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Author Topic: Need a software DMX controller recommendation  (Read 1200 times)

dave milton

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Need a software DMX controller recommendation
« on: September 19, 2018, 10:04:32 pm »

I've searched a bit, but can't quite find the answer I'm looking for, so I'll post a direct question.
Here's the deal:

I want to purchase a DMX software controller.  My needs are fairly simple, but sort of specific.  I don't need anything fancy or complex, and I only run lights occasionally.  Basically there are three venues that I run lights at a few times a year....each has their own board and each always has problems or issues when I come in to do my thing (after being away  from this venue for many months at sometimes).   Two of these venues have only fixed PAR/Ellpisoidal/Fresnel instruments (maybe also a couple scoops or Cycs), and one has basic fixed LED instruments with a few channels each but nothing moving or "intelligent".  I'm basically only setting maybe 6 or 7 scenes max and not bothering with any chases or auto-fades or anything like that.  Pretty much just a few different stage washes and maybe a couple specials/spots.  Fairly old-school stuff.  It's okay if the software is capable of much more complex control, but it's just not necessary.

But I'm tired of always coming in to find the board in each venue a mess or not working properly.  So I want a software controller on my laptop that I can just bring to the venue, plug it in to their system, bypass their controller, and run the shows that way.

Now here's the specific thing -
   My audio rig (which is what I do more often) is an X32 board that I sometimes plug my laptop into (for another screen and some control) but that I also control from my IPad.  The IPad I use so that I can walk the room, soundcheck monitors from the stage, and such.  Essentially, I set up an router as a network, the X32 and the laptop connect to it via ethernet cable, and the Ipad connects via WiFi.   And it occurs to me that this is what I want to do with the light control as well....have the ability to move away from the board (and the light loft) if/when necessary.

Last "feature" I want is "not terribly expensive" (ok, what I really want is for it to be cheap!).  First of all, at least some of the work I do is on a volunteer basis or for pretty low pay.  It is NOT something I do full-time and or the main source of income.  Second, my budget is kinda tight for this, and it's not strictly something I "need", more something I "want" so I can't justify spending big bucks.

So, this is what I'm looking for:
--- DMX software controller
--- Only needs to be fairly simple, capable of running mostly fixed instruments, a few basic scenes (mostly stage washes), manual fades, no chases/shows/etc. 
--- I intend to bring my laptop to the venue plug it into their system (I'm assuming through a dongle of some sort) and be up and running.
--- I also want to be able to control via an IPad.
--- Reasonably inexpensive

I'm assuming such a thing exists.  And instead of sifting through the sales pitch of someone trying to upsell me something I don't really need/want, I figured I'd go to y'all for suggestions.

So, what should I look into buying?

thanks, d.



« Last Edit: September 19, 2018, 10:27:27 pm by dave milton »
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: Need a software DMX controller recommendation
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2018, 01:29:45 am »

I've searched a bit, but can't quite find the answer I'm looking for, so I'll post a direct question.
Here's the deal:

I want to purchase a DMX software controller.  My needs are fairly simple, but sort of specific.  I don't need anything fancy or complex, and I only run lights occasionally.  Basically there are three venues that I run lights at a few times a year....each has their own board and each always has problems or issues when I come in to do my thing (after being away  from this venue for many months at sometimes).   Two of these venues have only fixed PAR/Ellpisoidal/Fresnel instruments (maybe also a couple scoops or Cycs), and one has basic fixed LED instruments with a few channels each but nothing moving or "intelligent".  I'm basically only setting maybe 6 or 7 scenes max and not bothering with any chases or auto-fades or anything like that.  Pretty much just a few different stage washes and maybe a couple specials/spots.  Fairly old-school stuff.  It's okay if the software is capable of much more complex control, but it's just not necessary.

But I'm tired of always coming in to find the board in each venue a mess or not working properly.  So I want a software controller on my laptop that I can just bring to the venue, plug it in to their system, bypass their controller, and run the shows that way.

Now here's the specific thing -
   My audio rig (which is what I do more often) is an X32 board that I sometimes plug my laptop into (for another screen and some control) but that I also control from my IPad.  The IPad I use so that I can walk the room, soundcheck monitors from the stage, and such.  Essentially, I set up an router as a network, the X32 and the laptop connect to it via ethernet cable, and the Ipad connects via WiFi.   And it occurs to me that this is what I want to do with the light control as well....have the ability to move away from the board (and the light loft) if/when necessary.

Last "feature" I want is "not terribly expensive" (ok, what I really want is for it to be cheap!).  First of all, at least some of the work I do is on a volunteer basis or for pretty low pay.  It is NOT something I do full-time and or the main source of income.  Second, my budget is kinda tight for this, and it's not strictly something I "need", more something I "want" so I can't justify spending big bucks.

So, this is what I'm looking for:
--- DMX software controller
--- Only needs to be fairly simple, capable of running mostly fixed instruments, a few basic scenes (mostly stage washes), manual fades, no chases/shows/etc. 
--- I intend to bring my laptop to the venue plug it into their system (I'm assuming through a dongle of some sort) and be up and running.
--- I also want to be able to control via an IPad.
--- Reasonably inexpensive

I'm assuming such a thing exists.  And instead of sifting through the sales pitch of someone trying to upsell me something I don't really need/want, I figured I'd go to y'all for suggestions.

So, what should I look into buying?

thanks, d.

