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Author Topic: 3pin or 5pin DMX install?  (Read 2063 times)

Peter Kowalczyk

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3pin or 5pin DMX install?
« on: March 24, 2017, 02:19:04 pm »

Hey Folks,

A new bar is installing a small performance stage, and we're planning a 2" pipe a few feet out from the downstage edge for a couple of basic LED wash lights.  While most of the time, they'll be set to some static or standalone mode, we'd like to install provisions for DMX control for future use and / or future fixtures. 

The electricians will be installing all sorts of structural wiring, and I've recommended that we run some DMX from the stage and / or FOH position to the truss. 

Would you recommend using 3-pin or 5-pin connectors on the wall plates for these in-wall runs? 

Thanks!
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Drew Kirkland

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Re: 3pin or 5pin DMX install?
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2017, 03:25:35 pm »

I would probably go with 5pin XLR which is industry standard and will differentiate the lighting from sound. 4 + 5 are not always used but with some systems they provide feedback to the control system which can identify fixtures that are suitably equipped. Pin 1 Screen Pin 2 Data- Pin 3 Data +
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duane massey

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Re: 3pin or 5pin DMX install?
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2017, 03:35:48 pm »

Personally, if it is a small bar, I'd just use 3-pin and be happy IF that is what the fixtures use.
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Duane Massey
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Lyle Williams

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Re: 3pin or 5pin DMX install?
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2017, 04:11:26 pm »

All basic and cheap DMX lights are three pin.
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John Fruits

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Re: 3pin or 5pin DMX install?
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2017, 04:15:17 pm »

It will depend on which fixtures you get.  It used to be that the DJ grade cheaper fixtures were 3 pin and the Pro grade fixtures were 5 pin. (Well except for High End Systems for a while.)  Now a lot of fixtures have both 3 and 5 pin connectors. 
Whichever you go with, make sure they use DMX cable, not mic cable.  The current RDM (Remote Device Management protocol is on pins 2 and 3 along with the DMX signal.
One other thing to keep an eye on, pipe sizes.  when you say 2 inch pipe, you probably mean 1 and 1/2 inch Schedule 40 black pipe. 
http://www.mcnichols.com/?pageCode=pipedims
If you say 2 inch pipe, and the installer listens you will get pipe which is 2.375 inches in diameter which MIGHT work with C-clamps but not with the usual truss clamps.  I am aware with several installations in which 1 and 1/2 inch Schedule 40 was speced but 1 and 1/4 inch pipe was installed.  Some C-clamps won't work and most of the truss clamps won't either. 
« Last Edit: March 24, 2017, 04:18:41 pm by John Fruits »
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Nathan Riddle

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Re: 3pin or 5pin DMX install?
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2017, 03:39:04 pm »

It will depend on which fixtures you get.  It used to be that the DJ grade cheaper fixtures were 3 pin and the Pro grade fixtures were 5 pin. (Well except for High End Systems for a while.)  Now a lot of fixtures have both 3 and 5 pin connectors. 
Whichever you go with, make sure they use DMX cable, not mic cable.  The current RDM (Remote Device Management protocol is on pins 2 and 3 along with the DMX signal.
One other thing to keep an eye on, pipe sizes.  when you say 2 inch pipe, you probably mean 1 and 1/2 inch Schedule 40 black pipe. 
http://www.mcnichols.com/?pageCode=pipedims
If you say 2 inch pipe, and the installer listens you will get pipe which is 2.375 inches in diameter which MIGHT work with C-clamps but not with the usual truss clamps.  I am aware with several installations in which 1 and 1/2 inch Schedule 40 was speced but 1 and 1/4 inch pipe was installed.  Some C-clamps won't work and most of the truss clamps won't either.


This ^^ My goodness, I have specc'd 2" pipe and they get me 1.42" stuff; It is beyond annoying.


Also, 3-pin. Unless it is a theater, or somewhere where they are ALWAYS going to spend the money on pro grade fixtures I wouldn't waste my time with 5-pin.
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Rick Powell

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Re: 3pin or 5pin DMX install?
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2017, 09:10:31 pm »

I'd get 3-pin fixtures and use 3-pin DMX wiring. And install a little controller so at least you'd have convenient, basic control over the installed lights that doesn't involve standing on a step ladder and pushing a bunch of buttons on each individual light to change the colors. The odds are probably 9 to 1 that whatever local act comes in with a supplemental controller and lights, it will be 3-pin.

If anyone comes in with an elaborate 5-pin DMX controller and lighting rig on a one nighter, they are likely to just work around what you already have anyway, or use one of those 5-to-3 adapter cords or barrels in the rare chance they'd want to incorporate the house lights.
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Peter Kowalczyk

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Re: 3pin or 5pin DMX install?
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2017, 11:21:45 pm »

Thanks All,

3-pin it is then; whatever fixtures we get will almost certainly be at the low-budget end of the spectrum.  I'll definitely clarify the difference between 110 ohm STP for DMX and basic STP for analog audio as well.

Thanks for the clarification on pipe OD versus nominal size - thats a difference that makes a difference.  (Yes, I'm an audio guy stepping out of his league here...)

