system re-vamp


I am currently looking at a complete re-vamp of or school lighting system and I was wondering if anybody could recommend some good solutions.

Our current layout is two front of house bars - each carrying 8 sockets (2 per channel) and a further 4 bars (again carrying 8 sockets) over the stage.
We have a VERY old lighting board - Furse Regal - and I am looking at replacing this as the first item. I would like it to be easy to control moving lights with as I am thinking of buying two S4 revolutions as I love the S4's we currently have. This would obviously mean the installation of DMX universe.
Any board recommendations - bearing in mind that we have very limited space in our lighting box - 60cmdepth - 120cm width are max dimension for the board.

So can anyone provide some very rough costings - I'm sure ship will provide me with a brilliant solution and accurate quote (attempt to suck up).

I have already estimated at 8k for a dmx system and a replacement of our control rack to split the 4 channels per bar to 8 so obviously I would require/prefer a 48/96 board for spontaneity setups - estimated 5.5k for etc express 48/96 and a further 5k for two s4's revolution

I have my original application for a grant and would be more than happy to e-mail it to anyone for criticism
Hi there,

What kind of dimmers do you have? If you're thinking of replacing those, that's going to put a potentially bigger dent in your pocketbook than a console.

My recommendation for a console is a Strand 300. You can definetely get one for under five grand. You're probably goign to need to get DMX -> something conversion to plug into whatever your dimmmers run.

As far as the intels go, do you really need them? It sounds like you want them in order to have the cool toys. I would do some addiitonal research into them if I were you and figure out what ones are really suited for your environment. Varilite & Martin are a couple of manufacturers out there.

The DMX is not difficult or expensive to install. I'm not sure where you're getting eight grand to run some DMX cable out to the FOH catwalks and the electrics over the stage but I haven't seen your space.

As far as the grant application is concerned, if you want to mail it to me, [email protected], I'll read it over & send feedback.
Im just woundering why everyone seems to suggest getting a Stand desk? What is so good about them over a ETC or a Leprecon? Maybe I should start a new post on the subject. Im just curious. I have only used one Strand desk and I didn't like it all that much. Maybe someone can convince me otherwise.

thanks very much for the advice so far.

i am only planning to have 2 dmx sockets per bar depending on cost. cause with 2 per bar that would be a total of 12 dmx points so if anyone could give a ball park figure. Ideally i would like 4 per bar but i'm worrying bout money.

i am definitely looking at replacing the dimmer rack in that 8k as the old one is once more indifferent (not trying to be controversial) by CCT's joint venture with Furse. to repeat myself i would like to have 48seperate dimmers (already have the plugs and wiring wired in but in pairs). I don't have a clue what the dmx system would need!

thanks desmond u should hve got my e-mail by now
digitaltec said:
Im just woundering why everyone seems to suggest getting a Stand desk? What is so good about them over a ETC or a Leprecon? Maybe I should start a new post on the subject. Im just curious. I have only used one Strand desk and I didn't like it all that much. Maybe someone can convince me otherwise.


I'm a Strand guy because that's what I use. One thing I really like about their 300 series (and 500 I gues too) is that the board is exandable. YOu can purchase a 24/48 desk, get a bunch more fixtures, and say "hey, I want a 48/96 desk". You order the fader module, it shows up, you plug it in (toolless, you can do it with a door key though a flat blade is easier), punch in the code, and bam. You can also order submaster modules. This was what my vendor did the convincing with. With the ETC desk, you're SOL unless you buy a new one. One of the other cool things with the Strand desk here is that the modules are all connected with a CAT5 cable, so, theoretically, you could wall mount a submaster panel somewhere remote, or something like that.

I admittedly have played with an Express only a few times. I think that people need to look at other options, not just jump to ETC because that's all they've ever heard of.
If you have a lower budget, I guess I would go with Strand. Try to stay away from Colortran though. If you go with ETC, they can be expanded, its just that on the Express, you have to hit a button to have access to all of your 'hidden' faders. That is, if you are running 110 channels, and your board will only accomodate 96. The more high-end models, such as the Expression series, has no faders. It has ten pages of 12 submasters, so other than the GM and the C/F sliders, that is all that there is on the desk. With 10 pgs x 12 subs, you can set the board up to run 'channel-per-sub' as long as you have fewer than 240 channels. However, since these do overlap, it may be hard to program a show using both channel 6 and 36 at one time. I would just reccomend programming your specials, effects, and areas onto the subs. For example, areas on page 1, specials on page 2, and f/x on 3. On page 4, you can program in 'looks'. I know you just need to know what board to use, so my point is, ETC's can be very accomodating, plus I doubt you will have over 192 channels; which the largest Express can handle with ease. In the long run, there are alot of good consoles out there, and you will probably love which ever one you get your hands on, and think it is the best... Your console is no better than the person running it, and vise-versa.

