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Venue Scan 250 vs American DJ Scan 250EX

Venue Scan 250 vs American DJ Scan 250EX

Posted on Jan 5, 2011 by Paul White

Recently I bought 2 pairs of Fixtures for my client.  Let me just start by saying that when it comes to low cost DMX controlled Moving Mirror Scanners, no two fixtures are alike.  Each Fixture has its own set of strengths and weaknesses.  What is important is to find the fixture that best suites your needs. 

American DJ Dj Scan 250EXAmerican DJ - DJ Scan 250 EX Review

The DJ Scan 250 EX is an entry level scanner that features tilt and pan mirror movements, separate gobo and color wheels, plus a mechanical Shutter.  It has LCD DMX controls to easily set your DMX address, or set the fixture into stand alone mode.  The Mirrors are very fast, making it an excellent scanner for sequences that require fast pan and tilt.  However this model does have some negatives.  First he top and bottom has these plastic bumpers that are easily broken.  Not sure if these are supposed to make it more resistant to impact, but if you want to reduce its size you can easily remove the bumpers without affecting its operation.  The first major negative of the DJ Scan 250 EX is the mirrors.  They do not have the ability to smoothly pan and tilt. If you try to do slow movements you will notice how jerky the mirror movements are.  The second bad thing about these fixtures is the lense design.  Even though this fixture uses the common MR-16 24 volt 250 Watt bulb,  it only has a small hole for the light to pass through.  I would say this hole is maybe 1" in diameter.  As a result the beam ankle is very tight, and not very bright.  Its almost as weak as an LED fixture.  These two negatives are huge.  If I buy a fixture I want the maximum brightness, and smooth movements.  As a result I would not by another set or recommend them to other Light Jockeys, unless you only need it for very fast pan / tilt movements, where the choppy movements won't be as noticeable.  On the positive side, American DJ stands by its products and most replacement parts can be bought via their website in case you have repairs, and in my opinion their prices for replacement parts are very fair.

Venue Scan 250Venue - Scan 250 Review

The Venue Scan 250 is normally sold as a pair and comes with a DMX controller.  It is a scanning mirror fixture that does both pan and tilt, and can be controlled via DMX or can be put in stand alone mode.  DMX address can be set with the old style dip switches.  The overall construction of this fixture is very sturdy, with no cheap plastic bumpers.  It uses the same MR-16 24 Volt 250 Watt bulbs as many other fixtures in its class.  It has a separate gobo and color wheel.  The optics of this scanner are excellent with a very large opening for the light, making it a very bright fixture.  The Mirror supports Micro Steping, allowing for liquid smooth slow tilt and pan movements.  But this precision comes at a cost.  It has a very limited pan and tilt speed.  If you need a fixture that will be able to quickly pan 180 degrees I would not recommend this fixture.  However if you only need it for slower movements and you need these movements to be smooth, then its excellent.  Another negative is this company seems to be a bit new.  Their website at the time of this posting was a simple 2 page site, that includes links to the manuals, but no ability to order any replacement parts.  When I contacted the company about where to order replacement parts they said to take back to the original place I bought it to have it exchanged.  But what if I bought it off ebay?  They bluntly stated they do not sell parts direct to consumers.  This is a huge negative.  A person can say what they want about Martin and their over priced replacement parts for a Roboscan.  At least you can get parts.  In this case you can't even get them.  This recently was the deal breaker when I had the opportunity to buy 8 more of these ( that needed repair ) for around $50 each. 

DMX Scanning Mirror Recommendation

Honestly I am still trying to find the discontinued Mighty Scan fixtures.  These in my opinion had the best of both worlds.  Precision and speed, plus a fast mechanical shutter, available replacement parts on the American DJ website, and reasonably priced.  I am still searching for other budget fixtures, but so far I have come up short.

Update 3/1/2011
Even though I still feel the Mighty Scans are excellent fixtures.  American DJ no longer stocks the stepper motors that are used in these.  These fixtures use the same model of stepper motor for the shutter, gobo wheel, color wheel.  On one of our fixtures the shutter stepper motor has gone bad, causing it to not keep the shutter in position.  Instead the shutter swings out and hits the side of the case making a very loud knocking sound.  I have googled around trying to find any company that might be able to make a replacement stepper motor for the American DJ Mighty Scan, and thus far I have not found one.  I have even contacted two companies that specialize in repairing stepper motors.  Hoping one of these companies might be able to at least repair them.  Thus far I haven't heard anything back from either company. 

At this point I have come to the conclusion that the more moving parts a fixture has the more problems it will have.  This leads me to start considering the LED fixtures like the new Chauvet Intimidator LED 200, and 300 models.  These have electonic diming and strobing, removing the need for a stepper motor to drive a mechanical shutter.  Unfortunately these don't hit shelves for a few weeks.  And they are priced at $300 and $600 respectively.  This is a little steep considering  you can get used 150 watt halogen fixtures from $100 - $150 off ebay. 

Once again don't get me wrong, the Mighty Scans are still excellent fixtures.  If you run a portable setup, these are excellent.  But if you have these running in a semi permanent installation like me ( running 14 hours / day, 7 days / week in a stripclub ), Then there might be better fixtures.

If anyone knows of a place to get replacement stepper motors for the mighty scans please let me know!
If I could find a manufacturer that could make a suitable replacement then I might setup my own website selling just the stepper motors.

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Parker Freeland | Jan 19, 2011 11:36 AM
I just bought 4 Mighty Scans for $100 each.  I think it is a good price but am a liitle worried about the age of the fixtures.  From the pictures though, they look nearly new.


paul | Jan 19, 2011 11:44 AM
We actually have 16 Mighty Scans in our club.  They are great, but we are noticing that the bulb sockets tend to burn out.  We tried to repair them with new ones but those had issues too.  Just make sure if you every need to repair your mighty scans always use the parts from American DJ.  As they are built to spec for the lights. 

In my opinion the Mighty Scans are still just as good if not better than all the new stuff out there, and they still beat all those weak LED scanners. 

My only complaint is replacement bulbs only last 500 hours. which in our venue means we are replacing bulbs once a month.
Parker Freeland | Jan 19, 2011 11:51 AM
I first bought the DJ  Scan EX's and was very dissapointed in the jerly motors.  The Chauvet Intimdators were smooth but only had one gobo/color wheel.  I just spoke to american DJ and they say they still have quite a few parts in stock.  If you ever want to sell you MS's, send me an email!


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