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Title: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Bart Jansari on September 26, 2018, 06:10:31 pm
Hi I'm new to the dmx universe and now have 2 moving heads and 6 par cans.

Id like to be able to have some control over my lights e.g

Make them all strobe
Make them all react in colour x
Change the colour on the moving heads to white and spin

Then use sound active when I want too

So I would be happy to add small midi controller too to give me some buttons to which I can assign these functions

Therefore I'd like recommendations for a software dmx controlling system that I can either run on the same laptop as my dj software or a 2nd laptop if needed.

As I said I don't think I need to do anything too crazy and I'm unlikely to be adding to the lights any time soon?

TIA Bart

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Title: Re: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Jeff Lelko on September 26, 2018, 07:09:59 pm
Hi Bart, this is a much discussed topic here on PSW, so if you haven't given the forum a browse you can probably find some good suggestions by doing so.  Regarding software, MagicQ PC and M-PC (which is now Onxy by Obsidian) are two of the larger contenders on the market right now, but there are many others.  While the consensus is always that software is better bang to buck (which it is), is there a reason this needs to be software?  Your rig is quite small and since you don't plan on expanding soon, you might be better served with a small hardware board such as something from the Chauvet Obey series or a used Elation Show Designer. 

If you do go the software route I strongly recommend keeping that on a separate computer than your DJ software.  While you can probably get away with both running on the same machine it's just good practice, especially if stability and glitch-free audio is a priority.  You might also be a good candidate for a tablet-based controller such a Luminair if you don't mind the extra logistics needed for wireless control.  Good luck!
Title: Re: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Bart Jansari on September 26, 2018, 07:16:22 pm
Thanks Jeff

My reason for looking at software is that from what I understand it will be a lot easier to program using a laptop over a hardware board. I understand with the latter it would be a lot more manual to program?

For either of the 2 software that you mentioned whaf hardware interface would you have recommend?
Hi Bart, this is a much discussed topic here on PSW, so if you haven't given the forum a browse you can probably find some good suggestions by doing so.  Regarding software, MagicQ PC and M-PC (which is now Onxy by Obsidian) are two of the larger contenders on the market right now, but there are many others.  While the consensus is always that software is better bang to buck (which it is), is there a reason this needs to be software?  Your rig is quite small and since you don't plan on expanding soon, you might be better served with a small hardware board such as something from the Chauvet Obey series or a used Elation Show Designer. 

If you do go the software route I strongly recommend keeping that on a separate computer than your DJ software.  While you can probably get away with both running on the same machine it's just good practice, especially if stability and glitch-free audio is a priority.  You might also be a good candidate for a tablet-based controller such a Luminair if you don't mind the extra logistics needed for wireless control.  Good luck!

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Title: Re: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Bart Jansari on September 26, 2018, 07:29:21 pm
Foa tablet based solution I assume I need a high end tablet as I only us we a Amazon fire tab which I use to stream and watch TV and movies

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Title: Re: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Jeff Lelko on September 26, 2018, 07:34:53 pm
My reason for looking at software is that from what I understand it will be a lot easier to program using a laptop over a hardware board. I understand with the latter it would be a lot more manual to program?

Yes, that's generally a true statement.  The small hardware boards can be tedious to program sometimes, especially if you're trying to do complex patterns or motions.  They're also usually more difficult to modify programming on, simply because you don't have much of a display to work with when compared to a software board or a full-blown console.  The reason I make the suggestion though is that from what you've said so far, it doesn't seem like you'd need to be creating or modifying programs too often.  It's one thing to need new programs every gig, but if this is a program once and recycle type of thing I don't think the programming is insurmountably difficult.  At the same time, most software programs have an overall steeper learning curve due to their increased complexity, so pros and cons to both.

For either of the 2 software that you mentioned whaf hardware interface would you have recommend?

It's hard to go wrong with an Enttec DMX-USB Pro.  It's compatible with both programs and many more.  If you want interfaces with both DMX output and buttons/faders then you'd be looking at buying the wings available for the software you choose.  While each person is different, don't underestimate the usefulness of having physical buttons and faders to drive a show with.  That's also why I brought up the possibility of a hardware controller too.

