Backstage lighting control system on the fritz

I recently came into managing a high school theater that is used frequently for community events.  As typical, the school district has no interest in expenditures for maintaining the facility.  While it's a nicely designed and equipped theater, the joke in the community is how half the gear in it doesn't work.

The ETC Express 24/48 controller and stage lighting system work just fine.  What doesn't work right is what appears to be a custom ETC backstage/orchestra pit/catwalk lighting system as seen in one of the attached pictures.  When energized, at least some of the zones turn on and off on their own accord.  Everyone says "all" of the zones do this, but I have not yet confirmed that to be the case.  The district electrician says he doesn't know what the problem is and can't be bothered with additional request for fixing this.

I have also noticed that some of the multi-button wall switches work correctly and others don't.  That is, the ones that work correctly appear to toggle correctly since the indicator lamp turns on or off when the button is pressed.  Ones that don't work correctly don't change indication when the buttons are pressed, or when one button is pressed, a different or even multiple other  indicators go on or off on the wall plate.  Our wall plates vary from 2-button on up to 5-button models.

My question for anyone familiar with this system and repairing it is, does this random light switching happen because of faulty wall switches?  Or are the wall switches faulty because the controller module they are connected to is faulty and the random switching switching also happens because of the faulty controller module?

Any tips that can help pinpoint the issue will go a long way in getting repair parts and our electrician to get things fixed.


  • So for those keeping track:

    I’m in contact with the user directly. Found the prints and the system wiring is that the SMP (house and works) are on Unison (contact interface stations) and feed to a DR6 rack. DMX flows from there to 2 @ SR48 racks and then to an ILC relay panel with Quanta Elite Programming (the relay has DMX in and has 20 Work light Circuits out. So the issue could be in a few different places.

  • Glad to hear it! 

    Part of why we rave about ETC support.

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