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Dimmer Rack trouble...

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by jowens, Nov 2, 2011.

  1. jowens

    jowens Member

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    Location:
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    Hey Everybody!

    I have a Diversified Electronics MX rack of 96 dimmer on our High School Stage, running with an ION with an extra fader wing. We run 2 dmx universes. U1 is for dimmers 1-96 (MX rack) and 97-120 (an attached unison dimmer rack, recently installed to separate out our house lights as part of a room reno). U2 is sent to various battens around the room. Everything is split with an eDin pathways splitter. My issue is essentially with the MX rack, I think I got it, but I think I'd benefit from a little gap filling
    Last year we had the brain replaced and things were good; we ran a few shows, no prob.
    I came into the booth a couple of weeks ago, and found that the light board was back to factory... Channels 1-96: no response. 97-120 fine.
    So after some troubleshooting, I took the dmx feed to the MX circuit board inside the rack and moved it to the DMX2 input... Success!! Of course I just checked to see that the rack responded and I moved along my way.
    Today one of my students informed me that we have 14 or 15 channels on which the dimmers have blown (i.e. either full power, or off).

    Could this whole thing be from the result of some power surge? Bad data? Am I right to think that we really have blown 15 dimmers?!? BTW, when those "blown dimmers" go on, they do a wierd very short, almost unnoticeable flicker.

    What should I do? Order all those new dimmer modules? Before the show in (of course) 3 weeks? they'll never get here. Any other ideas?

    I hope I've provided enough info.

    Thanks everyone
    ~Joe

    p.s. Diversified electronics is now owned by Cooper industries and of course the MX rack is nowhere near available as a new product.
  2. meatpopsicle

    meatpopsicle Active Member

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    #1 Call ETC tomorrow and have them work you through checking your patch and output config on the ION. It sounds like someone might have loaded a different show or somehow changed the setup of the console.

    #2 It concerns me when you say that you switched the DMX feed "inside" the rack. While you know your system I would be cautious about working within the rack chassis, if that's where the DMX enters the rack. If it's just a 5 pin xlr connection in an accessable patch bay that's one thing. If its not a standard connection then...be cautious.

    #3 standard trouble shooting of the dimmers starts with getting the console configured correctly.

    This, on its face, doesn't seem like a "power surge", more like a student mitten de fingers de poken. It is possible...but I would get with ETC first. They are awesome at trouble shooting...1 800 688 4116
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 3, 2011
  3. jowens

    jowens Member

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    Many thanks for the response. I'll be sure to give ETC a call tomorrow to double check, though I did do a board reset and reload of previous restore point... you may be right. And, in fact, the last time I've called etc, they were tremendously helpful.

    As for the dmx.. I do know my limits and am certainly cautious when need be, this was very clearly marked on a screw terminal circuit board.

    edit: of course I turned the power off...

    ]]-]=
    Thank you again for taking the time to respond!
    ~Joe
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2011
  4. xander

    xander Active Member

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    Occupation:
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    Are the two racks daisy chained? If so which rack is first on the chain? If the 1-96 rack is first and those channels weren't working, but the second rack's channels were working that leaves pretty much only 2 possibilities: something wrong with the "brains" of the rack, or something patch related in the console. Because the issue split perfectly along racks (1-96 and 97-120) I would put my money on the rack "brains."

    -Tim
  5. jowens

    jowens Member

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    They are Daisy Chained, the signal goes through the Unison (with patched to 97-120) Come to think of it, there was an error message on the Unison, until I cleared it. Wish I remember what it was. Also, now that I think of it.. maybe another piece of info that'd be helfpul... on the display of the MX rack, it scrolls through "Phase A - Low LN, Phase B - 120 V, Phase C - 120 V"

    ~Joe
  6. derekleffew

    derekleffew Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    jowens and (deleted member) like this.
  7. TimMiller

    TimMiller Well-Known Member

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    First thing I would try is swapping dmx outputs on the backoftheconsole and see if the issues swap over to the etc rack. If they do not you know it is something in the edi rack. Next if it is the edi rack I would try swapping around dimmer modules to make sure it is not a problem with the modules themselves that are acting up.
  8. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    To me, this screams electrical issue. If the rack is reading undervoltage on Phase A, I would have to imagine that a third of your rack is not functioning correctly if at all. This could have been caused by any number of things, and probably can't be fixed without a licensed electrician. You may also need an ED tech to come out and take a look as well. If the rack is not getting an entire phase, this could account for the dimmers that are not turning on. If you have ones that are stuck on, that is the typical failure state for SSR dimmers.

    I would suggest that you get someone qualified in to meter the power input to the rack to make sure that it is funtioning properly. If you can discover who did the install of the system you might give them a call and see if they can come back and service it. I wouldn't go out and buy any new parts until you have the system checked by an electrician (at minimum) and if you can, a service tech.
  9. jowens

    jowens Member

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    Thanks everybody for your efforts! I did get in touch with Alan Child, and boy am I glad I did.
    ice: it is an electrical problem, but not like you might think i.e. metering. I did some asking around with our district maintenance, and they said it's true that our power surges and goes in and out a lot... So I think that had something to do with it.

    Alan said he suspects a transformer in the brain to be this issue.

    Best wishes.
    ~Joe
  10. bishopthomas

    bishopthomas Well-Known Member

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    Yep, sounds like a transformer. Our Lightronics dimmer was having similar problems until we replaced the transformer.
  11. DimmerDotCom

    DimmerDotCom Member

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    MX brains are very sensitive to power issues. BTW, Cooper is now shipping MX's. I just sold a replacement brain to a local high school - power surge took out one rack, reset 3 other MX racks, Unison errored out, 1 Furman unit in their audio setup fried.
  12. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    That must have been a heck of a power surge, we send all kinds of power through our system and those are the most reliable pieces of equipment in our system. I don't think I've ever seen one fail.
  13. jowens

    jowens Member

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    Got our brain back, as promised, in time for our hell week. Thanks so much to Alan Child, and everyone on the board who were so helpful. I, and my drama club/crew/audience thank you.
    ~Joe

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