For tablet based solution I assume I need a high end tablet as I only us we a Amazon fire tab which I use to stream and watch TV and movies

I don't think so, but I'm sure like most things it depends on what you're trying to do with it.  I use my iPad Pro to remote control my ETC Congo Kid, but aside from playing around I've never deployed a full-up tablet solution of my own.  The ones I've used seem somewhat agnostic to the tablet itself.  There are a number of Luminair users here who can probably answer that better than I can!  Hope this helps!
Title: Re: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Bart Jansari on September 26, 2018, 07:42:14 pm
Is this the dmx interface?

Enttec - Open DMX USB Dongle https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00O9RY664/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_FJbRBbPFW1N1R

This is the midi controller I'm thinking about?
AKAI Professional LPD8 Portable 8 Pad USB MIDI Pad Controller for Laptops (Mac and PC) - Black https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B002M8EEW8/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_zKbRBb0HHXA2D

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Title: Re: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Jeff Lelko on September 26, 2018, 07:55:20 pm
Is this the dmx interface?

Enttec - Open DMX USB Dongle https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00O9RY664/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_FJbRBbPFW1N1R

No, it's this one (https://www.enttec.com/products/controls/dmx-usb/2-universe-usb-computer-interface-dmx/).  There are a few differences between the two, namely compatibility, isolation, and how the box handles driving a DMX signal.  I both own and always recommend the "Pro" - this is one of those things you want to get right and not mess up by trying to save $100 - the consequences are much more than that.

Regarding MIDI, MagicQ PC must be used with a dedicated MIDI interface.  I believe M-PC will accept third-party MIDI solutions, but I've never tried it and can't speak with authority on it.  While MIDI certainly has its advantages in certain applications, going this route will add more cost and complexity to your setup compared to a simple hardware board given what it is you want to do. 
Title: Re: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Bart Jansari on September 27, 2018, 01:39:15 am
Thanks for clearing that up

Re hardware controller so that i understand complexity to set up.

How would I for example set 1 to change the moving heads to white and spin around

Or

Get the par cans to turn blue in a chase?

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Title: Re: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Bart Jansari on September 27, 2018, 09:05:09 am
ok so Ive had a  look online at a couple of videos for using a hardware controller and for the par cans it seems quite easy to change colours , not sure how I would strobe with it?

however is controlling moving heads and selecting gobos and colours , pans etc a hold different problem with just a controller?

if so i have seen a few controllers - for what I want is there much difference in them?

see below

https://smile.amazon.co.uk/American-1322000051-DMX-Operator-Mixers/dp/B00S2VV3YQ/ref=sr_1_8?rps=1&ie=UTF8&qid=1538052733&sr=8-8&keywords=dmx+controller&refinements=p_76%3A419158031

https://smile.amazon.co.uk/192-Channel-DMX-Controller-Joystick/dp/B0046ZUSZC/ref=sr_1_6?rps=1&ie=UTF8&qid=1538052733&sr=8-6&keywords=dmx+controller&refinements=p_76%3A419158031

https://smile.amazon.co.uk/CHAUVET-DJ-Universal-DMX-512-Controller/dp/B001E9X7X8/ref=sr_1_4?rps=1&ie=UTF8&qid=1538052733&sr=8-4&keywords=dmx+controller&refinements=p_76%3A419158031
Title: Re: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Scott Holtzman on September 27, 2018, 01:19:58 pm
ok so Ive had a  look online at a couple of videos for using a hardware controller and for the par cans it seems quite easy to change colours , not sure how I would strobe with it?

however is controlling moving heads and selecting gobos and colours , pans etc a hold different problem with just a controller?

if so i have seen a few controllers - for what I want is there much difference in them?

see below

https://smile.amazon.co.uk/American-1322000051-DMX-Operator-Mixers/dp/B00S2VV3YQ/ref=sr_1_8?rps=1&ie=UTF8&qid=1538052733&sr=8-8&keywords=dmx+controller&refinements=p_76%3A419158031

https://smile.amazon.co.uk/192-Channel-DMX-Controller-Joystick/dp/B0046ZUSZC/ref=sr_1_6?rps=1&ie=UTF8&qid=1538052733&sr=8-6&keywords=dmx+controller&refinements=p_76%3A419158031

https://smile.amazon.co.uk/CHAUVET-DJ-Universal-DMX-512-Controller/dp/B001E9X7X8/ref=sr_1_4?rps=1&ie=UTF8&qid=1538052733&sr=8-4&keywords=dmx+controller&refinements=p_76%3A419158031

In another thread you said you bought the Pioneer interface.
Title: Re: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Bart Jansari on September 27, 2018, 01:45:33 pm
That's correct I have but that seems to be very limiting and not intuitive and a lot of money for what it is. Plus I work be tied to using only rekordbox for my dj software. Therefore as the RB dmx1 didn't blow me away I'm thinking for my needs it might be better to go down the dmx managed route either software or hardware
In another thread you said you bought the Pioneer interface.

