Skip to main content

Okay, I have a question about my show designer. I've noticed that on the American DJ parts website the power adapter listed for use with the Show Designer controller (the older discontinued model) is the 12V 500mA adapter. Now, when I look on the back of my Show Designer it says 9V DC. So, does anyone know what power adapter is correct? I have three of theses Show Designers and they all are having some weird power issues all of a sudden, I really need to start by making sure that I am at least running the correct power adapter on the units.

So, does anybody know what is the correct voltage and what the mA rating needs to be on the adapter? If so, please let me know so I can get the right thing for these controller. Thanks!
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Well, going to the Products: Controller: Discontinued page, I see the Show Designer.

On page 1 of the manual, it states 9Volts, 500mA and center pole positive.

If you have your old wall wart, match it up. I replaced the one for my DMX Operator with a Radio Shack model. I had to do this because my original wall wart dropped and broke as a result. I'm not advocating using Radio Shack, but I've been satisifed with my replacement wall wart, and it has a 90-degree angle tip, which is idea in my install environment.

So, if you have your old transformer, match it up. Call support just to double check. Ensure what the wall wart and the unit say match.

Using too much or too little voltage or the wronge miliamps can damage electronics. By using an external transformer to convert the AC to DV, any company is relying on that transformer delivering the expected current into the unit. This is much different than a unit that uses AC power directly, usually using an IEC cable(you know, those computer-type cables). Of course, this does mean the transformer is inside the unit itself. Sure, it adds some expense and weight to the unit. I prefer this mainly because I can get an easy to obtain cable if I should be careless and lose the cable.

However, without proper electrical design and shielding, internal transformers can introduce noise into the data stream, audio(as applicable) and even into the circuit boards themselves.

I know I'm going off topic a bit. The usage of an external power transformer does not suggest an inferior product, nor that products with an internal AC/DC transformer is superior. It really depends ultimately on how the unit is designed. Having an external power supply does mean that ONLY the power supply needs to be UL-certified and approved. This is much less expensive from a manufacturing point of view. If the wall wart is already UL approved, then the device being powered by that wall wart doesn't need UL approval. With a company like ADJ sticking to their "standardized set" of AC adaptors and then engineering products to work with one of those, it speeds engineering time and doesn't require the entire unit to pass UL approval.

I've got top of the line data communications equipment. I have a T1 CSU/DSU, and it retails new in the box fully loaded for $5000(street). It has an external transformer. This is THE "Rolls Royce" or "Ferrari" of this type equipment. Clearly, external power supplies in and of themselves are NOT a bad thing.(I happen to own at least 2 of these units)

So, thanks ADJ for going the less expensive route and passing those savings onto people like me, the end user. Even if the savings weren't that much, I still appreciate it. I might suggest moving to mid-line transformers though. Space on Furman rack mounted power modules is at a premium!
Thanks for your responses, I appreciate everyones help. So, here is the situation and the reason I'm asking about the power adapter voltage/amperage. I have three of these show designers and I don't have the original A/C adapter for any of them (and I haven't for quite some time now). So, I've always used Radio Shack adapters or whatever else I have around that was 9V and at least 500mA.

Recently, one of my Radio Shack adapters broke so I had to buy a new one while at the same time I lost my adapter for one of my other Show Designers. So, I went to Radio Shack and bought two of the 9V adapters rated at 800mA (which should be more than sufficient). I've ran the adapters for the past couple of weekends (we are a mobile DJ company) and didn't have any noticeable problems until this Saturday. At two separate venues running two separate controllers I had the same weird issue. It seemed as the music got louder and I pushed my output more, the controllers began to seriously flash on and off, sometimes they were flickering so bad that I couldn't even change a program. Needless to say, it was quite annoying (and I'm sure not the best for the light controller) but there wasn't much I could do since I was in the middle of two events, I just let the night run out.

So, I guess my question for you Chris is what mA rating does your Radio Shack adapter have on it? The other controller I'm running has a 1500mA adapter and I haven't really had any issues with that one, but these just seem to be having some serious issues. Thanks for any help you can provide!
I have the DMX Operator, also a discontinued model. My AC adaptor is 9Volts, 300mA. This matches what ADJ included with the unit in the first place.

The manual states 9-12Volts, 300mA minimum.

