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Casino Morongo

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Flexible Programming in Record Time
Like the brightly-colored desert flowers that roar to life after a rainstorm in this picturesque locale 20 miles west of Palm Springs, the new $250 million 27–story Morongo Casino Resort and Spa roared to life on a tightly managed yet aggressive construction schedule of only 18 months. In the same space of time, an advanced lighting control system was installed to put the bloom on this rose.

The lighting control system features a dazzling array of distributed intelligence over a network backbone that brings power, flexibility and reliability to a building that never sleeps. The result is an award-winning project showcasing dramatic interior and exterior lighting that is the perfect complement to the picturesque mountain ranges and sun-streaked vistas of its surroundings. 

The Starting Point: A Distributed System for Greater System Reliability
Morongo Casino’s lighting control system started with the simple and perennial question: “How do I get from point A to point B or, more exactly, how are multiple points of control and thousands of lighting circuits integrated into one intuitive, flexible, and easy-to-use system? According to Vince Caglianone, Senior Applications Designer at Leviton Manufacturing, the solution required the careful integration of Leviton’s Dimensions™ control system into each ‘region’ of the project, and the interconnection of each region through Leviton’s network backbone. This permitted overlapping layers of control where the primary local control interface within each region was complemented with remote access and control from anywhere on the network.

The use of Ethernet as the network backbone of choice allowed for the maximum number of control channels to exceed 130,000. This was well within the requirements of this project. The challenge, however, was how to deal with the enormous amount of communications traffic, the distance between devices and the large number of remote control stations. As Ethernet over UTP (100Base-T) would not be able to function reliably, the solution was to deploy Ethernet over low cost fiber optic cable (100Base- FX) as the backbone for the system. The use of fiber optic Ethernet switches that could also accept 100Base-T modules eliminated the need for additional switches when making use of local 100Base-T runs.

Although the main lighting control center for the facility, located in an Audio/Visual (A/V) room, was responsible for triggering events across the entire network, each region in the facility was designed to act as an independently operating segment of the network that was, in turn, integrated into the network backbone. This distributed intelligence approach added an additional level of reliability to the system, assuring that loss of any other system, or the backbone itself, could not cause a shut-down of the system’s different regions.

Each region of control included a Leviton Dimensions™ D-8000 LCD Control Station. These digital stations operate over Leviton’s Luma-Net™ network to provide intelligent communication between devices. The Luma-Net devices can be laid out in either a daisy-chain topology or a star configuration when used with a hub, allowing for total run lengths of up to 2,000 feet. These capabilities provided maximum installation flexibility. Network Protocol Converters (NPC) were used to manage the relationship between the Luma-Net and Ethernet networks to bring complete remote programming and control capabilities into the entire lighting control network. The built-in intelligence of each D- 8000 Station acted like its own miniature lighting control device, eliminating the need to reprogram the entire system upon failure of any one device.

The system was designed to provide everything from global remote control to local and incidental control options. Globally, signals from the A/V center changed the illumination from daytime to evening levels as necessary. Locally, each control station could change the room lighting by activating presets or adjusting levels on slider stations. For incidental control, a computer or D-8000 Lighting Control Station console could also be plugged into a local port to directly control lighting levels. System-wide scheduling of lighting control events was achieved through Leviton’s LumaScheduler software package, which like all other aspects of systems management and control was carried out from the A/V center.

Leviton iSeries dimmer racks were used in 1- and 2-rack configurations at key electrical locations in the facility to control all architectural lighting in the casino. The iSeries racks were employed because they provided a very high density of high-performance power circuit dimming control in a very small space.

The broad application of the equipment selected for this project made simple but smart integration with other lighting systems possible. The automation and signage systems, which incorporated their own playback loops, were triggered from the Leviton LumaScheduler application. Integrating regional control onto a network backbone, and providing multiple points-of-entry into this network, allowed for the utmost in flexibility at all levels, integrating local control, device configuration, PC interaction, and other control devices into one cohesive lighting control system.