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Title: Re: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Scott Holtzman on September 27, 2018, 01:59:18 pm
That's correct I have but that seems to be very limiting and not intuitive and a lot of money for what it is. Plus I work be tied to using only rekordbox for my dj software. Therefore as the RB dmx1 didn't blow me away I'm thinking for my needs it might be better to go down the dmx managed route either software or hardware
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All you have to do is download a DMX software package for the controller that you have. 

You probably can fire cues from your DJ software.
Title: Re: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Steve Garris on September 27, 2018, 04:27:57 pm
ok so Ive had a  look online at a couple of videos for using a hardware controller and for the par cans it seems quite easy to change colours , not sure how I would strobe with it?

however is controlling moving heads and selecting gobos and colours , pans etc a hold different problem with just a controller?

if so i have seen a few controllers - for what I want is there much difference in them?

see below

https://smile.amazon.co.uk/American-1322000051-DMX-Operator-Mixers/dp/B00S2VV3YQ/ref=sr_1_8?rps=1&ie=UTF8&qid=1538052733&sr=8-8&keywords=dmx+controller&refinements=p_76%3A419158031

https://smile.amazon.co.uk/192-Channel-DMX-Controller-Joystick/dp/B0046ZUSZC/ref=sr_1_6?rps=1&ie=UTF8&qid=1538052733&sr=8-6&keywords=dmx+controller&refinements=p_76%3A419158031

https://smile.amazon.co.uk/CHAUVET-DJ-Universal-DMX-512-Controller/dp/B001E9X7X8/ref=sr_1_4?rps=1&ie=UTF8&qid=1538052733&sr=8-4&keywords=dmx+controller&refinements=p_76%3A419158031

Any of those will do want you are trying to accomplish. I've used the Obey 70, and other cheap boards like the ones you posted.

You will first assign your fixtures to the appropriate dmx addresses, then record your scenes using the faders on the board to control the light. Strobing is just one of many functions of your lights, and will be assigned by the light manufacturer to one of the channels.
Same with the moving heads & gobo's. There will be a channel for the movers that allow them to run in "auto" mode, or even sound activated. Most of these boards will allow you to set it in "chase mode", either via an auto setting - using the speed control fader, or sound active. When the chase is running it simply goes through each of your programmed scenes.
Title: Re: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Bart Jansari on September 27, 2018, 04:36:38 pm
So would you say it's quite simple to do?

Re the heads so for example Tilt will be set to say channel 6 so I would use that to program the head to move a certain way?

When using dmx does master and slave come into it and invert or is each light treated on its own? So when programming heads they move in opposite directions?

And are you saying there are auto modes on these where I can let the units run in sound active mode if I want?

Is there much difference in the boards I suggested?

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Title: Re: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Jeff Lelko on September 27, 2018, 08:50:12 pm
So would you say it's quite simple to do?

It's easy enough.  I'd take this over playing with MIDI any day.  You'll have to read the manual, yes, and it might take a bit of trial and error.  With enough patience you'll get there though.  Some people like the computer interfaces, others don't, but I still find these tiny boards easy to handle for those with little experience so long as they keep an open mind and aren't afraid to spend time learning them.

When using dmx does master and slave come into it and invert or is each light treated on its own? So when programming heads they move in opposite directions?

And are you saying there are auto modes on these where I can let the units run in sound active mode if I want?

Master/Slave, auto mode, and sound-active are usually modes that intelligent lights can run in when DMX control is absent.  There are exceptions to all three cases, such as some lights being able to be commanded to auto or sound-active mode via DMX, but DMX will always take precedence in these cases.  Some fixtures can invert certain parameters such as pan and tilt, though this is usually something you leverage when running in auto or sound-active modes.  In DMX mode I prefer to let the controller handle 100% of this, though there is nothing inherently wrong with inverting fixture parameters on top of DMX.

Is there much difference in the boards I suggested?

