Express 24/48


Active Member
Ok. I have several questions for those of you who have used the ETC Express 24/48 or similar boards.

First, I have used a lighting computer for all of the shows that i have ever done with software that a parent wrote a few years back. Although we continue to receive updates from the parent, there are simply too many bugs to continue using the program for shows. Also, adjusting each level for every cue by mouse becomes tedious and could easily be done with a light board quicker and simpler.

The first question is that I'm used to running a show based on the cue names that I type in, as I was able to do in the lighting software. However, I have noticed that this board does not allow you to type in extensive labels, nor does it back it easy to do. So, I assume the best way to run it is off of a script, writing the cue numbers in the script. I noticed that when you insert a cue after the first wave of programming is done, it makes it 5.1 for example, rather than pushing the rest of the cues down one. If you delete cue 5, for example, does the board simply skip 5 or does is drop the cue number for every cue after 5?

Next, is it possible on this board to program a macro to start when the board is turned on?

Third, what are your thoughts on the board as a whole?

Finally, I'm looking for a 2-way or 3-way (preferable) DMX switch that would allow me to switch been multiple controllers, so that basic lighting needs would not have to use the new board. Any idea where I can find one?
With this series board you can name cues, but only from the software version of the software (which you then transfer the saved file to the actual board) but yes, it is not the easiest thing to do.

I believe, (not 100% sure here, I've never really paid attention to it, but its always just worked) that when you delete a cue it just empties out that cue's spot and skips over it in the order of cues programed. when you are programing cues you can very easily program them in any order (say 1, 4,4.5,5,6,7,10) setting up any look and then just telling the board where to record it. in this sequence, when the go button is pushed, it will work its way through the cues in neumerical order, skiping right from cue 1 to cue 4 (ignoring the fact that 2-3 arnt there). Similarly when a cue is deleted, it simply will jump to the next numbered cue, leaving all other cue's numbers intact (which is nice b/c it means you dont have to go through your script renumbering everything) This is also exactly how it works jumping over all the .# cues that are mostly likely not recorded.

Sorry if that was long-winded and confusing, I think the short answer you are looking for is: yes, it just skips over 5.

My school has a ETC Express 48/96 and I love it. We dont use it to control any inteligent lights, so I cant talk about that, but for running our theatrical lights and house lights it works great! I can teach people to record submasters and cues in not time flat, which is really great. Some the other functions are abit harder to get at, but all in all they arnt the ones you use all the time anyway. I love the offline editor and how it lets me take cue sets recorded by freshmen and ajust them @ home and make ajustments for moved/added/removed lights. The cue spreadsheet is an amazingly quick way to ajust all your cues in one go for an ajusted light (it's probably my favorite feature).

All in all, it's a MILLION times better then our circut breakers and Leprecon analog 24 channel 2 scene board!
why ETC? why not a Strand 300. I run a strand, i love this board. you can name cues right on the screen with the keyboard(but it only fits like 16 characters on the screen). its also designed to control intels. it also has an ole, which is just the software installed on a comp(but it only runs in win 9x or dos). and all new Strand 300 memory boards comes with WYSWYG. ive used an etc a few times, to me its like a generic strand. everthign is just bland. and who thought to color a theatre/rock consol white is beyond me...
When it's dark in the booth, the contrast between the grey buttons and the white panel makes it much easier to read. I've never used Strand, but I don't like the fold up design too much. It looks like a briefcase to me. Obviously I do stand behind ETC's products, however I'm probably going to be choosing a Colortran Innovator over an Express 250 for my theatre's upgrade. With ETC you are paying extra money for the name - but then again, I have never had an ETC do me wrong. When it comes down to it, the Expressin 3 with Emphasis or the Obsession II is hard to beat. There's no denying that they dominate the industry - atleast for those who can afford them.
hey i have programed on a strand and etc boards i find the time it takes to program on a strand to be much longer do to complicated syntax. it just takes more steps to program the same thing. as for intels they say you can on a express dont i have tried it nearly killed me . but for conventionals there is nothing better it is rock solid you can drop it out of the tech booth and there wont be any damage done (i have done it but dont recomend it to be done on purpouse) i think that strand was the leader but has tried to incorperate to many features such as naming cues on a show where you have 48 ch max why do you need to label cues when you can use the numbers. but i guess its what you have been used to i guess. but wouldnt it be ood over the cans to hear "stand by lx cue walks through the door" versus "stand by lx cue 33" to me that seems allot easiar esspecialy when there are allot of detaild cues.

