Gard Gitlestad

Technology for lighting design

Lighting control systems engineering

More often than not, the planning and programming of control systems are absolutely integral parts of a lighting design project. Architectural lighting increasingly often involve complex lighting fixtures with technology traditionally only found in stage lighting, as well as demands for interactive control with external input combined with scheduled/automated programming. Sucessful implementation of a lighting design often requires that the control system is planned at an early stage, and that the control systems engineer has a thorough understanding of the design as well as the technology, which includes everything from moving and static lighting fixtures to sensor technologies to computer networking.

I design and program control systems both for my own projects and for other lighting designers. The process involves discussing the design and its intended effects with the designers as early as possible to determine what systems and technologies to use, as well as following up electrical contractors to ensure that control cabinets, signal and network infrastructure and user interfaces are correctly installed. The commissioning and programming is usually a collaborative process where the designers, architects and facility owners have various design requests ranging from the conceptual to the very specific; in addition, there are more mundane, but important considerations such as energy efficiency and light pollution to keep in mind.

Facade lighting in Haugesund, Norway. Design and planning by OPUS Arkitekter and Halvor Næss Belysningsdesign, Pharos programming by Gard Gitlestad.

Embedded electronics

Complex lighting projects often call for extermely specialised electronics hardware, beyond what is available off the shelf. Different projects have unique requirements for things such as light output and quality, interfacing, size and shape constraints, et cetera – but a frequently recurring theme is the combination of very specific requirements, very short deadlines, and small order quantities.

A few examples of custom devices I made for various projects – both my own and those of other designers – include:

In addition to rapid prototyping and low-volume production of circuit board assemblies, other in-house capabilities include basic CNC machining, 3D printing and laser cutting for production of mechanical parts.

Battery operated, wirelessly controlled luminous tables with battery management over RDM, built for NRK.
Custom «Hat» for Raspberry Pi computer, containing piezo transducer knock sensors, compass, accelerometer and isolated DMX interface. 10 units built for a touring accordion and light concert for children.

Outdoor installations

The combination of sensitive electronics and harsh weather is an interesting mix which is often encountered in lighting design. Temporary and permanent installations in harsh weather conditions pose different types of challenges, which demand high quality equipment and proper installation. Various problems that must be addressed include moisture ingress, condensation, corrosion and galvanic compatibility, UV exposure, mechanical loads from wind or vandalism, as well as interconnects and ease of installation and maintenance.

Some of the outdoor projects I have tackled include:

A few (out of a total of 100) weatherproof LED pixel tubes, part of an area lighting kit built for Øyafestivalen.
A peculiar combinaton of a weatherproof microphone (custom built) and smoke machine for an interactive installation in a public square. Lighting design by Halvor Næss Belysningsdesigner.
Temporary architectural lighting with weatherproof moving lights illuminating a stave church.
Construction of an installation with illuminated logs near a river, designed to withstand harsh weather and occasional flooding/submersion.