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Author Topic: wireless DMX  (Read 1733 times)

Dave Garoutte

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wireless DMX
« on: January 01, 2020, 03:03:47 pm »

I know, it's been beaten to death, but. . .
I did a walk in lighting gig for NYE on a system that someone else built.
The event space folks had not really used it, so I ended up building a show in Luminaire and using my control stuff.
Anyway, there were a number of odd choices on how they put these stands together, but all nice quality and well constructed.

Setup: 
12 Chauvet Freedom Par wireless uplights
4 crank-up stands on wheels, with four Chauvet Colorado 1 zoom fixtures on each.
ETC controller to a dmx splitter and four 100' dmx cables.
This all worked, but was ridiculously cumbersome and not particularly friendly for the 'casual' user.

So, they asked me to get their setup working for them, so I'm doing a little research.
They never know where the stands will be setup, so I want to go wireless to eliminate the cable runs, and partly because the uplights are already wireless.
I use the Chauvet DFi tranceivers, but I've never been particularly happy with them.
Does the hive mind have any suggestions for higher quality devices?
Maybe the plug-in style RX?
Has anyone tried another brand TX to control the DFi receivers as in the uplights?

Thanks, and happy New Year all!

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Taylor Hall

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Re: wireless DMX
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2020, 04:06:24 pm »

Most of the brand name wireless systems run on some proprietary encoding so they never talk to each other without getting some kind of bridge type device. Since we moved our gear to work via ARTNet, we very rarely get our wireless gear out anymore, but I will say that the fewer wireless devices you have, the better. So if they do decide to go wireless, make each "run" work off one node (ie one or more crank up tree is one node, the string of pars is one node, etc). We tested in a room once with about a dozen scrimed totems and had occasional dropouts until we reduced the number of receivers in operation. We had planned to run them wired anyway, but wanted to push it to see what would happen in a worst case style situation.

There are professional options that exist, but be prepared to pay as such ($1000+ per tx/rx). I've no direct experience with them, but I have seen Elation, Martin, and City Theatrical units in the wild at some pretty high-profile events. Whether or not they're the real deal I can't say so take that with the commensurate grain of salt. I'm sure someone else has some experience with the "pro" level of what the Donner dongles are.
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Paul G. OBrien

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Re: wireless DMX
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2020, 06:23:58 pm »

I have been doing wireless lighting at events for a few years now, I hate doing anything with cables now it's just so cumbersome. I have a hardware controller as well as software and frequently use both together at the same time utilizing different channels on the wireless systems. None of my devices are high end, I have a mix of Donner, Lixada and some no name stuff which is probably all the same anyway. This weekend I'm doing an event with 24 wireless uplights and 8 moving heads in a large venue and I don't anticipate any problems, my experience says the key to this is that every fixture has it's own wireless receiver thus guaranteeing absolutely no crosstalk between fixtures, and every fixture MUST be set to slave mode. I also elevate the transmitter overhead on a stand or other suitable structure when available, this has proven to clean up missed queues by individual fixtures which aren't common anyway.  Some of the box style wireless transmitters also have adjustable power levels and stepping that up just 1 notch from the lowest setting also helps in some cases.
Overall wireless DMX has been great for the type of events I do, I can detect some lag in the response of the fixtures at times(not always) so it probably wouldn't cut it for any event relying on precisely timed scene changes, but none of my events require that so I'll gladly take the advantages wireless brings.
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: wireless DMX
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2020, 08:46:53 pm »

Hi Dave.  Iíll continue to throw my dissenting opinion that wireless should never be used for ďevents that matterĒ unless there is absolutely no alternative, such as on a wireless prop or set piece.  You can buy a few thousand feet of DMX cable, cable ramps, DMX splitters, and everything else needed in a proper DMX kit for less than one channel of professional-grade wireless, and your reliability will be much higher.  Good luck!
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Dave Garoutte

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Re: wireless DMX
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2020, 02:13:52 am »

Hi Dave.  Iíll continue to throw my dissenting opinion that wireless should never be used for ďevents that matterĒ unless there is absolutely no alternative, such as on a wireless prop or set piece.  You can buy a few thousand feet of DMX cable, cable ramps, DMX splitters, and everything else needed in a proper DMX kit for less than one channel of professional-grade wireless, and your reliability will be much higher.  Good luck!

I don't disagree, but they are an event space providing basic lighting.  There is no LD or operator from the venue.
The simplification of eliminating the cables will more than make up for any lack of responsiveness.
Their stage could be set up anywhere in the room, so full portability is key.
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Dave Garoutte

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Re: wireless DMX
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2020, 02:15:32 am »

Most of the brand name wireless systems run on some proprietary encoding so they never talk to each other without getting some kind of bridge type device.

