# Upgrading 35 year old Strand AMX192 system

#### jazzman1960

##### Member
Thanks for letting me join this group! I work at a small HS with an app. 500 seat auditorium. The lighting system is about 35 years old and in need of improvement. I am not a lighting specialist, just a music teacher helping out.

We have a Strand AMX192 system with an assortment of Fresnels, ellipsoidals, scoops, and 2 follow spots, about 40 fixtures in all. The dimmer rack has 46 CD80 dimmers with 4 of them for house lights controlled by a wall panel in the sound booth. One of the dimmer modules is always on so we are thinking the "cube" is bad. The control board is a Strand Mantrix 12. Our original board went bad last year and we bought this one a week before a production to get by.

We have received a bid for replacement of everything from the fixtures back that was too much for our budget, at least all at once. We looked at another schools bid for total replacement with LED, but I thought some of the lights were a little too low quality.

We are currently leaning toward the Johnson Systems CD-3000 and an ETC ColorSource 40 console with associated wiring, etc.

What advice, help, recommendations can any of you give in the selection of hardware and the direction we are headed? I am concerned if the console will handle all of our lights and how the DMX512 is implemented with the traditional dimmer rack. Thanks!

##### Well-Known Member
In my experience, the Johnson System retrofits for Strand racks have been well designed and reliable. If the rest of the rack is in good shape I think it will go well.

I don't know how complex your shows are but it would seem an ETC Element might be a good fit. Of course, anything would be a step up from a Mantrix console.

RonHebbard

#### BillConnerFASTC

##### Well-Known Member
While the ColorSource console offers a lot for multi-attribute LED and automated fixtures, I don't think it's well suited to conventional dimmers. Since youre upgrading the CD80, I assume you will stay with conventional fixtures for a while.

Element or perhaps Nomad if you could get comfortable with just a keyboard. And the educator discount is like $250 so you cant beat the price. Even if you later acquire a full console desk, its still a useful backup. Or add a programing wing. And try to then get into some LED - backdrop first - and stick with quality name brand fixtures. #### jazzman1960 ##### Member While the ColorSource console offers a lot for multi-attribute LED and automated fixtures, I don't think it's well suited to conventional dimmers. Since youre upgrading the CD80, I assume you will stay with conventional fixtures for a while. Element or perhaps Nomad if you could get comfortable with just a keyboard. And the educator discount is like$250 so you cant beat the price. Even if you later acquire a full console desk, its still a useful backup. Or add a programing wing.

And try to then get into some LED - backdrop first - and stick with quality name brand fixtures.

Being a newb at this, what are the features of the ColorSource that makes it unsuited for conventional dimmers? We don't run complex productions and whatever we have has to be VERY user friendly. My admin is a little skiddish about the Element price tag. In addition, we have a Yamaha LS-9 audio mixer that is too complicated for almost everyone to operate. I'm not trying to make excuses, just dealing with the facts.

I do have the Nomad software on a computer to review. We always seem to need a quick way to turn our lights (mostly because of poor planning) and am concerned about the startup time of using a computer.

#### RonHebbard

##### Well-Known Member
Being a newb at this, what are the features of the ColorSource that makes it unsuited for conventional dimmers? We don't run complex productions and whatever we have has to be VERY user friendly. My admin is a little skiddish about the Element price tag. In addition, we have a Yamaha LS-9 audio mixer that is too complicated for almost everyone to operate. I'm not trying to make excuses, just dealing with the facts.

I do have the Nomad software on a computer to review. We always seem to need a quick way to turn our lights (mostly because of poor planning) and am concerned about the startup time of using a computer.
@jazzman1960 Perhaps you ought to consider including one of @jfleenor 's magical DMX wall stations in a standard multi-gang wall box adjacent to a commonly used entrance / exit door to provide instant access to ten presets whenever your console is not in operation. My inclusion of @jfleenor should call her attention to your quest.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard

#### jazzman1960

##### Member
@jazzman1960 Perhaps you ought to consider including one of @jfleenor 's magical DMX wall stations in a standard multi-gang wall box adjacent to a commonly used entrance / exit door to provide instant access to ten presets whenever your console is not in operation. My inclusion of @jfleenor should call her attention to your quest.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
I will look into that possibility. Thanks!

#### EdSavoie

##### Well-Known Member
+1 For the Johnson systems retrofit, or Mr fleenor's DMX magic.

I'm not sure on the exact dates which deliniate between a standard AMX only CD-80, Or a CD-80 AE. The AE can be configured to use AMX, DMX, or heaven forbid SMX.

#### jfleenor

##### Well-Known Member
Our Preset 10 would probably work great for your situation. Thanks @RonHebbard for the shout out.

If you have any questions about how it works, feel free to give us a call and we can talk you through it! We especially like chatting with people before they buy our products, to make sure it fits your particular need. You can call and talk to one of our engineers at (805) 481-9599!

