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Bad Phone call... "The light board won't turn on."

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by gafftaper, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    We had a fun final dress rehearsal tonight. About an hour and a half before curtain I was off at Subway grabbing some dinner when I got a call...:excitable: "Where are you? The light board won't turn on!" Got back to the theater 5 minutes later and the year old Strand Classic Palette is just dead. Fortunately, thanks to the cool way Strand has granted their system rights. All I had to do was open the hood of the console, pull the USB Key, and my USB backup Drive, plug them in another computer on the network and in about 5 minutes I was running the show from another computer. So we were able to run the show normally using the backup computer. The PC backup system is fully functional but awkward. I believe you can't do that on an ETC with the way their Dongle works... +1 Strand.

    On the other hand my year old console is dead. It shut down last night like normal. It runs through a UPS which appears to be working fine. I flip the switch... nothing. I'm guessing it's just the internal power supply gone bad. Having talked with him in the past about other issues, I immediately called and e-mailed Strand's Field Service Manager but he was out of the office for the night. I also put in a call and e-mail to our local authorized service guy but again he was gone. +1 ETC for that 24 hour customer service number!

    While this sounds like something for the punching booth or what went wrong, I thought it belonged here as it will be a good oportunity to see, in real time, what Strand's customer service is like these days. I've been telling you for a while that I think things are improving significantly at Strand. This is a great chance to see if I'm right.


    As for what caused it...
    Around 2 am yesterday, while doing some final painting, one of the students said the name of the Scottish Play. He then declared he was not superstitious and refused to follow the proper cleansing ritual. I think we all know what caused this and who needs to be sacrificed for the good of the community. Get your pitchfork and torch!:twisted:
     
  2. Sony

    Sony Active Member

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    That sucks man! Hope you get it fixed and it's coll to hear about the Strand PC functionality. I am not sure how the ETC Ion software works exactly, I'm not sure if it can run independently of the board or if it is basically just a complex RFU which needs the board to be connected to the network in order to use. I think it's the latter unfortunately.

    As for the student...I think it's time for a witch hunt! BURN HIM!!! :twisted: :twisted: [Insert Evil Laughter Here]
     
  3. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    I believe I was told by Jmabray a while back that the ETC approach is the Dongle allows you access to be on the system, but you always have to have the console online running things.
     
  4. jmabray

    jmabray Active Member

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    Yep. As of right now that's the way it works. Strand does have some nice features about their product line, to be sure.
     
  5. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    8:45 am the next morning. I got a phone call from Strand. There is no processor nearby for them to get me today. They will send me one via overnight shipping and arrange for the local authorized service guy to install it tomorrow. The Strand guy feels it's most likely just a bad power supply so he is going to try to find a spare power supply and ship that to me as well so if it happens again I can replace it myself. So far so good.
     
  6. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    Dont forget -1 Strand for a one year old console dying.

    Mike
     
  7. jmabray

    jmabray Active Member

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    I would say only -.5 for that.

    Like I said in another post, everything is going to break - it just is - there's not much you can do about it. It is how you, as a company, support your product once it does break. It seems as though they have made Gafftaper happy, which is the ultimate goal.

    Good for them!
     
  8. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    To each his own. That would not have made me happy. Plus a 1 year old console should not break. Now at 3+ years okay. But never at one year.

    Mike
     
  9. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Good point. We are guessing it's just a dead power supply. I haven't opened up the internal processor box but I'm assuming it's just a standard off the shelf PC power supply in there. That's great because it's a cheap and easy for repair. Years from now I could potentially take my light board to the local computer repair guy to get it fixed. Unfortunately, if that's the case, it's unusual but not THAT unusual for a normal PC power supply to go bad after a little over a year of use. While most last 3-5 years, I've had power supplies on my home computer that barely last a year.

    On the new consoles is ETC using a standard PC power supply, some sort of custom built power supply, or a wall/floor wart? If they are also going with PC power supplies, they are going to occasionally have similar early failures it's just the nature of power supplies.
     
  10. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Nothing annoyed me more then the express and its power supply. Can not tell you how many times I have forgot those things. Everything should take a UPC cable. Everything.

    My new feeling is everything should take either a USB to charge it or a standard PC power supply. Also, laptop power supplies should be standardized. I think I could build my presidential platform on that.
     
  11. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Especially in this industry when a dead power supply potentially means no show that night, it makes sense to have some sort of easily available backup power supply option.
     
  12. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    Totally! If it was a traditional computer PS then you know I would buy a good quality one to go in the console and another as a backup. Of course (and this is my experience, your mileage may vary) ETC would use a higher quality PS to begin with.

