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Author Topic: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack  (Read 1818 times)

John L Nobile

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Upgrade Strand CD80 rack
« on: November 07, 2019, 05:10:10 pm »

We've had a 96 x 2.4k channel CD80 dimmer at the hotel since 1990. It's been in use almost nightly until the last 3 years. Now it's once or twice a week but gets heavy use when we have dance competitions. And it's AMX so we have a converter in line as well.

I'm seriously considering the Johnson Systems upgrade for it. It swaps out all the electronics and would be DMX which would save me a failure point as the converter is at least 25 years old.

https://www.johnsonsystems.com/strand_cd_3000.htm

My thought is that the dimmer modules will probably outlast me and then some. After 30 years, they all still work. It's the electronics that concern me.

Has anyone had any experience with this retrofit? It sounds like it's just what I need.
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John Fruits

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Re: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2019, 05:47:19 pm »

You might consider also asking this question at controlbooth.com.  Here is a 5 year old thread about this:
https://www.controlbooth.com/threads/strand-cd80-rack.35798/#post-310640
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Scott Hofmann

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Re: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2019, 07:42:25 pm »

You might consider also asking this question at controlbooth.com.  Here is a 5 year old thread about this:
https://www.controlbooth.com/threads/strand-cd80-rack.35798/#post-310640
I've used the Johnson Systems QD2000 rack electronics upgrade for the Electro-Controls Quad rack and it performs superbly with excellent build quality and top notch installation instructions. All of their stuff is bulletproof and their tech support is instantly reachable although in Canada of course, eh.
I would not think twice about doing the upgrade. Far better than Strand's original gear.
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Scott Hofmann

John L Nobile

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Re: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2019, 10:42:50 am »

You might consider also asking this question at controlbooth.com.  Here is a 5 year old thread about this:
https://www.controlbooth.com/threads/strand-cd80-rack.35798/#post-310640

I read that thread. Most of the posts were about CD80's that weren't as old as mine. There's not much out there about the conversion but it's all good. Just wanted to know if anyone has heard anything negative about it. The hotel doesn't like me spending money on stage gear.

The other concern is that am I right in assuming those dimmer modules will last another 20 years or longer? I'd be happy with 10.
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Steven Cohen

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Re: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2019, 10:34:48 am »

This may not apply to your situation but we have changed over to LED instruments with only about 20 channels of conventional instruments that require dimmers. I suspect that over the next 5 years even the conventional front of house instruments will be replaced with LEDs. If I were replacing or modifying conventional dimmers I would be focused on providing relay power for LEDs.


I read that thread. Most of the posts were about CD80's that weren't as old as mine. There's not much out there about the conversion but it's all good. Just wanted to know if anyone has heard anything negative about it. The hotel doesn't like me spending money on stage gear.

The other concern is that am I right in assuming those dimmer modules will last another 20 years or longer? I'd be happy with 10.
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Scott Hofmann

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Re: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2019, 11:13:39 am »

This may not apply to your situation but we have changed over to LED instruments with only about 20 channels of conventional instruments that require dimmers. I suspect that over the next 5 years even the conventional front of house instruments will be replaced with LEDs. If I were replacing or modifying conventional dimmers I would be focused on providing relay power for LEDs.

Good observation and it appears Johnson Systems has again come to the rescue for CD80 racks with their true relay modules:
https://www.johnsonsystems.com/pdf_files/jsi_cd80_power_modules.pdf
They say for use only with either of their CD80 control electronics upgrade units.
There is also a video on their website showing the installation procedure for the CD3000 control unit.
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Scott Hofmann

John L Nobile

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Re: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2019, 11:07:48 am »

This may not apply to your situation but we have changed over to LED instruments with only about 20 channels of conventional instruments that require dimmers. I suspect that over the next 5 years even the conventional front of house instruments will be replaced with LEDs. If I were replacing or modifying conventional dimmers I would be focused on providing relay power for LEDs.

