropriate area from the drop-down menu, and then will be presented with numerous sliders to control each track as per its label. Each track can then be tuned in intensity and this is then stored to the Exhibition scene. An astronomical time clock built into the Helvar Routers has scheduled scene recalls activating the stored gallery scene every day for truly hands-free operation of the gallery once the exhibition scene has been programmed by the client. 

In the security room, there is a master panel to enable the gallery to be switched into any state as needed or to recall a 100% lighting level in an emergency situation.

For more information about Helvar intelligent lighting systems, contact Electrosonic on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +27 (011) 770 9800.

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