27 Apr 2023


by Kurtis Hammer

Still one of the best strobes on the market?

When we think of high powered, super bright, high quality durable strobes, the Martin Atomic 3000 DMX is one of, if not the, first light that comes to mind for many. They have well and truly set the bar as the industry standard strobe light for nearly the past 20 plus years. The Martin Atomic 3000 DMX was originally released to the buying public in 2001.

Many hire places will still stock these. They are still in use in a number of venues, large and small, across the country. Unfortunately, they have since been discontinued. The only way to buy them is second hand. Depending on condition, they still sell for a couple hundred dollars each.

At just under half a metre wide and weighing in at about 7.5kg, they are easy enough for one person to set up and pack away. It can be installed in any orientation on a single clamp. With an H stand they can also be placed on the floor. Being incredibly versatile to hang, they can seamlessly fit almost anywhere in a lighting rig.

When compared to the competition when it was released 22 years ago, the Atomic was whiter and brighter than anything else on the market. It was a true strobe capable of creating a powerful and overwhelming strobe effect.

In the decades since its initial release many different strobe lights have been developed and brought to market, many boasting a host of new features, increases in output and savings in power consumption.

Despite all this, the Martin Atomic 300 DMX still remains in the conversation when it comes to picking strobe lights for events. On paper, it may not look as appealing as many of the more recent offerings but those in the know who are looking for a quality strobe will still have the Atomic 3000 on their short list.

The Atomic 3000 provides high and low lamp power settings. The high power setting provides maximum flash intensity; the low power setting reduces output by approximately 50 percent, but extends lamp life.

The Atomic 3000 is supplied in two models with different lamps: the Martin MAX-7 and MAX-15. The MAX-7 model will in theory accept AC power from 90 to 250 volts. The MAX-15 model will in theory accept AC power from 125 to 250 volts. The Atomic 3000 uses a 20 amp time-delay fuse for protection against current overload. It can be run on both 10amp and 15amp power supply.

Martin recommends that all maintenance tasks be performed by a qualified Martin professional. Truth be told, they say this about most of their products to the point where it is ignored, however the message is quite relevant when it comes to the Atomic. The one service/ repair/maintenance task with the Atomic that you would undertake yourself might be changing the lamp.

The Atomic 3000 DMX uses a Xenon discharge lamp.

In a nutshell, light is created in a Xenon lamp when an electrical charge is sent through an ionised Xenon gas. This creates a light flash, perfect for strobe lights.

As they are gas filled and electrically charged, it is critical to ensure lamps are handled correctly, especially used ones.

They can be controlled using both 3 pin and 5 pin DMX. The Atomic 3000 uses 1, 3, or 4 DMX (Digital Multiplex) channels depending on the control mode.

It is addressed using a DIP switch. DIP switches are rarely seen on lights and special effect fixtures these days. They were even uncommon 20-odd years ago too. They were mainly used on ‘effects’ style units like smoke machines, hazers and strobes.

The light was cased in a durable steel housing and of a very simple and practical design. Only real issue was that you could end up going through a lot of lamps and fuses, depending on how you used them. Lamps nowadays are a bit north of $200 each. There are no serviceable parts inside the lights. Therefore there is no need to be opening them up during cleaning and servicing.

The Martin Atomic 3000 DMX did one thing and they did it incredibly well, arguably better than any other strobe of its day. We now see strobes that have an LED engine, can move, output all different colours and even be pixel mapped. Despite this, the Martin Atomic is still out in service. In an era where it feels as though every light is trying to do everything, a light as simple as the Martin Atomic feels older than it really is. There are very few lights that were released over 20 years ago, have since been discontinued, and are still relevant today. This is one of them.

Did you know?

One of the more recent offerings was released by Martin, the parent company who produced the Atomic 3000 DMX strobe, is an LED strobe by the same name (Atomic 3000 LED). It looks quite similar to the Atomic 3000 DMX which tells you all you need to know about its design and how it was produced.

Straight from the user manual, showing the importance of lamp safety:

‘1. Whether or not you value your life, disconnect the fixture from AC mains power and allow the capacitor to discharge for 1 minute.’

Main Photo: The Martin Atomic 3000 DMX at Disturbed World Tour. Photo credit: Adam Cook/Twentyfourcore Productions


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