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Controller Hot Spares


Redbirdruss
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As I grow my display, I see there may be value in keeping a hot spare contrller or 2 on hand in case of emergency.

Does anyone have a feeling for the right ratio of hot spares to live controllers? Are there any MTBF numbers published for the CTB16?

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I finally got far enough ahead of the game this year to have spares. (Or maybe that should read far enough behind this year.) I've got both an 8-channel and a 16-channel controller for spares. The 8 is in case one side of a 16 goes bad like I had happen last year. The 16 is sitting around because I didn't get finished what I had bought it for.

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Different people have different issues. The harder you push the loads to the limits, the more chance for failures. So a spare ratio that works for one person may be totally wrong for someone else.

This year, at the city display, on 53 controllers, I have 3 spares. I was actually planning for 1, and I'm still wondering exactly where I got off count, or what got left out, but I'm not complaining. I'm actually kind of surprised I did not find something to add at the last minute, to use one or two more of them.

At the same time, in 3 seasons, plus what is in the books of this one, I have had two issues. Two years, ago, one controller got wet, and I had to swap it with a spare for one night, while I cleaned and dried the wet one. It has been working fine for 2 years since that incident. The other one is that we just had one triac short on in one direction. Since it is running one of 12 randomly placed strings of 26 red C7's in a tree top, nobody, not even myself will really miss it. I've just unplugged it for now.. I might get around to swapping in a spare on Sunday.

So for the way we have stuff set up, and our circumstances, I think I would be quite comfortable with 2 spares for 53 controllers.

At home, to be honest, I don't even have one spare controller, for something like 15 controllers. I'd just limp along until the weekend, and then pull the card out on Saturday, and take my best shot at repairing it. One of these years, I'll probably get a controller with heatsinks, as a spare to swap into the case and dongles of an impacted controller if needed at the house.

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Spares..sigh..in my real job, its an ongoing debate.

In my case, with 3 CTB-16Ds and 1 CMB-16D, I'm just going down the path of component level spares for now...having one unused board sitting idle for sparing is, to me, overkill.

if you're running a display for the public, i.e., a city display, seems like 1 card for 20 of the same is more than enough.

Thinking Dan could assemble the MTBF for each component, but would bet that a high enough percentage of failures are due to human error, so that component level MTBF is really not relevant, i.e., we create a failure long before one is created for us.

My money says max 1 spare controller for most any display is enough...

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Rather than a spare controller, I have spare channels in the used controllers. One year I fried a triac, so I just moved the spade connector over to the open channel. I'm running 21 LOR cards with 8 or 9 spare channels spread threw-out the cards.

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Mike Cole wrote:

Rather than a spare controller, I have spare channels in the used controllers. One year I fried a triac, so I just moved the spade connector over to the open channel. I'm running 21 LOR cards with 8 or 9 spare channels spread threw-out the cards.


With that approach, you might want a spare com chip or two on hand. I have a few, and I think I have some spare RJ-45 jacks as well. Oh, and a few opto isolators just in case.
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I have spares but could not stand to see them just sit there! So I have display priorities. When a box goes out the lowest-least missed controller takes it's place.

So a display that may change to 3 colors, might only change to 2 colors. That's how my display grows! During the Summer Sale, I get some "spares" and by fall I've stored them in the display. ;)

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Out of the 64 controllers I have three more as spares. Why well I found one (I thought I had pulled the card out of the box for something else) and I miss counted controllers. The only problems I have had is RJ45 connectors and one got hit by lighten.

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This is my first year running, on 3 controllers, and next year I will have a lot more.

Late last week I had a channel stick in the on position. Did all the resetting/troubleshooting, and it was a blown Triac. LOR answered my email over the weekend (probably sensed my panic :) and they are sending me out a new Triac for that channel. Pretty awesome customer service considering the time of the year.

The good thing is that channel is off to the side and not critical, so I unplugged it for now. Still being as retentive as I am, it is driving me nuts.

Next year along with my more controllers, I will add a spare that is just for that reason.

I have also considered leaving a channel empty here or there just for a case like this where I could just move the channel to another empty one.

But man is is hard to have extras or leave channels empty, I want to FILL THEM ALL UP!!!!

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I have 63 1602's and four spares. In the past, my 1602 boxes have died this way:

Three totally dead (no internal LED flashing, fuses fine, channels power up in an indeterminate state with some on and some off.

Three lost certain channels (triacs blew out).

Four had channel select dip-switch problems (couldn't be set to certain addresses).

One flickered all channels erratically. This unit was delivered that way.

Two were dragged across the yard by their network cables with a tractor. OK, that one was obviously my fault..... had to replace the RJ45 connectors in those.

In addition to the four spares, I also keep the common parts on hand like triacs, RJ45 connectors, fuses, and dip switches so I can quickly fix things myself if possible.

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Seems a number of folks have spare channels & a number of folks have spare controllers.

Having spare channels means you would need to go through each sequence & adjust the sequences to run on those channels......that would suck if you have 60 sequences.......at least you would think.

I have a spare controller and that way I can unplug the defective controller and then I can plug in the new controller.......... which would allow me time to fix the defective controller.

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First, I standardized all of my LOR on a single 16-channel model and sold off the 8-channel units I had.

Second, I have a spare controller which can be easily swapped into place if needed, though in 6 years that's not happened. (Currently 16 controllers in use, one spare at the ready.)

Third, I have a few (7 out of 256) spare channels which could be easily reassigned if needed.

Finally, I learned to keep all of my controllers readily accessible so I can get to any of them without fetching the extension ladder.

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Must be the IT side of me coming out, Have 12 controllers for the show with one spare.

Also have backup computer, radio transmitter, 2 ELL, USB Adaptor with booster, and a couple extra CATT5 cables.

I mimic our work environment that I have a development environment along with my production environment. I use the "spare" PC as a testing environment. That way should I need to switch-out the production PC the test one is ready to go.

The one exception from work, I don't need anyones approval (Compliance, Change Control Board, Business sign off..) but mine ;)

L

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I have 2 complete spare board/boxes all setup with the pigtail and power cord's ready to go. I have 12 controllers in my show and had plans to add the other 2 to the show, but that didn't happen this year. So if I use them next year I will be down to just having a spare board. I also keep a spare usb network adapter on hand

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