Server Room Build Log – C-Bus System/Colour Lighting

Posted on: May 15th, 2012 by Child of the Sunfish

C-Bus is a microprocessor controlled home automation solution. Your house becomes a “smart house”. With C-Bus, you can have all of your (electric) blinds and curtains automatically go up/open when it’s light outside, and lower/close when it’s dark, or at a certain time of day. Light sensors in each room can also monitor how bright each room is, and fine-tune the level of the blinds. You can also automate tasks, for example when your alarm goes off you can have the bathroom light turn on, and when you finish in there the kitchen lights can turn on, as well as the coffee machine and maybe the tv. When the house detects that you’re about to leave, it will turn off the lights behind you (sensors can detects whereabouts in the house you are) and turn the outside lights on so you don’t trip over as you leave. Then, once you’re gone, the house shuts down again until the next person gets up. You can also control the heating/cooling from your iPhone, tablet or laptop from anywhere in the World, and you can also control individual lights as well as infra red devices (tv, blu-ray etc…). There is also a touchscreen you can have installed (usually near your front door) that can display the weather, and let you control any aspect of your house, including your electric garage door.

The C-Bus dimmers

I will not be installing that level of sophistication into my house, but I will have a few lights controlled by C-Bus and maybe some other stuff. For the purposes of this write-up, I will be focusing on the server room only. Below is the Clipsal C-Bus DLT wall switch (Saturn model with glass fascia):

The DLT first powered up (left) and after being programmed and customised

There will be a few scenes on the DLT:

  1. Welcome – turns the colour lights on and the picture lights
  2. Exit Room – activates the motion sensor and turns off all the lights. When the door is opened or someone walks into the room, the colour and wall lights fade up over four seconds
  3. Games/TV – turns on the colour lights and the white room lights (only enough to illuminate the desk)
  4. Movie Mode – turns all the lights off except for the picture lights; this is so that there is still a little bit of feature lighting in the room and will help prevent eye strain
  5. Shutdown – Turns all lights off and disables the motion sensor
  6. Room Lights – Turns the two white lights on only.

This will create a unique look for the room no matter what activity is being undertaken. All lighting scenes will fade in or out over 4 seconds, creating a smooth transition between scenes.

One of the blue downlights. This effect was achieved by taking a normal 50w downlight globe and wrapping a high temp stage lighting gel around the base of it. It was then pressed firmly into the globe holder, which ensured that it did not cease or wrinkle. The finished product is of very high quality. Below is how the effect turned out:

Finally, there will be four picture lights in the room which will light up a spot on each wall for a certificate, game poster, picture, whatever. The lights are just gimble downlights aimed at the wall using 20w globes. The dimmer was then set to 50%, so the light output only ended up being about 10w per light. This was enough to make the picture really stand out against the black background, and helps draw attention to it and make a nice little feature.

One of the inspirations for the lighting in this room is the following pictures, taken from a stage lighting set I did a while back:

I really like how the colours cross fade and create a third colour in the middle – from red to purple to blue (although the effect is helped in the above photos by gobos on moving lights), and this is what I really want to emulate when the room is complete. The best way to really make colour stand out is to add a bit of haze (stage fog) to the room, so looking into eBay for some cheap hazers is on the agenda as well.