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Persian Cats and Carpets (PCC) were engaged by Lightning Lighting to help deliver the Telstra Light Streams Project; a unique lighting show that lit up the skies of Melbourne CBD from over 30 phone booths to launch Australia’s largest Wi-Fi network, Telstra Air.

Installed on the phone booths were Clay Packy ‘Mythos’ lighting fixtures, well known for their incredible brightness and punch from a compact low wattage fixture. The lights were programmed in the traditional method that they would be in any concert environment using the common Artnet protocol from a lighting console.

Due to the impact of the fixtures on the Melbourne CBD skyline the project needed special permission form the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to go ahead. CASA were very accommodating however they had strict conditions that if there were any issues reported by pilots that the ability to immediately isolate and shut down specific fixtures was mandatory. The consequence of this meant that the lights needed a constant live control signal (Artnet). The challenge here was to to make the lighting signal designed to operate in the closed network of a concert or theatre perform over the internet.

PCC is not foreign to thinking outside the box and always look at the technologies full capability in order to solve problems. Whilst not a conventional solution; hacking into the lighting console through a backend connection (not accessible through its normal user interface) PCC modified firmware so that the console could expand its network capabilities to work over the internet. PCC were then able to merge the lighting console into an enterprise computer network. The next phase of making the communications possible was to carefully divide the data across several networks and encrypt it into tunnels so that it did not pollute Telstra’s Network. Encryption and authentication also prevents any other users from controlling these extremely powerful lights.

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Working closely with lighting designer Jamie Centofanti and his supplier Resolution X, PCC designed and provided a faultless system to provide signal to each location with the ability to command, isolate and drowse each lighting fixture at a seconds notice. As some locations were deemed a potential risk to airspace safety. Live monitoring of the equipment and infrastructure also assisted maintenance crews in fact finding and task prioritisation.

PCC successfully provided a seamless solution with several layers of redundancy that was also fully compliant with CASA’s requirements, allowing the project to proceed. PCC collaborated with Telstra to deliver the end result; a stunning lighting show installed in 30 locations and controlled over the internet from one central control point.

The proven design of this technology has far reaching possibilities and paves the way for many exciting projects using the internet as a transport mechanism for live communication of lighting instruments. It gives the ability for lighting fixtures or event technology to be operated from anywhere in the world and even in moving mobile locations.

The Team:

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Project Manager Colin Rendell
Network Engineer Colin Rendell
Senior Network Engineer Adam Hardy
Operations Matt Rosewall