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Control/Dimming Strand SLD96 dimmer problems

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by RGJones, May 11, 2009.

  1. RGJones

    RGJones Member

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    Location:
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    Hello,
    At my high school we have been having an increasing number of problems with the dimmer rack in the auditorium, a Strand SLD96, two actually. We have been loosing dimmer modules left and right for the past couple years. I've tried everything that I feel capable of doing to try and fix them. I've swapped the bad modules with known working modules among other things. The main problem is that the rack processor does not even recognise that some of the dimmers are even there. Others are recognised but still do not work, even others still blink randomly while they are on. In an attempt to try and see what was happening when they blinked, I sat next to the dimmers watching the rack processor set to that dimmer until it blinked. What I found was that when they blinked they were really loosing communication with the rack processor. This is really confusing me and everyone at the school, and its a little alarming too, because we lost three modules and six dimmers before our last production. Our total lost is up to around four or five, and its always the dimmers that supply power to our most needed lighting locations.

    That was a long rant I know but any help would be apreciated as I'm trying to at least figure out the problem before I leave, as I'm a senior.

    Also the system is a 1:1 dimmer system (no patch), and I have an extra rack power supply, rack processor and processor to dimmer cards (I'm not going to mess with those though because you must take the rack apart to replace them).

    Thanks again, Rob.
     
  2. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Occupation:
    Controls Technician - TAIT Towers
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    Best thing to do is to either call Strand or call your local Strand dealer. They may be able to either walk you through things to try or send out a technician to take a look. You and the school should be aware that it may cost some money just to have the system looked at, so make sure that is OK before you start bringing people in.
     
  3. STEVETERRY

    STEVETERRY Well-Known Member

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    My understanding (from the cheap seats) is that Strand no longer supports SLD dimmers. I would check with them on the current support situation (are parts available?), since there were relatively few of these systems installed before the product was discontinued.


    ST
     
  4. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Location:
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    If, in fact, Strand Lighting is unwilling/unable to offer support, may I recommend these two options:

    Century Lighting Service, Inc.
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica]18-02 River Road[/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica]Fair Lawn, NJ 07410-1201[/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica](201) 791-7001 FAX (201) 791-3167[/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica]Contact: Sal Maratta & Joel Epstein
    E-Mail:
    [/FONT]
    [email protected]
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica]Specializing in old and obsolete dimming equipment to current equipment.[/FONT] [FONT=Arial,Helvetica]Field service coverage of the Eastern United States.[/FONT]

    Lite-Trol Service
    Steve Short
    1-800-LITE-TROL
    Hicksville, NY
    Lite-Trol Service
     
  5. TimMiller

    TimMiller Well-Known Member

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    Also try the guys over at Dimmer.com . They are very helpful.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 31, 2012
  6. RGJones

    RGJones Member

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    Location:
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    All very good sugestions, I will pass them on to my teacher.

    We had a Strand employee come to the school as part of a program Strand was doing to try and provide service to the aging SLD96 racks on the east coast. At least thats what I understood when he explained it to me. I spent the entire school day with him fixing the racks. Some of the things we did included; putting new software on the rack processors, rebirthing the processors, and normal maintinece. When he left the system was in pretty good condition, but now its starting to slowly fail again. He was the one who sent the extra processor, power supply and backplane cards because as people have said, parts are hard to come by.

    Unfortunately that was a one time thing, and now we have to go through the normal school work order process to get the local Strand distributor to come out. Unfortunately this is the company that installed the system, and they have come out multiple times before to try and fix things but so far have had no success. They seem to always blame the problems on the console (300 Series), but they seem to not even know how to control the rack locally.

    A very unfortunate situation but hopefully I can convince my teacher to contact one of the companies that have been listed here.

    Thanks for the help so far! I love this forum!
    Rob
     
  7. tdeater

    tdeater Member

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    Location:
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    I have 4 of these dam things in my theater. Sorry, I am a bit bitter... lol

    We have had all of the problems you listed, and many more than that over the 7 years we have been using these things. We are also using a 300 series console. We are pretty stable now, but experience random rack crashes still. What we did to get to this point is NOT run the latest rack software, we are running one of the oldest versions. (we called it stupifying the racks). We also replaced all of our castle cards in all of our racks. The castle cards are the only parts that you can still get as far as I know. We recently had to replace 4 more that failed.

    My theory is that the racks are too smart. Each castle card has 2 processors X 12 cards, 24 processors just in the castle cards. The actual backplain has processors on it, and the processor has who knows how many. Every one of these processors share a common data bus, so of one throws junk data, they all get confused.

    We have had strand engineers look at ours, many techs, and nobody ever came up with a solution, other than that there are some major design problems and they discintinued the SLD96 racks. As soon as we can get the funding, we will be replacing all of the racks. I have a lot of troubleshooting time in on these racks, if I can answer any questions, let me know.

    The work around that keeps us going is power cycling the racks by pulling out the power supply to the left of the processor and re-seating it. This power cycles all of these little processors. All of our racks have the screws backed out of the power supplies so they can be re-seated quickly without someone accidently pulling it all the way out.
     
  8. ChrisTD

    ChrisTD Member

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    Location:
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    All,

    I am new here, and found this site while searching around about our SLD system. We have 3 SLD 96 racks that have had some of the same exact problems you have all shared. We may be fortunate enough to be able to step away from the SLD world and looking to sell off our SLD racks plus various Outlook processor parts and corresponding preset panels.

    Nothing is final yet, but if anyone is still following this thread and would be interested in forraging for some spare parts, we will have several working processors, power supplies, and over 250 working dimmers.