Not really.  Some have more bells and whistles than others (such as MIDI), but for what you want they're more or less the same.  Read and understand the manual before buying though.  I do suggest getting a name brand such as American DJ or Chauvet.  The no-name generic Chinese products that have permeated throughout Amazon and ebay can be tricky due to very poor documentation. 
Title: Re: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Scott Holtzman on September 28, 2018, 12:12:19 am
It's easy enough.  I'd take this over playing with MIDI any day.  You'll have to read the manual, yes, and it might take a bit of trial and error.  With enough patience you'll get there though.  Some people like the computer interfaces, others don't, but I still find these tiny boards easy to handle for those with little experience so long as they keep an open mind and aren't afraid to spend time learning them.

Master/Slave, auto mode, and sound-active are usually modes that intelligent lights can run in when DMX control is absent.  There are exceptions to all three cases, such as some lights being able to be commanded to auto or sound-active mode via DMX, but DMX will always take precedence in these cases.  Some fixtures can invert certain parameters such as pan and tilt, though this is usually something you leverage when running in auto or sound-active modes.  In DMX mode I prefer to let the controller handle 100% of this, though there is nothing inherently wrong with inverting fixture parameters on top of DMX.

Not really.  Some have more bells and whistles than others (such as MIDI), but for what you want they're more or less the same.  Read and understand the manual before buying though.  I do suggest getting a name brand such as American DJ or Chauvet.  The no-name generic Chinese products that have permeated throughout Amazon and ebay can be tricky due to very poor documentation.

I totally agree with Jeff on the Chinese fixtures.  Unless you have an intuitive understanding of how DMX works you won't be happy.

As an example we bought some not so cheap Sharpie 4R clones.  They came with Osram bulbs as promised.  The documentation was horrible.  There is only a narrow window in the lamp on/off channel where the lamp will actually strike.  Having to map out multiple gobo wheels, prisms, focus, diffusion, colors and movement probably took me 40 hours total until the fixture profile was bug free.

Title: Re: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Bart Jansari on September 28, 2018, 02:58:10 am
Ok so looking at the attached pics for my pocket pro moving head am I reading this correct for how I set them on controller (I'm looking at the adj 384)

Gobos will be channel 4 with the Gobo I want {1 to 7) depending on what value I choose from 72 to 127?

Pan and Tilt will be channels 1 and 2

If I want them to only face forward do I have to set target mode on channel 11 to value 110 - 119?

Would you suggest making a list of what I want the lights to do e. g change to Gobo 5, turn white and spin and then start programming? (https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180928/7b1fb3af4cffea669c26b6154cf350e2.jpg)(https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180928/8ede91f86beea05bacdc9517e0f4cb04.jpg)(https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180928/0928a804ff760b12275762a8fb98b6c7.jpg)

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Title: Re: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Scott Holtzman on September 28, 2018, 04:49:28 pm
Ok so looking at the attached pics for my pocket pro moving head am I reading this correct for how I set them on controller (I'm looking at the adj 384)

Gobos will be channel 4 with the Gobo I want {1 to 7) depending on what value I choose from 72 to 127?

Pan and Tilt will be channels 1 and 2

If I want them to only face forward do I have to set target mode on channel 11 to value 110 - 119?

Would you suggest making a list of what I want the lights to do e. g change to Gobo 5, turn white and spin and then start programming? (https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180928/7b1fb3af4cffea669c26b6154cf350e2.jpg)(https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180928/8ede91f86beea05bacdc9517e0f4cb04.jpg)(https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180928/0928a804ff760b12275762a8fb98b6c7.jpg)

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Pocket Pro reminds me of an unhygenic device carried by lonely roadies.

I am unfamiliar with the target option but it sounds right.  You put your controller in manual mode and send the values then observe the outcome.

Sounds like you have the basic idea.  Put it to practice.

You mentioned your software interface in other posts.  Why don't you download some DMX software and give it a roll?
Title: Re: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Bart Jansari on September 28, 2018, 04:52:03 pm
The RB DMX 1 is specially for rekordbox DJ whcih is a DJ software.
What this does is analyze the tracks and then changes the lights accordingly. In principle it's not very good though and not much control with it hence why I'm looking at going the manual control route

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Title: Re: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Jeff Lelko on September 28, 2018, 07:33:00 pm
Ok so looking at the attached pics for my pocket pro moving head am I reading this correct for how I set them on controller (I'm looking at the adj 384)

Gobos will be channel 4 with the Gobo I want {1 to 7) depending on what value I choose from 72 to 127?

Pan and Tilt will be channels 1 and 2

Yep, and in truth this will be the same for any controller you choose.  The nicer ones that have better control of attributes take care of all the numbers for you, but this is generally what's happening behind the scenes. 

