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Lighting Desk Choice


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Hi folks,


I've been thinking about the following recently and would appreciate your thoughts and opinions.


In March (I know it's a bit ahead..) I've been asked to light a local musical society's production of Anything Goes. The venue they are using has a Sirius 48 and although I think it's a fantastic old desk and capable of what is installed, I believe it doesn't have a cue stack function. And it got me thinking that I'd prefer to use a cue stack and a desk that can save the cues as few times I have gone into the venue the week of a show to find that the school staff have deleted saved memories I use for the show and many pupils of the school (yes, school venue..) unfortunately know how to use and ruin things!


So, is it worth me hiring another desk? Basically there are 48 channels of dimming and not as many lights as that which are constantly kept at the venue. LX usually has a budget of £50-£100 I believe from what I remember over a year ago. My local hire company have a few Jands and Zero88 desks available in their hire stock but is it really worth me hiring another desk or should I save the budget in case I need extra lights?


Opinions are appreciated, it may seem like a stupid question to some but I'm just curious.





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Hi, just a quick one to let you know the sirius 48 does have a reasonable, if fairly antiquated cue stack that does the job pretty reliably, if you can get hold of the memory card then you can save the show to that card and then remove it for safe keeping [though it's not a fast process, it's certainly doable without much fuss]


Though the frog range [suspecting that'll fall within your budget] is a more updated version and would do the job you ask of the sirius, assuming you're not using moving lights / other fixtures than dimmers.


If it were me, I'd save the budget and use the desk inhouse, there's a manual for it online, or if you get stuck pm me and I'll send over a pdf of it.


All the best.



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The Sirius does indeed have a cue stack, although granted it isn't the most intuitive thing to use IIRC (it's been about 12 years since I last even saw one!)


If you want the show to be safe. I believe that the Sirius used a memory card of some sort. I'm sure that these days they wouldn't cost a lot from Fleabay as the technology is getting on a bit and the chaps at Zero88 would probably be able to point you in the right direction. So, save the money, spend a little on a memory card, and back the show up so that things are safe while you are away from the venue. That way you can blow your budget on any additional lighting you might need. Although if you get in sufficient extra kit, then you may find that you need a slightly more capable console anyway!







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Thanks for replies so far.


smeggie - How easy is the cue stacking on Sirius? I've never used it before and with this company they don't usually have a lot of pre-production week. LX Get in usually consists of a Thursday/Friday night which includes rigging, focussing and sometimes plotting before the tech. on the Sunday so if the cue stack isn't the best is it worth it? - I don't intend to use moving lights at all so feel free to suggest any desk you think may fit the situation. I think the school still have the manual somewhere however I'm not sure on the memory card for their desk.


Smiffy - Thanks for your reply! Will look into the memory card situation. I was also thinking ahead of pre-programming (again because of time limits within pre-production week) which I realise you can do via USB on most desks these days, is it worth going down that line or should I just stick with the Sirius as you suggest? I doubt I'd bring in extra dimming although I've never lit Anything Goes before so never say never I guess!


Thanks again.



Mods - The punctuation at the end of the topic title is not meant to be there by the way!

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I have not used a Sirius for AGES but cue stacks it does have. Also you could make up a bunch of "scenes" on subs and run that way if push comes to shove.


Desk wise, well a jester 24/48 would be perfect, takes seconds to learn, and you can save to a USB stick and on the desk. Add phantom jester to the mix and you could even get away with making some edits at home.

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IIRC - It's been a long time since I've programmed a Sirius, the steps are something like this:


1) Turn key to program mode.


2) Set up what you want on the B faders.


3) Select the memory you want to program using the + and - buttons - the memory to be programmed is shown in "Next Memory".


4) Press "prgoram memory" and the memory is now in the stack. Yellow LED's come on to show the memory has been recorded.


5) Edit the times for that fade using the up time, down time, +, - and program time buttons.


Once done, put console into run mode. Select next memory so it shows "1". Then hit go and it should all run! You can also create chases and put these in the stack.


The fade times work slightly differently to most modern consoles, but I can't remember how exactly!

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How easy is the cue stacking on Sirius?

