Knowledge For Pros by Ben Stowe, CTS

December 7, 2009 by Ben Stowe

The NLFX Pro Academy provides an unparalleled opportunity to build your technical skills

As an individual, I am committed to education, truth and understanding. In my capacity as owner of NLFX Professional, this commitment has led to educational initiatives that were designed to help our customers better understand the technologies at work in our industry and make informed decisions. Most of the initiatives were limited in scope and geographical reach.

Driven by the suggestions of customers (where most of the best ideas come from) we developed the concept of a larger-scale technology education platform: The NLFX Pro Academy.

In it’s first year…presentations covered the physics and technology of audio and lighting in a classroom-style setting. At the inaugural Pro Academy, some sessions were standing room only! …A lot of feedback was gathered and careful attention was given to both the material presented and the methods of presenting it…the 2010 Pro Academy will be the best yet! This year the information is divided into two “tracks.”

One day is dedicated to lighting, and the fantastic new profit center that it has created for DJs. Through the partnership of two expert guest presenters and the NLFX staff, the lighting track begins with a prelude to technology side discussing how to sell lighting to the client and increase your profitability in the first place. The next two seminars cover the fundamentals of DMX lighting control, with the goal of helping attendees achieve a truly solid understanding of how this powerful programming protocol works, and how to make it work better for their applications. This will be done with some live programming of lights and the creation of some simple multimedia shows. Attendees will learn how to make a seamless show that integrates video, audio and lighting, all completely synchronized, in just a few minutes. The lighting track completes itself with an evening session that will cover lighting design, and how to apply fixtures for specific purposes.

The audio track consists of two seminars. This will be highly informational but digestible coverage of decibels and audio measurements, speaker placement, deciphering speaker marketing data and making educated purchase decisions, amplifier types (AB, H, D) and how to choose the right one for a designated application, interconnecting cables, signal loss, and a much anticipated update on Verizon Wireless’ ex-parte filing with the FCC regarding 700 MHz and wireless microphones.

We have so much good information for the NLFX Pro Academy we simply have to give you an actual taste of what you’ll experience when you attend. So here’s a tasty morsel: a basic explanation of Ohm’s Law.

You Can’t Break this Law

Ohm’s Law, named for Georg Simon Ohm, addresses the relationship between voltage, current (amperage) and power (wattage). To simplify, we will assume that all of our circuits are purely resistive and not reactive. (A reactive circuit has highly capacitive or inductive properties that affect the measured “wattage” and would really complicate this article since I only have a few hundred words to explain Ohm’s Law.) In a purely resistive circuit, like an incandescent lamp, the voltage multiplied by the amperage equals the wattage. We have a simple formula that helps us understand this relationship. Where Voltage is identified by “V,” Amperage by “I” and Wattage (power) by “P” the formula is V x I = P.

In practice, if we have 120V power, and a device draws 2 amps, we are using 240 watts of power. Algebra lets us solve for any missing variable. Since many lamps are measured in watts, and circuit breakers in amps, we might know our power, but need to know how many lamps we can put on a breaker. If the lamp is 300W and our supply voltage is 120V, then we will be using 2.5 amperes. The formula for this is I = P / V.

Something else this shows us is that if our voltage dips, we need more amperage to achieve the same wattage. For example, 120 volts on a 15 amp breaker affords us 1800 watts, but 110 volts only affords us 1650 on the same 15 amp breaker.

This was just a brief example of how even the most basic electrical knowledge can help you deal with real-world situations, such as making sure your power situation at a gig is safe and optimal for your performance. For a heaping platter full of technical enrichment, don’t miss this year’s Academy!

The Pro Academy sessions will feature great visual examples, presenters dedicated to your understanding of the topics, and plenty of question and answer opportunities. We hope that you will take full advantage of these sessions to grow your technological horizons, get more out of your gear, and find new profit centers for your business.

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Ben Stowe Ben Stowe (8 Posts)

Ben’s love for electronics began when as a very young through the inspiration of a neighbor he often visited. The neighbor ran the small town’s TV repair shop out of his home, and in order to occupy the energetic Ben, allowed him to play with the brightly colored electronic components. At first Ben was simply using diagonal side cutters to strip circuit boards and sort the parts, then at the age of 5 his persistent nagging was rewarded with a few soldering lessons. Having previously taught high school electronics, the neighbor recognized Ben’s enthusiasm and began to teach him the principals of electronics. Ben’s love of electronics and technology led to years of schooling in Electricity, Electronics, Robotics and Lasers. Ben supported himself through school by building and selling strobe lights and other electronic devices. He built his first DJ show largely from scratch and scrap, often repairing broken items others had thrown away because he could not afford to buy new equipment. He holds a Minnesota electrical license, and his AV installs have been featured in almost every major industry trade magazine. His relentless passion for education has led to a number of other certifications and accreditations, including the most widely recognized one in the AV industry, the InfoComm CTS. His love for education inspired him to begin the ProAcademy educational sessions, focused on increasing understanding of AV technologies within the industry. Ben has been involved in a number of technical writings, lectures, presentations, as well as research and development assistance with a number of manufacturers for products, industry wide. He is also a regular contributing author to industry magazines in the United States and Europe. Ben’s presentations have been featured across the world both as a part of industry leading trade shows, and as a presenter for various groups and functions. Some of these events include BPM in the United Kingdom, Mobile Beat, the ADJA National Convention, Wedding MBA, and a national tour as a headlining presenter for an industry magazine. The United States Armed Forces branches have also called upon Ben to provide engineering and training assistance. His highly informational, slightly nerdy and always funny presentation style have made him a favorite at events, while his sincere desire to help people with their application of technology have made him a favorite with them after the event. These presentations have recently led to the production of a ProAcademy Series of DVDs. The first of which, “Event Lighting” was released with much anticipation and with great reviews. A few industry leaders commented: “Ben Stowe knows his stuff. He is friendly, knowledgeable and passionate about this business. He also has a rare ability to not only understand technology, but be able to explain it in simple terms. You’ll learn a lot and it won’t hurt a bit!” — Jim Cerone, Author, “The Perfect Host” “Finally, there is a product that offers useful information for lighting design that is equivalent to the many products that offer instruction for sound equipment, business management and talent based education. I can easily see this DVD tutorial as being the Rosetta Stone or Video Professor equivalent in our industry for those who are seeking to gain valuable insight into the technology surrounding lighting design” – Larry Williams, Author, “Mind Your Own Business” “Ben Stowe an the ProAcademy team have really done it this time. After providing seminars and training sessions at local and national events for everyone to know their gear and what works best, they have now created an awesome DVD on Event Lighting.” — Scott Faver, Author, “The Game Master” “Finally, a training video that’s made for real working mobile entertainers. Easy to understand, easy to follow and easy to find exactly what you’re looking for, and long overdue.” — Randy Bartlett, Author, “The 1% Solution” Ben serves the industry as the President of NLFX Professional, an industry leading supplier of sound, lighting and video systems, a role he has maintained since founding the company in 1993.


Filed Under: Events, Issues from 2009