DMX Light Control

As part of the massive donation by Shaun M. we now have a working DMX controller and several receivers:

  • Nicole Audie SLES-IP1 network connected DMX controller
    • older model, works with the “ESA Old” version of their DMX software
    • read the ESA Old manual re setting the IP address, and resetting the password. Especially look for the note re needing to hold down one of the buttons to allow access to the configuration. If you don’t press this button you just get an invalid password error (or similar)
  • Elation Pro DP-DMX20L
    • 4 channel mains dimmer/switcher
  • PX24500 RGB LED driver
    • 3 channel RGB controller
    • NOTES
      • don’t set address to 0
      • “on” for address switches is as per the marking on the DIP switch. Upside down to the way things look in the manual.
  • unbranded RGB LED driver
  • several 3 pin XLR cables, RJ45 cables, XLR plugs and sockets
    • Care required: several of the cables aren’t wired for the equipment; suspect they were wired for a custom project. Need to be adjusted
      • if RJ45 are wired as ethernet cables:
      • brown & brown/white => XLR Pin 1 (ground)
      • orange/white => XLR Pin 3 (Data +)
      • orange => XLR Pin 2 (Data -)

Software and PDF manuals uploaded to file server/infrastructure

Thoughts for a Stage Lighting and FX class:

  • cover DMX, ArtNet, sACN, midi
  • colorspaces
  • pixel walls
  • projection mapping

Care required though to stick to our goals: be the starting point, not a required gateway to doing your own projects…

Some thoughts:

  • OpenDMX ; looks like Arduino + Max485 chip = clone?
  • cover/also use Arduino + WS8812 or similar LED matrix

Software to look at:

In Practice

Discoveries from setting up DMX lighting for use with Artemis…

DMX is serial, and based on RS-485. In principle, an RS-232 UART can be programmed to send a DMX bitstream. There are quite a few PC->Arduino->RS-485 level shifting, or PC RS-232->RS-485 circuits on the internet that work.

CAUTION - most of the low cost implementations have no isolation: short out 110V lights into the controller and blow up your computer.

Better designs have electrical isolation between the computer and DMX system under control.

Many of the lowest cost PC DMX controllers rely on serial interfaces with the ubiquitous FTDI serial interface chips. FTDI provides a “dumb” virtual USB UART API (VCOM) and a more advanced API. ENTEC Open compatible software need the advanced FTDI driver. Julian’s guess is that this API allows finer control than the UART API which allows it to be used to create a DMX control stream.

So almost any usb serial cable with an FTDI chip is likely to work with software that supports ENTEC open DMX controllers! This includes (older) Arduino, and many USB-Serial cables.

Shaun M also donated several USB-serial boxes that can be configured for both RS-232 and RS-485. Some of them are optically isolated between inputs and outputs! And they’re all powered by an FTDI USB-Serial converter.

This means we have several PC compatible DMX interfaces- that can be used with PCs, Raspberry Pis, etc!