If I want them to only face forward do I have to set target mode on channel 11 to value 110 - 119?

I believe so, though I have limited experience with this type of feature as well.  This will fall into the same bucket as things like pan/tilt speed - they're benefits that might help you with certain types of programming when using a very restricted controller, though as mentioned above I generally avoid these types of channels when programming and let my console do all the work.  Target Mode won't affect your unit's pan/tilt resolution, so why not just let your controller figure this out?  This feature is more useful when running in auto/sound-active/master-slave. 

Would you suggest making a list of what I want the lights to do e. g change to Gobo 5, turn white and spin and then start programming?

It can't hurt!  Even when programming on large professional-grade consoles I always have a note pad with me.  Console tape or spike tape will also be your friend here so you can label where you put things.  If you don't foresee changing your programs very often you can also print stick-on labels for a more permanent and professional look too.  Hope this helps!
Title: Re: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Jeff Lelko on September 28, 2018, 08:02:49 pm
As an example we bought some not so cheap Sharpie 4R clones.  They came with Osram bulbs as promised.  The documentation was horrible.  There is only a narrow window in the lamp on/off channel where the lamp will actually strike.  Having to map out multiple gobo wheels, prisms, focus, diffusion, colors and movement probably took me 40 hours total until the fixture profile was bug free.

Sounds like fun...sort of...  But yes, sadly reverse-engineering fixture profiles is becoming a more common skill that programmers need to develop.  Once you apply the "time is money" aspect to the project the appeal of no-name fixtures quickly diminishes, especially if that's time needed on a console you don't own.  I've used enough generic fixtures to thus far avoided buying them for my own personal inventory.  The itch to get 4 or 5 dozen Sharpy clones is strong though, mostly so that I can build effects only possible with larger numbers of identical units.  At the same time, such effects will also highlight the inconsistencies between fixtures usually present in these budget units.  It only takes one bad fixture in an 8x6 grid to mess up the whole presentation!   
Title: Re: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Scott Holtzman on September 28, 2018, 08:13:58 pm
Sounds like fun...sort of...  But yes, sadly reverse-engineering fixture profiles is becoming a more common skill that programmers need to develop.  Once you apply the "time is money" aspect to the project the appeal of no-name fixtures quickly diminishes, especially if that's time needed on a console you don't own.  I've used enough generic fixtures to thus far avoided buying them for my own personal inventory.  The itch to get 4 or 5 dozen Sharpy clones is strong though, mostly so that I can build effects only possible with larger numbers of identical units.  At the same time, such effects will also highlight the inconsistencies between fixtures usually present in these budget units.  It only takes one bad fixture in an 8x6 grid to mess up the whole presentation!   

You are dead right.  We have two "limpy" lights that the vendor could care less about.  Eventually they will be just spares.

There are so many things deficient about this fixture once you have use a real one.  Speed of color wheel, snappiness of positioning, focus of gobos.  They are not that great. 

However I am in Cleveland and are B shows are historically underlit.  I can send 10k worth of gear out for $700-1000 with the PA/Monitor/Wireless they make money.

We did get rid of the Chinese pars and replace with Blizzard Hotbox's.  A nice fixture.

I will add that the fixtures are surprisingly well built.  We have opened them all up to check for unsafe wiring, clearance issues and replaced with high quality fans.

The ballasts and power supplies are also very available.
Title: Re: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Bart Jansari on September 30, 2018, 03:38:10 pm
hi guys so I have got hold of a controller I got this one (https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0047003OM/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1)

i had a bit of a play and using the manuals of the lights that I have I figured out how to use the various channels.

I have a few questions please

1 - how do i fix the moving heads to only point forward?
2 - if i have 2 heads can i program them together but get them to invert each other in terms of movement?
3 - looking at my manuals I think I only need 6 channels of DMX input (unless I need to use the TARGET Mode) to fix the position of the heads forward in which case I need channel 11. If i only need 6 channels is it worth me changing the controller as this is 16 channels?
4 - can you give some basic steps to start off the programming
what I mean by this is should i for example
- set the lights in the order that I plan to have them set up in live so i can see what they so properly?
- how should I go about programming scenes , do I need to think and make a list?
5 - in my set up in live I could have a combination of either  just 2 par cans, just 2 heads , 2 par cans and 2 heads or 2 heads and 6 par cans - will i need to program indiv scenes for each combo or could as long as I expect all the par cans to do the same program them together? Then if some of the fixtures are not used in a chase would they just be omitted and it goes to the next part in the chase or will the chase fail?

