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Lighting DMX Control Explained

Posted by Rockshop on 4 July 2013




DMX is a networking protocol that enables any universal DMX controller to control the features of one or multiple DMX compatible products, whether they be LED PAR cans, wash lights, moving heads, followspots, foggers, effect lights etc. DMX-compatible products are connected to the DMX controller using DMX cables in a series connection between the DMX controller and the various DMX compatible products, (also known as a daisy chain). In this type of connection, the DATA OUT of one product or the DMX controller connects to the DATA IN of the next product, and so on.


The DMX signal stream is unidirectional from the DMX controller to the DMX compatible products. The stream of DMX signals consists of 512 individual, sequential channels that form a frame. The DMX controller constantly sends frames of DMX signals to the DMX connection, even if not all of the 512 channels are in use. Because of this constant transmission method, there can be only one DMX controller in a DMX connection. If not, the DMX signals sent by one controller would interfere with the signals sent by the other controller(s).


A DMX universe is the set of DMX compatible products connected to the same DMX daisy chain using the same set of 512 DMX channels. Each set of 512 channels is referred to as a DMX Universe. In most cases, an installation will consist of only one DMX universe – only when more than 512 channels are required would you need to add another DMX universe.


Each DMX channel can have a value in the 000~255 range. Each DMX-compatibleproduct uses however many consecutive DMX channels as there are features the user can control. The sequential numbers assigned to each DMX channel (1~512) are also known as DMX addresses. The function each DMX channel has, and the results of assigning a value to each depend on the personality (or DMX channel layout) of each controlled product. Some products only use a single DMX channel (such as a one channel dimmer), while others may require 15 or more DMX channels to control all their functions – i.e a moving light that has movement channels, colour choices, gobos, focus etc.


The user must carefully assign the starting addresses for each individual product to avoid DMX channel overlapping. Overlapping addresses could cause products could operate erratically. If two or more similar products are configured with the same personality and starting address, they will operate in unison (this is very useful when you want two lights to  do exactly the same thing – just address them the same and you will only have to control one light for them both to work).


Lets say you have a LED par light such as a CHAUVET SlimPar 64. If you have it set on auto or sound active it ‘does its own thing’, which is cool but let’s say you want to have colour changes to suit the mood of a song for example. You could program a couple of colour changes into a DMX controller, and have them change either according to a time you set on the controller, or via MIDI or another type of external trigger. This can be VERY easily done when you use a PC or MAC based control system such as CHAUVET showexpress, and really can add to a performance. This is even more important when using moving lights. Why have a cool ‘moving head’ just randomly splashing light and patterns around a venue when you could have it exactly pin-pointing either band members or DJs and really working in with your show with gobos and colours you have chosen – All this is easily done when you take a little time to programme a custom show on a DMX controller.



DIP Switch calulator

online chauvet dip switch calculator

Just Enter the Address Number and your ready to go! Check it out on Chauvet’s website.