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Speedster

Suggestions for backup gear

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This is our first year using LOR and so far everything is working perfectly.  But I know it's possible for a component to go bad and will need to be replaced.  Based on your experience regarding the most problematic components of your setup, what components would you recommend to have on standby for a quick swap out?

For the record, I'm using the TSO ShowTime Central with 3 CTB16PC-ReadyToGo controllers (I'm not using a pc for anything other than to create the SD cards for miniDirector via the LOR MP3 tab of the HU).  My "backup plan" would be to have 1 extra miniDirector, 1 extra CTB16PC light controller, 3 or 4 extra CAT5 cables, and several extra SD cards (Kingston only!).   I really don't want to have to buy doubles of everything I'm using, but do any of you actually recommend doing that? 

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My standard first item largely does not apply to you since you are using a director, but I'm going to list it anyway because other people will read this thread.  Most important item is a spare USB to RS-485 adapter.  You lose that and your show is dead.  Part two of that is only buy the red High Speed version.  Even if you are not doing anything that needs the higher speed, one of these days you likely will, and it's only $2.00 difference in price.

For item #2, not a spare part, but highly useful - a Cat-5 cable tester.

Backups AND Off-site backups of your sequences.

Documentation of what you did so you can reference it both while sequencing, and during setup next year.

 

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#1 item should always be a RS485 adapter because without that nothing works.

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It may seem silly to have a full extra controller on hand, but you never know what might happen. In the many years I've been at this, and the numerous displays I've been a part of in one way or another, I can tell you that a complete controller failure is exceedingly rare. However, sometimes there are physical parts that get yanked (cat5 jacks) or busted (fuse connectors on 160X units) that fail, and it's simpler to simply swap the controller than to ID/Troubleshoot the individual issue.

I've heard various reports over the years of mini-directors going out, still very rare.

USB connectors seem to be the most likely to go out, though it's not something that I would overly worry about.

Again, all my opinions...

 

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On 12/1/2017 at 1:28 PM, k6ccc said:

My standard first item largely does not apply to you since you are using a director, but I'm going to list it anyway because other people will read this thread.  Most important item is a spare USB to RS-485 adapter.  You lose that and your show is dead.  Part two of that is only buy the red High Speed version.  Even if you are not doing anything that needs the higher speed, one of these days you likely will, and it's only $2.00 difference in price.

 

On 12/1/2017 at 1:28 PM, Mr. P said:

#1 item should always be a RS485 adapter because without that nothing works.

Instead of buying another miniDirector, to save some $$ my backup show player might be my computer instead.  So having a few extra high speed RS485 adapters would make sense if I go that route.

 

On 12/1/2017 at 1:30 PM, Don said:

It may seem silly to have a full extra controller on hand, but you never know what might happen. In the many years I've been at this, and the numerous displays I've been a part of in one way or another, I can tell you that a complete controller failure is exceedingly rare. However, sometimes there are physical parts that get yanked (cat5 jacks) or busted (fuse connectors on 160X units) that fail, and it's simpler to simply swap the controller than to ID/Troubleshoot the individual issue.

That's basically why I think it would be worth it to have a good working extra controller in situations where I don't have time to troubleshoot and would rather opt for a quick swap just to get the show going again.  I'll probably buy 2 controllers during the next big LOR sale (in spring, I think?)....one will be added to next year's show, and the 2nd will be the backup.

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10 minutes ago, Speedster said:

That's basically why I think it would be worth it to have a good working extra controller in situations where I don't have time to troubleshoot and would rather opt for a quick swap just to get the show going again.  I'll probably buy 2 controllers during the next big LOR sale (in spring, I think?)....one will be added to next year's show, and the 2nd will be the backup.

Good plan.

10 minutes ago, Speedster said:

Instead of buying another miniDirector, to save some $$ my backup show player might be my computer instead.  So having a few extra high speed RS485 adapters would make sense if I go that route.

For a variety of reasons I am not a big fan of directors.  That would be a good way to at least start a migration to using a computer.

 

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I would invest in a cable tester for your data cables, saves you a lot of extra time troubleshooting if something is not working. Since you are using a director, you probably want an extra SD card per-loaded and ready to run. 

For me I have spares of the some of the IC chips on my controllers. When I build the kits I socket everything, and keep spares because I have had those chips go bad.  

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Having an extra controller saved my bacon I have a controller with 2 bad cat5 jacks also I will +1 the extra rs485 addaptor (while setting up and testing I backed over mine with the car dooh) and the cat 5 cable tester is important

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The question I have asked myself.. What is a show stopper in this hobby?

What others have said previously and... I would suggest a cheap FM transmitter. I have a modified Belkin FM transmitter that I've had to use in a tight spot of transmitter failure. Wal-Mart has them super cheap. 

But another nice thing and one that can save you money in a pinch...

Get to know what other members live/operate  light shows close by. Establish a friendship and communication with them. Chances are they might have a spare of something that you can borrow or vice versa. I've been on both sides of the fence quite a few times with borrowing something or letting someone borrow something from me. Local LOR friends are lifesavers when it comes to providing help, including backup items.

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3 hours ago, Santas Helper said:

Get to know what other members live/operate  light shows close by. Establish a friendship and communication with them. Chances are they might have a spare of something that you can borrow or vice versa. I've been on both sides of the fence quite a few times with borrowing something or letting someone borrow something from me. Local LOR friends are lifesavers when it comes to providing help, including backup items.

what he said, always a good thing to network with other lighters.  They may need you and you may need them.

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I have a backup of of everything I use in my show, controller, adapter, fm transmitter, lights, everything. 

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On 4/11/2018 at 6:18 AM, Santas Helper said:

But another nice thing and one that can save you money in a pinch...

Get to know what other members live/operate  light shows close by. Establish a friendship and communication with them. Chances are they might have a spare of something that you can borrow or vice versa. I've been on both sides of the fence quite a few times with borrowing something or letting someone borrow something from me. Local LOR friends are lifesavers when it comes to providing help, including backup items.

 

On 4/11/2018 at 9:24 AM, caniac said:

what he said, always a good thing to network with other lighters.  They may need you and you may need them.

Instead of going through the entire list of forum members to see what city/state they live in, is there a faster/easier way to determine who lives nearby?

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Click the Search box at the top of the page,  Click the down arrow, and select advanced search, click the members tab, and search by location.

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1 hour ago, PhilMassey said:

Click the Search box at the top of the page,  Click the down arrow, and select advanced search, click the members tab, and search by location.

Thanks Phil!

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11 hours ago, Speedster said:

 

Instead of going through the entire list of forum members to see what city/state they live in, is there a faster/easier way to determine who lives nearby?

In the coffee show area you will see mini's pop up near you (sort of like mini conventions for locals to get together and share ideas).  There is a couple of guys in Madison, WI if that is near you.

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12 hours ago, caniac said:

In the coffee show area you will see mini's pop up near you (sort of like mini conventions for locals to get together and share ideas).  There is a couple of guys in Madison, WI if that is near you.

Thanks!

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