Quick question about the ETC Colorsource Consoles

Gage

Member
First off, sorry if this has been talked about before, I couldn't find much on it other than a few other un-answered forum posts. I'm looking into getting a Color Source 40 or a Chamsys Quickq console for a school auditorium. I'm leaning towards the color source, mostly because I can get it in a reasonable amount of time (the Quickq line seems to be out of stock indefinitely everywhere). The only thing that concerns me is the 80 device patch limit. ETC seems to define a device as anything that uses a DMX channel or DMX channels. The school is still running with mostly traditional halogen fixtures and a 96 channel dimmer rack, most if not all of the dimmers are used in any given scenario. Would this mean I'm taking up all of my usable console channels with dimmers alone, leaving no room to add anything else down the line?
 

Les

Well-Known Member
I would *think* that a dimmer rack counts as one device and would be treated as such, same as a 4-channel shoebox dimmer would be "one device". ETC could definitively answer this question, but we do also have some employees here who will hopefully chime in. I've only used a CS console in smaller systems dealing with a handful of LED fixtures and a simple cue stack. I'm not sure about the ease of workflow in a larger installation since the ColorSource doesn't quite "handle" like a full console. This seems more like Element 2 territory, which may or may not triple your budget.
 

Amiers

Renting to Corporate One Fixture at a Time.
A dimmer and device on the CS20 is the same. It uses one channel regardless. I would say for a full size venue with real dimmers and everything else in between to look more towards a full size console that can handle your plot. Maybe a Element 2/3, Ion, Hog, GMA2/3 lite, and Avo titan. Obviously you should shoot for something long lasting like a GIO or full size MA. I would shy away from the chamsys console even the the price point is there it in my opinion is a “wonky” console. That being said if it’s a price issue and you are a school you could switch to a PC console like the nomad and buy a fader wing or get a midi board to control it.
 

MNicolai

Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
Would this mean I'm taking up all of my usable console channels with dimmers alone, leaving no room to add anything else down the line?
Yes. As @Amiers said, a Channel is akin to a Device. A device could be a moving light, an LED fixture, a single dimmer, or multiple dimmers that are effectively "ganged" together such as a group of lights where you don't need individual control of each fixture such (cyc lights tend to be this way -- if you have 6 3-color cyc lights, you really only need 3 "Channels" to drive what might be 18 dimmers.)

If you're maxing out a 96 channel dimmer rack, you should really be looking at an Element as your lowest minimum acceptable console. The Colorsource console simply isn't meant for handling that many channels of tungsten. There are hacky ways you can probably make it work like patching multiple dimmers to a channel, but again, if you're maxing out 96 dimmers you probably need a greater level and convenience of control than you can achieve with such an entry-level console.
 

Gage

Member
Thanks for your responses, everyone. As you confirmed, and I feared, an element is probably the smallest console worth getting for the space. Unfortunately, the budget doesn't allow for that, and the people using the console in most cases aren't skilled enough to use it effectively. I may try and reduce the number of fixtures in the air, as the space is small and only has 1 AP and 2 electrics, with almost 60 fixtures spread between the 3, but I am not in charge of any design aspects, only maintenance, and choices related to technical issues. (the same rack also controls house lights and a few other circuits in the building which doesn't help) Their aging NSI Colortran console really doesn't have many shows left in it so waiting isn't much of an option either. I may try taking them into some sort of PC wing solution, but they didn't seem to like that idea too much last time, and the added complexity of a stand-alone computer may be an issue.
 

Amiers

Renting to Corporate One Fixture at a Time.
You are merely the messenger. If they choose to get a lower tier console they will have to figure it out. Don’t beat your head to much. Make the proper suggestions and leave it at that.
 

Jay Ashworth

Well-Known Member
Thanks for your responses, everyone. As you confirmed, and I feared, an element is probably the smallest console worth getting for the space. Unfortunately, the budget doesn't allow for that, and the people using the console in most cases aren't skilled enough to use it effectively. I may try and reduce the number of fixtures in the air, as the space is small and only has 1 AP and 2 electrics, with almost 60 fixtures spread between the 3, but I am not in charge of any design aspects, only maintenance, and choices related to technical issues. (the same rack also controls house lights and a few other circuits in the building which doesn't help) Their aging NSI Colortran console really doesn't have many shows left in it so waiting isn't much of an option either. I may try taking them into some sort of PC wing solution, but they didn't seem to like that idea too much last time, and the added complexity of a stand-alone computer may be an issue.
Seriously: look at the ETC Nomad package (or whatever they're calling it this year).

It used to include a DMX dongle in addition to the license dongle, but due to supply chain, they've dropped the interface... and the price. And nobody's better entitled to the .edu price than a school.

 

microstar

Well-Known Member
I made the mistake of going with a CS console for a venue. They simply are NOT intuitive. If I could do it all again I would get them a PC with a touch screen to run ETC Nomad and maybe a fader wing. The touch screen is so you can set up a basic magic sheet for the unexperienced users to poke at. Could get by without it.
Currently pondering the decision of which console for a school.
Is the ColorSource console not intuitive to experienced lighting people or not intuitive to someone who has never seen a lighting console before?
Don't the CS consoles have a built-in touch screen with customizable layout that would work just like an external one for Nomad?
 

Jay Ashworth

Well-Known Member
I had to eval the CS consoles when they came out, to replace a SmartFade 1296 (and had just started learning Ion then)... yeah, it's pretty weird.

