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What's Good for a new system?

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by w3st0n21, Jan 21, 2009.

  1. w3st0n21

    w3st0n21 Active Member

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    Location:
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    Ok, so my schools lighting system is like 30 yrs old, and we are in desperate need of a new one. our board is so unreliable that everytime you turn it on none of the channel faders respond so we kinda just press buttons until they fix themselves. We have a strand CD-80AE dimmer rack (48 dimmers) and the board is a strand lightboard M (yes, a working one...well sorta). We want a new system but we have to run it through the county and then they bid on the lowest price for a system that has what we want (or more like what we NEED). does anyone have any good suggestions for a system thats good, but not a bajillion dollars? (FYI: i was talking to the drama teacher (my stagecraft teacher) he said that for a new board and dimmers it was gonna be like 18,000.) is there a good system for less money? like come on we have had this stupid gear for like 30+ years i think, so can the county spare us the embarrasment of a really bad show, because of a really crappy system.

    BTW: Im in Richmond VA
     
  2. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    And that's the real low end of things.

    If it has to be bid through the county, then you're gonna get whatever they give you, so you have to have the teacher or whoever write your bid very, very carefully. Let me reiterate - very, very, very, very, very carefully. Or else you'll get really screwed over.

    Dernit, ETC, come out with a new, cost-effective board for the school market already! Hopefully at USITT.
     
  3. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    Occupation:
    Teacher
    Location:
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    Just a question: Are you going to need new distribution, too (where you hang and tie the lights into the system?) If it is a thirty year old system, you may want to look into getting all that old wiring replaced.

    Also, are you going to be replacing a house light system as well? It doesn't sound like it...

    Having never dealt with the public school system, but hearing stories about it here, make sure your teacher is very, very, very specific in the bids so you get exactly what you want/need and not a cheap knock off.

    You may want to look into hiring a theatre consultant who can provide you with not only some recommendations on equipment but also certified, reliable installers.

    (Edit: Wow! Three responses in under 20 minutes!):clap:
     
  4. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    First things first, as I told you before, upgrade your dimmers to DMX. Get the johnson systems conversion done to them, CD-80's are great dimmers. I have 140 of them in one of my spaces and they are still solid. Replacing your dimmers alone, even with just 48, could easily run you 15k. Most of the money that goes into a retrofit is not in the dimmers or console, its adding more circuits to the venue or adding new hanging positions. Adding in an ethernet network is pretty standard as well anymore. Do a search on here, awhile back Gafftaper had a series of posts about what gear he was bringing into his theatre and how he got around "the bid system".
     
  5. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    Location:
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    Observations:

    - Your CD80s are bulletproof. I see no need to replace the rack.
    - We discussed already that the AE firing card in the rack should handle both DMX and AMX, so that solves that problem.
    - If anything needs to be spent on the rack, it's a maintenance contract. Occasionally bricks will fail and things like that, and it's nice to have somebody who knows their stuff looking at the rack every few months.
    - All of your problems, as best I can tell from over the internet, are with the old LB/M. Some replacement console choices include ETC Ion, Strand Palette, (used) ETC Express, (used) Strand Series/300, and so on .. listed probably in order of my preference as well.

    A base Ion will set you back about 5K. One of the smaller Palette boards is also in that kind of range (I believe they also have one in the 3-4K range, and of course going up from there too). Used boards generally fall in the 1K-4K range, though you really want a new one .. and I bet your school and county won't let you buy a used one.

    The console upgrade should be doable for significantly less than 18K. You probably will have to have new DMX cable pulled, and you may want a couple of universes and optos in there as well.
     
  6. w3st0n21

    w3st0n21 Active Member

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    optos???? idk what that is

    AND BTW: thanks to all who are helping
     
  7. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    See the Glossary entry: http://www.controlbooth.com/forums/glossary/9397-opto-splitter.html, and this thread: http://www.controlbooth.com/forums/lighting/10600-dmx-splitters.html?highlight=opto.

    And I agree with [user]waynehoskins[/user]. Keep your CD80AE dimmers, perhaps with a tune-up. An ETC Ion will take you far into the future, permitting complete, convenient control of all "non-dimmer" devices.
     
  8. jmabray

    jmabray Active Member

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    This is all well and good, and we can give you some very general tips and thoughts over this here inter-web thingy, but you really need to call your local dealer and have them come out and take a look at your system. They can make some reccomendations and put together a couple of different proposals with cost in mind. They would also be able to help your teacher or administrator or (god forbid) purchasing agent write the specs so that you get something functional.

    Youv'e got Stagesound in Roanoke and Barbizon Capitol in Alexandria. Im sure that either one of them - while not in your same town, would be more than happy to come by and take a look at what you have got and share their thoughts on where you might go.
     
  9. NickJones

    NickJones Active Member

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    Location:
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    Hi, yes your dimmers should be fine, move them all to DMX and get a new desk, and as everyone else said Strand 300 / ETC Ion (Pref Ion but your choice) should make your system seem brand new, leave the dimmers alone, and you will be fine. Good luck!
    Nick
     
  10. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Occupation:
    Theater Manager & T.D.
    Location:
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    Strand 300 hasn't been produced for a couple of years. Like buying an Express at this point, the days of the 300 are passed and it's time to buy a Palette.

    Don't replace your dimmers get them a good professional servicing and do the upgrade.

    Currently your best option for a console is a a Strand Basic Palette II. You should be able to get one for around $4,000. While Ion rocks, if you only have 48 dimmers, it's WAY over kill for your system needs. Smartfade ETC's other option currently is not up to you needs. I own a Strand Classic Palette the big brother of the Basic. It's a great console and great software. Easy to use and learn yet powerful. The only difference between my console and the baby brother is you can only run 100 channels (not a problem for you) and it has less submasters. The software is exactly the same for all Strand Palette and Light Palette consoles. So you get a very powerful software package with that little console. If you ever decide to upgrade your dimmer capacity or you add a bunch of intelligent gear you can call Strand and upgrade up to 1500 channels sold in packages of 128 or 512 channels. If you do anything with DMX toys like gobo rotoators or color scrollers you'll find them very easy to deal with in the Strand/Horizon software.

    If you can wait until sometime between early Summer and the end of the year, ETC has a new console coming that may also be a good fit for your needs. We are speculating that it should fit between Smartfade ($1,700) and Ion ($6k with sliders) in both price and abilities. But there's no guarantee when it will be announced, actually begin shipping, what it will even do, or what it's price will be. ETC's been very quiet about it, the fact that they have publicly told us it's even coming is huge. You could see it announced as soon as USITT in March and shipping a few months later or it may not appear until LDI and shipping at the end of the year.

    As far as bidding do as much of the leg work you can yourself. Call dealers, get bids. Don't let any of this get in the hands of a contractor or you will pay HUGE price markups. Find out from your school's financial people what the rules are in your state and dig in getting bids from local, regional, or national dealers. If you need help finding dealers in your area let us know. You will need at least 3 bids... and it may be large enough of a purchase you are required to go through a public sealed bid process. Talk to the person in charge of finances at your school to find out how all this works and keep as tight of control on it as you can.
     

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