DMX (Digital Multiplex) is used to control lighting fixtures and special effects in various environments, such as theaters, concerts, clubs, TV and film studios, architectural installations, special events, and more.">

DMX - Everything you need to know !

DMX Controller
DMX Controller

DMX

DMX (Digital Multiplex) is used to control lighting fixtures and special effects in various environments, such as theaters, concerts, clubs, TV and film studios, architectural installations, special events, and more.

Here are a few reasons why DMX is widely used in these contexts :

  • Precise control of lighting fixtures : DMX allows precise and individual control of the settings of the lighting fixtures, such as color, intensity, position, special effects, etc. This allows lighting designers to express their creativity and create individual lighting moods.

  • Flexibility and programmability : DMX offers great flexibility in programming lighting sequences and special effects. Operators can create dynamic light scenes, smooth transitions between colors and patterns, and synchronize lighting effects with music or other elements of the show.

  • Centralized control : DMX allows multiple lighting fixtures to be controlled from a single point of control, such as a lighting console or DMX control software. This simplifies the management of lighting devices, reduces the number of cables required, and makes it easier to coordinate lighting effects in a show.

  • Scalability : DMX systems are scalable and can be easily expanded to include new lighting fixtures or additional special effects. This allows lighting designers to easily modify and adapt lighting configurations to suit the specific needs of each event or show.

  • Interfacing with other equipment : DMX can be integrated with other control systems, such as audio, video, and stage systems. This allows for precise synchronization between the different elements of the show, providing an immersive and consistent experience for the audience.


Principle of the DMX controller
Principle of the DMX controller

DMX : the concepts you need to know

- DMX 512 (Digital Multiplexing) is a data transmission standard used to control the available channels on a light from a controller.

- Why 512 ? Simply because the digital signal of the DMX carries 512 channels. There's a newer spec (released in 1 9 9 8 ) known as DMX512A, which is backwards compatible with the DMX512, but unless you're building the actual DMX PCBs, it shouldn't bother you.

- Each channel or channels are assigned to control different parameters (called personality) of the light, such as color, rotation, or strobe depending on the available controls.

- Each channel carried has a range of levels from 0 to 255. You can think of these levels as a scale from 0 to 100% . These values allow you to control each channel.

Example

The Evolite EVO Beam 60-CR has 10 or 12 DMX channels, here are some of them :
To drive this moving head, each of these channels will be assigned to a specific fader of a DMX controller. So, if you want to control the red LED
LCD
Color cells are full of adjustable sticks, liquid crystals, which determine the amount of light that passes. Led TV's are LCD TVs that we just changed the backlight The miracle of the fineness of the Led TV is not to a real change in technology – they always are LCD TV - but the replacement of light tubes (called CCFL) by tiny white led.
s, you will just have to play with the number 3 fader of your console (in the event that the moving head is addressed to position 1).

The higher the fader, the more the intensity of the red LED
LCD
Color cells are full of adjustable sticks, liquid crystals, which determine the amount of light that passes. Led TV's are LCD TVs that we just changed the backlight The miracle of the fineness of the Led TV is not to a real change in technology – they always are LCD TV - but the replacement of light tubes (called CCFL) by tiny white led.
s will increase.

Here is a description of the different levels (0 to 255) for channel 7 Shutter / Strobe :

DMX example
Here, if you want to control the speed of the strobe, the number 7 fader on your console will need to be in a position between 64 and 95.
Channel Function
1 Movement of the PAN
2 Movement of the TILT
3 Red LEDs
4 Green LEDs
5 Blue LEDs
6 White LEDs
7 Shutter shutter / Strobe stroboscope

What is a DMX address ?

A DMX address, in the context of lighting and scene control, refers to a numerical identifier assigned to each lighting fixture or group of fixtures. This address is used to individually control the parameters of a lighting fixture via a DMX (Digital Multiplex) system.

The DMX address is typically expressed as a number, ranging from 1 to 512 in a standard DMX system with 512 channels. Each channel corresponds to a specific setting of the lighting fixture, such as color, intensity, effects, etc.

When multiple lighting fixtures are connected to a single DMX controller, each fixture is configured with a unique DMX address so that it can be controlled individually. For example, if you have three LED
LCD
Color cells are full of adjustable sticks, liquid crystals, which determine the amount of light that passes. Led TV's are LCD TVs that we just changed the backlight The miracle of the fineness of the Led TV is not to a real change in technology – they always are LCD TV - but the replacement of light tubes (called CCFL) by tiny white led.
floodlights, you can assign each one a different DMX address, such as 1, 11, and 21. This allows you to send specific instructions to each projector using the corresponding DMX channels.

