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AMX Systems

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by chrispo86, Apr 3, 2008.

  1. chrispo86

    chrispo86 Active Member

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    I'm just going to throw a simple question out there, do many people still run AMX systems?

    I help at a high school that has a Strand CD80 AMX dimmer rack with 48 dimmers. We run an Express 24/48 with a DMX/AMX converter in order to talk to the rack. We've been having control card issues for many years now, but in the past couple years the company that services our rack has been having to special order cards when ours have died. I'm told this is because AMX is a dead technology. I mean, obviously DMX is the more popular standard, otherwise all these consoles and ml's wouldn't be running it.

    We've just gotten into ml's in our last two shows (renting them) and for this one I took an extra control line running from the booth to the dimmer rack, disconnected it from the rack, and MacGyver'ed it into a DMX line just for the control of the ml's. If other people are running AMX systems, how do you deal with the whole moving-lights-run-DMX issue?

    Personally I'd like to replace our rack with a nice ETC Sensor setup, they've got two down in the middle school (we're not going to talk about it), but I'm wondering what kind of an argument I can make to actually try to get an upgrade to happen? I mean, you know school districts...
     
  2. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    Replace your CD80 brains.
     
  3. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Next time your card goes, have them swap out your card to an upgraded card. They could either put on it that only takes DMX or one that takes DMX, AMX, Shownet (ethernet). It will cost you a pretty decent amount, but it will be much cheaper the going to a sensor rack. The space I am currently in has a CD80 96 rack with the conversion and a C21 96 rack. Its a pretty painless upgrade.
     
  4. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    DMX isn't the more popular standard...it's the standard. RCN and ACN are coming but aren't here yet.

    That being said...The best bet is to take a straight DMX line out of the Express's 2nd universe to make the run to the movers.
     
  5. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, ACN will hopefully pick up soon. Apparently I've missed something...what's RCN? I've only heard of RDM, which is only an "add-on" to DMX.
     
  6. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Well after 14 hours and the worst work/focus call of the season RCN is what I'm calling RDM because I'm a tired monkey and couldn't remember the acronym.
     
  7. chrispo86

    chrispo86 Active Member

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    Is this what you guys are talking about?

    http://www.johnsonsystems.com/strand_cd_2000.htm

    And if so, am I reading that spec right in that it only offers output of 128 DMX channels, as in 1/4 of a universe?



    That's what I did for this current show. It worked out fairly well, though I'd like to move to something a little more integrated. But that definately got the job done.
     
  8. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Define more integrated. Honestly with an AMX dimmer rack you aren't going to get real integrated with moving lights.

    I mean assuming your DMX/AMX convertor is at the rack and not in the booth you could run 1 universe looping out through the movers and back before going into the convertor...
     
  9. TimMiller

    TimMiller Well-Known Member

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    That would be it. They mean 128 control outputs to drive dimmers. You normally have one of those per rack and a rack can only handle 96 channels. The upgrade is about 3-5 grand i forget how much exactly (i believe closer to 3, but you have to send you old electronics back or they will charge you closer to 5). The CD-80 racks are very bullet proof. I have several DMX racks that i never have problems with. Only thing i do run into is SSR's do go out, but that is true with any rack. For touring i take CD-80's over sensor racks all the time. They are more durable and road worthy.
     
  10. bdkdesigns

    bdkdesigns Active Member Fight Leukemia

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    How do those things perform? This summer we are doing an entire system upgrade (this is for a university btw). The estimate came in $300,000 over budget so we are starting to look into alternatives. One of those alternatives is this retro-fit for our mainstage (almost 500 dimmers) instead of upgrading to Sensor racks. As an FYI, that space will be using an EOS console with an ION as a satellite board.


    Ah, just found our Deductive Alternate sheet (this is currently alternate #1 btw). We are looking specifically into the CD-2000-A Johnson Controls CD-80 Retrofit.
     
  11. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    I think the comments made on this forum previously essentially said that the CD-80 is a solid rack, and that the aforementioned retrofit extends their service life by modernizing the control protocol.

