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Somebody set up us the bomb.

Color Kinetics 'ColorDial' system, retail $TBA (
Manufactured by Color Kinetics (
Last updated 08-15-09

If you're all "cornfused" about that tangle of wires up there, don't be. There are still some Christmas lights up there (in June?!?) that I should probably take down and throw in a box until the day after Thanksgiving, but being the lighting nut ("flashaholic") that I am, I probably won't.

But check out those four Color Kinetics C-75 fixtures up there. They're connected to a ColorDial controller right through the power cables, and can perform some amazing tricks while all you need to do is click and turn a single knob.

You can connect the ColorDial to 4, 8, or 12 fixtures. I've been testing the 4-fixture setup.

The ColorDial fits in any standard single- or multi-gang switchbox, and looks just like an ordinary dimmer switch until you push the knob once, and then your perceptions of it go right out the door.

Since installation will be different depending on the lights & power supplies you have, the best thing I can do is refer you to this web page (it's a PDF file, so you'll have to have Adobe Acrobat installed), and follow the instructions there.

(Lifted right from the instructions)
Using the ColorDial is as simple as pressing and turning. Press the dial to cycle through the eight effect modes and OFF. Turn the dial to vary the effects.

In Fixed Color mode, turning the dial changes the color. While in White mode, turning the dial changes the intensity. In all other modes, turning the dial adjusts the speed. ColorDial remembers your settings and recalls them each time you return to the effect.

Turn the dial clockwise to increase, and counter-clockwise to decrease, the speed. The first three revolutions of the dial varies the speed between approximately 1/2 second to about 2 minutes. After which, each click of the dial doubles the speed clock-wise or decreases by half counter-clockwise. When in this range, the lights snap to a new color with each click for visual confirmation of changes.

Note: In Chasing Rainbow, the speed of a single pass through the color spectrum ranges from 1/2 second to 5 hours. After the third rotation of the dial, the speed is reduced to the point that color changes are not immediately visible.
(End of theft mode)

ColorDial unit Once you have the ColorDial installed in a switchbox and the knob is on, it appears to be a durable and well-made instrument. I tried to abuse mine by smacking the knob much harder than necessary, and by turning the knob really fast, and was not able to destroy the unit or cause it to malfunction in any way. In my opinion, it ought to withstand the actions of a DJ that's hammered or stoned, and starts monkeying around with the ColorDial in ways that were not intended, like slamming the knob too hard or spinning it "too fast".

Not every DJ or lighting engineer comes to work clean & sober, and not every replacement DJ (the one called in because the regular DJ is stinking drunk and passed out next to the toliet) will have time to read instructions for every new piece of equipment he may be faced with. So the ColorDial is impressively easy to use.

You don't want to throw drinks at it, because it isn't waterproof, like any other light switch.

If the knob becomes broken, just replace it with any standard "dimmer switch" knob and you're good to go.

Assuming you're all hooked up and ready to go, plug in your ColorDial. All the lights connected to it should come on and glow a red color the first time you use your ColorDial. This is "fixed color" mode, and turning the ColorDial's knob changes the color of all the lights connected to it at the same time. Turning the knob clockwise starts the green LEDs going; turning counterclockwise starts the blue LEDs going (assuming it started with all red lights), just turn it one way or the other until your desired color comes up.

Pressing the knob once at this point gets you "color wash" mode, where all of the lights connected to the ColorDial cycle through the different colors at the speed you want by turning the knob. Counterclockwise slows it down; clockwise speeds it up.

Pressing it again gives a "rainbow chase" effect, which you can speed up or slow down by turning the knob one way or other. This variation of "rainbow chase" is designed for a 4-light installation.

Pressing it again is the same "rainbow chase" effect, though this one is designed for an 8-light installation.

Pressing it again is the same "rainbow chase" effect as the last two, though this one is designed for a 12-light installation.

Press it again for "random colors". This causes all the lights to flash random colors - you can alter the speed of these changes by turning the knob; counterclockwise to slow the changes down, clockwise to speed the changes up.

Press it again for "random fade", in which the lights will gracefully fade to various random colors. Instead of just switching to different colors in a sudden manner, the lights "fade" to the various colors. Same knob controls as "random colors" above.

Press it again for "white". All lights hooked up to the ColorDial come on with all their LEDs lit. This generally produces a pale bluish-green color (it does in my C75 fixtures), rather than true white. Turn the knob counterclockwise to dim all the lights, turn it clockwise to brighten them.

Finally, press it again to turn all the lights off.

Just like it says on the shampoo bottle, lather; rinse; repeat.
In other words, the cycle starts again once you press the knob while it's off. There are 8 modes plus "off".

Picture of 4 ColorDial controlled C-75 lights beaming onto a popcorn ceiling.

Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the product emitting red light.

Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the product emitting green light.

Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the product emitting blue light.

Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the product emitting magenta light.

Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the product emitting cyan light.

Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the product emitting yellow light.

Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the product emitting white light.
USB2000 spectrometer graciously donated by P.L.

Sample of the ColorDial system, a 24VDC 2.5A power supply, and four C-75 LED lamps to use with it were provided in early 2002 by Color Kinetics while the product was still a secret. Now that the ColorDial is no longer a secret, here it is on my website (06-14-03) for everybody to enjoy.

It's a bit late, but I was in the hospital during almost all of autumn 2002 and part of winter 2002/2003. I apologise for the lateness.

UPDATE: 12-29-03
I know you're gonna ask, so I might as well answer the question before it gets asked...yes, I *did* use the ColorDial system on Christmas, to add a little color to my Christmas celebration. I set it on "Rainbow Chase" mode, so I got to see all of the colors this unit can generate with 4 lamps. I had some LED Christmas lights, and a set of red incandescent "clumping" lights going at the same time, so the ColorDial had a little competition. But only a little. ;-)

Easy as pie to wire up & install
Very pretty effects
All LED lights won't set papers, curtains, or plants on fire

Not waterproof - but it wasn't designed to be thrown in the john anyway. ;-)

    MANUFACTURER: Color Kinetics
    PRODUCT TYPE: LED lighting controller
    No. OF LAMPS: N/A
    SWITCH TYPE: Pushbutton with rotary feature
    BEZEL: Standard switch cover
    ACCESSORIES: Two 6-32 pan head phillips screws, knob
    WARRANTY: 1 year limited, barring accident, abuse, etc.


    Star Rating

ColorDial *

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