Personally, while the higher miliAmps provides a "stiffer" current, you can overdo it. With such loose tolerances, it's nice to get some leeway especially if you're in a jam and don't have all the choices one would like. But grossly overpowering the input is going to exceed what any resistors inline with the input circuit may be rated for. Either way, too much or too little can damage electronics.

Do keep in mind that these wall warts do tend to take a beating, and it might be time for a replacement. Yeah, I know, no moving parts. Still, they can wear out.

Hopefully you didn't fry your memory.

Gotta ask some questions, and sorry of they may sound insulting. I deal with a LOT of DJ's, and I'm not a DJ, I'm an audio engineer. Practices I seee DJ's do make me ill.

First off, how many circuits are you using for lights? How about sound? What are you using for sound? What size room or how big of a crowd?

Let's look at things from a power management issue. I'm suspecting you're over-driving your gear, mainly on the sound side of things. You mention that your controller got erratic when then sound got louder. I suspect that you're running your sound and controller off the same circuit. I'm not saying this is a bad thing because it may not be. I bet when the bass bumped, that's when the controller started acting up. Why? That was a peak pull on power to the amplifier. This usually means a transient in high current draw. I say "usually" because unless you're using a low droning sub-bass tone, it's not gonna be a continuous pull. Even "bass heavy music" doesn't pull constantly.

I bet you're also running "in the red". Red is bad. I don't like the red, but I don't mind hitting it and peaking once in a while as dictated by the music. But I also have tricks like running the mains where they should, but then running a matrix off the mains in case I am working smaller rooms. This allows me to maintain proper gain structure, while letting me keep sound where it should be or needs to be.

Lights behave differently than sound. When lights draw, they draw. A 150-watt fixture(say, a Par38) is gonna draw 150-watts when full on the ENTIRE time it is full on. Now, even if your amp is rated at say 400 watts, it is only going to be drawing that at clipping, or at least should be.

Clipping an amplifier can do nasty and horrific things, usually to the speakers. I saw this one wedding band having a rough go of it. Why? The tweeters caught fire because they kept clipping the amp and hence that sent nasty transients to the speaker. This is not to be confused with the transients I described earlier. The earlier transients refer to "temporary increased power draw". The transients I am referring to now involve running WFO(which can be safe) and just hammering the amps with peaked/clipping signal constantly. This is the sign of not only an inexperienced audio engineer(in this case, a DJ with too many channels thinking he can handle a band) as well as insufficient power.

In my typical scenario, I distribute power. My FOH rig is quite extensive and draws around 13.5 amps and is on it's own circuit. I try to split my mains onto two different circuits(typical small PA). Monitors and backline on another circuit, and lights on whatever else I can get.

Analyze how you had things set up. I'm willing bet that you had your sound on the same circuit as your lighting controller(and your DJ mixer). Don't think that "different outlet is different circuit" either. Take your controllers home and see about running some "demo scenes" on them. I can certainly understand how this might be misleading since you may not set up lights to see if they are misbehaving.

I'm glad that in my case, I have my DMX Operator, and in case of failure, I have MyDMX. Or rather, I think that order is going to reverse.
Thanks for the info, I appreciate your response. As far as your audio discussion goes, I know exactly where you are coming from. I know of, and have heard of, numerous DJ disasters and I'm quite familiar with their ideas of how to run an audio/lighting system. That said, you should know that we are really not the typical DJ service, we are a very high end service with very high end equipment. As far as sound goes, we run all Turbosound systems (tops and subs) coupled with all Mackie 1400i power amps and Mackie d.4 mixers from Apple MacBook and MacBook Pro computers. Moreover, I am very knowledgeable when it comes to audio principles and how to run a system properly.

As such, we are probably one of the few DJs that actually understand the power requirements of amps and lighting. It's unbelievable that so many DJs (and a self-proclaimed audio technicians) don't understand that you can't run two or three power amps off of one 20A circuit that's connected by a 100 foot green extension cord, I mean you wouldn't believe the things I've seen over the years. We specifically explain to customers (and venues) that we require 2-3 circuits just for our standard DJ system. I mean really, you should only be running one 1400 watt power amp on an individual circuit if possible to provide adequate power for peak power consumption periods, and I fully understand that. Of course, sometimes it's hard to find the power you need at some small venue, but nearly every time we break off our power amps (one for subs, one for tops) on to two separate circuits and try to run our AccuSpots and LED color changers on another (if possible). Also, the light controller and other accessories we run are always connected to the same source as our amp for our tops, which draws MUCH less power than our sub amp of course. Since our Turbos are pretty incredibly loud, we typically only need to run that amp about 40% of the way out in order to get the performance we need for any venue (otherwise everyone would be deaf by the end of the night).