I wouldn't recommend it if your school is expecting to teach people how to light.

If that's secondary to merely getting shows lit... maybe.
 

TheaterEd

Renaissance Man
Fight Leukemia
Currently pondering the decision of which console for a school.
Is the ColorSource console not intuitive to experienced lighting people or not intuitive to someone who has never seen a lighting console before?
Don't the CS consoles have a built-in touch screen with customizable layout that would work just like an external one for Nomad?
If one were to work with the CS every day, they would come to understand it. But when I had a couple of months between shows there it took at least an hour of re-familiarizing myself to get it working. As far as I know, that venue gave up on it and moved to nomad. Note: If nomad had been out, That is the direction I would have gone. But I think I bought the CS like Right before Nomad was released. I programmed 5 or 6 shows with the CS and while I liked the effects, it just was not user friendly.

I could see it being used more for a live music venue like a bar or nightclub where you might not want a dedicated computer, but I don't like it for theater.
 

Malabaristo

Well-Known Member
Currently pondering the decision of which console for a school.
Is the ColorSource console not intuitive to experienced lighting people or not intuitive to someone who has never seen a lighting console before?
Don't the CS consoles have a built-in touch screen with customizable layout that would work just like an external one for Nomad?
It's most confusing to people who already know how to use an Eos family or other more traditional console. If the target users are mostly new to everything and your rig is mostly LED (& maybe a couple movers, but not a ton of conventionals), then it's a fine console for basic stuff. When I had a choice between Nomad and ColorSource for a small blackbox-ish space, I went with ColorSource. Part of that was just the convenience of a single device instead of laptop+Gadget+dongle, and partly because it is pretty physically intuitive for someone with zero prior knowledge to be able to turn lights on and make them different colors. My brain hurts whenever I try to do anything more complex than that because I want it to work like the consoles that I'm used to, but that's a me problem.

Also, if the programming this space is used for had more of a tech path associated with it, I probably would have went with Nomad since learning that has more future relevance to anyone who might continue in lighting. What actually happens there is that one or more random actors gets assigned to push faders some of the time, and they don't really care to understand how it works.
 

Les

Well-Known Member
It's most confusing to people who already know how to use an Eos family or other more traditional console. If the target users are mostly new to everything and your rig is mostly LED (& maybe a couple movers, but not a ton of conventionals), then it's a fine console for basic stuff.

I can also attest to this phenomenon. My fiancé is a middle school theatre director and has found that her kids take to the CS very well, but those of us who have a frame of reference can really struggle.
 

Amiers

Renting to Corporate One Fixture at a Time.
Currently pondering the decision of which console for a school.
Is the ColorSource console not intuitive to experienced lighting people or not intuitive to someone who has never seen a lighting console before?
Don't the CS consoles have a built-in touch screen with customizable layout that would work just like an external one for Nomad?

It is and it isn’t. Yes it is the the fact that you can jump right in without reading the manual. You can easily patch as the UI only has a few buttons to get to it. The library interface is very nice and unlike the Hog has a better search engine. The library is also big.

The nots main one being the 80 channel limit as stated before. The grabbing options of the fixtures can make for a frustrating time if you touch then hit the bump button. I haven’t set up a moving light on ours yet but I might but I have a feeling with no encoders you will have the rely on the XY grid to get it to move. This leads into the effects which for static fixtures is meh. Riding the right way to touch the speed button on the screen is hard. You either push it to much or it ends up to slow.

I agree with others the best thing about this board is the fact that you can easily throw some conventionals or some LEDs and easily throw them to the look you want record your playback or cue and bobs your uncle.
 

DNT

Member
Seriously: look at the ETC Nomad package (or whatever they're calling it this year).

It used to include a DMX dongle in addition to the license dongle, but due to supply chain, they've dropped the interface... and the price. And nobody's better entitled to the .edu price than a school.

I have a nomad system which works perfectly for me. The only issue is setup time, as it’s made up of so many components. If your system can be set up and left in position, I would certainly recommend it. Students will be getting training in the use of industry standard kit without you having to shell out the full cost of an Ion.
 

Jay Ashworth

Well-Known Member
I have a nomad system which works perfectly for me. The only issue is setup time, as it’s made up of so many components. If your system can be set up and left in position, I would certainly recommend it. Students will be getting training in the use of industry standard kit without you having to shell out the full cost of an Ion.
Could you expand on "time to set up"?

Doesn't seem like it should take more than 5 minutes, to me...
 

gafftaper

Senior Team
Senior Team
Fight Leukemia
Don't the CS consoles have a built-in touch screen with customizable layout that would work just like an external one for Nomad?
To me, the key factor is that CS is not running EOS and Nomad is. That means Nomad has the ability to run highly customizable magic sheets. A well designed magic sheet can handle most of your advanced programming. For a small school, a touch screen and well designed magic sheets could run everything powerfully and easily.
 

DNT

Member
Could you expand on "time to set up"?

Doesn't seem like it should take more than 5 minutes, to me...
I have 6 devices (laptop, lxkeys keyboard, c1 touch unit, fader wing, screen, and touch screen), not counting mouse, router, and two powered usb hubs. That involves a number of cables etc, so it takes a while to set up and take down. However, it gives me all the functions of the Eos system. Until I can afford the full console (if ever), I have to put up with that inconvenience. However, during lockdown, I had it all set up at home and all was fine. Similarly for the school venue, if it’s all in place all the time, it would be the best option.
 

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