How do I do DMX addressing ?

How do you program in DMX and how do you assign some of them to a particular lighting ? This is precisely the role of addressing !


In order for the DMX controller to control each DMX product, the user must first configure the characteristics of each product to determine the number of channels required to control the device. Each channel will be assigned a DMX address.

However, since it is not practical to assign a particular DMX address to each channel, the user will only need to configure the DMX address of each product that corresponds to the first control channel of the product. This is the departure address of the product. The product will automatically assign the other channels to the following DMX addresses.

Once this assignment is complete, and depending on the number of channels used, the product will respond to DMX signals sent to the DMX channel range that starts with the starting address.


For example, a product that uses six DMX channels with a start address of 100, will accept DMX data sent by the DMX controller to channels 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, and 105.

The user should carefully assign the departure addresses for each individual product to avoid overlapping DMX channels. If the DMX channels overlap, the affected products could operate erratically. However, the user can decide to configure two or more similar products with the same characteristics and the same starting address. In this case, all products with the same starting address will work in unison.

To take our example, the Evolite EVO Beam 60-CR has 10 or 12 channels. If you assign it to the first position, it will occupy the first 12 channels of your console. To address another light on your console, you will have to start on channel 13.

As you can see, on our 512-channel grid, we can address a maximum of 42 moving heads (512/12).
DIP switch
DIP switch

DIP switch

On the lighting side, 2 modes of assignment of the starting channel exist depending on the model :

If your light is equipped with an LED
LCD
Color cells are full of adjustable sticks, liquid crystals, which determine the amount of light that passes. Led TV's are LCD TVs that we just changed the backlight The miracle of the fineness of the Led TV is not to a real change in technology – they always are LCD TV - but the replacement of light tubes (called CCFL) by tiny white led.
display, you will simply have to select the desired channel.
If, on the other hand, the device works with Switch DIPs, it is slightly more complicated.
Each Switch corresponds to a particular value as you can see in the table below.


Dip Switch table
To address your lighting to a particular channel, you must activate the switches to be added to reach the desired number. For example, if you want to address your lighting to channel 52 of your console, you will need to enable switches 3, 5, and 6 (4+16+32=52).

The 10th switch is usually used to trigger a particular function and does not need to be enabled for addressing.
DIP Switch Position Binary DMX Value
DIP 1 Bottoms (0) 0 1
DIP 2 Bottoms (0) 0 2
DIP 3 Bottoms (0) 0 4
... ... ... ...
DIP 8 Top (1) 1 128
DIP 9 Top (1) 1 256

Difference between a DMX or XLR cable ?

Communication protocol :
DMX cables are used to carry digital control signals in lighting and lighting control systems. They are used to connect DMX controllers to lighting fixtures such as spotlights, moving heads, and LED
LCD
Color cells are full of adjustable sticks, liquid crystals, which determine the amount of light that passes. Led TV's are LCD TVs that we just changed the backlight The miracle of the fineness of the Led TV is not to a real change in technology – they always are LCD TV - but the replacement of light tubes (called CCFL) by tiny white led.
lamps.
XLR cables are used to carry analog or digital audio signals. They are commonly used to connect microphones, musical instruments, mixing consoles, and other audio equipment.

Connectors :
DMX cables typically use 3-pin or 5-pin XLR connectors. 3-pin XLR connectors are more common, while 5-pin connectors are sometimes used for applications that require bidirectional transmission or additional data.
XLR cables also use 3-pin XLR connectors. These connectors are balanced and provide a secure and reliable connection for audio signals.

Types of signals :
DMX cables carry digital signals specific to the DMX protocol. These signals are used to control the settings of the lighting fixtures, such as color, intensity, and effects.
XLR cables can carry both analog and digital audio signals, depending on the application. Analog audio signals are typically microphonic or line-level signals, while digital signals can be AES/EBU (Audio Engineering Society/European Broadcasting Union) signals or DMX signals in some cases.

Applications :
DMX cables are used in professional lighting installations, theaters, concerts, clubs, special events, and television studios to control lighting systems.
XLR cables are widely used in recording studios, concert halls, live events, churches, conference rooms, and other environments where high-quality audio transmission is required.

Characteristics

It is important that the DMX cable has the following features :
- Shielded cable
- 2 twisted-pair conductors
- Nominal impedance 100-140 ohms
- Maximum resistance 7 ohms/100m

- Pin #1 = mass
- Pin #2 = negative signal
- Pin #3 = positive signal

On 5-pin XLR connectors, #4 and #5 pins are usually not used.

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