I think the way that I've really come to understand power requirements more than most people is after owning a set of Intellabeam 700HX fixtures (700 watt discharge) as well as some HES Cyberlights (1400 watt discharge) which require some MASSIVE power. I mean the Intellabeams wont even fire properly if they don't have a dedicated 15-20 amp circuit. And, the Cyberlights are a whole different story. Unfortunately I had to eventually get rid of our incredible Cyberlights since finding 208-220V at venues just isn't as easy as one might think.

As far as your comment on running your amps in to clipping and overdriving the mixer, I know what you're talking about there too. However, the Mackie amps are specifically designed (and recommended per the manual which I've read many times) to be run at full levels, which is what we do for our subs. As far as our d.4 mixers go, I'm aware of the need for plenty of headroom and I never push full in to the red (or white on those mixers). It's ridiculous that people think you should run a mixer that way and expect to get any quality sound at all.

Now, back to the light controller. So, when I ran it this weekend one of my systems was running on a 220V breakout providing four separate 110V 20A power sources. So, I can't say that power consumption was an issue there. At the other venue I'm not 100% sure the power arrangement since I wasn't at that job, but he experienced the same issues so I've got to think the problem is related. I took in all three of my controllers last night to do a MIDI dump and transfer between the controllers so all the programs would be identical between them, and every one seemed to work fine so hopefully there wasn't any damage to any of the circuitry.

So what's the deal with the manual stating 9-12V at 300mA, is that a different manual than the revision that's out now? I've read that it was a 9V 500mA adapter, I didn't see anything about the 12V option. Also, are you sure about your comment on the mA output of the power adapter? I understand that it provides more power, but amperage is definitely not the same as voltage. I understand that running a higher/lower voltage can damage a unit as can under-powering it by providing less amps than required, but providing a higher amperage should not cause a problem for a device should it? I mean think about it, all residential A/C wiring is 110V (with some tolerance) but few devices utilize the full 15-20 amps that the circuit provides, they use the amount of amps that particular device requires. The same goes for D/C sources, your car may produce 100 amps at 12V, but your car charger only uses what it needs from the 12V source. Maybe my logic is incorrect there (which is why I'm asking), but let me know what you think on the issue. Also, do you think there is a problem using a 1500mA adapter, I've been using one on my 3rd system for a couple years now and never had a problem, but at the same time the device really shouldn't require more than 500mA (or 300mA according to your source).
I'd rather slit my wrists and bleed out all over my A&H ML5000 console than be called a DJ. But DJ's around here get all the work, stinking up one venue after another with sound that, if it were to merely suck, would be 20 levels of improvement over what they are doing. I flat out WILL not compete with trash. When someone asks for DJ work, I simply pass. In my case, it's a guarantee of disaster. They want fast, cheap and I don't do either. And regardless, the are going to complain, so why bother? And I won't clean up after them either. I got 20 calls last month to take jobs for cheap at the last second because their DJ bailed on them. I just say "sorry, but that's really not my concern. It's going to cost you what my normal rate is, and you can take it or leave it". When they pull the "better than making no money" card, I say, "you're right. I'm gonna stay home and watch TV than bust my hump for 8 hours for a crappy $150". Diesel ain't cheap, I got crew to pay, and even if the event itself is 3 hours, I got 3 hours of load-in and set with line, sound and monitor check(and lighting), the event itself and then a 2+ hour strike and load-out.

So, I say let them eat their trash. I'm catering to a higher end marketplace. I won't do DJ work.

I'm not an electrician, but a 15 amp circuit(this is remedial, so newbies, do take notes)is 1800 watts, while a 20-amp circuit is 2400 watts. Where do those numbers come from? Using Watts/Voltate=Amps, you can manipulate the formulate to tweak things around. Again, this is for newbies only.