    Mike
     
  13. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Well my replacement system core is on it's way here over night and is scheduled to be replaced before show time tomorrow. The dead one is going to go to the local Strand Service guy for repair and will stay here in town once repaired. In the future anyone in town will have access to my old system core only a few minutes away as a replacement.

    So far so good for Strand customer service on this. I'll let you all know the final results tomorrow.
     
  14. fredthe

    fredthe Active Member

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    As for using a PC as a backup for the Palettes, I've been told (but haven't tried it) that you can plug the control surfaces into the PC also (as they are all USB) and have a fully functional console.

    -Fred
     
  15. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    That is true, we had it demonstrated when we had the demo a couple months ago with Bobby Harrel.
     
  16. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Yeah that's true. I would need a USB hub and an extension. So I opted to not worry about it for only one show. If I was stuck for a couple of days I would set it up that way.
     
  17. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    I'm glad you posted this. I've been mulling over buying a second console for general use, and was wondering how Strand was doing these days. I still wish I could get my old 520i working.

    As for a 1 year old console going bad...if it's just a small part, and they fix it quickly, no worries. I've dealt enough with computers to know that you could buy 100 top of the line machines, and one of them will lose something small and silly like a fan that needs to be repaired. How the company handles it is what I want to see. The advantage of ETC is the 24 hour support, and the massive amount of equipment in the field makes getting a loaner pretty simple.
     
  18. jmac

    jmac Active Member

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    Off topic question, but Gafftaper- do you have an ELO or some other touchscreen with your Classic Palette? Wondering if it's worth the extra cost, and how it makes things easier or faster. And what model do you (or others) recommend? There seems to be quite a few different types. Thanks.
     
  19. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Here's the final time line on the repair:

    -Wednesday night 5:57 pm console dies.
    -Wednesday 6:20 pm after doing quick diagnostics and getting the backup computer online with the show, I Left e-mail and phone messages at Strand.
    -Thursday Morning 8:45 am Strand returns calls and says new processor core* is on its way via Fedex. Received a Fedex tracking number slightly later
    -Friday morning, local strand authorized service guy, swaps processor cores and I'm running again.
    -Friday night my students arrive and in less than 10 minutes have the show files reloaded and the repaired console up and running.

    I'm very satisfied with the resolution and the customer service involved. My dead processor core will be repaired and kept in town at the authorized repair dealer. If anyone in the area has a problem in the future a swap out can hapen without waiting for Fedex shipment. True ETC would have answered my call at 6:20 pm Pacific, but they would have still had the same delay in shipping the parts to me. Other than already having a replacement processor core in town (which they now will), I don't see anything Strand could have done better. Once again I submit that although their reputation wasn't that great in the past they have repeatedly taken EXCELLENT care of me over the last year.

    I don't buy Esoteric's line that ETC would have used a higher quality power supply. As Sayen just said things like that happen with computers. I've had power supplies and video cards for my home PC go out in less than a year for no reason. It's just the way it is sometimes. Since they are also using a PC core, ETC will have similar problems. Now if I loose a power supply this time next year I'll do a little more investigation, but I think it's unfair to consider it anything but dumb luck of the draw at this point.

    Through all this I have seen one huge advantage to buying a Strand console: The ability to use any computer as a backup. If I had any other brand of console I would have not been able to run lights for my final dress rehearsal Wednesday night and I would have probably had to rent another console (possibly requiring reprogramming) in order to run lights opening night. With the way Strand allows you to run the network, it literally took me less than 5 minutes to have the show running on a second computer. If I would have had a USB hub and an extension on hand I could have run the show from the console just like normal even though the system is dead. That's a HUGE advantage over the competition.

    *This is what I mean by Processor Core: If you press two buttons on the sides of the console and flip the top up, you will find that the entire console is just a collection of USB devices plugged into a small internal sealed PC box running embedded Windows XP. Rather than trying to diagnose and repair a console, it's simply a matter of unplugging USB devices and removing two thumb screws, and replacing the box with the processor in it. This seems like a huge advantage to someone in a small middle of nowhere town vs. older technologies. You could easily have the replacement core Fedexed in and replace it yourself without need of a long drive to a repair shop (I believe ETC's consoles are similar in this regard but not sure).
     
  20. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    I don't have a touch screen and don't see much need for it. Once I got used to using the mouse I find it VERY fast to click and drag and open whatever I want. If you organize your patch so that similar things are next to each other you can just click and drag to select the group of channels very quickly.

    Also note that I believe both ETC and Strand are picky about which touch types of screens will work with their software... and of course it's only the expensive models. Don't just buy a touch screen, do some research to make sure it will work.
     

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