Frequently Asked Questions
• Q. Can I use a strobe light with my i-Zombie Lightning Controller?
- Yes, the i-Zombie controllers will activate strobe lights, but perhaps not all strobe lights. When designing these units, our goal was to match the percentage of light output to the intensity of the audio signal. Loud crashes = 100% light output, Medium crashes = 50% output and so on. A strobe light is either ON or OFF and flickers at the rate you set. These are two entirely different effects with circuitry performing two different functions. Because our units do not actually control the intensity or brightness of the strobe light (it only turns them on and off) we originally wrote in our FAQ's that i-Zombie units do not work with strobes. There has been so many of you that have told us that they work fine with your strobe lights that we have changed our answer.
We have not tested the units with any strobes and would appreciate those of you using strobes with your i-Zombie units to email us and let us know the model and wattage of the strobe light and which model i-Zombie you are using. I will post the results here on the website.
Anyone wishing to use strobe lights with our units will have a list of strobes to choose from. If anyone finds a strobe light that will not work with i-Zombie lightning controllers, please send us that info as well.
• Q. What type of light fixture do you recommend?
- We recommend using the PAR-38S PAR cans available on our Accessory Zone page for indoor applications. The cans are made of steel rather than the flimsy aluminum cans that are so common. They use standard screw-in base flood lights and come with gel holders and a hanging bracket for mounting the fixture. The unit also has a five foot power cord with a grounded plug. Another big advantage to using PAR cans is that you can swivel and tilt the can so that it is pointed exactly where you want it. Also, the can design itself eliminates light bleeding into areas where you may not want it and it hides the light source. You want people's attention drawn to the façade or area being lit by the lightning flashes, not to exposed light fixtures overhead.
Q. Which is better? LED or Incandescent lighting for use with Lightning
- Depends. The answer is as diverse as the people who use lightning controllers. Some people want a cool white lightning effect that you can get with cool white LED lamps. Some people feel that clear white bulbs are too stark and exposes their props to a closer scrutiny than they want to have. Others prefer colored lamps that cast a more theatrical effect. And there are still others who mix different lamp types together for that special effect they are looking for. There is NO best lamp type. There are only options that are available to you and each has its advantages and disadvantages.
One company promotes LED lighting. Lets look at cost. Their 168 LED flood lamp costs $175.00 each. A four channel controller would require a minimum of four lamps at a cost of $700.00. Add $349.00 for their Multi-Channel unit and you have $1,049.00 invested. An i-Zombie Multi-Channel unit costs $295.00. Add four 500 watt halogen work lights from Menards, that cost about $10.00 each, and you spent around $335.00 for a set-up that yields 2000 watts of lighting. That’s a difference of $714.00.
Whether you use LED, halogen, photo floods, colored gels or whatever, it is simply a matter of taste and perhaps how much money you want to spend for the effect.
• Q. Can I use my i-Zombie Lightning Controller outside?
- i-Zombie Lightning Controllers are NOT waterproof and therefore should not be used outside. However, if the unit itself is mounted indoors, electrical cords rated for outdoor use may be run to approved outdoor light fixtures.
• Q. Should I use colored flood lamps or gels or are clear bulbs
- It is simply a matter of preference. Some people insist that only clear bulbs should be used. Others, including us, prefer using colored gels or bulbs. We use blue in our cemetery, amber against our large, brown stucco mansion façade and a blue on one side and green on the other side of our old farmhouse façade which has a lot of white highlights in it. Clear bulbs are just too stark for our tastes. Remember, you are doing theatrical lighting! Experiment with clear bulbs and with color and choose whichever you like the best.
• Q. What are hot spots and how do I get rid of them?
- A hot spot is the bright center area in an area illumined by a flood lamp. The center is the brightest and lessens towards the outside of the lamps' throw. Using a diffusing gel is the best way to even the light out all across the throw area. Colored gels and diffusing gels can be purchased from most theatrical supply houses
• Q. Can't I just use colored cellophane?
