Private Party with the Midnight Ramblers

I am writing this in the car on my way home from this one…

I was contacted a month or two ago by a friend of my father to provide lighting for a private event. The band is called Midnight Ramblers, and they were a pleasure to work with. Their setlist was packed with older classics; from Santana to The Who, this was probably the best setlist I’ve ever programmed light shows for. My lighting prep started way later than I would have liked, as I did not get a setlist until about two weeks prior to the event. As such, programming the shows was a little more crammed and I didn’t get to get as intimate with the songs as I prefer. The show, however, did not reflect this. The crowd was very well receptive to the various effects used for different songs, and the band appreciated the connections the lighting made with the songs. Setup was easy in that I was only running lighting, and no PA. Setup was difficult, however, because I was trying to maneuver around the backline which had been setup before I arrived. I have made a mental note to myself to at least try to get the major pieces in place before the backline goes up.

No technical issues arose during the show, other than me forgetting to make sure the VNC server on my fog controller computer was enabled. (I have one computer connected to the fog controller, and remote into it with my new tablet) Another mental note was taken there to verify that all computers are configured as they would be needed for the show before leaving the house. I was able to fix that issue during intermission, and by the time the sun set and the second set started, my fog was pumping, my position palettes were set, and I was ready to go. The second set went off very well, the lights were effective, and the audience was much more responsive than than they were in the first set. (Because the sun had set). All in all, the show was a great success, and gave me a couple of important takeaways.

  • Always verify show computers are configured before arriving at the event
  • Request to get in before the band to get lighting up before backline.

Del Val Dreams For Kids Basketball Game 2018

We were tired after the Friday night Knight’s Challenge, but pushed forward on through the next night.  I met up with Ophelie outside Del Val at around 10 in the morning, and we got started getting equipment into the building.  Once everything was inside, we had the arduous task of untangling the cables from the night before.  This took a while, but we had arrived so early, I really wasn’t worried about anything time wise.  The system was a little more in depth than I normally have, as the acoustics of this space are particularly challenging.  The first step was to setup and tune the Main PA.  This was my standard Yamaha Club V rig  (two S115vs and one CW118v).  It sounded okay when running through the automatic tuning program in the DriveRack PA2, but when it started to turn the volume up to be loud enough for the measurements at the back of the gym, the reverberations started to become overwhelming.  The generated EQ curve of the gym sounded alright once it was applied.  Once the automatic tuning was done, I made a couple of adjustments per my preferences, particularly a pretty decent boost at 75 hertz to get a little bit of the kick drums in songs to carry throughout the gym.

After the Yamaha rig was tuned and ready to go, I turned the volume down quite a bit; to the point where announcements and music were at a comfortable listen level for a sporting event about half way down the bleachers.  Then we setup the delay speakers.  I have a pair of Behringer Eurolive B1520 Pros that were given to me with blown compression drivers.  I was able to repair them by replacing the diaphragms and fuses so I now have a second set of PA, which is very convenient in situations like this.  I had the Behringer speakers setup half way down the court on the sidelines to cover the back half of the gym.  This way I could keep the volume lower than if I had just one set of speakers covering the whole gym and keep the energy on the court as low as possible, to minimize reflections from the gym floor.  I don’t have a second DriveRack, but I do have a Behringer DCX 2496, and I was able to punch in all of the required adjustments I felt were necessary.  I think I came out with a pretty good sounding rig.  I spent about 45 minutes  aiming the four speakers and getting my gains set just so that the coverage across the front and back half of both sets of bleachers was as uniform as possible.  When I was done, the sound was better than I had ever heard in that gym.  A few people even commented on how much better our rig sounded than the gym’s installed PA.

In between setup and the start of the event, there were a couple of people shooting baskets on the far side of the gym, so Ophelie and I had to stay to make sure no rogue balls hit any of our equipment before the show.  We were finished after a couple of hours, and still had a few hours to kill before everything got started.  I forget what time people were allowed in to start getting seated, but we started playing our walk in music when they did, and wee ready as soon as the event was set to start.  There were no major issues other than the audience complaining that the delay speakers were blocking their line of sight.  I eventually caved and had Michael and Ophelie take them off the stands, but was mad that I had put all of that time getting the system to sound perfect and uniform for nothing.  It’s like moving in next to an airport and complaining that the planes make too much noise.  There were plenty of seats that weren’t blocked, but those apparently are less desirable than picking a spot with a bad sight line and then complaining.

Otherwise, the event went well, and we had no major issues.  This was a good cause and I am glad that Mystic Rhythms was a part of it.

Knight’s Challenge 2018

This is going to be the fifth year that Mystic Rhythms has DJ’d Kingwood Township School’s Knight’s Challenge event.  For those of you who are not familiar with the event, it is a series of team based relay events to raise money for the local volunteer rescue squad and fire department and the 8th grade trip to Washington DC.  It’s always an enjoyable night, and rather casual on the DJ end.  If we make a mistake, it’s really not a big deal, making it an excellent warm up gig.  Of course, it it optimal to not have any issues at all, but when there are large gaps in time between gigs, mistakes and other problems are inevitable.

