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Sound Reinforcement - Forums for Live Sound Professionals - Your Displayed Name Must Be Your Real Full Name To Post In The Live Sound Forums => Lighting Forum => Topic started by: Mike Monte on September 18, 2022, 09:04:22 PM

Title: Basic DMX (3 pin) controller for LED fixtures
Post by: Mike Monte on September 18, 2022, 09:04:22 PM
Hello all,
I provide sound for local events and have a basic/spartan/archaic lighting rig; sixteen par38 cans with 150watt LED dimmable bulbs, 4 colors, 415 dimmer packs, all run with a DMX Operator Pro board.
The above is old/clunky but it works for my use
however
I would like to streamline my set up somewhat.

A while back I purchased eight PAR64 3-color LED fixtures but have yet to use them.

I have three questions (take it easy on my as I am a sound guy.....).

#1. Can I use the LED multi-color fixtures with my DMX Operator Pro (program Scenes, Chases), three pin DMX cable, link the fixtures, etc.
#2. If yes, How do I program the fixtures to sync with the board?
or
#3. Can you recommend a lighting board for multi-color LED's, one that can program scenes/chases/& has an audio input to sync with music

I would like to use what I have if I can....(#1).

I am not interested in movers/lazers, etc. 

Please advise.

Title: Re: Basic DMX (3 pin) controller for LED fixtures
Post by: Paul G. OBrien on September 18, 2022, 11:15:25 PM
I have three questions (take it easy on my as I am a sound guy.....).

#1. Can I use the LED multi-color fixtures with my DMX Operator Pro (program Scenes, Chases), three pin DMX cable, link the fixtures, etc.
#2. If yes, How do I program the fixtures to sync with the board?
or
#3. Can you recommend a lighting board for multi-color LED's, one that can program scenes/chases/& has an audio input to sync with music

#1) Yes
#2) On your board there are 8 fixture buttons, these are used to select fixtures you want to use in a program. There are 16 control channels available to each of these fixture buttons and these correlate to DMX addresses. Fix#1 uses DMX addresses 1-16, Fix#2 uses 17-32, etc. So all you have to do to make a light fixture like your par cans communicate correctly with the controller is set the DMX address on the fixture to a starting addresses that correspond to one of those buttons. So for example set the first fixture to address #1, set the second to address #17, set the third to Address #49, and so on, connect all the fixtures together and to the controller with cable and turn everything on. Now you select the buttons for the fixtures you want to set to a color by pressing the fixture buttons.. like all the odd numbered fixtures for example, and if these are simple 3ch fixtures then slider 1 will be red intensity, 2 will be green, 3 will be blue, and those 3 sliders will set the same color on all the selected fixtures. Next deselect those fixtures and select all the even numbered fixtures and set them to a different color, you can now save this as a scene if you are in programming mode.

3) Your controller has all these features, have you not used them or did you just want something more compact or with more features built-in? Have a look at the controller linked below, it is specifically designed for pars with some effects generation capability built in.. which saves on programming.
https://www.steinigke.de/en/mpn70064575-eurolite-dmx-led-color-chief-controller.html
Title: Re: Basic DMX (3 pin) controller for LED fixtures
Post by: Tommy Nikiforov on September 19, 2022, 07:49:59 AM
Eventhough those small dmx faderboards do work , its dreadful to program and you cant do many fancy things with them.
I would suggest an artnet node and a laptop with ChamSys MagicQ , Obsidian Onyx or MaDOT2 for a "modern" and "proper" lighting control solution on the cheap.
Title: Re: Basic DMX (3 pin) controller for LED fixtures
Post by: John Schalk on September 19, 2022, 10:12:53 AM
Have a look at the controller linked below, it is specifically designed for pars with some effects generation capability built in.. which saves on programming.
https://www.steinigke.de/en/mpn70064575-eurolite-dmx-led-color-chief-controller.html
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?
Title: Re: Basic DMX (3 pin) controller for LED fixtures
Post by: Paul G. OBrien on September 19, 2022, 10:55:38 AM
Are the Chauvet Obey consoles any easier to use?
No it's a variation of the same thing. Every controller has quirks that are part of the programming logic and in general the cheaper the product the more basic the logic.. you generally don't get iPhone 14 features in a $200 android and that applies even more to a cheap clone product.

I currently have an Obey6 and two Blizzard ProKontrol MH consoles, used to have a couple different Operator controllers.. one with a joystick and one without, and one of those cheap chinese clones. Of those the chinese clone was the worst to use and the Blizzard is the best by quite a margin. When I'm doing lighting myself I use software(Freestyler) but if I have to provide lighting for a DJ the Blizzard controllers are used because punching a few buttons is easier for them than fumbling with software they are unfamiliar with.
Title: Re: Basic DMX (3 pin) controller for LED fixtures
Post by: Paul Johnson on September 19, 2022, 12:18:32 PM
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.
Title: Re: Basic DMX (3 pin) controller for LED fixtures
Post by: Steve-White on September 19, 2022, 01:01:22 PM
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?

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.
Title: Re: Basic DMX (3 pin) controller for LED fixtures
Post by: duane massey on September 19, 2022, 04:48:36 PM
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.
Title: Re: Basic DMX (3 pin) controller for LED fixtures
Post by: Jeff Lelko on September 20, 2022, 12:50:32 AM
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.

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.
Title: Re: Basic DMX (3 pin) controller for LED fixtures
Post by: duane massey on September 20, 2022, 04:32:35 PM
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.
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...
Title: Re: Basic DMX (3 pin) controller for LED fixtures
Post by: John Fruits on October 04, 2022, 09:27:04 PM
Did you happen to see the post downstream by Nate Zifra about the WolfMix WM1.  I noticed it does have a line in for sound triggering.  I have no idea if that would do what you wanted.
It's also known as:
https://www.adj.com/wmx1
Title: Re: Basic DMX (3 pin) controller for LED fixtures
Post by: Paul Johnson on November 10, 2022, 03:01:39 AM
If you have say, just 6 RGBW non-movers. You need to think about what you have. You actually have 24 light sources to control, not 6. So you can build lighting with different colours in areas, or brightness and darkness in different areas, or whole stage solid colours or ÖÖÖÖÖ lots of options. Letís assume itís a band, not a stage show. If the six lights are aimed just at individual band members, with a couple doing the back light /audience facing role you can do so much you couldnít do with your 16 dim par cans. Your lights can do things your control cannot! Increase the RGBW sources to 16 and itís even more versatile but your hardware control simply cannot cope with this. Your fixtures probably also have effects channels for strobing and pulsing, these canít be controlled either. The control was not designed for this level of control. Itís a dinosaur trying to talk to much cleverer equipment. The important thing that modern control do is break control into movement, colour, intensity and beam/fx and deal with each one independently. Your old one looks at individual lights in terms of just intensity. A few had dedicated better controls, but for a preset and not variable list of very specific fixtures. I had one for some elderly mirror scans where pan/tilt, gobo and colour were the only adjustable, and the four DMX channels were locked. Another brand of fixture mostly worked when i found one that had these things in the same order. Lights rarely allow their DMX channels to be swapped around, and neither do basic controllers.

With modern consoles, finding one that lets you your lights properly isnt hard, but you do need to get good at programming and creating the heads in the system. Most allow you to build your own nowadays. So you can use all features even cheap lights have inside.