ETC Expression Board Problem


Active Member
I have a question for anyone who uses or has used an ETC Expression 3. We just got our expression like 1 month ago and we are just starting to program cues for our next show thats in 3 weeks, but we have been having issues with the board, it has completely frozen up on us on more than one occasion forcing us to turn the board off and back on, while we have yet to lose any data, we are worried about losing stuff and also if something like this happens during a show obviously it'd be a bad thing. My Professor's called ETC and they claimed that it was the fact that my laptop was hooked up to the MIDI and a keyboard were plugged in and that was causing this. I don't really believe this because for one my laptop hasn't been plugged in since like day two with the board and we have reloaded the firmware since them, it could be the keyboard, which is now unplugged so well see what happens with that, i was just wondering if anybody else has had this problem and what you did to fix it, thanks.
Also the keyboard is an IBM ps2 keyboard with an adapter so that it goes into the 5 pin din.


Senior Team
Senior Team
Premium Member
Thats very odd, never heard of an expression locking up. I would unhook everything but the DMX and power and see if it still does it. It could be overloading on a midi command or something of that nature. You might want to make a post on lightnetwork as well, maybe someone out there has seen this.
Not sure what your problem might be, but...

I figured this might be a good time to remind you about the data! You are lucky that you haven't lost data yet. As a programmer, one of your most important tasks is to protect the data! Develop and stick to a saving routine that works best for you. For each production, I usually have at least three disks labeled "1" "2" and "3." The first time I save I will save to disk one, the second time 2, and the third, 3. I always go in this rotation so that I can go back if I need to. I never go more than thirty minutes without saving (use a stopwatch or alarm clock if you have to), and always save after a more complicated sequence is completed. Also, each time I save, I also save to the hard drive of the console. At each break in programming, at the end of the day, or any other time I get the chance I always save to all three disks at the same time. The chance that all three disks could become corrupt is slim. Furthermore, don’t keep them all in the same place. What if you lose your bag, or drop your binder in a puddle, leave it at the hotel, or any of the other twenty million things that could damage the disk happens. Make extra copies if you need to. Take them home with you, give one to someone else. Hide one in the theater somewhere.

When the show opens make a bunch of master copies. As the show progresses, everyday reload the version you know works. Just because it was perfect when you left the night before, doesn’t mean it will be the next day. Maybe a last minute meeting is scheduled for the theater in the morning, and the janitor comes in and fumbles with the console trying to get the light on. He hits a bunch of keys until he sees light and saves over everything! NEVER assume! And ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS PROTECT THE DATA!!!



Active Member
Its definitly not the MIDI, i just tested it out once when we got the board and then disabled it when i was done.

Thats the exact saving routine that I use except I must be a little more paranoid because I save like every 15 min. Unfortunately I am not programing this show, and the LD seems to think that if you use the exact disk that is recomended by the counsel then your fine, so he is currently only saving to one disk and then its like ever hour or after the board crashes that he actually saves anything, and this is the same LD that went to ACTF with only one disk and then when he got there found out that the data on it was courrpted and then had to relight the entire show on the spot.


Active Member
If your programmer is fast, and I mean fast, this nifty little thing can happen where an ETC board will lock up because your feeding it too much information at once. Doesn't necessarily need to be super fast, but the right combination of complex cues and trying to nudge the software around will force ETC 3.1 to just say "ahhh, crap" and freeze. Yours turly did it last week on a 48/96 while programming for Everstock :) Hey Chris!

Also, just check your power input for fluctuations, stick a meter in the circuit that supplies power to the board and doulbe check to make sure its constant. A power spike will do it sometimes. Good luck, get your LD to start saving!


Active Member
Never had that problem before with anything from ETC. However my advice would be to save often, as in whenever the LD stops talking for more than 10 seconds.


Active Member
hey there. my college uses an Expression board in our mainstage booth. and i can't remember a single show where that thing HASN'T given us problems. in the beginning it was good, but after a few shows it started crashing. we were told all the same things as you and none of it really worked. it would be better for a little while and then it would get crash-y again. on one simple one-day thing i was LD/programmer for it crashed twice in less than 10 minutes. the running idea is that it has a virus or some such. our lighting repair guy is comming in soon though for our system's annual check up and he's going to run some test on it and the server. i suggest that you have someone do the same if the problem continues.

i think i'll bring up the fast programmer thing to my boss though. when i think about it it only has problems when the best programmers are on it. which, mind you, does not make those of us that are talented with it very happy, it makes us look bad to the slower freshmen...


CB Mods
It strikes me that chances are it is not a problem with your console or the fact that you have a keyboard plugged in. I spent four monthis this past summer on an Expression III with a keyboard, MIDI, SMPTE, and 2 DMX universes connected and never had any problems. I would be willing to bet that your problem is a corrupted show file. This of course is not something that is particularly easy to fix if you only have been continually saving updated copies of a corrupt show. This seems like a logical conclusions given that you re-installed the Expression OS and are still having issues (I am assuming you loaded back up the show file you had been using).

I would try clearing the entire console back to factory defaults (may be most easily achieved by re-installing the OS again) and then start a new show file and see if you have the same problem, if you don't have issues with a new show file then it is safe to assume that your old show file is corrupt.

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