Here are a few of my suggestions:
ETC Express
Strand 300-500
I am also a Strand guy!!

There are quite a few reasons why I like the Strand desks, but I think its important to realise I was converted to Strand, and yes it was my own choice, I wasnt forced or anything. Where I used to use any desk under the sun, I now always put down a strand for my gigs!

Alot of people, when first using a strand desk sit down and freak out because it initially looks so complex to use the desk, however once you use it and get a bit friendly with it, you will realise that they are actually very very simple desks to use, and very intelligent!
All the commands you type in are common sense, and you can program ot to do pretty much whatever you want through the use of groups and macros. for example, when using moving lights you can make a group that has them all pointing to the centre and in blue, you can then tell the desk that you want to assign that group to the flash button on sub 1, or one of its specially designed macro trigger buttons.

But as I said, they basically follow common logic and once you figure it out and spend some time with them they are very easy and a very user friendly desk to use...

I think I have made posts about this somewhere else, but after one show of using the desk, you pretty much know how to use every feature on the desk!

I would seriously suggest having a look at one and getting a demo!
i was going to choose a strand 300 24/48 but decided against it as i couldn't get the offline editer to work (i know being picky) and i didn't like that fact that you had to have a huge compact pc sitting near the console.

chose an etc express 48/96 instead
You guys all have good reasons on why to use Stand consoles. I see your point where when you add more fixtures you just add on a wing. Which could be a handy feature, if your lighting rig is always expanding.

You got to keep in mind I work with consoles like the Grand MA, Maxxyz, Case, Hog II, and soon some Avolite consoles. Also, usually when I use static fixtures, I'm only using the bump buttons cause it's concerts or industirals.

But I will look more into the Stand line of consoles for installs and stuff. Thanks again for your input.
rgsw said:
i was going to choose a strand 300 24/48 but decided against it as i couldn't get the offline editer to work (i know being picky) and i didn't like that fact that you had to have a huge compact pc sitting near the console.

The computer is smaller than a new dell optiplex or dimension in the desktop size case. I'd guess it's about 24" x 12" x 4". Because the desk sits in a right angle fashion, I just put the box behind it. Evnetually I'll probably move it into a rack, but, that's in all my spare time.
It is important to know that only the Strand 300's now have that external box because the desk is so slim where as the 500 has it all contained within the unit.

You do not have to have the box located near the desk at all! Its just a simple matter of making up a home made multicore that has a keyboard, mouse and monitor lead in it. I ahd one custom made by a electric company out here so when I use a Strand 300 out of venue I will locate the HDD with the dimmer racks and run the loom.

The strands also have a nifty feature - they take a standard IDE HDD. The same as the ones in your home pc's. This means, that if your desk is doing alot of work you can easily upgrade the HDD to a 20gb one. Our desk has 10gb HDD which is sufficient, but I know alot of venues that have loaded games onto the hard drive (dos) and run them off the desk. You have to remember that the buttons on the strand are just a standard keyboard with a macro value ;)

Strand's offline editor is able to be run on Windows XP using Virtual PC so you are not only restricted to Windows 98, however it is important to know that its ole will not run in a windows xp environment unless you have virtual pc installed. to find out more about virtual pc jump on the microsoft website and do a search for virtual pc.

one more thing :p you can plug your strand desk into a normal pc network, install the offline editor on your office pc, lunch room pc or a pc side of stage and operate the desk and memories by using the desks built in lan card and ip addressing. it is very simple, and handy when you dont really need to be in the control box to run a show. also helpful when focussing if your venue can't afford the focus remote.

maybe i should go work for strand....
For the one that I had made up, they bought the two plug ends, for PS2 and VGA, then they got multiple core cable and made their own. Im not 100% sure but I think that you can get long vga cables and whatever else, because in our lecture theatre there is a lecturn in the middle of the room and a vga lead runs through the floor into a unit that is about 4 mts away, so it is possible!

But I honestly dont think that having that extra box would deter me from buying a desk, stick it on the floor, or in a draw. Ours has a backup powersupply unit under the desk, makes a good footrest lol
It seems like you have a bunch of cash to blow on this retrofit. I personally would have to recomend something of the ETC Line. I have used strand boards and Etc. ETC is in my opinion is easier to control. Etc's ofline editor for one of my boards 24/48 works great. I also have the RFU and it also works great. The express system can do a good job at FX. If you are going to do crazy stuff tho I suggest using the express for conventionals and get something like a wholehog 2 or 3 for intelegents. This is dependent on your situation andwhat you are and will be doing.

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