The Bellagio Water Show in your own backyard?

The Bellagio Water Show in your own backyard?

Choreographing the Water: Show Control Systems

From Aqua

Many people have stood and marveled at the Belaggio automated dancing waters show.  The nozzles throwing amazing bursts of colored water into the air in perfect synchronization with the music never fails to draw “oohs” and “aahs” from the dazzled crowd.  Accomplishing these automated shows take a variety of sophisticated intelligent control systems, which previously were only available to the deepest of pockets, i.e. someone like a Las Vegas Casino.  As this article from Aqua explains, however, innovations in control system technology is now available to have complicated water shows in one’s own outdoor living space, and around their own inground swimming pool and hot tub.

Here is an excerpt from the post:

As backyard and commercial water features have grown more sophisticated, so have their coordination and control. This article explores the technology of “show” controls, from basic to complex, which attempt to choreograph water movement with music and lights.

For most pools and spas and water features, simple, mainstream-market controls are sufficient to meet customer needs and desires. But with the ever increasing demand for automation, remote control (think Smartphone), and more sophisticated and controllable LED lighting and effects, a proper show control system can meet a lot of client desires (at a cost appropriate for the project budget)!

The Essentials – Switches, Timers and Relays

Even the simplest single pump fountain needs to be powered up. Of course this can be done manually with the flip of a circuit breaker or light switch, but the core of what can be considered automated show control incorporates one or more timer. Almost everyone is familiar with timers, from those rotary things you stick plastic pins into to neat digital displays with battery backup, so this probably does not need explaining.

The next step up in timer automation is with the use of relays…a timer activates a relay, which in turn, powers a device or subsystem. This too is pretty self-explanatory and traditional.


PLC stands for Programmable Logic Controller. PLCs are vintage technology, having their roots in industrial automation. Today’s PLCs have evolved programming interfaces that are user-friendlier than the days of eye-straining Ladder Logic flowcharts, but they are best handled by those with everyday experience programming them. For a small-scale project, incorporating a PLC and hiring a PLC programmer may not make sense to the overall budget. From a creative content producer’s (show programmer) perspective, PLCs are so 20th Century and best relegated to low level controls for medium to large installation sanitation/filtration control and monitoring.

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