I3 (before 2013) with Vista 3

Is it somehow possible to use an I3 console (manufactured before 2013) with Vista 3

I might see 2 options:

  • Replace the hardware inside the console
  • Use it as a PC wing like the S3

Any option might be greet!

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I did. First tried as the S3 with the PC. Then i made an upgrade and installed V3.

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The pre 13 I3s require a bit of an extensive hardware upgrade to properly run Windows 10 and V3. Due to this we are recommending they are sent to AC Lighting for the upgrade.

They can also be theoretically turned into a S3 with a cable that bypasses the internal motherboard but this is not officially supported.


What is the cable if I wanted to check it out?

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It is not an official part, merely a emergency fix that was done on an “as needed” basis. I will have to check on its status before I lead you astray.

At this point the internal hardware upgrade is the only officially supported path.

That cable would be great.

Can you oly briefly describe which hardware need to be replaced. And I’m also i interesting in replcing it by myself because I think that sending the I3 from Europe to Canada will be quite expensive.

Ahh yes, that would be a bit of a shipping issue.

In short everything internal is replaced aside from the Jands processing card and the facepanel cards. This includes motherboard, CPU, RAM, video card, hard drive, and power supply. It also requires a little bit of metal work to make some of the new items fit.

AC-ET may also be able to help with performing the upgrade at their UK location if that is a bit more daunting then you want to attempt.

Hi Ben,

Any news about the cable?
I think this is a much easier solution then replacing a lot of hardware.

Make the cable itself is not a problem (the main thing to know what to do). But then you will need to deactivate the computer inside I3 and connect some other PC.

I believe that my counterparts on your side of the pond may be working on that for you.

We’ve mailed the tech team of Jands/Chroma-Q, but no suitable answer was received. Instead we’ve tried to solve this hardware problem to turn the I3 (manufactured before 2013) into a S3 usb console and succeeded!
How to:

  1. open the back of the I3 console
  2. disconnect the motherboard from the power supply connection (the large 24 pins connector)
  3. connect the green and black wires of this power supply connector in order to keep it running without a motherboard (https://youtu.be/ysUdr3QuJM0).
  4. disconnect and remove the harddisk plus the metal plate underneath it, in order to free the USB connector on the underlayed print.
  5. disconnect the only USB connector avalable on this print and replace it with a USB cable with a standard USB 2.0 connector at the other end. We used a standard old mouse cable. The small white connector at the other end of the cable had the wrong order, but we managed to switch the tiny wires into the same colour code order as the disconnected I3 usb connector (red, white, green, black small, black)
  6. remove the inside dongle and place it in the external win 10 PC
  7. lead the USB cable to the outside of the console
  8. install Vista 3 on this external PC and connect the modified i3 (now acting as a S3).
  9. Vista 3 software is now controlled by a i3!

Pro; You just saved a whole lot of money and will be able to catch up with the latest Vista 3 software
In our case the mini win 10 desktop PC is always online and the power up time of the console is now reduced to 10 seconds !!!
Con: the top-right ON/OFF button is not functional anymore and you’ll have to use the power supply button at the back-left to activate the console


I updated an early version i3 with a new motherboard and a fresh install of windows 10. I can assure you that this upgrade is not for the faint of heart. It’s a 12 - 16 hour process and requires careful cutting of numerous pieces of metal to make a new motherboard fit. However once you have the upgrade completed it is well worth the effort.

Mad props to avmhhs! We too were able to knock out an i3 to s3 conversion in about 30 minutes and for about $10 worth of parts! We spent an additional hour cleaning it up and removing the old i3 computer gear/cables that weren’t needed. I’m an I.T. guy by trade, so if you don’t know what the internals of a computer are by sight, you shouldn’t go too far with the removal of the old gear lest you remove something you actually needed for the “s3” to work.

We used some small zip ties, a pair of snips to cut off old zip ties, a phillips screwdriver, and a pair of pliers.

I ordered a power supply jumper (professionally made with terminated wires internally) from eBay that shorts out the green/black cables on the 24 pin connector from the power supply and I zip tied that in place. Just make sure the single wire in the jumper plug actually connects the green and black on the power supply plug. Just search something like “ATX Female PSU Power Supply Jumper Bridge Tester” on eBay and you should find some options. If you really want to go crazy, they even have some that have wired up power switches. So you COULD modify your top right power button to work still if you used one of those, vs using the rear power switch on the power supply going forward. We opted to just ignore the switch part and use the rear power switch.

