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Control/Dimming Express 48/96 is non communicado

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by tweetersaway, May 29, 2008.

  1. tweetersaway

    tweetersaway Member

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    so, apparently some time yesterday, all the lights that were on for a choir rehearsal in our auditorium inexplicably went out. No sounds, no funny operation, it all just turned off. The board was still on(there was nobody in the booth at the time) and after taking a look, the dimmers were on and fine and everything was connected properly. The dimmers simply aren't getting a signal. Has anybody had this problem? Any ideas on what to check/try? This one's got me stumped. Any thoughts are greatly appreciated. Thanks.
     
  2. cutlunch

    cutlunch Active Member

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    I haven't used the Express 48/98 board but I would start with the basics. Unless you have something critical stored in the board I would look in the manual how to do a factory reset ie clear the board completely.

    Also you say it is still connected but can you visibly see every inch of the DMX cable. If you can't then I would het a multimeter to test the lead. Unplug it from the dimmer and the board. Then at one end connect pin 1 & 2 together some how. Little alligator clip leads may help. then put the meter reading resistance ( ohms) across the pin 1 & 2 at the other end ie one probe omn pin 1 the othe pin 2. The reading should less then 300 ohms approx any higher or the meter goes off scale (can't get a reading) you have a break or bad join in the cable to find.

    Do you have a DMX splitter then takes in the signal from the board then sends it out multiple ports. If you do then check it has power. If you take the lead out from the splitter and send the signal straight to the dimmers to see if they respond.

    But I would start checking the board for someone to have played with it. Unless someone was watching the booth 100% of the time could someone have got in there?

    Start with the simple answers first then move to the more unlikely answers.
     
  3. zac850

    zac850 Well-Known Member

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    As Cat said, start at the basic. DMX cable plugged in everywhere? Is it the correct DMX cable? Unplug it and re-plug it in, just to make sure there is a good contact. Grandmaster on the console down? All the channels on the console parked out?

    Assuming all of that is correct, try a hard-restart of the console, just to make sure its not a console problem (make sure you save your show file first). Try using port B instead of port A.

    Do what Cat said to check your DMX cable. Make sure that nothing cut or broke the DMX cable.

    What kind of dimmers are they? You say they are flashing, indicating 'no DMX'. Can you restart the CEM? If so, try that. Check the connections into the rack. Make sure that the rack didn't decide to grab all of the dimmers at 0 (again, what kind of dimmers?)

    Basically, start at one end of your system and work your way down it, checking every component. Somewhere in the mix you should find something that doesn't work.
     
  4. tweetersaway

    tweetersaway Member

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    the rack is 96 Strand CD80 dimmers. I restarted everything in the system at least once. there is nothing that splits the dmx signal. I haven't hard reset the console yet because I couldn't find a direct way to reset the whole system, but I'm going see if I can find it tomorrow. I'll also bring in my multimeter and see if the cable's bad. it's 5 pin dmx, how do you test it compared with a 3 pin?

    The booth was locked all day and I'm pretty certain nobody would have been able to tamper with it, but I guess it's always a possibility.

    I'm beginning to think it may be a hardware defect with the board. We've had a couple problems with it before. Once the A/B Crossfaders got fried, and another time it just froze up and stopped transmitting signal in the middle of a presentation. The first one was covered under warranty, and the second was fixed by resetting the board. Hopefully this isn't a hardware problem, but it seems very likely at this point. Anywho, I'll check on those things tomorrow, and if it still is not working, I'm sure I'll be back here. til then.
     
  5. zac850

    zac850 Well-Known Member

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    Weird, your the first person I've ever heard of whos had hardware problems with the Express line.

    If memory serves, a hard restart of the express line console is to hold 4, 5 and 6 on startup (or maybe its 7, 8, and 9, one or the other, I forget which). Besides that, see if port B works any better then port A.

    With 5 pin DMX, its the same pins (the extra 2 pins off to the side are just for show).
     
  6. jmabray

    jmabray Active Member

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    I am pretty sure it is 789, but be forewarned that if you do this, you completely reset the system (Losing all your data...)

    It's possible there was a static charge (Or something like it) in your DMX cable that blew the opto isolator chip (Which protects the console from damage) so it might have just been doing what it was supposed to be doing....

    Is your signal indicator light on your CD-80 rack on?

