Control/Dimming Lifespan of a Lighting Console

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Apmccandless, Jul 19, 2019.

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How long do you expect a new lighting console to remain in service under normal use?

Poll closed Aug 2, 2019.
  1. 1-3 Years

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. 4-7 Years

    4 vote(s)
    11.8%
  3. 7-10 Years

    15 vote(s)
    44.1%
  4. Longer than 10 Years

    15 vote(s)
    44.1%
  1. Apmccandless

    Apmccandless Member

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    I am running into support issues on a lighting console that was manufactured in 2013. The manufacturer released a new version in 2014. When I have written to tech support they are unable to provide the remote app for iPad and the remote solution for the newer version of the console is incompatible with the old console. Additionally tech support said that "legacy (consoles) can no longer be repaired but library updates are available".The console was about $2500 new. So all of this brings me to my question, how long do you expect a manufacturer to offer support and out of warranty repairs for a console?

    In the past i have been able to order parts or send for repair (analog) consoles that are 10+ years old and I understand that parts availability will always be an issue for any non software consoles. However,I freelance in educational environments where service life is always a question, I want to be able to give an estimate for how long a lighting control console will last.

    Thanks for the responses.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2019
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  2. sk8rsdad

    sk8rsdad Well-Known Member Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Your question and the poll don't have a lot in common. The manufacturer provided new features in a version of the console that are not backward-compatible to your version. That happens all the time. It's not the same as saying your console is unsupported. I can't read text messages on my rotary phone. Should I fault the vendor for not anticipating the future?
     
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  3. Apmccandless

    Apmccandless Member

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    I have no issue with not getting the new features. My issue is not being able to get the app that the manufacturer created and marketed with the console on release. I don't need updates I just want the functionality of the console as it was sold. I just realized that it isn't in my original post but the tech support said that "legacy (consoles) can no longer be repaired but library updates are available". That is my issue with end of life is that they won't support or repair a 6 year old console.
     
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  4. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    You use console in poll but system in your post. I tell my clients the life of the system - the installed data and power distribution along with the architectural controls is probably 20-25 years. Console life is 5 years (and I hope they replace in less than 10). Fixtures is all different - some might go 50 years but I suspect in the LED world 10-20 is going to be it - on average - for good "spec quality" fixtures. Cheapies might only be 2-3 years. I'd expect ColorSource to be fine at 10-20. Time will tell on fixtures.
     
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  5. microstar

    microstar Well-Known Member

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    At schools and community theatres, I've encountered many consoles that are 30 years old (ETC Express?) and older that are still functioning and can continue to function with minor repair.
     
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  6. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    I guess you need to define "will last". My 5 years and hope for 10 is based on meeting needs. I suspect there are Kaypro's still running but I sure like replacing my laptop every 3-4 years. (Did TRS80s even have a browser?) I would agree with microstar its possible to keep a console running for much longer than its useful life. I like antiques. How old are the oldest sports uniforms and equipment at the same institution?
     
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  7. Apmccandless

    Apmccandless Member

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    Fixed. I am really most interested in consoles. System wise I have had great experience with the installed nodes and data distribution. In the space with the console in question those are older than the console (best guess is installed early 2010's) and are still receiving software updates from the manufacturer who also offers a rebuild kit at about 1/2 price of new if I have a failure. As far as lights the jury is still out right now I am keeping up with the first few LED fixture purchases i arranged and so far I have been able to get replacement parts for everything I have needed 4 years in.
    Do you usually find that not for profits and schools replace their consoles every 5 years? I worked for a LORT theatre several years ago and they upgraded to an EOS from an Obsession II in 2007. That is a 10 year upgrade and they are still using the EOS today. Several schools in the area I work in are still using elements bought in the mid to late 2000's, once again about every 10 years. When I work with schools who are looking to upgrade their whole system I would say it is common to find a 10 year old lighting console and a 20 year old system.
     
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  8. microstar

    microstar Well-Known Member

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    I like your "running for much longer than its useful life" phrase. Similar to the old "just because we can doesn't mean we should" adage I guess. Also reminds me of a thread a while back about consoles in schools where no one knows how to use it or wants to know how to use it or they have considerable personnel turnover. All they seem to want and need is a single scene preset. Or perhaps the ideal situation for Fleenor's Apathy "console"!
     
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  9. alich

    alich Member

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    In theory, you should be replacing your boards every 5 or so years.
    In practice, especially on a limited budget, whenever it dies. I know/have worked in many venues that only replace their first gen Ions or old E3s once they start rebooting during shows, or have any fatal error.
    In those situations it's replaced when the cost of the repair is more than the resale cost of the board.
     
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  10. sk8rsdad

    sk8rsdad Well-Known Member Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    The phrase "library updates" may refer to fixture libraries; that is, DMX mappings for new lighting equipment.
     
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  11. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Under 5 years of relevant use for a $2500 console.

    Beyond 5 years, it's generally unlikely the average $2500 console is going to be relevant to newer technologies and control paradigms. Even expensive consoles like Eos face issues in long term viability because of the availability of touch screens and the issues with being unable to upgrade from XP.


    Digital is a different world from analog, especially with how volatile user interfaces are in needing to stay relevant.
     
