The idea is to run twelve 4 foot tubes, each independantly controlled although they will be mounted in clusters of three. Power to each tube will come from a purpose designed lighting controller (http://www.electrovision.co.uk/njd/docs/products/mp.html ) which supplies separate channels of 5A at 230v to each tube. This in turn is triggered by notes played on a keyboard which can be sequenced in advance so that the show is precisely in time with the music. It is not essential that the tubes can be dimmed, simple on and off at normal brightness will suffice, although it would be possible to vary the input voltage if this would achieve a reliable dimming effect. The most important thing is that the tubes fire instantly.
I believe that the key to this is using a separate transformer (with a separate mains supply) to send a constant low level voltage to each of the tubes to keep the filaments warm for the duration of the show. Other than that I'm assuming I can simply use bog standard fixtures as you would commonly find in B&Q and the like, albeit re-wired accordingly. This is where I would welcome some pointers:
1) Am I correct? 2) What type of transformer would be appropriate? 3) Is is possible / advisable to preheat all three tubes in each cluster from a single transformer assembly? 4) How should such an arrangement be correctly wired? 5) Can / should the pre-heat transformer be mounted in a separate housing or could it be incorporated inside the existing fixtures?
Any help would be very much appreciated!