    Call etc tech support. They will talk you through different options of things to try and get you up and going. 800-688-4116.
     
  7. tweetersaway

    tweetersaway Member

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    Well, I did several things with the console including a complete reset of the board. I also called ETC tech support. We determined that it was definitely not a software issue. So as soon as our rep from mainstage(our dealer) is back from Minnesota, he's gonna come over and take a look. So, I guess that's all that can really be done. Thanks for all the help.
     
  8. zac850

    zac850 Well-Known Member

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    Interesting. Does DMX Port B work?

    I did hear of a friend who had a power surge that somehow got into the DMX line and ended up frying port A on a console (some sort of express/expression/insight if memory serves). His quick and dirty fix was just to use port B.

    I'm curious about what happened to your desk. Keep us updated!
     
  9. DCATTechie

    DCATTechie Active Member

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    Do yo have an analog to digital converter in your dimmer room that converts the DMX signal? This exact same problem happened to me about a month ago. As it turns out, the fuse on my A-D converter had mysteriously become unscrewed, not blown, just unscrewed. hope this helps!
     
  10. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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  11. FMEng

    FMEng Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    It's usually an obvious thing to do a cold reboot on the console, and it's an easy place to start. It's less obvious that the main control board in the dimmer rack often contains a microprocessor which can wind up in "never never land." If the dimmer rack has a reset button, try that. If not, switch the main breaker for the dimmer rack off for a few seconds. Usually, the main breaker is located in a building electrical panel, not in the rack itself.
     
  12. tweetersaway

    tweetersaway Member

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    ok, so the problem was fixed mid last week when our rep from mainstage came in. I have yet to talk to him myself, but as far as I've been told, it was a problem with the interpreter, not the board. As soon as I know exactly what the problem was, I'll be sure to post it, but my guess is something very simple seeing as how he was able to find it and fix it in a day.
     
  13. thenelsontwins

    thenelsontwins Member

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    In reading your problem, it sounds strikingly similar to a problem I have had at a couple of theaters I do work in. To me it sounds like the DMX chipset needs replacement. Is that what your local rep did? I am curious to see what other problems may be out there for the Express desk hardware.
     
  14. Serendipity

    Serendipity Active Member Premium Member

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    Were there any sympoms before the crash? I know you said no funny noises, but what about the board's lights, or the monitor?
    I've had one Express crash (luckily on closing night, 22 cues from the end), and it was definitely enough to last me a while.
    I edited my old error report email to compare if you had similar symptoms:

    "Suddenly, the submasters started flashing. This is when I noticed, because wildly flashing green lights are difficult to miss. Then, the monitor blanks out and displays a "no input" message. However, the lights were still on, and we had a bit of time until then next Q, so I start fumbling with all the boards connections [power, DMX, monitor]. Suddenly, lights black out, in a bump. Not the typical fade out.

    The board restarts itself, throwing us to Q1. We go to the scene change cue where we're supposed to be as the board panics again--we lose monitor and lights.

    The board brings itself up. We get into the Q. We go, and it goes. We go back, and it goes back into Q. It seems functional. It pulled through the rest of the show."
     
  15. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    Nice!

    I once had an ETC Microvision FX board dump its memory when I tried to save my show to disk. I had to reprogram the patch and the show from my notes. I did not try to save to disk again until that show was over. I never had that problem again. I've still got that board in storage somewhere in Pageantland.
     
  16. Serendipity

    Serendipity Active Member Premium Member

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    10 characters, I say!
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2008
  17. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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  18. Malabaristo

    Malabaristo Active Member

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    It sounds a lot like you have (or hopefully "had") a power supply issue. A bad cable or connection between the power supply and the board could cause exactly those symptoms. It's an especially good thing to look for if you have the older style supply with a smaller 8-pin connector. If all of that's in good shape, then a loose connection between the brick and the facepanel could also cause it to reset.
     
  19. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    I agree, that sounds like PSU failure. Possibly an intermittent connection on just one rail of the three or so on it.
     
  20. Serendipity

    Serendipity Active Member Premium Member

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    The board was sent in, and the firmware was replaced or reset (I don't know if they reinstalled it or just did a hard reset). We haven't had any problems with it again, but I plan on checking the power connector and box when I get back to school/the booth.
    Thanks!
    My other question is could the board op have done anything to trigger this?
     

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