I have been tasked with attempting to upgrade the lighting system of a small theater still running their shows off a Vision lighting console. The logical stepping-up console for this theater seems to be a MicroVision FX, to allow them to purchase newer DMX dimmers while still being able to keep use of their old analog dimmers, hopefully them upgrading to an Ion.
I have found a MicroVision FX for sale, but this specific console only has two of three analog output cards installed. The question is, is this card the same in the Vision and the MicroVision. More to the point, am I able to pull an analog output card out of the Vision and wire it into the MicroVision?
Thanks for your help,
I have to admit that I have a really hard time picturing anyone upgrading to a Microvision FX these days. Perhaps the money would be better spent on something like a Smartfade (or any other small console) plus a DMX to analog interface such as this product from Doug Fleenor. The MVFX still relies on 1MB floppy disks for show storage that are nearly impossible to find. While there are some additional features, it's still a very limited console. There's also a certain amount of risk in buying an old and used console since you don't know how badly it's been treated throughout its life. You may end up needing to pay more for repairs than is really worthwhile. It's also likely that the Smartfade and analog interface combination would still have some resale value once you're ready to upgrade to the Ion. If there's money available, you could also save yourself a step and just purchase the Ion now to use along with an analog interface.
That said, the same analog boards from Vision were reused in the MVFX, so you should be able to swap between the two. One potential problem is that some dimming systems used a signal voltage higher than the usual 0-10V. If that's the case then there would be an additional power supply inside the Vision console, and there's not a good way of making that work with the MVFX. Aside from that, you may have to scrounge some mounting hardware to attach everything properly, but the other board will fit.
If you're not comfortable working with electronics, you may consider sending the consoles to the ETC repair department and having them make the swap. This has the added benefit of giving them a chance to test everything and make sure it's in good working order.
I know, it is odd to be upgrading to a MicroVision. In this case, it is for a small theater that does stright plays and not much more. They have been using their Vision for a while, which from a practical stand point is a decent console for them. I did think about getting a SmartFade and converter box, but this theater does need a console with a real cue stack. I know the smartfade will work with a cue list, but this theater needs something more then that. The MicroVision is placed well, since it will allow them to continue to use their analog system while upgrading dimmers to DMX dimmers. Hopefully once they upgrade their dimming system, they will then upgrade to an Ion, the MicroVision is meant to be a cheeper stepping stone to get them upgrading their system.
On that note, I am under the impression that the MicroVision will output 0-10v and DMX at the same time, in the same patch, with no care. Am I correct in this assumption? An electrician I spoke to was unsure of its ability to do this.
I agree that both a real cue stack and a keypad can be really wonderful things, especially when that's what you're used to using.
The patch works the way you think: dimmer 1 means both DMX 1 and analog output 1. You do have to enable analog outputs in the setup menu under System Settings.
Now for the bad news; apparently it's been too long since I've poked around the inside of a Vision console, and I was mistaken about which board it has. It turns out that the board used in Vision was reused from a different console, but the one in Microvision was a new and completely different design. You won't actually be able to swap boards like I thought. That leaves you with a couple options: you could be stuck with the 64 outputs existing in the MVFX, you could add a DMX to analog converter to the system, or you could add a DMX output to the Vision console. It was an optional output type when the Vision was sold, so it can be added now. What exactly needs to change depends on how that console was originally configured, so it's probably best done at the factory. I don't have a good idea exactly what the cost would be, but it's a fairly straightforward change so it shouldn't be horridly expensive (assuming there aren't any other problems with the console).
I apologize for my previous misinformation.
I think going from a Vision to a MicroVisionFX (be sure to always use the FX suffix) is a logical interim solution. Last I checked, PRG-NJ still had used Response 32 and 96 DMX-Analog converters for sale; so price it out both ways: 1) DIY converter and MVFX, 2) Factory upgrade adding DMX to existing Vision, The above didn't mention adding a 32-out analog card to the MVFX, but I assume that's a viable option as well.
Replacing 96 analog dimmers AND the purchase of an Ion is a rather large financial jump for many theatres.
Adding a 32 out card to the MVFX isn't an option. There are three separate circuit boards for the 32, 64, and 96 output versions. One would have to purchase an entire 96 output board, and that's going to be absurdly expensive.
Even if upgrading to the 96 card isn't a realistic option, this system still seems the most logical solution. The 64 analog outputs can drive all of the older dimmers, while the DMX side of the console can drive the newer dimmers, and continue to work as they continue to upgrade the dimming system.
Thank you for confirming that the patch works logically. I realized I just assumed it would work like that, without ever actually confirming.