- Absolutely NOT! Theatrical gels, such as those made by RoscoT, are made of special plastics which can withstand high temperatures without melting or becoming fire hazards.
• Q. What kind of Audio player do you recommend?
- The versatility of i-Zombie controllers allows you to use several different ways to hook up audio to the unit. We like using a good quality, personal CD player that has a anti-shock feature (eliminates skipping) and is programmable. If I'm using a ST-2401 Stereo unit, I simply program tracks 18-25 in and put it on repeat. You can also convert the CD files to MP3 and use your IPOD or MP3 players. For any sound source, turn the volume all the way up on the player and adjust the volume you hear at the amplifier.
• Q. With three units to choose from, which one is best for me?
- Ah, the $64,000 question! Only you can answer that, but we will tell you what effects we had in mind when we designed them.
With 1200 watts of power, even our smallest unit (SC-1201 Single Channel unit) has the ability to put on a quality lightning show in a 10,000 square foot area. However, our units were designed with total wattage output as only a part of what we were out to accomplish. A 10,000 square foot area would measure 100'x100'. Twelve 100 watt bulbs would put on a pretty good lightning show in that area. Place a good sized speaker set up somewhere near the center and the entire area would be covered. With every thunder crack, the whole place will light up!
- The ST-2401 (Stereo unit) in the same 100'x100' area will render a completely different effect. Here we would concentrate our lights at each end with fewer towards the center. Place right channel stereo speakers at one end of the area and left channel speakers at the other end. Using the Stereo ThunderTracks on the CD, the lights connected to the left audio channel will flash when the sound is coming from the left and the same for the right channel. All lights will flash when the sound is coming from both sides. So, the effect is moving sound (left, right and center) and moving lightning (left, right and all lights). Same space-different effect.
- The MC-2401 (Multi-Channel unit) in the 100'x100' area will render yet another effect. Here we will concentrate our lights at each of the four corners of our 100 foot square with fewer lights going towards center. We will again use a centralized speaker set-up as the MC-2401 uses mono sound. The randomization feature of this unit will flash lightning in one, two, three or all four corners on a seemingly random basis. Lightning flashing from four different directions makes for a very convincing storm. Again, same area, but a different effect.
• Q. What is the easiest way to set everything up?
- There are a number of ways to wire everything up as shown on the wiring diagrams included with each unit. It mostly depends on the audio system you are using for the thunder sounds. We use the following for all our set-ups:
- Personal CD player to Lightning Controller to Amplifier to Speakers.
- 1. Place the CD player, the Lightning Controller and the Amplifier together in a centralized hidden or protected area.
- 2. Use a cord with a 1/8" stereo male jack to dual RCA male jacks (available on the Accessory Zone page). Plug the 1/8" jack into the CD player and the two RCA jacks into the Lightning Controller.
- 3. Use a cord with dual RCA male jacks on both ends. Plug one end of cord into the two remaining RCA jacks on the Lightning Controller and then plug the other end into the Amplifier's stereo inputs.
- 4. Run speaker cords from Amplifier to where Speakers are placed. The audio portion is done.
- 5. Plug extension cord(s) into back of Lightning Controller. Consider these the "trunk" lines for your lights. Use outdoor rated extension cords of a sufficient gauge to handle the number of lights you are using. 14 gauge is probably sufficient. At the end of each extension cord, attach a six plex outlet strip. Run shorter extension cords to each light fixture.
- For a SC-1201 you will have one trunk line. For the ST-2401 you will have two and the MC-2401 will have four trunk lines. If you are only using one light at the end of a run, you can eliminate the six plex and just plug the light fixture into the trunk line.
- 6. Attach all light fixtures to the trunk lines. Installation is finished!
- Depending which unit you have, program the ThunderTracks you wish to use into the CD player and use the repeat function. The CD player will play all selected tracks and then repeat.