Chauvet ShowXpress

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Michael Thompson

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Re: Need a software DMX controller recommendation
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2018, 01:51:05 am »

I've searched a bit, but can't quite find the answer I'm looking for, so I'll post a direct question.
Here's the deal:

I want to purchase a DMX software controller.  My needs are fairly simple, but sort of specific.  I don't need anything fancy or complex, and I only run lights occasionally.  Basically there are three venues that I run lights at a few times a year....each has their own board and each always has problems or issues when I come in to do my thing (after being away  from this venue for many months at sometimes).   Two of these venues have only fixed PAR/Ellpisoidal/Fresnel instruments (maybe also a couple scoops or Cycs), and one has basic fixed LED instruments with a few channels each but nothing moving or "intelligent".  I'm basically only setting maybe 6 or 7 scenes max and not bothering with any chases or auto-fades or anything like that.  Pretty much just a few different stage washes and maybe a couple specials/spots.  Fairly old-school stuff.  It's okay if the software is capable of much more complex control, but it's just not necessary.

But I'm tired of always coming in to find the board in each venue a mess or not working properly.  So I want a software controller on my laptop that I can just bring to the venue, plug it in to their system, bypass their controller, and run the shows that way.

Now here's the specific thing -
   My audio rig (which is what I do more often) is an X32 board that I sometimes plug my laptop into (for another screen and some control) but that I also control from my IPad.  The IPad I use so that I can walk the room, soundcheck monitors from the stage, and such.  Essentially, I set up an router as a network, the X32 and the laptop connect to it via ethernet cable, and the Ipad connects via WiFi.   And it occurs to me that this is what I want to do with the light control as well....have the ability to move away from the board (and the light loft) if/when necessary.

Last "feature" I want is "not terribly expensive" (ok, what I really want is for it to be cheap!).  First of all, at least some of the work I do is on a volunteer basis or for pretty low pay.  It is NOT something I do full-time and or the main source of income.  Second, my budget is kinda tight for this, and it's not strictly something I "need", more something I "want" so I can't justify spending big bucks.

So, this is what I'm looking for:
--- DMX software controller
--- Only needs to be fairly simple, capable of running mostly fixed instruments, a few basic scenes (mostly stage washes), manual fades, no chases/shows/etc. 
--- I intend to bring my laptop to the venue plug it into their system (I'm assuming through a dongle of some sort) and be up and running.
--- I also want to be able to control via an IPad.
--- Reasonably inexpensive

I'm assuming such a thing exists.  And instead of sifting through the sales pitch of someone trying to upsell me something I don't really need/want, I figured I'd go to y'all for suggestions.

So, what should I look into buying?

thanks, d.

Luminair and an artnet node would do it from your ipad. 

I've been using these and have not had any issue. https://www.dmxprosales.com/DMXking-eDMX1-PRO-Ethernet-DMX-Controller-5-pin-p/dmxking-edmx1-pro-5.htm

There are plenty of other options, but this setup goes out all the time for me and has been very reliable.
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Johannes Halvorsen

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Re: Need a software DMX controller recommendation
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2018, 06:31:20 am »

First: Buy an Artnet node. That gives you a ton of options to choose from.

Personaly I'd recomend QLC+: It is free, stable, relatively easy to learn, cross platform and open source. QLC+ is well suited for the use cases you describe.

If you want something more "industry standard" you can actually run one universe of dmx for free from Martin MPC. But then we are talking a waaaaaay steeper learning curve.
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Taylor Hall

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Re: Need a software DMX controller recommendation
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2018, 09:00:05 am »

I second QLC+, we've been using it for several years and really like it.
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Dave Garoutte

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Re: Need a software DMX controller recommendation
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2018, 12:16:25 pm »

+1 for Luminair.
Remember that whichever software solution you pick, you also need a hardware interface.
Enttec, Chauvet, or a raft of others.
Some require the same company's software.
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dave milton

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Re: Need a software DMX controller recommendation
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2018, 12:30:09 pm »

+1 for Luminair.
Remember that whichever software solution you pick, you also need a hardware interface.
Enttec, Chauvet, or a raft of others.
Some require the same company's software.

If I'm using an ArtNET node, wouldn't that be the hardware interface?  Or will I need both the node AND an interface/dongle?

d.
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Taylor Hall

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Re: Need a software DMX controller recommendation
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2018, 01:23:03 pm »

If I'm using an ArtNET node, wouldn't that be the hardware interface?  Or will I need both the node AND an interface/dongle?

d.
That depends on both your controller interface and your fixtures. If your controller can handle artnet, then your fixtures need to as well, or you need something to decode it on the other end back into standard DMX.
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Johannes Halvorsen

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Re: Need a software DMX controller recommendation
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2018, 01:39:22 pm »

When we talk about an "Artnet node" in this context it usually refers to an Artnet-to-dmx gateway. That is a box that takes artnet over tcp/ip/ethernet in an spits out dmx over dmx cable (or the opposit way around...).

Many/most brands of light controller software can output Artnet. Artnet is, somewhat simplisticaly explained, just a fancy tcp/ip wrapper protocol for dmx. (It is more than that, yes, but you get the point...)

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Lance Hallmark

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Re: Need a software DMX controller recommendation
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2018, 03:29:34 pm »

Keep in mind whatever system you choose you will have to program all of the lights for each venue into your lighting software. You will have to know Make, model, # DMX channels for each fixture and what DMX channel each fixture is set to. There is no easy "plug & play" setup.

I think there is a learning curve for all the DMX software, especially if you are doing more than basic color washes. I use Chamsys MagicQ, you can get a full featured USB dongle with a 5 hr limit for $15 and an unlimited time one for around $100. Runs on Windows, Mac or Linux. Pair that with a touchscreen or a PC wing and you have a full featured setup. Once you program the info above from each venue, you can just bring up that show and from that point it would be fairly plug & play. If each venue is only using DMX and just a single universe I see no benefit to moving up to Artnet at this time.
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