LED's are the way to go but from what I've looked at, it's about 2k a lamp. I have 20 Lekos on my front pipe. Overkill for a rock band or a meeting but they sure get used to their fullest when there's a dance competition. So that's a 20 - 40k investment. I'm an audio guy so if I had that budget it wouldn't go into lights :)

But the price will drop. In the meantime the 30 year old Strand Lekos look good.
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John L Nobile

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Re: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2019, 11:12:48 am »

Good observation and it appears Johnson Systems has again come to the rescue for CD80 racks with their true relay modules:
https://www.johnsonsystems.com/pdf_files/jsi_cd80_power_modules.pdf
They say for use only with either of their CD80 control electronics upgrade units.
There is also a video on their website showing the installation procedure for the CD3000 control unit.

I have those modules on my radar. If I ever get more LED's I would add those. That would allow me to use existing wiring and be cheaper than adding more circuits and wire.

And as of now, I'm waiting to get approval for the purchase of the Johnson mod. I'm actually about as excited about it as an audio guy can get for lighting gear.
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2019, 06:08:25 pm »

I read that thread. Most of the posts were about CD80's that weren't as old as mine. There's not much out there about the conversion but it's all good. Just wanted to know if anyone has heard anything negative about it. The hotel doesn't like me spending money on stage gear.

The other concern is that am I right in assuming those dimmer modules will last another 20 years or longer? I'd be happy with 10.

Holy smokes we had an original 12 channel stage pin CD-80 in my college theater in 1983!  Two scene preset board.  Coming from an old Skirpan we had in high school it was heaven!

I remember it well because we blew 2 dimmers right before this huge performance of I'm not Rappaport and we were doing that play before it even hit broadway.  I had been really the only tech for over 2 years (started as a freshman no less, we were a small school and good help was hard to find.   I could do electrical maintenance, fix gear, audio and lighting so they adopted me) so I didn't think twice about popping the cover.  Two of the SCRss or Triacs had opened up, I ran down to the electronic supply grabbed a couple cut the old ones off the board, tacked the replacements on, rigged a heat sink and the show went on.  Well the next day all hell broke lose and I was charged with damaging school property and brought before j-board for expulsion.  The powers that be were upset beyond all reason that this "kid" had taken apart this expensive piece of gear.  My mentor over at the Hillsborough Community College that helped out at my school (University of Tampa) testified for me as did a couple other techs.  Oddly I ended up being allowed to properly repair it under somebody's supervision but had to be supervisor for an whole semester.  I think the theater manager gave me my keys back a few weeks later. 

In my senior year we got a mini palette.

Thanks for bringing back some old memories.

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Scott AKA "Skyking" Holtzman

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John L Nobile

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Re: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2019, 09:52:13 am »

Holy smokes we had an original 12 channel stage pin CD-80 in my college theater in 1983!  Two scene preset board.  Coming from an old Skirpan we had in high school it was heaven!

I remember it well because we blew 2 dimmers right before this huge performance of I'm not Rappaport and we were doing that play before it even hit broadway.  I had been really the only tech for over 2 years (started as a freshman no less, we were a small school and good help was hard to find.   I could do electrical maintenance, fix gear, audio and lighting so they adopted me) so I didn't think twice about popping the cover.  Two of the SCRss or Triacs had opened up, I ran down to the electronic supply grabbed a couple cut the old ones off the board, tacked the replacements on, rigged a heat sink and the show went on.  Well the next day all hell broke lose and I was charged with damaging school property and brought before j-board for expulsion.  The powers that be were upset beyond all reason that this "kid" had taken apart this expensive piece of gear.  My mentor over at the Hillsborough Community College that helped out at my school (University of Tampa) testified for me as did a couple other techs.  Oddly I ended up being allowed to properly repair it under somebody's supervision but had to be supervisor for an whole semester.  I think the theater manager gave me my keys back a few weeks later. 

In my senior year we got a mini palette.

Thanks for bringing back some old memories.

Guess they've never heard the expression "The Show must go on". Reminds of an Alan Parsons song, Damned if I do (Damned if I don't).
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Re: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2019, 09:52:13 am »


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