SCOTTSDALE, AZ – By any standards, the W Hotel in Scottsdale, AZ is a showplace of advanced architectural lighting. Everywhere in and around the building are stunning visual effects, beginning with the outdoor wet deck, where 4 massive architectural pieces known as the Grand Lanterns change colors in sync with a 360° mobile bar that “floats” to different sites around the pool. Then there are the hotel's LED elevator wall panels, which display its big white logo “W” when guests step into the car, transform into a dazzling light show when the doors close, and revert back to the trademark “W” when the car stops. Color-changing LEDs can be found throughout many other areas as well, including the poolside cabanas and a nearby 24' aquarium.
For a time, however, it seemed this ambitious project wouldn't see the light of day. Budgetary, technical and regulatory issues forced the W Hotel to put a hold on its grand lighting plan – until Phoenix design/installation company Burning Retina Lighting & Transport LLC was called to the rescue.
“There were a number of problems – from technical ones like being unable to route DMX data around or through existing structure, to political adversity from city officials unfamiliar with the technology,” said Ken Kirkaldy of Burning Retina. “We came in where several lighting companies left off and completely took control of the technology.” Using existing and new products from Acclaim Lighting and Elation Professional, Burning Retina was able to come up with solutions to even the most challenging issues, Kirkaldy said.
One of the most seemingly insurmountable problems was the LED elevator wall project. Prior to Burning Retina's coming on board, 60 Acclaim X-Puzzle RGB panels had been fabricated but not installed due to regulatory red tape. Power was to be supplied to the panels by 9 Acclaim X-PD-150s per car, which were scheduled to be mounted inside the elevator overhead. However, the city inspector nixed the project, saying the power supply units could not be positioned inside the cars because their weight and proposed location overhead posed a safety threat to elevator passengers.
“The hotel already had $120,000 tied up in this project and they weren't about to lose that money, so they said, â€˜How can you make this work?'”. The solution, Kirkaldy revealed, was to move the power supplies to the elevator control room on the hotel's seventh floor and mount them remotely. “We took the X-PD-150s apart and removed the PSUs from them. We installed 6' AV rack with 12 shelves and mounted the 27 PSUs on the shelves to power the X-Puzzles, along with one Acclaim X-Net 8 Art Net unit and one X-Trigger 8 per elevator car to drive them.
“Signal and power are pushed through to the panels via traveler cables running down the elevator shaft,” Kirkaldy continued. Depending on the car, the traveler cables range in length from 130' to 170'. “I don't know if anybody's ever used that much cable between their PSU and LED fixture. It's a heck of a long way!”
The functionality and durability of Acclaim products helped make this solution possible, said Kirkaldy. “I don't know of many other products that you can just dismantle and use in another capacity like we did with the X-PD-150. Plus, Acclaim has a lot of continuity between their products—everything wires up very well. This allowed us to completely reconfigure the components so we could work with what the hotel already had. There was no more money for new gear, and thanks to Acclaim we found a way to make the existing products work for us.”
Kirkaldy also found a way to make existing products work in the hotel's outdoor pool area, where LED sticks used to light the Grand Lanterns -- giant arched posts weighing upwards of 4 tons each -- were not receiving DMX data pumped through underground Cat5 cables. Initially, he considered trying to repair the cables, but they kept failing beneath the slab. There was also the problem of transmitting data to other outdoor areas where LEDs were being used, such as the aquarium and cabanas.
The solution: Elation's EWDMX wireless DMX system. “The original DMX cable that was being used for the Grand Lanterns was underneath the concrete and inaccessible,” said Kirkaldy. “Plus, because we had come in after construction and were dealing primarily with concrete and steel, there was no way we were going to externally wire to transmit data to other areas lit by LEDs like the cabanas and aquarium, without considerable expense. So I suggested this military grade wireless solution that Elation offers. They liked the idea, and $900 later they're in business!”
EWDMX wireless receivers are now being used to receive signal in the Grand Lantern, aquarium and cabana areas. The aquarium is outfitted with 2 Elation ELAR 5W08 Tri Color LED underwater lights, while the cabanas, located at the north end of the pool, are illuminated by 36 X-Dome SMD LEDs.
There is one EWDMX transmitter, located in an IP-rated electrical enclosure on the side of a concrete wall behind a stainless steel faÃ§ade near the aquarium. Along with the transmitter, the PSU and DMX driver for the aquarium's 5W08 lights are mounted inside this box. “We drilled a small hole so that the antenna sticks out of the box,” said Kirkaldy. “The transmitter sends signal to the Grand Lanterns, as well as the cabanas and aquarium. The signal has to travel over some pretty long distances and through a lot of obstacles. The cabanas are more than 110 yards away from the transmitter and their receiver is located in a waterproof box hidden behind the furniture. The aquarium's receiver isn't in a direct line of sight either – there are a lot of concrete barriers and other obstructions. Yet the signal has been rock strong, and there have been zero failures.
“You also have to remember that these are extreme atmospheric conditions,” Kirkaldy added. “Not only does the outdoor temperature reach 120°, but it's 106° inside the acrylic housing where the wireless receivers are located. And the humidity is very high, because this is out by the pool, in addition to porters and groundskeepers constantly spraying water. The fact that there have been no failures under such adverse conditions is a testament to the reliability of the EWDMX system.”
For more information, call Elation Professional toll-free at 866-245-6726 or visit www.elationlighting.com
Burning Retina Lighting & Transport LLC can be reached at 480-966-2710 or visit www.burningretina.com