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Intellabeam Hacking

I have always been fascinated by show lighting technology. Mainly lasers, but you can't help ignore computerized lighting. I figure someday I will end up with some 2nd hand Cyberlights (with the excuse for litho projecting business and project information).

Not too long ago I took a chance and picked up 12 creeky Intellabeam 400s. They came from a night club in Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. They were far from free, and needed a bit of TLC.

I sold the better 6 of them since I don't have a legitimite use for them. And let me tell you, they are heavy. And everyone says "Yo man, bring them to my party Friday!" Let me repeat, 70+ pounds each!

I've hit some problems with the remaining few. I hope to eventually find some dirt cheap / near free Intellabeam 700HX's, but for the moment the Ibeam 400s are my toys.

I still keep in good touch with the person that bought the 6 400's from me. He has gone so far as to reverse engineer the PAL IC and generate new code for programming them. We have figured out that the 400's running the 700 version firmware do indeed seem to respond to some DMX-512 controllers. Unfortunately, I found that the DMX-512 commands lack the function to spin the color and gobo wheels on the 400to700 eprom (AFAIK). The 700's had a chip version that does have the spin forward and backwards features.

My current situation... one of the ibeam 400's, the ceramic resistor glows red. A few motor control issues keep showing up on another fixture. I also need replacement IR filters for two of them. It appears that people are selling them from LCD projectors on eBay, so I should have that fixed.

Modded Intellabeam

But in the meantime, I had to try something. I've had this idea for a long time, although originally I had the idea of using a monochrome panel. I've been reading quite a bit about the DIY homebrew LCD projectors, and ran across mention of the Hip Gear Screenpad. I found three at the Electronics Boutique at Greenbriar Mall. $25 each. I pulled the iris off of one of the fixtures, and replaced it with a 2.6" LCD screen from the video game controller. The LCD is pretty low resolution. The other issue, I can't cool it. It has to be close to the gobo wheel so I can focus on the LCD, and still have the gobos work. At 40% power, it turns black in 30 seconds. At 100% power, its black in about 15 seconds. I strobe the light, then adjust focus. Unlike a cyberlight (or perhaps technobeam?), there is no motorized focus on the Ibeam400.

Thinking that it was just for contrast, I peeled off the dark plastic on one of the LCD screens. It turns out that it is also a polarization filter. I hope to try to find a clear glass polarization filter, and try that LCD again. A clear LCD setup should absorb ALOT less heat.

The resolution was bad. It's not like a LCD projector panel that is .7 inches and 800x600. LCD projectors use 3 panels and a combiner, which isn't practical in the intellabeam.

This is wierd, but when running the test I was having an issue that static electricity was zapping the Intellabeam LED controller, locking it up. So when I saw the LCD starting to burn I went to blackout the light and well, the controller locked up. Ooops.

The pictures of the experiment are visible Here

After the first burn occoured, I moved the LCD panel to gain use of another part of it. It wasn't aligned properly so it's only a corner of the LCD and not proper. If I could figure out a way to cool it, I would fabricate an aluminum mount for the LCD and associated electronics.

Enjoy! I will post the schematics for the IBeam 400s later, as well as some notes with Keith's permission. This is probably the only webpage dedicated to the Intellabeam 400 on the internet :-).

For some various pictures that include the Ibeams, visit my directory of pictures HERE There is some notes at the wiki ( about my ongoing attempts to build a high output homebrew LCD projector. The biggest obstacle right now... will a long arc metal halide 1500 watt lamp ballast drive a MSR-1200 short arc lamp?

A few other notes. Our office used to have the hottest light setup in Hampton Roads. No club can touch it. And probably still couldn't if I set things up again. And the 5 watt laser eclipses the intelligent lights, as it should :-) The intelligent lights are to look impressive, until the laser is triggered.