Hi Ali - we use a Sirius 24 at our theatre (Chesil Theatre, Winchester) and it works fine for conventionals. Cue stack is limited to 1-99 cues plus (off the top of my head) another 99 insert cues making nearly 200 possible cues in the stack. It works just like similar desks - you set the look you want on the lower set of faders (similar to an ETC Express), set the cue number in the LED window, and press record. You set in and out fade times as normal - although slight oddity here is that downtime is defined on PREVIOUS cue, which I think is unique to Sirius. To playback you press GO like any other desk. However, to be able to program and play back you must have the programming key (an actual key that plugs into the front panel to change from presets to program to run). If you go to the Zero 88 website support section you will find the original manuals and it will take no time to get the main features working. If you can't find the manual just PM and I will email you a copy.

Peter Vincent

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It is over ten years since I last used a Sirius, but I seem to recall it has a key switch that can be set to three different positions.


I believe Programming of cues/stack/subs is only possible when the key is turned to "program". When you have programmed your show, turn the key to run, and remove the key for safe keeping your programming should be safe. Probably be worth backing up with a memory card though..

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Added info: I've programmed the Sirius before for use of doing shows through the memories but never used the cue stack. Hence asking if it's easy to do/is it worth bringing in a console that can programme quicker due to familiarity or just stick with the Sirius and put up with it despite it may not be possible to save via memory card or again, pupils may delete it?


Appreciate all replies and will be looking into everything suggested!


Also, the desk does have the original key however I have asked to remove it during the week but the school refused this.

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A. You can also create chases and put these in the stack.

B. The fade times work slightly differently to most modern consoles, but I can't remember how exactly!

A. You can create chases in their own stack (9 chases each of 99 steps I think) and you can insert them into the cue stack. You can play chases back independently of the main stack either manually or in response to an audio input, and you can insert them into the main cue stack. This is quite complex and I have tended to run the chases independently of the main stack.

B. Fade down time is defined on previous cue. So if you have a blackout cue 22, for example, cue 21's downtime needs to be set to 0. Its downtime will be defined on cue 20! (obviously numbers refer to previous cue in each case).

Peter V

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The switch locks on all Siriuses are the same. Zero88 may still have some duplicate keys available.


I assume you're aware that the cue stack in the Sirius is just the memories, executed in order, with programmed fade times?


In terms of cue stack use, the most cumbersome feature is that the Sirius does not have a cue copy command- you have to re-build the new cue on faders (there is a way of outputting the current programmed cue at the same time so you can compare the cue to the current fader settings), and there is no way to use the same cue in multiple cue stack positions.


It does support fade times. The fade times work the 'other way' around from any other (including non-antique Zero88) desks, in that the fade down times from the previous cue are used, not the current cue. I used to think that was more intuitive than the 'correct' way of doing things, when I was young and (more) naive.


There is no support for multiple cue stacks, but it does support point cues. And, as mentioned you can create separate chases and assign them to cues.

There is no include/update type functionality available. To modify a cue you have to rebuild it on faders and then re-program it. Program just overwrites the current memory.


However, you will be aware of most of the above if you've used memories to create submasters.


The Sirius also has absolutely no LTP support, as you might expect so any use of scrollers and moving lights is very clumsy and requires exceptionally careful programing- it can be done, though, at least for scrollers.


You will find the memory cards for Siriuses are rarer than rocking horse dung(and concomitantly expensive when they do turn up on the fleabay), the equivalent melcards will send you into a frenzy of attempting to work out which ones might just work and probably won't, and thus unless the venue has a memory card they're willing to lend you, you probably won't find find one in a hurry. Zero88 has not had stock of these for years.

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Also, the desk does have the original key however I have asked to remove it during the week but the school refused this.


Well that's just stupid, unless it is used in lessons. You are hiring it and the venue.


They only have one key and use the desk for assemblies/presentations and the like as far as I'm aware - however I do believe some pupils know the basics of lighting and therefore play with it. Hence why I prefer desks that I can save it on USB and take that home with me.

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As someone said earlier there is no way of using the same look in multiple places. However, there IS a way to copy and paste looks without setting them up from scratch by transferring the looks into the preset faders. It is detailed in the manual but the basic principle is that you transfer an existing look into a preset and then use it to program a different memory location.


It was also said that you couldn't edit a look which is wrong. It is done by pressing the "flash" buttons for the channels to be changed. Again it is all in the manual.


Memory cards are indeed like RHS. They are a 128k melcard although you can use a 256k or a 512k by doing a bit of careful soldering on the socket.


Once you get your head round the unconventional fade time programming they are great desks for generics. I've used strobes and LEDs on one too but they wouldn't be any good for anything more complicated.


If you can't get hold of a memory card before your show it would be worth checking that the desk does actually remember stuff when it's switched off!



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