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  12. Jeff Lelko

    Jeff Lelko Active Member

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    As the owner of my company, I plan for consoles in the 5-figure territory to last 7 years. I've found that to be the magic number for business/ROI planning where the unit should still be reliable and "current" enough for mainstream use. Granted ETC is my preferred brand for lighting consoles and they'll maintain the board forever, beyond 7 years the market will likely have progressed enough that it'll be time to move on to the next big thing. Anything in the $2500 range is well below the market's current flagship/standard product range, so legacy support will be touch and go. As such, the investment should be treated as semi-disposable. Anything over 3-5 years would be generous for continued support of a legacy product at this pricepoint. As much as moving on can sometimes be difficult, it would appear that your board has reached the end of its service/support life and it's time to consider newer choices if having available support is a need of yours. Hope this helps!
     
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  13. DavidJones

    DavidJones Well-Known Member

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    What console are we talking about? The useful and supported life of a lighting console is or should be directly proportional to the price. My primary desk is GrandMA, and it is the most expensive line of consoles on the market, but it also dominates the entertainment industry. For the premium price, you get a 10-year production cycle(a few hardware upgrades may be required throughout that production run), about 15 years of usefulness and rider acceptability, and 24-hour support FOREVER. I feel like 10 years is a reasonable amount of life. Now a console that only costs $2500 is on the very lowest end of the spectrum, I would not expect lasting support or long function. A large portion of the high cost of MA and ETC desks is the software development and high levels of support and future development. You have to consider that at least with MA there are Major software releases about once a year, and constant development and bug fixes. When to spend $50K on a desk you paying for those people to keep working, not for a piece of hardware.
     
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  14. Crisp image

    Crisp image Well-Known Member

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    At 5 years for a $2500 console it breaks down to $500 pa or about $10 per week. If you look at it that way it is not a huge outlay for time of use. You have to make sure the hire of the venue covers the cost of replacement and upgrades. Having said that for some outlaying $2500 every 5 or so years hurts the pocket. I understand that because I don't want to do that. I use a Nomad and I have a dedicated computer just for that and nothing else. I don't want to upgrade that computer because it will cost me $ that I may not be able to recover (I use it for volunteer jobs and self education as the PAC I work for has their own ETC consoles).
    As far as not being able to get the old remote app for the console you have I would have thought it should be able to be purchased but not supported and even if it was sent to you as a link and not available in the app store of choice.
    This is my opinion and it was formed using my own brain and no small animals were harmed in forming this opinion.
    Regards
    Geoff
     
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  15. venuetech

    venuetech Well-Known Member

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    There was once a major manufacturer who was a market leader and invator but they had short support life and 3 years after you bought into their line it was like. (A wee bit of sarcasm here) “Oh we don’t support that model, please ask your dealer for information on a new desk to replace your obsolete equipment “. Oh ya if you were lucky you could send the unit back to LA for outrageous service fee. (sorry we don’t do loaners) it had many vacations in LA. It also had a real dislike for Nutcracker, just loading in the last few cues and BINK vacation time. 3 years in a row.
    Needless to say they no longer hold the market share that they once did.
    Whatever desk you get the real value is being able to service it for 10 years. But start looking at your future needs after 5.

    A friend still has her husbands old Kaypro II with the twin floppy 5 1/4” drive. msdos
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2019
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  16. Apmccandless

    Apmccandless Member

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    Based on replies it appears I had unrealistic expectations based on primarily using ETC Consoles. Their tech support bends over backwards to help the end user. I have never had ETC tell me they would not accept a console for out of warranty repair. I remember hearing that when 3 1/2" Floppies were ending production ETC bought a pallet of discs so that they would be able to continue to provide support for their consoles that used them.

    As much as I understand that a $30K console will last longer than a $2500 Console. They are designed for different markets, this console's marketing specifically targeted inexperienced users. A ma2 lite outputs 65,536 addresses of control or about 46 cents per address of control, this console outputs 512 addresses of control or $4.88 per channel. Further, my expectation for a console that lives in a roadcase being loaded into and out of trucks weekly travelling in sub zero to 100 degree plus trucks is different from a console that sits on a desk in a booth for 10 years. I don't mean to discount the cost of development, production, and updates for a lighting console; however, there is nothing else in this space that costs $10 a week and $2500 is a lot for a small school.

    Venuetech as I was discussing this at work i heard a better example of obsolescence than that. One gentleman worked at a HS PAC that was being updated at the time, the installer provided a ET/Rosco distributed dimming system with Rosco Eclipse console. As a part of the package one on one training was included. A month after the install was complete he was sent to the Rosco office for training. The person who he was supposed to do the training no longer worked there, the production of eclipse consoles had stopped, and they tried to convince him to buy a horizon license because they could train him on that. He insisted they honor the contract and they found a venue in town that had an eclipse console they could train him on.
     
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  17. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    Someone needs to get a better paying job - at least the janitor. How much time and stress and improvement of the work conditions does a better console have to save to be worth $10 or more dollars per week. It seems like a tiny investment in the faculty, staff, stucents, and community users compared to their time and development.

    People's time is a precious resource and should not be squandered.
     
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  18. Amiers

    Amiers Renting to Corporate One Fixture at a Time.

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    I’m still waiting to hear what console flopped.
     
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  19. Darin

    Darin Member

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    There are hundreds of theatres still running Express 24/48 consoles from the mid-90's
     
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  20. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    There are government offices that still use typewriters and carbon paper.
     
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