- If using a ST-2401 stereo unit, make sure that left and right channel lights and sound match up. If not, simply switch the trunk lines on back of the controller.
• Q. What are the Delay tracks and how do I use them?
- Because light travels faster than sound, you often see a lightning strike before you hear it. Your i-Zombie Controller can mimic this effect.
- The Delay effect is not a function of the controller, but rather a skillful manipulation of the audio tracks. Traditionally, manufacturers of lightning controllers who have offered Delay tracks, recorded identical stereo thunder tracks on right and left channels and then delayed one channel 1-2 seconds behind the other. The sound you hear comes from one channel and the lightning is activated by the other (not heard) channel. The effect is that you always see the light flash and then two seconds later hear the sound. Not very realistic! The audio specialist at i-Zombie Productions has created Delay tracks that replicates delay on a much more realistic basis. The loudest thunder crashes are close-by and there would be no delay. Some lightning strikes are a mile away or farther varying the length of time from seeing the flash to hearing the thunder. This is the effect you will have with i-Zombie's Delay ThunderTracks. This is much more difficult to create and is another feature pioneered by
- How to hook up- Use the stereo output on the CD player to dual RCA male jacks. Plug the Red or right channel jack into the Lightning Controller and the left channel jack into a barrel connector and on to the amplifier (bypassing the controller). The right channel controls the lights and the left channel provides the audio. Program Delay tracks #11-17 into the CD player and activate the repeat function. Delay tracks work especially well with the SC-1201. If using Delay tracks with a MC-2401, turn the speed knob down to slow the time between changes in zone configurations. Delay tracks are not recommended for use with the ST-2401.
• Q. What makes i-Zombie Lightning Controllers better than others available?
- i-Zombie Productions is the innovator in the field of thunder and lightning effects. Our ST-2401 and MC-2401 units are new inventions that were designed to produce thunder and lightning effects that had not been available previously.
- High Wattage Capacities: Our high wattage capacities are more than sufficient for any haunt set-up.
- Ease of use: Threshold adjustments are pre-set at the factory to provide maximum performance and ease of use. Just plug in and go.
- Rugged Construction: One of our customers said it best. He said i-Zombie units were built like a tank.
- Service: We believe service before, during and after the sale is just as important as the quality of our products.
- Value: For a product to be a good value, it must have all the attributes listed above and at an affordable price. i-Zombie provides it all and at a price well below our nearest competitor.
• Q. What is a Stereo Lightning Controller?
- Up to this point, all lightning controllers have been what we call single channel controllers. All lights plugged into the unit flashed at the same time when activated by a sound source. What makes the ST-2401 unique is that by using our Stereo ThunderTracks, we not only have sound moving from side to side or from both sides, we also have the lights moving in synch with the sound. Another unique feature of the ST-2401 is that by using our mono ThunderTracks and flipping the reverse switch inside the unit, one channel will flash lightning on the outside of a building, while the other channel is synchronously dimming (normally on) lighting on the inside. Asynchronous dimming is also possible using stereo tracks.
• Q. What is a Multi-Channel Lightning Controller?
- Up to this point, all lightning controllers have been what we call single channel controllers. All lights plugged into the unit flashed at the same time when activated by a sound source. What makes the MC-2401 unique is that instead of just one outlet controlling all the lights attached to the unit, the MC-2401 has four. A large timing circuit board inside the unit randomizes which outlet, or outlets, turns on and for how long it is on. The user can also adjust how fast the configurations change.
- Let's say outlets 2 and 3 are on and lightning is flashing in the areas lighting is attached to those outlets. After 8-10 seconds, the unit changes the configuration so that outlets 1, 3 and 4 are on and lightning is flashing in those areas. 1. 2. 3 or all four outlets can be activated for varying lengths of time and the unit controls when and for how long before changing the configuration again. In a real electrical storm, lightning flashes are all around you. The MC-2401 simulates that in a very realistic manner!