    It seems like most of the questions and answers have faded away, but now that I've found this place, I'll keep an eye peeled if I can be of any help.
    Chris
     
  9. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    Could also be a simple as edge card connectors that have oxidized over the years from not moving. Can't think of the brand, but about 15 years back, I can remember spending a day going over docking connectors with a pencil eraser (data level, not power) on a complaint like that. Cleaning and re-seating connectors and chips can do wonders, as long as the person doing it is qualified to work on such equipment. Remember, these things also contain lethal voltages, so do not do it yourself.
     
  10. Darthrob13

    Darthrob13 Active Member

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    These parts will be gold.

    I personally packed all the refugees of the SLD parts when they were shipped to Dallas and frankly they are not prepared.

    If you have working parts find someone that can't replace their whole system and make them an offer.
     
  11. FMEng

    FMEng Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Do NOT use a pencil eraser. That may be a temporary fix but an eraser leaves a residue that will hasten the problem to come back with a vengence. It can also gradually removed the plating, and it won't do anything for the female connector.

    Faced with the problems desribed, I would go over all connectors and card contacts with Caig DeoxIT. Moisten a Q-tip to treat the card fingers and directly spray the connectors.

    You'd be surprised how many pieces of complex and expensive equipment I have rescued with a can of DeoxIT. A little oxidation can create all kinds of havoc, and I would be willing to bet that is what is happening here.

    Far too many technicians overlook this. They pull a card and replace with a new one. The unit works, so they assume the old card was bad. In reality, what they did was burnish the contacts by removal and insertion of the board.

    A second treatment of DeoxIT Gold, after the DeoxIT, will significantly reduce the chances for future problems. DeoxIT is a cleaner and Gold is a preservative.
     
  12. STEVETERRY

    STEVETERRY Well-Known Member

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    I totally agree. DeoxIt is the Caig Laboratories successor to Cramolyn, which saved many of us in sound and lighting over a lot of years! It is worth every penny of its cost!

    Whether it can solve these SLD96 problems, I have no idea--but DeoxIt is a valuable tool that should be in everyone's toolbox.

    ST
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 31, 2012
  13. tdeater

    tdeater Member

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    Location:
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    We are very close to replacing 4 SLD96 racks ourselves. We are hoping for final approval for the project today. So, if anyone is interested in buying some parts, let me know. [email protected]
     
  14. RGJones

    RGJones Member

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    Location:
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    Wow guys, I haven't been on here in awhile but this is some great information and some great offers.

    I am no longer attending the school that this rack is at but do still have connections there and will make sure either I go back and try this stuff or get them to do it. I'm sure anything would help.

    Thanks for all the help!
     
  15. DimmerDotCom

    DimmerDotCom Active Member

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    Location:
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    SLD:

    dimmers do not fit well, often moving them around gives you a dimmer that works in one slot but not another. The pins on the rear bend quite easily. The dimmers are not well supported in the rack. Install the dimmers starting at the top and you won't be able to install the bottom row or two.

    The castle cards are not well protected or buffered.

    Multiple CPUs cause race conditions as something on the comm line is slow to respond and get off the line for the next CPU to respond (main processor, backup processor, castle card CPUs, dimmer reporter cards).

    The problems you all describe we had them during install. A bit of luck and prayer often made the rack stable enough to do training and get the system signed off. I only commissioned two SLD systems and helped factory techs commission two other systems. Sharp edges on sheetmetal that cuts your hands, small access points for conenctors and switches that even my wife woulf have a problem with, flakey hardware and software=worst experiences ever. I rather change the fan module on an EDI Mark VII rack where you can't take the side panels off than work on another SLD rack.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2010
  16. STEVETERRY

    STEVETERRY Well-Known Member

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    It makes me wonder why any SLD owner is not demanding a free replacement with a system that works.

    Just sayin'.....


    ST
     
  17. tdeater

    tdeater Member

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    After July 19, 2010 I will have 4 Strand SLD96 racks for parts or complete if anyone is looking for anything. We are replacing all of our racks with the C21 racks. Initial inspection of the C21's as the parts are arriving are inpressive. Looks a lot better built, with lots of room for the wires. [email protected] 231-652-0313
     
  18. Sony

    Sony Active Member

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    Occupation:
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    The C21 series from what I can tell is basically just a new version of the CD-80 Supervisor, so there is no reason it shouldn't be a very high quality unit. CD-80's are nearly bulletproof and the C21's from what I can tell are basically just upgraded CD-80's with better processors, networking capabilities and more advanced features. They are very nice unit's and my second choice for modern dimmers after the ETC Sensor+ Series.
     
  19. tdeater

    tdeater Member

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    Our new C21's have been installed for a while now, and I almost forget they are there. I can't remember the last time I had to go into the dimmer room for anything. They work great! We have pretty much exhausted our pile of SLD96 parts now. Now if we can keep our primere system operating, we will be in good shape.
     
  20. DimmerDotCom

    DimmerDotCom Active Member

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    That should be easy. The stations and processor are repairable and there are plenty of parts available. I take care of Premiere systems that have been running since Strand Electro Controls put them in 25+ years ago. Bulletproof if you UPS the processor power supply to protect the processor itself (think of a PC running 24/7 365) and make sure all station backboxes are properly grounded to protect them from static shock (winter is when we see failed stations from static damaged MCU's). Putting a UPS on an architectural processor no matter the brand is paramount for statbility with the crappy power we have these days. Systems that would crash 2-3 times a year and require a reboot begin running with no problems for years have placing them on a UPS power system. Just make sure its a server class on-line UPS. YOu want it regulating and outputting a sinewave at all times. THe cheap units sold at office supply stores are typically the type that only run on battery power when line voltage goes away and produce an ugly stepped approximation of an AC waveform.
     

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