my opinion

Jon Hirsh
Our school has an ETC Express 24/48 and we love it. You can easily program a show in a couple hours and work in blind mode during the show if somthing goes wrong. Ive never played with strand.
Strand 300 is backlit, so that takes care of issues finding buttons in the dark, imho

labeled cues, subs, fx, groups, parts, etc still have numbers. Just have a label in the last column of the grid. Thus can still call cue 123. The text next to it is a nice reminder, esp when programming, or when you need to jump around during a gig.

Can't speak for ETC vs Strand syntax. The Strand is straightforward enough for me.

You can have the thing unfolded flat or setup in a L shape with the back propped up. I like the thing propped up, don't have to reach forward across a table for the top 48 faders.

Strand's board runs MSDOS and is a standard pentium based PC. I dropped my own NIC & VGA cards in and loaded my own drivers int he config.sys. Given some DOS knowledge you can customize the thing without paying Strand relatively large sums for cheap parts.
the cues are still numbered and my sm still calls "light cue #, stand by" its easy for the op to label cues with words becuase when you get up above 100 cues its hard to remember whats does what. express and strand are similar for syntax. we have 2 300's, our main that has 100 ch, 120 total faders and our back up/little theatre board 50ch, 72 total faders. i prefer sources to sl's but for controls etc just isnt that great.
Thanks for the feedback so far. Anyone have any comment on the DMX switch mentioned in the first post?
I would go with a very simple scene recall board for your use. This daisy chains in-line with your regular DMX home run. This would allow you to activate basic looks such as "rehersal", "work lights", "ghost lights", "dimmer check", etc. Simply set your scene with the board, then record the levels at the small scene recall board. Many companies make some very clean-looking panels that look very good when mounted flush in a facility wall. Some common simple recall boards are:
Doug Fleenor Design's PRESET 10 ARCHITECTURAL

I would also suggest a key-switch cover so that access to the panel can be limited.

Hope this helps!

I don't want to limit the use of the lights that much, and I don't want to have to buy a new board. I have an old board that I would like to be on one switch for when the church that rents the auditorium comes in to use the system and the computer for other options.
if you go with a strand system get a strand archietecture control. the one my church has for the sanctuary is a 10 ch/faders with 5 presets(6 including off). that one is a few years old. they also have 2 in the main hall(which uses a 520i consol) but they dont uses them they just leave the board on all the time. i know etc also has a pretty decent archietecture control.
It's not really a DMX switch, but our school is setup in some strange way that uses both an ETC archetchual and theatrical dimmer system. It is setup so we have the main dimmer board in the booth, but we also have two wall plates with 12 or so sliders on it. You can setup a look on the main board and hit record submaster and slide the fader you want on one of the wall plates and the look is recorded to that slider on both wall plates (one is in the booth and one is backstage) I have programed several looks with our theatrical lights for teachers to use when they are just doing basic rehersals on stage and things like that. The houselights are also collectivly controled by a slider on this wall plate(and each bank of them is controled individualy on our big board) but for some reason we can set a look on the big board (say turning off the front bank for using the projector) but when we try to record any look to the wall plate, the status of the house lights is ignored (and defaults to off!)

Anyways, I kinda got off topic, but if you have the budget, it might be worth talking to ETC (or whatever brand) about installing an "archetectural" component like this and forget about the DMX swtich.
ETC is the best hands down. Strand might as well be dubbed 'Fisher-Price' IMHO

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