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Control/Dimming ETC Sensor MPE vs CEM vs CEM+

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by rphilip, Apr 17, 2009.

  1. rphilip

    rphilip Active Member

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    I'm working with a group that's looking to purchase some ETC sensor portable packs off the used market and I've seen racks with these three different controllers.

    What features are different between them?

    Our shows would be mostly straight patched, and we are not doing any dimmer doubling.

    Thanks

    Philip Roberts
     
  2. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    I don't know anything about the MPE racks, but chances are you won't notice a huge difference between Sensor and Sensor+. Sensor+ is just the newest version of the CEM and rack design, the dimmers in both Sensor and Sensor+ are the same. Sensor+ probably has the most features, but for most situations you probably won't need more than what you get from the original Sensor racks. However, if you have any of the new generation ETC consoles (Eos, Ion) or are planning to get one, with CEM+ you can use EDMX and connect your dimmers to your console via ETC Net3 over cat5 cable.
     
  3. jmabray

    jmabray Active Member

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    Also CEM+'s have the capability (with the latest release of code) to take advantage of desks that speak RDM. Meaning you can set dimmer types, re address miodules, etc all from your console.

    MPE's are old old old school and just basically have the ability to take DMX in and control dimmers in the rack. If you are doing ONLY what you describe above, then go the MPE will probably be okey dokey for your purposes. But if you are doing anything more advanced, go for the CEM or CEM+. If you want to be able to now (or in the future) run network straight to your dimmer rack then CEM+ is the way to go.
     
  4. iLightTheStage

    iLightTheStage Active Member

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    If you are using just regular DMX to control them, I would say go with CEM, not +. In my experience, there are SOOOO many options on the CEM+ that it is actually detrimental because there are so many places for things to go wrong. I'm one for "Keep It Simple", and MANY of the options on the CEM+ are more designed for an install situation, and just make a headache for a portable rack.

    That being said, if you ARE networking, you'll probably want to go with the CEM+.

    If the MPE is the one I'm thinking it is, than it doesn't have any functionality at all, not even to set levels at the rack (good for testing/running without a board).

    But that's just my $.01 (stupid economy effecting my rates).
     
  5. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    That's hogwash.

    Yes, the CEM+ software has many more features then the older CEM's, but nothing that actually causes more failures. CEM+ is as reliable as any of the older modules.

    Note a few things about the CEM+ system

    - ETC streamlined the process to access basic functions that a rental shop would use to setup the rack, while using the module LED screen. It's no more difficult to navigate for basic stuff then an older CEM.

    - In the event of a power failure, the CEM+ takes longer to re-boot. I've seen 1-1/2 to 2 minutes. If you didn't lose power to the console then it seems like eternity for the dimmers to come back. If you also lose the console, you never notice.

    - Setting up the rack with a CEM+ system is a LOT easier if you do it via a laptop. Everything is right there on screen. Much easier then drilling down thru a LCD menu.

    Steve B.
     
  6. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Now, that's hogwash! How can you say it's no more difficult to go scrolling endlessly through menus than simply to press <Dim> x <At> (level) <Enter>?

    CEM vs. CEM+: WHY?:cry: couldn't ETC have kept the same face panel and buttons of the original CEM and added the extra features of the + to that?

    Speaking as someone who uses rental equipment for one-off productions: Unless one REQUIRES the networking features of the CEM+, common everyday operations, such as setting a pack's address, forcing a dimmer at level, changing a dimmer's type, et cetera, ARE MUCH EASIER AND INTUITIVE on a classic CEM than on a CEM+. "Check mark" and "Light Bulb"--harrumph!:angryoldman:

    [user]rphilip[/user], for your application any of the three variants would likely suit your needs, and I suspect you'll find prices will run MPE<CEM<CEM+, not because the CEM+ is better, but because it is newer.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2009
  7. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Derek,

    Are you certain the CEM+'s you've been dealing with have the latest OS ?, 'cause I know ETC responded to a lot of rental shop complaints about how difficult it was to access basic rack setup functions. They streamlined a lot of the basic setup functions, putting them right at the top of the menu's. If the shops don't update the CEM's then what you are saying is true, but then that's the shops fault.

    FWIW, I often go right to the CEM+ unit, rather then bothering to change the IP setup of the laptop to access the CEM's. Once you learn the newer menu tree (and having never dealt with the old menu tree) it's not that bad and is better then Unison, as example.

    As a related issue, and if ETC is listening, it's WAY LONG overdue to update the CEM+ access via the web browser method, as there are HUGE issues related to how you cannot update the CEM+ OS as a bulk update to multiple racks (which would prevent config errors), instead having to log off and type in a new rack address in the browser window. Then there's the issue of the new software update not actually telling you that a valid update has occurred.

    I was told way over a year ago that a "new" method was in the works, I've heard zip.

    All in all, I'd rather use the CEM+'s then the older system, but then I had no choice.

    Steve B.
     
  8. iLightTheStage

    iLightTheStage Active Member

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    Not to mention the fun of dealing with the ones you have to "LOGIN" for, for every simple thing you need to change. And I totally agree with the frustration of "LightBulb" "Checkmark".
     
  9. rphilip

    rphilip Active Member

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    Thanks for the information;

    Is it possible to upgrade the MPE or CEM if we wanted to in the future? Any idea about how much the upgrade would run?

    Thanks

    Philip
     
  10. jmabray

    jmabray Active Member

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    It is possible to upgrade a rack to take a CEM+ if it previously held a CEM or MPE. However, it is not possible to upgrade those modules (other than putting the most recent code in them - and in some cases you can't really do that)

    You would have to get a price from your local dealer to do the upgrade. It's not something that you can do yourself.
     
  11. PalikuTD

    PalikuTD Member

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    MPE's are Dumb, Easy, and Awesome

    The MPE is so simple and yet almost always works. No frills. Just dial a dmx address and it works. A little known feature of this brain is that you can test dimmers. Look at the manual these codes allow you to do the following although very low tech. This will get you out of a jam in a pinch and also allow for testing.

    810–Cycling dimmer channels on and off
    820–Fade all dimmer channels up and down
    830–Fade individual dimmer channels up and down in numerical order
    840–Set a selected dimmer channel to full intensity
    850–Setting levels for all dimmer channels
     
  12. STEVETERRY

    STEVETERRY Well-Known Member

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    Watch this space for info on the release of CEM3 in March. It's what you touring/portable guys have been waiting for.

    ST
     
  13. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Posted for posterity...
    See the thread http://www.controlbooth.com/forums/lighting-electrics/24212-etc-sensor3-cem3.html .

    See also the thread http://www.controlbooth.com/forums/lighting-electrics/21742-cem-sensor-portable-issue.html :
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2011

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