    Is your upgrade an all at once thing, or perhaps you can get your Sensor racks if this is a five-year plan?
     
  12. Darthrob13

    Darthrob13 Active Member

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    The Johnson controls items are fine but remember a few things.

    They are not really an upgrade anymore. They are based on the CD-80 architecture. CD-80 hasn't been built for just over 2 years now.

    If you are going to upgrade the rack rather the replace it, the C-21 retro is the way to go. It supports the newest technology rather then putting a band-aid on the old.
     
  13. TimMiller

    TimMiller Well-Known Member

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    I used to work at a place where we had all of the CD-80 racks upgraded (12 of them) with the johnson controls CD-80 retrofit, we never had a single problem or glitch with any of it. The CD-80 will do anything a sensor rack will do (until you get into sinewave dimming but thats a whole different animal).
     
  14. jmabray

    jmabray Active Member

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    The C21 is also based upon the CD-80 architecture. They all (80, 80SV, and C21) all have the same form factor, the same physical wiring, etc. The control electronics are really the only different thing about each of the racks. I would almost be willing to bet that you could take a JS upgrade kit and put it in a c21 rack and it would control the dimmers just fine...... Not that I would ever recommend doing such a thing....


    The CD-80 upgrade by johnson systems takes out the old control cards of the original CD-80 racks and replaces them with a control processor made by johnson systems. As I recall, it only takes in DMX control signal. I have used them in a past life, and not had any problems with them at all. They took a grand total of about 20 minutes per rack to install.

    The C21 upgrade is manufactured by Strand. It too replaces the control electronics of the old rack with the new. If you have outlook or SWC control stations in your rig, this might be the better way to go as this processor will support those stations directly. (I don't know that the JS upgrade will. It might, I just don't remember) I have not done a C21 Upgrade to a CD-80 rack, but I have done a Cd-80 SV upgrade to a CD-80 rack and had very few problems with it. My ony complaint was that there had to be some actual work done in the upgrade process (there was some drilling of metal, if I remember it right)

    The other thing to consider here is that C21 upgrade kit might also be able to take in an ethernet control signal. Now, at the current time, I don't know that the C21 kit will listen to the ethernet control signal from the EOS/ION series desks. That would be a question for Strand. It may be able to, it may not. It might be that it will be able to in the future, I just don't know. If it is not able to, you are going to have to have either DMX nodes or Gateways somewhere between the racks and the console, but you will have to have that for sure with the JS upgrade kits....
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2008
  15. Darthrob13

    Darthrob13 Active Member

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    What I meant by different architecture is that the C-21 retro is far more flexible then the Johnson retro is.

    The Johnson retro would upgrade you to the last gen of technology. The C-21 moves you to the latest.

    Would you upgrade your WinTel box from '98 to 2000? Or would you go to XP? 2000 works just fine, but it isn't really the latest anymore is it. (I upgraded from Vista to XP recently and my machine works great : ) )
     
  16. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Yup, It takes shownet just fine, and I think it should take ACN as soon as the next update comes out. Should... Using one right now and wouldn't know the differance between the CD80 rack and the C21 rack. I want to say lightbroker has a few of the upgrade packages laying around.
     
  17. jmabray

    jmabray Active Member

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    Yeah, I knew it took shownet, I guess I should have clarified and said ACN. That is where the interoperability with the EOS/ION came in. EOS/ION won't put out shownet.....
     
  18. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    As much as it would suck, you could always use a node to get into shownet. I know they will have an ACN update for the C21's, its just a matter of when. I am personally waiting for an update for the SN110's (that I don't think will ever come) so I can use them as a DMX out for PC software.
     
  19. jmabray

    jmabray Active Member

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    Yeah, you could to the same thing with a generic console and a Net2 or Net3 node/gateway.

    I will really be surprised if they ever do anything with the older nodes though.
     
  20. chrispo86

    chrispo86 Active Member

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    I've been trying without luck to find more information about the C21 retrofit on Strand's website. Anybody have a website I can look at to get more information?
     

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