On the day of the event, I picked Ophelie from Del Val after checking in with the status of the jukebox, which had just had the vinyl tubing applied to the lighting channels.  We arrived at Kingwood at 4pm, and started setup.  Michael arrived a bit later and helped to finish the setup.  Everything went smoothly until we realized that I had forgotten to bring speaker stands.  Fortunately, this was the biggest issue we had, and that was easily mitigated by my father bringing them on his way to the event.

Michael and I handed off control of the console throughout the night.  Feedback is a problem at this event, so we are constantly moving the mic fader up and down all night.  There’s only one mic for announcements, so it’s not too bad.  We played music throughout the entire night, and had no issues during the event, which makes it rather dull to read or write about, but that was great for us.  Ophelie picked up some experience with the equipment and workflow for the next day, and I knew my equipment was all in working condition, so all in all, it was a good night, and we were ready for the Saturday gig.


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Migrating LDAP Servers With Nextcloud/ Owncloud

Those of you who have seen any of my previous posts know that I have an arsenal of PowerEdge 2950s.  I am trying to move away from the 2950s for the purpose of power efficiency and have been consolidating all of my VMs and Docker containers to one Dell R710 running Proxmox.  Most of the services were an easy move, as the migration only involved sliding over a Virtual machine and reconfiguring the network adapter.  There are two major exceptions to this, one being the MySQL server (which is currently running as a docker container), and the other is the LDAP server.  The LDAP server migration isn’t really a problem on it’s own, but the fact that I am going to be using FreeIPA for SSO across my network is.  Basically, I needed to move my Nextcloud users from the existing LDAP server to the IPA server.

A quick search on Google turns up very little useful information.  The only thing I found was a post (which I can’t find anymore) that suggested it would be necessary to manually change some things in the “ldap_user_mapping” table in the database.  This is actually a pretty simple task, but it took me a while to figure out some of the FreeIPA specific LDAP settings in Nextcloud.  The first thing is to make sure the two “objectclass” references both equal “person”, and not “inetOrgPerson”.  One reference is under Users>Edit LDAP Query, and the second reference is under Login Attributes> Edit LDAP Query.  Those two settings kept me from getting this to work for a couple of hours.  The next step is to go to the Advanced>Directory Settings tab and make sure the “User Name Display Field” is set to “displayName”.  Finally, head over to the Advanced tab and set the Internal Username Attribute and both UUID Attribute boxes to “ipaUniqueID”.  This UUID is how Nextcloud keeps track of users.

The problem now is that your existing users, when logging in to the new LDAP server, will be presented with a new account.  This is not optimal if you already have calendars, contacts, and files already stored in your Nextcloud account.  The best way around this that I can tell is to login with the new user account so a new user account mapping is created, and to copy the old UUID to the new user.  Just make sure you change something on the old user, as the UUID field is the primary key for that table, meaning there can’t be records with the same UUID value.

The Jukebox: The End

We were supposed to see the Friday and Saturday night showings of Grease, but due to a nor’easter that blew through on Friday, the Friday show was canceled and rescheduled to Sunday.  So finally, on Saturday night, I was able to see our jukebox light up on stage for the first time.  It worked flawlessly.  I was worried about the lights not being bright enough to outshine the stage lights, but the jukebox ended up being bright enough to color the set pieces despite the stage lights being on at full power… And that was with the white vinyl tubing around the lights.  We ended up using a 12 volt 10 amp mains transformer to power everything, but the particular adapter we bought ended up getting fried on closing night.  The lights on the jukebox only pulled about 6 amps,  but the adapter had trouble powering everything.  I think the 10 amp rating was pretty liberal.  The fog system that I built with Chaz for Into The Woods looked fantastic as well, and made a huge impact with the moving lights the school rented for the show.  Great job to the Delaware Valley Regional High School Theater department!

Part of the Jukebox Crew with their machine. From left to right: Shanice, Dante, Me, Hayleigh

Right at the end of the Sunday showing, we took some pictures with the jukebox, but there are two problems with the pictures.  Not everybody who worked on the project is in the picture, and the lights aren’t on (Because they were fried by this point.  We will get that replaced and the jukebox will most likely be loaned out to other area high schools for their theater productions.

It took a lot of work, planning and wiring, but I am very happy with the way this came out.  A big shoutout to Dante (wiring, building the red and white button bar, speaker grille, record player, and other trim work, troubleshooting shorted jumpers, and soldering over 1000 connections), Hayleigh (cutting those 1000 jumpers, cutting other wires), Lucy (painting), Ophelie (painting and moral support), Shanice (installing some of the record player cavity light strips), and Mr. Josh Paul (keeping us from doing anything stupid and dangerous, moral support).

Thank you to Mr. Clinton Ambs for giving us this opportunity to learn by doing while building something so fantastic.  Without him, I never would have had these opportunities to learn while building systems for the theater department.