Testing CD-80 Dimmer Packs


I am working to upgrage a gradeschool theatre (K-8) from lights on/lights off circuit breaker control to something with dimmers. Since this is a parish school (read "no money"), and I'm strictly volunteer,it's a labor of love.
Anyway, I eBay'd a couple of CD-80 12x2400 watt dimmer packs - that alledgedly work. I have cleaned them up on the inside and out and I would like to test them out to see what I've got before I hook them up in a more permanent installation. Unfortunately, they speak AMX and I'm having trouble even finding an AMX board to rent for a test. Is there any way to test the dimmers and interface without a controller?

Second, assuming the dimmer packs work and I save my pennies for a DMX controller would I be better off going with an external DMX>AMX converter or biting the bullet and replacing the internals with either a new Strand DMX interface or the Johnson Systems retrofit?

Any and all suggestions are welcome. Thanks in advance.
Well, if you don't have a lighting board at all, then it makes sense to get a board that will interface directly with your dimmers. Mind you, I would imagine that normal DMX boards are the cheaper ones, and much easier to get your hands on.

So, I suppose I personally would go for a normal board and a converter from DMX to AMX.
I believe all you have to do is just swap out the AMX interface card with a Strand DMX interface card for the CD-80. The other two high schools in my district have a Strand LBX Console/Supervisor CD-80 Dimmer system. They got the DMX interface card installed into their dimmer rack when it was ordered. It shouldn't be that hard to just pop in an interface card. If you've installed Ram, PCI, AGP, or an IRQ (Video Card, Sound Card, Dial Up Modem, NIC, RAM, etc) interface card into a computer, you should have no problem. If you not having luck with the internal interface card, then try to get an external converter. This is why I generally don't like Strand gear because you have to deal with properitary issues, such like this. It's funny because most of their consoles don't even have AMX interfaces.
It would be best for you to get rid of AMX, and go with DMX. DMX has been, and will be the industry standard for communication. You will be able to find more of a selection of lighting gear & accessories, at cheaper prices. Tech support will be easier, and there is much more information out about DMX and DMX lighting systems then there is with there proprietary stuff.

Internal, external? I dont think it really matters. I guess it would come down to $$, but if the amounts are close, I would just get an external so you don't have to open anything up. It lesses your chances of screwing something up. Hope this helps.
Another thing that came to my mind...

Just for the record I have heard of AMX, but I don't know a thing about either than many Strand Dimmers use it and it's a lighting control protocol not regularly used. I'm not exactly sure what the AMX interface physical is. If it's not 3pin or 5pin XLR, who wants to figure out how to run 100+ feet of AMX to FOH?

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