Strand CD80 Rack

Repeater

Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Location
Western Michigan
Hi all, I am deciding on whether to upgrade, or keep a CD80 rack in service for say, another 5 years. It seems to work OK, although I've not checked all of the channels, so it may or may not have a few bad ones. It was installed in 1999. I'm not too familiar with this brand and dimmer rack, so opinions on typical longevity, parts availability, and / or typical problems would be welcome.

Laryn
 

JCBigler

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Joined
Jun 27, 2014
Location
Tulsa, Oklahoma
We have the Strand CD80 dimmers for all of the spaces in our building. Probably over 2,000 channels worth (maybe more?). We have had the processors rebuilt a couple of times, but so far the dimmers themselves have been running with very few hassles. They are probably 15 years old. We would like to replace them with ETC Senors, but that's at least a $half million job--probably more, and would have to be voted on and approved by the votes and would take at least 5 years if we started now. Not sure what we are going to do.
 

RonHebbard

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Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Hi all, I am deciding on whether to upgrade, or keep a CD80 rack in service for say, another 5 years. It seems to work OK, although I've not checked all of the channels, so it may or may not have a few bad ones. It was installed in 1999. I'm not too familiar with this brand and dimmer rack, so opinions on typical longevity, parts availability, and / or typical problems would be welcome.

Laryn
Laryn;

The Strand CD80 racks were/are built like very reliable tanks.
I shouldn't assume but I'm assuming you're speaking of a full size rack; 48 slots, likely loaded with 48 dual 20 Amp 2.4 Kw modules / 96 dimmers. In my area there are CD80 racks with 30 years on them still reliably running 24/7/365.
The original CD80 racks were controlled via the AMX-192 analogue multiplex protocol.
The dimmer modules hold up extremely well.
The fans and control electronics are the first things to go but usually only after about a decade, or longer.
One of the racks in my area was installed in 1983. When Strand introduced the upgraded AE electronics it was an early adopter. Approximately two months ago, the AE control electronics were replaced with one of Shaun Johnson's 3000 series upgrade electronics, Google Johnson Systems for more info, which of course gained them brand new fans as well.

A couple of thoughts for you;
When you replace a console; you unpack it, plug in a few cables, power up the console and you're on your way. Eventually you read the manual and become more proficient / efficient.
Changing out a dimmer rack consumes far more money and appreciable down time.
Often power supply feeders are no longer long enough to reach the new rack's mains lugs and then there are all of those load lines to be dealt with.
The Johnson Systems upgrade electronics couldn't be simpler / quicker to install; a screwdriver, a few plugs and you're back up and running. One other thing to mention, Shaun Johnson's upgrade electronics operate with the DMX512 protocol.

Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

Scenemaster60

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Joined
Apr 17, 2013
Location
Minneapolis, MN
If you HAVE the money to upgrade to new Sensor dimmers that is probably your best bet for the long term. That said, the CD80 is an extremely rugged and reliable dimmer if given a little TLC from time to time. I regularly volunteer for a theatre that has two CD80 racks that are approaching 30 years old and in their second venue.

The dimmer modules themselves are almost indestructible and easy to find parts for. There are more issues that occur with the control circuitry, but it is my understanding that there are after-market adaptations that can solve many of these issues.
 

FMEng

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Mar 31, 2008
Location
Tacoma, WA
As others have said, the the dimmers and busses are simple and reliable and can be maintained to last for a long time. The controller chassis could fail in ways that are not repairable, but the Johnson Systems replacement is a good option. A CD-80 rack with a CD-2000 upgrade should be every bit as good as a new rack from another manufacturer, and a whole lot less expensive.
 

RonHebbard

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Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
As others have said, the the dimmers and busses are simple and reliable and can be maintained to last for a long time. The controller chassis could fail in ways that are not repairable, but the Johnson Systems replacement is a good option. A CD-80 rack with a CD-2000 upgrade should be every bit as good as a new rack from another manufacturer, and a whole lot less expensive.
Hello FME!

If all you need is one or two DMX inputs with merging functionality and don't require architectural / house light controls, Shaun Johnson's 3000 series costs approximately a thousand dollars less than the original 2000 series.
In rough ball-park dollars: New rack installed; about $50,000.00
Shaun Johnson's 3000 series; about $6,000.00 including installation in about an hour.
Pretty much unbeatable for cost and amount of downtime.

Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

coldnorth57

Active Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2008
Location
Prince George BC Canada
If it works don't mess with it, the CD 80 Rack is bullet proof (the dimmers) the control system is a bit of a problem but as others have siad the Johnson Sytsem upgrade is simple
 

BillConnerFASTC

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Joined
Jan 30, 2010
Location
Clayton NY 13624
Even if you have to replace the card cage, much less waste and cost than replacing. After all, your only keeping a bunch of very conservatively rated SSR packs - like 50 amps for a 20 amp circuit - a bunch of premium circuit breakers - and a lot of copper and steel and maybe some brass. Unless you really need the AF, there is little to be gained by changing them out (other than commissions and profits for a few), and lots of spare parts out there.

Where in western Michigan are you - I'm working on a project near Grand Haven - could stop by.
 

RonHebbard

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Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Even if you have to replace the card cage, much less waste and cost than replacing. After all, your only keeping a bunch of very conservatively rated SSR packs - like 50 amps for a 20 amp circuit - a bunch of premium circuit breakers - and a lot of copper and steel and maybe some brass. Unless you really need the AF, there is little to be gained by changing them out (other than commissions and profits for a few), and lots of spare parts out there.

Where in western Michigan are you - I'm working on a project near Grand Haven - could stop by.

Mr. Conner Sir!

"Unless you really need the AF"
What's an "AF"?

BTW; this http://www.michiganbroadcasttowers.com/amateur/nrx.htm will take you to where Laryn spends his time building and maintaining the Holland Amateur Radio Club's 2 meter repeater site.

Toodleoo!
Ron
 

BillConnerFASTC

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Joined
Jan 30, 2010
Location
Clayton NY 13624
Advanced Features - that's the ETC name - honestly can't tell you who if anyone has same - but primarily a current transducer (check that bit basically a winding around a conductor) that reports back via the data line some imformation such as load. You could do a lamp check at the console for instance. I always thought they should come up with software that it would email you if a lamp was blown or unplugged. (Maybe it does now.)

While very cool, I could never justify the $50 or so per dimmer ($100 per dual module) as the greatest need.

I'd love to hear of people!e that have and utilize this feature productively.
 

SteveB

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Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Location
Brooklyn, NY
It doesn't pop you an email, but AF did pop a message on the console screen that you blew a lamp on address XX.

Agree that it was just a bit pricy for what it offered. I can't recall though if you had to run the circuit to 100% before it knew, or if it sensed the load while off.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

BillConnerFASTC

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Jan 30, 2010
Location
Clayton NY 13624
The first time I heard about it was strand product, perhaps just a prototype, but I seem to recall you had to tell it what the connected lad should be, but telling it went along with integrating the schedule (and plot, magic sheet, and other LD paperwork) into the console.
 

SteveB

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Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Location
Brooklyn, NY
The first time I heard about it was strand product, perhaps just a prototype, but I seem to recall you had to tell it what the connected lad should be, but telling it went along with integrating the schedule (and plot, magic sheet, and other LD paperwork) into the console.
With ETC AF I recall you ran a "snapshot", telling the racks to measure the load. I have no clue if the dimmers had to be at full. It was part of the ETC Link system way back with Express and Expression, which had the link multi-pin XLR connector on the back of the console connecting to the dimmers.
 

JD

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Jan 1, 2005
Location
North Wales PA
As LED technology marches on, you are going to find yourself putting in more and more non-dim circuits so my own feeling is stick with what you have. It makes sense to do the controller upgrade (Johnson) as this is the only weak area. That will be pocket change compared to changing out the racks. Hard to say where we will be in 5 years with LEDs, but it would be embarrassing to have a shiny new budget-buster dimmer system and only have a few conventionals still in use ;)
 

derekleffew

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Aug 21, 2007
Location
Las Vegas, NV, USA
Hi all, I am deciding on whether to upgrade, or keep a CD80 rack in service for say, another 5 years. ...
A no-brainer. Keep the CD80SV rack.

It seems to work OK, although I've not checked all of the channels, so it may or may not have a few bad ones. ...
If any of the dimmer channels are bad, replacing the SSR is easy and inexpensive. http://www.controlbooth.com/threads/three-dimmers-wont-turn-off.6987/

... It was installed in 1999.
A dimmer rack should easily last twenty years, and there are many on this board who have installations much, much older.

... I'm not too familiar with this brand and dimmer rack, ...
It's arguable (anyone have firm data?) as to whether the CD80 or ETC's Sensor is the most popular dimmer ever made (for North America), but together I'd guess they comprise up to 75% of the market.

... so opinions on typical longevity, parts availability, and / or typical problems would be welcome.
As said above, a processor/control card/CEM upgrade may be tenable at some point, but the modules themselves are bullet-proof. One helpful site: www.savemycd80.com . No doubt you've gots lots better things on which to spend your limited budget.
 

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