The Next Step: Programming System Components To Work Together

Programming of the system was accomplished in a layered approach involving two steps. The first involved defining the system’s basic parameters. According to Bud Josserand, the Leviton system technician, this included information about the number of dimmers, the type of each dimmer’s lighting load and the relationship of regional control stations to their lighting circuits. The information was further enhanced with the assignment of these circuits into areas, rooms, zones, control channels and groups. Josserand noted that this basic level of information was very well documented and, as such, was implemented without the need for any customer input. “Over 90% of the basic programming was done by Leviton. It rarely needs to be changed after it is dialed in to meet the needs of the user(s),” Josserand added.

The Final Step: Programming Lighting Levels and Scheduling Events

The second layer of programming in any system is highly subjective and depends on the unique needs of the user. In this case, the primary requirement was that the Casino staff could set up their lighting “looks” (or preset lighting levels) and all scheduling of events by themselves. Consequently, step two required training end-users to work together with the lighting designers. Together, they set up the exact lighting “look” desired for all of the high-end restaurants and clubs as well as the 128,000 square feet of gaming areas. The result was a visual experience that heightened the impact of every area of the casino, further enhancing the mood each space was designed to evoke.

This programming was done using Leviton’s LumaEdit™ software running on a laptop plugged into network ports distributed at key locations around the building. Once set, these scenes were uploaded over the network to the regional D-8000 Digital Lighting Control Stations and associated with preset buttons or sliders. Press one button and get one lighting scene. Press a second button and get another, and so on. Having multiple network ports of entry into the system was necessary not only for programming but also for control using theatrical lighting control consoles. This was particularly true for the 12,000 square foot ballroom space where different settings were needed on a daily basis, depending on the type of event taking place.

Whenever time of day and date events needed to be associated with various stored preset lighting scenes, LumaScheduler acted as the time clock for the system. Residing on a PC in the A/V Center, the software used the network to send out the required commands over Ethernet to the dimmer racks and other control devices. “The software was the only place that this flexibility in scheduling could be accomplished…not to mention the added benefit of real-time lighting control opportunities that having the software on an active PC on the network can provide,” Josserand noted.

Several basic lighting schemes were implemented throughout the facility during the second phase of programming:

  1. Daylight spaces - In cases where daylight played an important part in the space, a dual preset lighting system was employed. One preset was used for peak daylight hours and another for periods when there was less illumination provided by natural daylight.
  2. Non-daylight spaces - In cases where little to no daylight contributed to the ambient lighting levels, a single preset system was implemented.
  3. Dining and entertainment spaces – Dining and entertainment areas occasionally used a third preset, with breakfast, lunch and dinner or lunch, dinner and latenight settings.
  4. Restaurant, club and spa spaces - Lighting in these areas was tailored with multiple presets geared to specific activities. It was also turned off or reduced to minimal levels using non-use-specific presets.

The dimming system permitted the lighting designer to set lighting at any desired level instead of just switching lights to full on. This resulted in precise control for specific spaces and applications…and generated significant lighting energy savings for the facility in the process.

System Reviews:
Bud Josserand (Leviton System Programmer): Once the system was configured and programming of lighting scenes completed, advanced lighting control was delivered automatically and has not required any changes since the initial setup. Leviton’s LumaEdit software was run on a laptop PC plugged into network connections to download system setup and lighting scene information to both D- 8000 Control Stations for local control and Leviton’s LumaScheduler software running in the central A/V Center for remote scheduling control. An active wireless network in the building can make programming of scene lighting with a laptop even more convenient.
Jim Forest (IT Manager/Primary System Operator, Morongo Casino): About all we have needed is a Leviton training session or two on use of the system for new employees through LVH, the systems integrator on the job. Overall, the system has been rock solid in accomplishing its job, leaving us with very little to do.