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Author Topic: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack  (Read 1516 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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Daniel Levi

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Re: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2019, 02:03:02 pm »

Yes at school we had a small two scene strand desk and associated dimmers that got replaced with a small Zero88 desk when we got arts college status. But we had the smaller rack mount dimmers with 2 BS546 sockets per channel (looking online an ACT6 looks right), the local prison officers club also had a very small strand system with just one or two dimmer units and a single preset dimmer on a long cable.

More interesting, though, is that our local theatre (Weymouth Pavilion) has on display it's original/old strand vertical lighting controller, a Strand PR.
www.theatrecrafts.com/pages/home/venues/uk-weymouth-pavilion-theatre/
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2019, 04:07:17 pm »

Yes at school we had a small two scene strand desk and associated dimmers that got replaced with a small Zero88 desk when we got arts college status. But we had the smaller rack mount dimmers with 2 BS546 sockets per channel (looking online an ACT6 looks right), the local prison officers club also had a very small strand system with just one or two dimmer units and a single preset dimmer on a long cable.

More interesting, though, is that our local theatre (Weymouth Pavilion) has on display it's original/old strand vertical lighting controller, a Strand PR.
www.theatrecrafts.com/pages/home/venues/uk-weymouth-pavilion-theatre/

That's very cool.  I love vintage lighting gear (to look at it not to move it or use it anymore!)

The middle school I went to (would have been about 1976) also had a high school and a nice auditorium.  I use to tag along with the techs and I remember the system but can't remember the vendor.

The dimmer cabinet was blue, either a 6' or a 7' cabinet.  It had long sliders and you pulled a clip up and slid it to which board channel you wanted the dimmer assigned.  The board was also blue, and a two scene preset, the dimmers had little bakelite handles on them. 
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Scott AKA "Skyking" Holtzman

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Daniel Levi

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Re: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2019, 04:45:05 pm »

That's very cool.  I love vintage lighting gear (to look at it not to move it or use it anymore!)



One thing I will say is that there is no "Do Not Touch" sign so touch it I have  ;D
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John Fruits

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Re: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack
« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2019, 09:06:21 am »

The dimmer cabinet was blue, either a 6' or a 7' cabinet.  It had long sliders and you pulled a clip up and slid it to which board channel you wanted the dimmer assigned.  The board was also blue, and a two scene preset, the dimmers had little bakelite handles on them.
Depending on when it was installed it was either Ariel Davis or Electro-Controls.
https://www.controlbooth.com/wiki/Ariel-Davis-Manufacturing-Company
https://www.controlbooth.com/wiki/Electro-Controls
They also made over the stage battens which had their own proprietary version of Unistrut channel and clips for hanging the lights rather than a pipe and c-clamps.
They also made a unique portable autotransformer dimmer pack.  It had 6 circuits which were controlled by linear sliders. 
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"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs.  There's also a negative side."-Hunter S. Thompson

Scott Holtzman

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Re: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack
« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2019, 01:44:04 pm »

Depending on when it was installed it was either Ariel Davis or Electro-Controls.
https://www.controlbooth.com/wiki/Ariel-Davis-Manufacturing-Company
https://www.controlbooth.com/wiki/Electro-Controls
They also made over the stage battens which had their own proprietary version of Unistrut channel and clips for hanging the lights rather than a pipe and c-clamps.
They also made a unique portable autotransformer dimmer pack.  It had 6 circuits which were controlled by linear sliders.
Thanks John, that is much older and larger.  This was a remote dimmer controller located in the booth.  It was somewhere between 8-12 chanels and also a 2 scene IIRC

The dimmers were on stage right wing, it was a blue rack als, IIRC and it had a clip that spanned a plastic track.  These had the controller "handle" numbers on them for lack of a better word..  You would pull the plastic clip and assign the physical dimmer channel to the controller channel up in the booth.

Does that make any sense?

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Scott AKA "Skyking" Holtzman

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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack
« Reply #15 on: November 16, 2019, 11:06:10 pm »

That's very cool.  I love vintage lighting gear (to look at it not to move it or use it anymore!)

I hear ya!  As an aside, I actually collect and maintain quite a few vintage lighting fixtures.  They rarely go out on jobs for a number of reasons but they’re fun to play with and marvel at how far technology has come in the past few decades!
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Ron Hebbard

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Re: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack
« Reply #16 on: November 17, 2019, 01:38:08 am »

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.
Since only 1990; it's barely past it's break-in. 
Seriously:  Keep the dimmer modules, clean, well ventilated and don't drop any on your toes; your foot will break before a module. 
CD80 AMX 48 slot 96 x 2.4 K rack FAILURE POINTS: 
A; Fan bearings (1st they get noisy, 2nd they seize leading to rack overheating and thermostats hidden in the top of the rack shutting 'er down rather than letting 'er die in a blaze of glory.) 
B; Electronics modules within the control cage. 
Johnson Card Cage replacement is the way to go: 
Switch OFF and Lock-out ALL power to the rack. 