Any other advice would be appreciated

Thanks

Bart
Title: Re: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Scott Holtzman on September 30, 2018, 04:19:05 pm
If a fixture has 16 channels you have to reserve them all in the map,  you can't skip...

You don't have to change values in a step but you have to preserve them.  The value of each channel (timeslot) is sent continuosly to the fixture.

Address all fixtures should be addressed,  no master slave.  That way you have full control of you movements.  It only takes two steps to move a fixture, start point and finish point.  You set the speed of the movement.

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Title: Re: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Jeff Lelko on September 30, 2018, 08:12:06 pm
1 - how do i fix the moving heads to only point forward?

Program them to only point forward.  You guessed it though - you'll need to have your lights hung in the same orientation each time you use them so that your programs match up with the unit's positioning.  Larger boards have ways to compensate for this type of thing, but (presumably) not yours.

2 - if i have 2 heads can i program them together but get them to invert each other in terms of movement?

Yes, but again, this is a programming thing.  While it is possible to set two units to the same address and invert the pan/tilt on the unit so long as it has that option available, this is very bad practice.  So long as your controller has the capacity you always want to invert attributes on the console itself.  It makes troubleshooting significantly easier, among other things.

3 - looking at my manuals I think I only need 6 channels of DMX input (unless I need to use the TARGET Mode) to fix the position of the heads forward in which case I need channel 11. If i only need 6 channels is it worth me changing the controller as this is 16 channels?

As Scott mentioned, you cannot do this.  You must "use" all the channels in a fixture's DMX profile even if you're not sending non-zero data to them.  Overlapping is also bad practice. 

4 - can you give some basic steps to start off the programming
what I mean by this is should i for example
- set the lights in the order that I plan to have them set up in live so i can see what they so properly?
- how should I go about programming scenes , do I need to think and make a list?

It's generally best to program with the rig set up in show-configuration.  For very large rigs we use visualizers to get 95% of the way there and just touch up programming once on the full system, but in your case just set everything up and play with it.  Once you build some skills you can probably program "blind" to some degree, but for just starting out set the whole thing up. 

Yes, you need to think and plan out what you're doing.  If you don't, you'll end up confusing yourself and wasting a lot of time.  As I mentioned further up, I always have a note pad with me when programming. 

5 - in my set up in live I could have a combination of either  just 2 par cans, just 2 heads , 2 par cans and 2 heads or 2 heads and 6 par cans - will i need to program indiv scenes for each combo or could as long as I expect all the par cans to do the same program them together? Then if some of the fixtures are not used in a chase would they just be omitted and it goes to the next part in the chase or will the chase fail?

It depends on the types of chases you'll be making.  The chase will never "fail" per say because your controller doesn't know what's plugged into it - it just broadcasts data to whatever's listening.  That said, a chase meant for 6 lights will look poor with only 2 lights.  This will probably be a bit of give and take, but if you're smart about how you program you should be able minimize the amount of duplicate work done for the different rigs.  Layering is your friend here.

Any other advice would be appreciated

Yes - read manuals, watch tutorial videos, and don't be afraid to just play with the equipment.  You're not going to break anything here, and experimentation is the best way to learn in this case.  Good luck!
Title: Re: Recommendations for software dmx controller
Post by: Lance Hallmark on October 04, 2018, 03:19:30 pm
Watch this video for an overview of what you are trying to accomplish
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7oOF4mizac

There are a lot of videos on youtube that will give you pointers and get your head around work flow - even if they use a different system that what you are working with.
Basically, you will use the dmx channel sliders to set the light how you want it to look (shutter open, Intensity 100% blue, Gobo2, pan far right, vert 90 degrees). Once you have that set, you will record that to a chase. You then will readjust the light to the next position you want it to be (shutter open, Intensity 100%, yellow, Gobo2, pan far left, vert 90 degrees) and record that to the same chase. Keep doing that for as many steps as you want. When done, you can run that chase it will start off at step 1, then the light will change color and position for step 2, and so on... Software programs have fx built in, so you can just select a circle or figure 8 pattern and it will map it out automatically, rather than plot each point as you will with a manual controller.
To have the second light invert - you can program them to do the same thing (or give them the same DMX address) but change the pan/tilt settings in the menu of the light itself to invert.
Unless your light has a Totem Mode option in it's menu, you will just have to program the lights to not shine behind where they are positioned from.