Do you know this from experience?
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: wireless DMX
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2020, 03:07:18 am »

I don't disagree, but they are an event space providing basic lighting.  There is no LD or operator from the venue.
The simplification of eliminating the cables will more than make up for any lack of responsiveness.
Their stage could be set up anywhere in the room, so full portability is key.

Yeah, I hear ya and understand the advantage youíre looking for.  To me, itís not a lack of responsiveness so much as it is having complete dropouts.  If youíre talking a rather small venue with generally static lighting I wouldnít be as concerned compared to a ballroom filled with a few thousand people and just as many wireless devices.  If done right it can be very reliable (Iíve used wireless to control remote units on rooftop positions many times), but it gets costly and can still have issues.

Is it possible to get DMX drops in the wall space near power to plug in?  Iíve seen that done in a number of venues which can help to some extent, otherwise itís usually up and over through discrete raceways or catwalks and whatnot if cable ramps arenít an option to get where you need.  I agree with your thought process though of getting everything working on one network - including the Freedom Pars.  Since they have a DMX-in you could technically override the D-Fi with your own wireless solution, but that more or less defeats the purpose.  While I havenít tried every imaginable combination of products on the market, Iím not aware of a way to say for instance command Chauvet D-Fi and ADJ WiFLY via the same transmitter. 

What can be done, however, is to daisy chain the two wireless systems together.  An example would be to command your rig via the wireless solution of your choice (letís say WiFLY to keep things simple, via a WiFLY transceiver wired to your console).  WiFLY-compatible units will receive commands completely wirelessly, and non-compatible units can be interfaced either directly or with another transceiver receiving WiFLY.  Where the handover happens is here - you run DMX via cable from a WiFLY unit into a D-Fi transceiver - either a dedicated unit or a lighting fixture with a D-Fi transceiver attached in transmit mode.  That will then transmit DMX to your D-Fi units but be passing through WiFLY.

In other words, unless you want to use D-Fi for the entire installation youíll want to plan on a D-Fi transmitter going somewhere that can receive DMX from a more preferred network.  Itís too many failure points for my liking especially with all the cheap stuff being in 2.4GHz, but it will get your Freedom Pars talking on the same app as your other lighting.  Hope this helps!     
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Taylor Hall

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Re: wireless DMX
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2020, 07:16:21 am »

Do you know this from experience?
Yes. Some -do- talk to each other, but I don't remember which at this point as we did this years ago. Chauvet and ADJ are pretty much guaranteed to never play with each other, but I do remember Blizzard's option did work with something else, but only in one direction for some reason. Standard walled garden tactics.
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Dave Garoutte

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Re: wireless DMX
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2020, 12:56:40 pm »

Yeah, I hear ya and understand the advantage youíre looking for.  To me, itís not a lack of responsiveness so much as it is having complete dropouts.  If youíre talking a rather small venue with generally static lighting I wouldnít be as concerned compared to a ballroom filled with a few thousand people and just as many wireless devices.  If done right it can be very reliable (Iíve used wireless to control remote units on rooftop positions many times), but it gets costly and can still have issues.

Is it possible to get DMX drops in the wall space near power to plug in?  Iíve seen that done in a number of venues which can help to some extent, otherwise itís usually up and over through discrete raceways or catwalks and whatnot if cable ramps arenít an option to get where you need.  I agree with your thought process though of getting everything working on one network - including the Freedom Pars.  Since they have a DMX-in you could technically override the D-Fi with your own wireless solution, but that more or less defeats the purpose.  While I havenít tried every imaginable combination of products on the market, Iím not aware of a way to say for instance command Chauvet D-Fi and ADJ WiFLY via the same transmitter. 

What can be done, however, is to daisy chain the two wireless systems together.  An example would be to command your rig via the wireless solution of your choice (letís say WiFLY to keep things simple, via a WiFLY transceiver wired to your console).  WiFLY-compatible units will receive commands completely wirelessly, and non-compatible units can be interfaced either directly or with another transceiver receiving WiFLY.  Where the handover happens is here - you run DMX via cable from a WiFLY unit into a D-Fi transceiver - either a dedicated unit or a lighting fixture with a D-Fi transceiver attached in transmit mode.  That will then transmit DMX to your D-Fi units but be passing through WiFLY.

In other words, unless you want to use D-Fi for the entire installation youíll want to plan on a D-Fi transmitter going somewhere that can receive DMX from a more preferred network.  Itís too many failure points for my liking especially with all the cheap stuff being in 2.4GHz, but it will get your Freedom Pars talking on the same app as your other lighting.  Hope this helps!     

I suspect it will be mostly static lights (what color would you like the room, ma'am?) or occasional scene changes.

The dual TX setup is one option I was considering.
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Mark Cadwallader

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Re: wireless DMX
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2020, 01:06:04 pm »

If you have two (or more) DMX universes available, could you simply separate the lights on a given wireless protocol by universe? 
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Re: wireless DMX
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