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Basic DMX (3 pin) controller for LED fixtures

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Paul Johnson:
The question here really is what do you want to do. A basic lighting controller with limited numbers of heads means that you are forced into making many lights work on the same DMX channel - so this one offers 8 - so maybe you pick 4 as 'one' and they can all do the same thing, pick another number of lights to do something different form the first, but again - they do the same thing.

Real modern lighting controls let you treat every fixture as an individual unit. You can then group them - front lights, mid or back lights, left or right lights, audience facing or back lights, depending on where they are. you can even mix light types, so hitting back, blue brings up every light at the rear in blue, hitting front red does the same - or you can call them up by what they do - washes, beams, patterns, blinders etc. With old basic controls you work against the kit all the time. A fixture might have some excellent FX but you cannot access them because you can't talk to them properly.

However - many great products now have a dongle based output and vastly lower price to the hardware desks. My favourite, Chamsys, starts around five grand now, but for under a hundred you can run the software on a laptop and talk to a single universe. Plenty of other brands do the same. So and old laptop and under the 100 and you are running the same software.

Steve-White:

--- Quote from: John Schalk on September 19, 2022, 10:12:53 AM ---I am in pretty much the same place as the OP.  I have a hand-me-down DMX Operator console by ADJ that works, but is incredibly unintuitive to use, at least for me.  I think I'll end up going with a software solution eventually, but I am willing to invest up to $200 in a small console if I can find something better that these Operator clones.  For example, on my board, if you have some channels up to record a scene, and then you want to make a new look and move the sliders, nothing happens until you "zero them out" by turning off the fixture buttons and moving the faders to full and then back to zero.  There is probably a logical reason for this, but it's just strange to me.  Are the Chauvet Obey consoles any easier to use?

--- End quote ---

They're pretty much all junk.

I tried Chauvet and ADJ for DJ system lighting and within a year junked all three of them and went with a software solution running on the laptop.  Several reasons; 1) Being able to save and transport programming, 2) Reliability, the faders on the cheap units get dirty ease and it causes issues, 3) Inefficient use of addressing as different devices have different control channel count requirements.  i.e. on a 16 channel controller a 9 channel device will not utilize the other 7 channels allocated to it.

duane massey:
Simple answer: Yes, you can use what you have, IF you can live with the limitations.
If you want a controller that will give you lots of control, good luck. The best controller on the market was discontinued a while back (ADJ Showdesigner 1), but you can still find them on Ebay. Learing curve can be an issue for some people.
As much as I dislike it, the trend has been towards software control, and it seems we have little or no choice in what we have to choose from.

Jeff Lelko:

--- Quote from: duane massey on September 19, 2022, 04:48:36 PM ---As much as I dislike it, the trend has been towards software control, and it seems we have little or no choice in what we have to choose from.

--- End quote ---

I can think of many modern portable hardware consoles - MA3 Compact, Hedgehog 4, and MagicQ MQ50 just to name a few.  The catch is that you're not going to get them for $200. 

Back 20 years ago the average light system consisted of Par 64s and dimmers, and maybe a few Roboscan 812s if you had money.  The control needs for a system like that were very simple.  Today we deal with extremely complex fixtures with high channel counts and pixel mapping capabilities - even at the weekend warrior level.  There's simply no way to handle systems like these with controllers of the past.  Programming 10s of thousands of DMX channels isn't done one-by-one - you need the algorithms, programming tools, and processing power built into modern consoles to do the heavy lifting for you.  Whether you spend the money on a full console or buy an interface and provide your own PC for a fraction of the cost is up to you.

duane massey:

--- Quote from: Jeff Lelko on September 20, 2022, 12:50:32 AM ---I can think of many modern portable hardware consoles - MA3 Compact, Hedgehog 4, and MagicQ MQ50 just to name a few.  The catch is that you're not going to get them for $200. 

Back 20 years ago the average light system consisted of Par 64s and dimmers, and maybe a few Roboscan 812s if you had money.  The control needs for a system like that were very simple.  Today we deal with extremely complex fixtures with high channel counts and pixel mapping capabilities - even at the weekend warrior level.  There's simply no way to handle systems like these with controllers of the past.  Programming 10s of thousands of DMX channels isn't done one-by-one - you need the algorithms, programming tools, and processing power built into modern consoles to do the heavy lifting for you.  Whether you spend the money on a full console or buy an interface and provide your own PC for a fraction of the cost is up to you.

--- End quote ---
I used the SD1 for many installs and a few bands. For under $700 it was quite useful, and most of the venues (IF they are still in business) still have them. To my knowledge there was nothing even close for twice the $$$. Was it a pro-level controller? Nope, but it was extremely cost-effective and quite powerful. Not a very easy controller to use "on the fly", but, with proper pre-programming it could do some impressive stuff.
You can't copare the SD1 to controllers that cost $2k and up. You can compare it to the Obey-serires and the Operator-series, but there really isn't comparison. I was truly sorry to see them discontinued.
Okay, old-man rant over...

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