#### Dionysus

##### Well-Known Member
I would have to second the Element or Nomad (Nomad is way better in price) for your situation. I understand wanting to stick to a form factor that seems more like the mantrix (hell I learned on a mantrix myself, a LONG time ago) as the idea of a modern console is intimidating. Trust me I've teached MANY MANY students how to rock a nomad setup with NO lighting experience or with just experience on consoles such as the Mantrix.

The coloursource is not well suited for conventionals or more typical theatre setups compared to nomad. I personally find the line of those consoles a pain.

I also second having something like the preset 10 to be able to pop up simple presets for users who are not ready for a real lighting console!

#### BillConnerFASTC

##### Well-Known Member
Being a newb at this, what are the features of the ColorSource that makes it unsuited for conventional dimmers? We don't run complex productions and whatever we have has to be VERY user friendly. My admin is a little skiddish about the Element price tag. In addition, we have a Yamaha LS-9 audio mixer that is too complicated for almost everyone to operate. I'm not trying to make excuses, just dealing with the facts.

I do have the Nomad software on a computer to review. We always seem to need a quick way to turn our lights (mostly because of poor planning) and am concerned about the startup time of using a computer.
The 40 channel limit - or page for 80 - and that's all you could do. Just not a console designed to control only dimmers. There's probably a lot of other ones out there that I don't use often - Leprecon, Chauvet, even a Strand 100 or 200. I think even Cognito is better suited for dimmers but not no-warm up hands on sliders. The ColorSource is designed for multi-attribute fixtures. Heck, find a used SmartFade 1248. Personally, with just 46 dimmers - I'd stick with the Mantrix. Leave it and add Nomad.

The Johnson Systems 3000 has back up presets - maybe add a button station or two for quick access to them. I hope someone has the house light control figured out. The 2000 seems easier to interface that.

#### jazzman1960

##### Member
Through this discussion, I have become more interested in the Nomad idea. My current thoughts are the Nomad educational package (I assume we qualify) with the dongle and Gadget 2, a Johnson Systems CD-3000, a desktop computer with a large touchscreen, maybe a DFD Pre10-A-POPO for the house lights, and perhaps a midi controller to offer 8-10 faders and some buttons. All of this to work with CD80 rack and conventional lighting. Am I on the right track?

#### BillConnerFASTC

##### Well-Known Member
I don't know what house light controls existing you have and whether they can be or you want to reconnect them. That would I think impact the 2000 vs 3000 model, the DFD device, and the midi-controller. I think your surest path to good answers is to document what you have seem to just be missing house light controls of any - and talk to Johnson Systems.

I think you'll like the Nomad as you describe - yes i'm sure you will get the educator discount - and why not keep the Mantrix if it works?

#### RickR

##### Well-Known Member
While I'm a fan of physical faders, you should know that Nomad as touch screen faders and extensive button options. Make it a really big screen and maybe 2 of them!

Oh yeah, check out the DFD fader version of the Preset devices.

#### microstar

##### Well-Known Member
Johnson Systems also offers remote houselight button stations that work with the retrofit card cages; might make for better integration.
They will work with any type of wire, 3 conductors.

#### jazzman1960

##### Member
I don't know what house light controls existing you have and whether they can be or you want to reconnect them. That would I think impact the 2000 vs 3000 model, the DFD device, and the midi-controller. I think your surest path to good answers is to document what you have seem to just be missing house light controls of any - and talk to Johnson Systems.

I think you'll like the Nomad as you describe - yes i'm sure you will get the educator discount - and why not keep the Mantrix if it works?

Our house lights have a controller with no visible name, 5 faders (one a master) and and on/off button, that is tied 4 or our CD80 dimmers. I can hear the fans come on when the lights are turned on.

I have an email into Johnson Systems, along with a call to DFD, we'll see what they say.

Our original Mantrix died, our 2nd one from Ebay is well used but working. We have multiple little problems in many areas popping up and trying to weigh numerous repairs with upgrading.

I am basically trying to learn and fact find for presentation to our school board. I just want to make sure I am correct on options that I give them so they can make a good decision about any future repairs or upgrades.

#### BillConnerFASTC

##### Well-Known Member
I think with new electronics your dimmers will work fine.

Nomad is a great deal, no matter what else you do.

It would take me a while to determine best options for house lights and quick no-console control. And what about any planning for future - LEDs, etc. Not easy solutions and easy to waste money. Good luck.

#### jazzman1960

##### Member
I think with new electronics your dimmers will work fine.

Nomad is a great deal, no matter what else you do.

It would take me a while to determine best options for house lights and quick no-console control. And what about any planning for future - LEDs, etc. Not easy solutions and easy to waste money. Good luck.
Thanks for everyone's input!!

Made a call to Johnson Systems. Very nice and helpful. Have a solution for retrofit and house lights. Highly recommended!