Cheers!
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John Fruits

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Re: 3pin or 5pin DMX install?
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2017, 12:02:24 am »

Just to confuse things more, the DMX protocol calls for a single pair for 3 pin and two twisted pairs for 5 pin.  BUT if you check the manuals for most brands of lights on the 5 pin connectors, pins 4 and 5 aren't connected internally.  The higher quality 5 pin cables follow the standard with two twisted pairs but the less expensive brands use a single twisted pair with pins 4 and 5 not connected. 
One other thing, in your post about relays for power for active speakers, you should do the same thing for your LED lights.  One popular item for doing this is the ETC ColorSource relay.
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Erik Jerde

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Re: 3pin or 5pin DMX install?
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2017, 01:11:59 am »

If cable is being purchased specifically for the dmx then put in 2 pair.  The cost difference is negligible and then you're prepared for whatever comes your way.  I'd terminate it to 5 pin and then use a 5-3 adapter if necessary.  Lots of lighting desks will output 2 universes on one 5 pin making it easy to get both universes to stage with one cable.  It sounds like you'll never need 2 universes but with the way fixture address counts have gone you'll never know.

Anyways, I'd go big.  It's cheap and easy and you won't ever regret it.
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Lyle Williams

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Re: 3pin or 5pin DMX install?
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2017, 01:39:51 am »

If you are happy with having to use an adapter every time (shudders) then do it in Cat6.
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Drew Kirkland

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Re: 3pin or 5pin DMX install?
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2017, 12:06:35 pm »

Build a 5- 3 and a 3 - 5 along with a 2, 3 swap should be part of every lampy's kit

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Ron Hebbard

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Re: 3pin or 5pin DMX install?
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2017, 01:31:11 pm »

Hey Folks,

A new bar is installing a small performance stage, and we're planning a 2" pipe a few feet out from the downstage edge for a couple of basic LED wash lights.  While most of the time, they'll be set to some static or standalone mode, we'd like to install provisions for DMX control for future use and / or future fixtures. 

The electricians will be installing all sorts of structural wiring, and I've recommended that we run some DMX from the stage and / or FOH position to the truss. 

Would you recommend using 3-pin or 5-pin connectors on the wall plates for these in-wall runs? 

Thanks!
Do NOT make your supporting pipe 2" as most of your clamps will not fit. 1-1/2" schedule 40 is the optimum size, approximately 1-7/8" O.D., Outside Diameter.  You'll find 2" black iron pipe is approximately 2-3/8" on the outside and definitely NOT what you want.
I'm voting for XLR5's as well.
Toodleoo!
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: 3pin or 5pin DMX install?
« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2017, 03:45:47 pm »

I'll throw my vote in for 5-pin, simply because that's what the standard specifies.  That said, I always travel with numerous adapters going both directions.

Lots of lighting desks will output 2 universes on one 5 pin making it easy to get both universes to stage with one cable. 
 
I believe that practice is strongly discouraged since DMX512-A now specifies a more constraining list of acceptable uses for Pins 4 and 5. 
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Lyle Williams

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Re: 3pin or 5pin DMX install?
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2017, 03:33:13 am »

Build a 5- 3 and a 3 - 5 along with a 2, 3 swap should be part of every lampy's kit

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But do you want to have to reach for one of these adapter cables EVERY time you plug in a fixture?

In a world of cheap fixtures, everything is xlr3 and every cable is xlr3 m-f.  Mix in xlr5 fixed cabling and suddenly you need two types of cable, xlr5-to-3 adapters and xlr3-xlr3 to daisy chain.

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Nathan Riddle

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Re: 3pin or 5pin DMX install?
« Reply #15 on: March 27, 2017, 11:20:33 am »

But do you want to have to reach for one of these adapter cables EVERY time you plug in a fixture?

In a world of cheap fixtures, everything is xlr3 and every cable is xlr3 m-f.  Mix in xlr5 fixed cabling and suddenly you need two types of cable, xlr5-to-3 adapters and xlr3-xlr3 to daisy chain.

^^ there are very few advantages of 5-pin and IMO the hassle of mix & match is not worth those benefits of 5pin. Nearly every pro fixtures has both 3 & 5 pin. Hardly any other fixture has 5pin, thus go with the greater density and the few outliers that require 5-pin, use adapters...
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Chris Pflieger

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Re: 3pin or 5pin DMX install?
« Reply #16 on: July 06, 2017, 11:22:28 am »

^^ there are very few advantages of 5-pin and IMO the hassle of mix & match is not worth those benefits of 5pin. Nearly every pro fixtures has both 3 & 5 pin. Hardly any other fixture has 5pin, thus go with the greater density and the few outliers that require 5-pin, use adapters...

I know this is a bit old, but I can't help responding...

Wall plates should definitely be 5 pin. A DMX wall pate is going to be a female XLR connector. The cable connector opposite a microphone is going to be a male XLR connector. If connectors fit, people will mate them without regard to function and purpose - just look at the problems with audio inserts on mixers.