Un-bolt and Un-plug the entire original Card Cage, fans and all. 
Vacuum out any / all residual dust. 
Position Johnson Systems replacement Card Cage in front of rack. 
Plug your existing plugs into the rear of the new Johnson Systems Cage. 
Insert into rack, taking care not to damage any / all interconnecting cables. 
Insert and tighten bolts.
 
Switch on electricity and run worry-free for another two decades. 
Your new Johnson unit includes Mag-Lev Fans:  Bearing failure is a NON ISSUE. 
Keep 'er clean 'n keep 'er cool. 
As a previous poster already stated:  Johnson Systems builds Strand better than Strand did (and you already know how long your Strand has lasted.) 
Strand Poster Boy since 1967 when I met a British built Strand [designed for touring] 8 plate resistance board.  (Yes resistance; No, not auto-transformers) 
Toodleoo! 
Ron (I'll crawl back into my cave now.) Hebbard
« Last Edit: November 17, 2019, 01:42:51 am by Ron Hebbard »
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John L Nobile

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Re: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack
« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2019, 10:51:57 am »

Since only 1990; it's barely past it's break-in. 
 
Switch on electricity and run worry-free for another two decades. 
Your new Johnson unit includes Mag-Lev Fans:  Bearing failure is a NON ISSUE. 


There's 3 points that will help me sleep better at night. Thanks

I'm having a real LD do the install. The problem now is getting money. It usually takes complete failure and a group asking for a refund before management here approves of any stage gear purchases.

I've emailed my recommendations, pricing and warnings/concerns to everyone involved.
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Steven Cohen

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Re: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack
« Reply #18 on: December 04, 2019, 12:59:11 pm »

Scott,

I worked with a similar dimming system that you described in the early 80's but the system was installed in the 70's. The dimmers had a red load lights on the front about the size of a dime. The patching console was exactly what you described, with white tabs about 2 inches wide that you pull out to assign channels. You only hot patched one time as the resulting spark would guarantee you would never do that again. I remember the greenish/blue dimmer packs had handles and were about the size of a toaster. I think they were 6KW.

The system was made by Capron Lighting & Sound.
https://www.capron.net/

That's very cool.  I love vintage lighting gear (to look at it not to move it or use it anymore!)

The middle school I went to (would have been about 1976) also had a high school and a nice auditorium.  I use to tag along with the techs and I remember the system but can't remember the vendor.

The dimmer cabinet was blue, either a 6' or a 7' cabinet.  It had long sliders and you pulled a clip up and slid it to which board channel you wanted the dimmer assigned.  The board was also blue, and a two scene preset, the dimmers had little bakelite handles on them.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2019, 01:11:22 pm by Steven Cohen »
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John L Nobile

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Re: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack
« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2019, 02:36:10 pm »

Upgrade is shipped and scheduled to arrive on Friday. I have someone coming up Monday to install it. I think I could do it myself but he's had a few CD80's apart so I'd feel better if he did it.

We had a performer that wouldn't go on if the dimmer noise wasn't fixed. Luckily he was solo and their LD brought his own LED package and was only using 7 of my lights. He was able to hang a few LED's to light the performer and all was good.

And that's what it took to get the upgrade approved. A performer who refused to go on to a sold out room of 900 people. And that's how things get down around here. And probably other venues as well.
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Scott Hofmann

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Re: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack
« Reply #20 on: December 12, 2019, 09:56:11 am »

Upgrade is shipped and scheduled to arrive on Friday. I have someone coming up Monday to install it. I think I could do it myself but he's had a few CD80's apart so I'd feel better if he did it.

We had a performer that wouldn't go on if the dimmer noise wasn't fixed. Luckily he was solo and their LD brought his own LED package and was only using 7 of my lights. He was able to hang a few LED's to light the performer and all was good.

And that's what it took to get the upgrade approved. A performer who refused to go on to a sold out room of 900 people. And that's how things get down around here. And probably other venues as well.
I am not sure how the Johnson Systems retrofit electronics upgrade will solve a "dimmer noise" problem. Care to elaborate?
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Scott Hofmann

John L Nobile

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Re: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack
« Reply #21 on: December 12, 2019, 10:25:08 am »

I am not sure how the Johnson Systems retrofit electronics upgrade will solve a "dimmer noise" problem. Care to elaborate?

One person thought it was a fan, another thought it was electrical. Replacing the fan would have been a lot cheaper and may have solved the problem but the 30 year old electronics that were covered in hazer fluid and dust as well as the 25 year old DMX-AMX converter concerned me.

The replacement went in on Monday and all is good now. Took my LD friend all of 20 minutes to swap it out.
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Scott Hofmann

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Re: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack
« Reply #22 on: December 13, 2019, 07:15:57 pm »

Since the new electronics cage comes with new fans, looks like you are fixed up for another 20 years!
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Scott Hofmann

ProSoundWeb Community

Re: Upgrade Strand CD80 rack
« Reply #22 on: December 13, 2019, 07:15:57 pm »


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