Amperage refers to total "carrying capacity". Sure, higher numbers are better, but that's when dealing with AC. Once you knock it down via a transformer and stuff it into something expecting that DC flow, it's not equipped to handle excessive amperage. This isn't like you can plug in 15-amp gear into a 20-amp circuit and have no problem, becase in this case, we're dealing with voltage draw only. Likewise, you don't plug in something that needs 120Volts into a 220Volts circuit unless you want BOOM.

But we're talking apples to oranges. AC has its own set of rules. DC has its own set of rules. Personally, I wouldn't be running something that gives 1.5amps of DC current into something expecting .3 amps of DC current.

Maybe someday someone will pay attention to my tech rider. I don't count on it. I can't venue operators to understand that in my case, I have exactly calculated my power requirements. I can't run a bunch of lights, mains, monitors, FOH off a single outlet that's gotta be shared with the video hack, photo slacker and the house neon!

In the meantime, I agree with your diagnostics: make sure they are all programmed te same. I bet some of this crap might be due to bad power. If you're like around here, power sucks. When you start pulling on a circuit, voltage drops. It appears the local power utility is incapable of providing a nice stiff power supply to a facility, much less a house. My suggestion would be to go beyond merely a power-strip-type solution and go with a power conditioner. Such a unit will do what it can(within tolerances) to provide as much as possible a nice steady regulated AC power supply. Like, the Furman AC-20, for example. I know we're not supposed to mention brands, but it appears the moderators are a bit looser in their moderation practices these days. I'm not here to bash ADJ products, as anyone will tell you, I like them. But some products of theirs don't "do it" for me. So, I'll avoid those products and focus on the ones I do have and like instead.

Do also keep in mind(and newbies, DO read this) that "wall outlet does NOT = dedicated circuit". Honestly, I think if responsible electricians saw what was going on in most venues, they'd crap themelves and wonder how this was passed by an inspector and if permits were obtained for the work in the first place. I think in your case, you're well familiar with the venues you work at, which is really a good thing. For newbies, the best thing possible is to invest in a "circuit finder". I have one that cost me maybe $20 or so. You plug in the remote into the outlet, which is powered by the outlet's power and pushes a tone down that circuit. The main tool itself is battery powered, and you place it over the breaker in the panel and it will read that RF tone and then gladly squawk it back at you. Draw yourself a picture and keep it on file, because you might need it. For newbies, this is a cheap investment and is necessary.

I'd say call ADJ's service department and see about ordering a replacement set of AC adaptors. While you're at it, how are you mounting those? Too bad Dr. Ferd's Wart Removers are no longer made, that was a great little wall-wart busting product. I also don't know how you transport your gear. But as I said, I broke my original AC adaptor for my DMX Operator at HOME. Dropped out of my hand onto the concrete in my garage. Thank goodness it was during the annual inspection. You might want to stuff the AC adaptor into a padded case or with your cabling as a buffer. In my case, I used some double-sided tape and for lack of a better term, permanently stuck mine to my Furman unit in the rack. It ain't moving! Well, it could, but I don't want it to.

I'm taking a break from the forums. I'm behind on my latest annual inspection, gear inventory and other projects. So, chances are I'll only be around once a day. Gotta market my business as well. You don't sink another $20K in gear and not tell people you're alive(outside your bank and equipment selling buddies).
Well, I'm sorry to hear that you're so turned off by DJs and I can somewhat understand where you're coming from. However, let me re-emphasize that all DJs are not alike, and I'd hope that you wouldn't want to be grouped in with all of the production companies and sound designers/engineers out there. Believe me, I've seen DJs do some ridiculous things and run with very poor sound and lighting setups, but a lot of times production companies aren't much better. We handle a lot of sound and lighting for one of our major outdoor events here every year and some of the stage setups from local production companies are embarrassing to say the least, so I'd be careful when being so proud of your industry and so critical of the DJ market as a whole. For the most part, I would agree, but not all DJs are alike.

Like I said, we run a full Turbosound system with Mackie amps which, I'd hope you would know, is probably the highest end gear we can run in a mobile environment. I mean it's not like we can haul along a 100 KW Funktion One system to our jobs, so we bring the best possible equipment to the events that's feasible. As far as mixers go, our Mackie d.4s are some of the top-end mixers in our industry, very high quality for serious DJ mixing. Are there even higher quality mixers? Sure, we used to run A&H Zone mixers until they crapped out on us MULTIPLE times forcing us to move to something more reliable. I'm sure A&H makes great mixing consoles, but for the $1000-$3000 that their DJ mixers cost, they are NOT worth it.