I took apart a mouse and removed the USB cable. You can do this too, or you can order a new mouse cable to use. Go to Amazon and search “replacement mouse cable” and you can find a few options. The 5 wires that go into the white plug on a normal mouse cable are in the order of (when viewed from the side with the metal pins not showing):

  • thick black, skinny black, red, white, green

You will need to use a tiny flat head screwdriver, knife, or razor blade to carefully lift the white plastic piece holding each wire in place, and slide it back out. Then re-insert them in this order (you may want to wait on this until after you feed them through the back of the console in step 5 below):

  • red, white, green, skinny black, thick black

There is a great guide on how to do this here (I just had to use a small flat head screwdriver and my fingers… no special tools needed): https://youtu.be/0G7iIwfuaJ8?t=39

Steps for the conversion:

  1. Remove the bottom of the i3 console.
  2. Disconnect the large 24 pin power connector from the motherboard (squeeze the tab and pull up)
  3. Put your jumper on the wire (not on the motherboard… it’s dead to you now) making sure it connects the green and black wires. Zip tie it in place for good measure.
  4. Remove the 4 screws in the corner of the board that the hard drive is sitting on top of (2 are holding cable clamps as well and 2 are not). Lift that board off and remove the two wires from the hard drive (power and data). They are likely hot-glued in place, so pull hard on the power (biggest one) and squeeze the connector if there is one and pull hard on the data cable too. The glue will break off and you can remove the drive and zip tie the cables out of the way. Put the screws back in on the side that was holding down cables.
  5. GENTLY pull the white USB power plug on the board to the side (NOT UP) and slide the cable out of it’s seat. Replace this with your custom mouse cable. You will need to feed this cable out of the case somehow, so if you aren’t removing the computer fully, you will need to either drill a hole, or if you didn’t put the pins into the plug in the new order yet, feed it through a small opening in the back of the console first, then put thee white end on the cable. My only caution here is that you now have a wire running through a cut hole in a metal case. This may need to be wrapped in a rubber grommet or something to prevent the wire being damaged over time. If your board doesn’t move, then you are probably fine… but keep an eye on it. You could also buy a more professional USB jack here and retrofit it into the back of the console, but we weren’t going that far.
  6. Zip tie the USB cable to something internally to take the strain of it being pulled so you aren’t pulling against the socket on the board! This is a simple thing to do that can save you a lot of $ later!
  7. Move the dongle (if you have it internal) to the USB port on your external computer you will be using to run Vista 3.
  8. Put the cover back on your “new s3” and plug the USB lead into your external computer.
  9. Install Vista 3 on your external computer, use the power switch on the back of the console to fire it up. It will ask for you to hold down the red/yellow buttons to take the new firmware from Vista 3!

We were able to run Vista 2 and Vista 3 from the external PC. We initially had trouble merging our V2 show into V3… We created a new V3 show and merged the V2 file and nothing happened. No pop-up windows or anything. We installed Vista 2 and used the show cleanup feature and re-exported and then the merge worked in V3. Our show that took roughly 3 min to load on the console now loads in 24 sec on our test computer and I’m expecting even faster on our final PC build we are doing now that we have a proof of concept working.

For the PC specs, I was told small shows require less, but in general more cores, more ram, and a fast SSD are all good practices. Vista is capable of using multiple cores on the CPU. I’m aiming for a quad core, 32GB RAM, SSD machine to give us room for future growth. All new consoles ship with 16GB RAM, so 32GB isn’t a far jump.

Hopefully this helps someone else! We plan on doing a few more of these, so I’m sure I will modify the process too. I’ll probably go for a nylon braided mouse cable to give it more protection, and might look into a better path out of the console as well.

Apologies for the double post. The forum won’t let me put more than 1 image in a post.

Here is a closeup of the power jumper:

Here is a closeup of the USB cable:

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Do you know if this would work on an i3 made AFTER 2013? We’ve got an i3 running V2 and it is about on it’s last leg from a software glitching/processor struggling side. I’m really interested in keeping it as a control surface as we’ve found the LCD displays on the face to be extremely useful for volunteers and the new ChromaQ surfaces don’t have those.

Do I KNOW? No. But I would guess yes. The difference in the i3 generations is likely the computer gear in the middle we are bypassing, not the console itself. I could be wrong, but I know on the green circuit board in the last pic I posted, the board is stamped “S3|I3” so it is the same control card the S3’s use.

I’d say open up your i3, remove the 4 screws the board has that is under the hard drive and lift it and the drive up. If you see the S3|I3 stamp on that board and the same white mouse cable plug… you should be good to give it a try! It’s a non-destructive process and you can try it for about $10 in parts and 30min of time. If it doesn’t work and an external PC can’t recognize the console as an S3, put the hard drive back in place, re-hook up the normal USB cable, put the power plug back into the motherboard after removing your jumper and you’re back where you started. No harm, no foul.

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I3s build in 2013 and up can be upgraded to Vista 3 using the same procedure as the L5. Email vistasupport@chroma-q.com for the upgrade guide.

Update: Now that we’re doing this same upgrade with numerous other i3’s in our facilities, I came up with this solution for the USB cable hanging out of the back. We bought some blank PC motherboard IO Shields on ebay, stamped out a circle to fit a USB “motorcycle dashboard” plug/extension also bought on ebay, and tied the cables down inside the console… so now there are no cables rubbing on sharp metal edges and the back of the console has a USB cable coming out of it we can hook to our PC. This is a much more professional look.

Note, the first 2 pics here are actually showing the plug in the IO Shield backwards compared to where I finished. Due to the steel depth/position of the IO Shield, I had to flip it backwards and snap it in from the outside of the console rather than the inside. So the third pic is accurate.


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intresting u had to cut metal i didnt? what bits did u cut?