I try to stick with 5 pin as much as possible because it keeps audio guys from using the DMX patch cables and vice versa.
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Nathan Riddle

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Re: 3pin or 5pin DMX install?
« Reply #17 on: July 06, 2017, 11:39:58 am »

I know this is a bit old, but I can't help responding...

Wall plates should definitely be 5 pin. A DMX wall pate is going to be a female XLR connector. The cable connector opposite a microphone is going to be a male XLR connector. If connectors fit, people will mate them without regard to function and purpose - just look at the problems with audio inserts on mixers.

I try to stick with 5 pin as much as possible because it keeps audio guys from using the DMX patch cables and vice versa.


I still 100% disagree.

Label the wall plate with 'DMX' or 'lights only'. If people are plugging mics into dmx ports then you have bigger issues with people's intelligence that 5-pin isn't going to help.

If you're an only pro level gear house then sure, I can easily see only having 5-pin, because ALL of the fixtures will be 5-pin capable.

I'd just hate to see someone having 50x 5-3pin/3-5pin adapter cables in a small bar. That's just silly and a waste of money.
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Chris Pflieger

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Re: 3pin or 5pin DMX install?
« Reply #18 on: July 06, 2017, 01:32:51 pm »


I still 100% disagree.

Label the wall plate with 'DMX' or 'lights only'. If people are plugging mics into dmx ports then you have bigger issues with people's intelligence that 5-pin isn't going to help.

If you're an only pro level gear house then sure, I can easily see only having 5-pin, because ALL of the fixtures will be 5-pin capable.

I'd just hate to see someone having 50x 5-3pin/3-5pin adapter cables in a small bar. That's just silly and a waste of money.
Idiots are everywhere and often self-identify as geniuses.

Why not just have one 5 to 3 adaptor at the wallplate then 3 pin cable for the rest?
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Don T. Williams

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Re: 3pin or 5pin DMX install?
« Reply #19 on: July 06, 2017, 02:04:40 pm »

If you are happy with having to use an adapter every time (shudders) then do it in Cat6.

With the direction that lighting control (and everything else digital) is proceeding, I would put in a run of Cat6 along with the DMX run.  That way your will be ready for ART Net or whatever the "next big thing" is.  Its cheap and easy at this point. 

Of course it you do that, then the "next big thing" will probably be optical or who knows what.  Standards change. 
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Chris Pflieger

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Re: 3pin or 5pin DMX install?
« Reply #20 on: July 06, 2017, 02:30:56 pm »

With the direction that lighting control (and everything else digital) is proceeding, I would put in a run of Cat6 along with the DMX run.  That way your will be ready for ART Net or whatever the "next big thing" is.  Its cheap and easy at this point. 

Of course it you do that, then the "next big thing" will probably be optical or who knows what.  Standards change.

There's no reason you can't just run Cat6 and terminate it with XLR connectors.
https://www.etcconnect.com/Support/Articles/DMX-Over-Cat5.aspx

For architectural controls, we run Cat5/6 at speeds slightly slower than DMX-512 using the RS-485 physical layer.
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Nathan Riddle

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Re: 3pin or 5pin DMX install?
« Reply #21 on: July 07, 2017, 10:13:54 am »

Idiots are everywhere and often self-identify as geniuses.

Why not just have one 5 to 3 adaptor at the wallplate then 3 pin cable for the rest?

Hmm, good point that I hadn't considered.

Still, why are people plugging mics into the walls labeled DMX/lights and not the floor pockets/mixer/dropsnake?
Also, if the adapter is plugged in (constantly) why wouldn't someone just plug into the adapter (we've established that the personnel using this venue are idiots)?
Then what happens when you loose the 5-pin adapter?


With the direction that lighting control (and everything else digital) is proceeding, I would put in a run of Cat6 along with the DMX run.  That way your will be ready for ART Net or whatever the "next big thing" is.  Its cheap and easy at this point. 

Of course it you do that, then the "next big thing" will probably be optical or who knows what.  Standards change. 

Same as Chris, I'd run Cat5e shielded stranded and be done with it. Put xlr's on the end (or wall plates) for now; but the venue is fully ready to go to whatever the next thing is. If you need an artnet node somewhere, convert to rj45 connectors; done.
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Dave Garoutte

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Re: 3pin or 5pin DMX install?
« Reply #22 on: July 14, 2017, 05:08:36 pm »

Also, the pins on the 5-pin are WAY more delicate, so if random people are going to use it, go 3-pin.
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Cailen Waddell

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Re: 3pin or 5pin DMX install?
« Reply #23 on: July 14, 2017, 07:04:12 pm »

Also, the pins on the 5-pin are WAY more delicate, so if random people are going to use it, go 3-pin.

Is that really a concern on non-shitty connectors?

I toured for a good number of years, dealt with my share of 3, 4, and 5 pin cable, and I've never seen an XLR connector pin damaged except when the outer shell is damaged/crushed, at which point the cable is fucked anyway, and 3 or 5 pin wasn't going to make a difference. 

If it's a bar, run whatever the hell make sense for the fixtures in there.  If it's a venue that might see a tour, run 5 pin and some dry cat5e lines.   Keep some adapters and clamp them to an annoying large piece of steel (like the and faceplate and conduit for the connector) so they don't walk. 


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