Now, if you want to talk about sound quality, I personally hate the sound of the active Mackie system and the JBL systems that are so prevalent in the production world. I absolutely love the older Mackie amps (and prefer them over QSC and Crown), but I think their speakers sound pretty poor. So, my point here is that just because you've heard and experienced a few DJs doesn't mean you know what EVERY DJ does and runs for systems. With our systems combined, we probably have more power and a much higher end audio system that most production companies in our area.

Now, I'm not sure where you're getting $150 for a job, but I haven't done an event for that price in probably 10 years, and it was most likely for some friend or something. In fact, we have a rental system that costs more than that and that takes us literally 10 minutes of setup time for one person delivered in a car. So, if you're talking about doing DJ jobs for that price, then I wouldn't even think about it either, but that's not a good indication of the DJ industry (at least not in my area). And, I'm catering to a higher end marketplace as well, we don't do cheap events. And again, that doesn't have anything to do with DJs as a whole, that's just with the people that you've worked with or heard of. If another DJ wants to do a job for that price then fine, I just know exactly what the customer is going to get when they are looking for something cheap, you really pay for what you get. Oh, and in the past 12 years in business, we have NEVER missed an event or even been late, another trait that you probably should avoid when trying to describe EVERY DJ. Probably why we don't have customers that complain, maybe you do, but that's just the level of service you provide not the industry.

Now, let's move on to lighting, and talking about American DJ (since I use their products as much as possible and have for many years). We run a fully intelligent lighting system, there isn't a single fixture in our arsenal that doesn't have a DMX cable attached to it. We primarily run our large collection of AccuSpots at every event coupled with some ADJ LED color changers to backlight our Accu pillars. But, for large production events we also have HES Intellabeams, HES Cyberlights (just retired), 4 Martin RoboScan 918 Pro fixtures, a 50mW green laser, and some other various LED washes and fixtures. So, if you want to talk about lighting, somehow I don't think that we are running complete trash. In fact, I'd be happy to put that system up against most production company's lighting system that they have. Oh, not to mention two 12' video screens that we run in a mobile environment too.

Now, back to the discussion at hand here. I've done quite a bit of research online and everyone seems to agree with my logic regarding amperage ratings. It seems that most people are in agreement that AC and DC will only use the amperage that it needs and as long as you aren't running a power adapter that is underrated for your item then you will be just fine. Just like my previous example, if I were to bring along my cell phone charger in to 30 different vehicles, all may have a different amperage output coming out of the cigarette lighter (which is MUCH higher than the cell phone requires), but the device will simply pull whatever power it needs. Now, on the other hand, if the amperage is too low then overheating and fires could occur in larger power instances (or damage to the device). Besides, this device requires 500mA not 300mA, I'm still not sure where you're getting that information from. The current manual clearly state 500mA as so far as I can tell. I would order some new power adapters from ADJ but it takes a while before I can get them shipped here and I don't have more than a couple more days before I need the controllers again.
Thanks James, I've already called Elation earlier today (and yesterday), I think I have it figured out. As far as the post goes, I never intended to have the discussion turn in to an argument. I just don't appreciate it when people assume that everyone in an industry is the same based on a small sample of people that that person has had experiences with. I understand that DJs traditionally have low end equipment and do a very poor job of running it. But, we are a DJ and by no means do I consider our company to be even close to that. In fact, that's one of the reasons that I hesitate to tell people that I'm a DJ, because people instantly envision some guy with two cheap speakers and a couple of par cans dressed in a tux out there pulling grandma out of the crowd to do the chicken dance.

So, for Chris' sake, and anyone else reading this forum, I'd like people to understand the reality of of the industry. Yes, there are people like that, but not EVERY DJ is that way, which is probably why our company is so successful in our market. I am extremely knowledgeable when it comes to sound, lighting, and video (not to mention my high level of skill when it comes to computers). I've read the Yamaha Sound Reinforcement Handbook and many manuals coupled with my years of experience in the field. So, long story short, I just don't appreciate being labeled as someone who doesn't know how to run a system properly when that just isn't the case.

Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.