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Title: wireless DMX
Post by: Dave Garoutte 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!

Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Taylor Hall 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.
Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Paul G. OBrien 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.
Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Jeff Lelko 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!
Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Dave Garoutte 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.
Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Dave Garoutte 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?
Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Jeff Lelko 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!     
Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Taylor Hall 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.
Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Dave Garoutte 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.
Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Mark Cadwallader 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? 
Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Steve Garris on January 02, 2020, 01:11:48 pm
I use the Donnar wireless transmitter and (6) receivers for my prewired light trees. I use an AE router for my Luminair. I've used it for 3 years now and never had an issue. There's (6) receivers on this stage every 2 months, mostly static lights but a few movers. A ton of people with cell phones but never an issue:
Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Paul G. OBrien on January 02, 2020, 01:56:39 pm
To me, itís not a lack of responsiveness so much as it is having complete dropouts.

I only experienced unrecoverable loss of communication until I figured out that all fixtures MUST be set to slave mode, fixtures can and will spontaneously switch to master if allowed which will then switch the attached wireless device to Tx and that will crash the system, so this is not an optional setting. With that done I have never seen a total loss of control again unless something loses power. I have also tied non wireless devices into a single wireless unit with DMX cable on occasion and that works well in most cases but the downside is if that one wireless receiver misses a cue then everything tied to it does as well, so the redundancy of every fixture having it's own receiver minimizes the impact of a glitch, it's not a greater liability.
Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Terry Martin on January 04, 2020, 03:11:23 pm
I use the Donnar wireless transmitter and (6) receivers for my prewired light trees. I use an AE router for my Luminair. I've used it for 3 years now and never had an issue. There's (6) receivers on this stage every 2 months, mostly static lights but a few movers. A ton of people with cell phones but never an issue:

We've had good luck with the Donner wireless too.
Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Dave Garoutte on January 04, 2020, 04:30:37 pm
We've had good luck with the Donner wireless too.

Just ordered a Donner starter kit to try out.
Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Mal Brown on January 05, 2020, 09:08:35 pm
I run Donner as well.  1 RX per 2 multi fixture front trees.  1 on rear truss, 1 on d-fi hub for Chauvet Freedon sticks, 1 on Chauvet Motion drape controller.  That has been quite reliable.

I tried 6 txt on rear truss and that was problematic.
 
I get if you are doing Paul McCartney you probably want a more pro setup.  For what I'm doing this has worked really well.
Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Mike Pyle on January 06, 2020, 11:37:16 am
I've used the old style Blizzard wicicles since they were introduced. Aside from an occasional failed unit (they get mishandled badly by event volunteers) I have found them very reliable. I use one of the higher powered transmitters for the most distant light stands, sometimes plug another transmitter on a different frequency in to that for different groups of lighting. According to marketing, their newer systems are more robust, but I haven't needed to upgrade yet.

What issues did you have with D-Fi? I've sold a lot of the Freedom pars & a few other lights that have it built in. So far nobody has complained about the performance.
Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Dave Garoutte on January 06, 2020, 02:02:30 pm
I've used the old style Blizzard wicicles since they were introduced. Aside from an occasional failed unit (they get mishandled badly by event volunteers) I have found them very reliable. I use one of the higher powered transmitters for the most distant light stands, sometimes plug another transmitter on a different frequency in to that for different groups of lighting. According to marketing, their newer systems are more robust, but I haven't needed to upgrade yet.

What issues did you have with D-Fi? I've sold a lot of the Freedom pars & a few other lights that have it built in. So far nobody has complained about the performance.

I like the freedom pars too. 
The older DFi tx/rx boxes that I have are kind of clunky and the antennas won't stay put.
I think when I've had issues with lag, it's more related to the wifi from the controller than anything.
Also, This is for a client, so I want to be sure it's robust enough , both physically and functionally, for venue people to deal with.
Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Taylor Hall on January 06, 2020, 02:57:16 pm
What issues did you have with D-Fi? I've sold a lot of the Freedom pars & a few other lights that have it built in. So far nobody has complained about the performance.
My only issues were with the endpoint units, we never tried any of the fixtures. We saw horrible lag, multiple dropouts, and complete refusal to connect once. We had pretty good results with the Blizzard option, but after seeing how startlingly similar they were to the Donner stuff, we opted for that instead since these would be special case use and not used on every rental. I haven't had a chance to try their newer lightcaster stuff, though. It looks pretty promising.
Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Dave Garoutte on January 06, 2020, 05:12:50 pm
The client already has 12 of the DFi enabled Freedom Pars, and a TX unit, so we'll probably end up with that system.
The Tx/Rx units are $100+ each, times four individual crank stands.

I might end up plugging a Donner Tx into the dmx out of the DFi Tx.  The uplights would be DFi and the stage lights would be Donner.
That would be the cheapest, simplest setup.
Would two different Tx systems in close proximity be problematic?

Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Taylor Hall on January 06, 2020, 05:45:55 pm
The client already has 12 of the DFi enabled Freedom Pars, and a TX unit, so we'll probably end up with that system.
The Tx/Rx units are $100+ each, times four individual crank stands.

I might end up plugging a Donner Tx into the dmx out of the DFi Tx.  The uplights would be DFi and the stage lights would be Donner.
That would be the cheapest, simplest setup.
Would two different Tx systems in close proximity be problematic?
Possibly, but you can always swap channels out to try and separate them a bit. We ran two universes like that with just the Donner units a couple times in the past.
Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Dave Garoutte on January 06, 2020, 08:36:16 pm
The Donners showed up today.
I just did a quick bench test and it worked fine running the Donner on the DMX out of the DFi.
SlimparPro VW on the Donner Rx and the Freedom Par Rx on the internal DFi.
Obviously, two fixtures and three feet away is hardly a torture test, but the concept looks promising.
But it worked with the two Tx antennas less than a foot apart.

Update:  I just walked the two fixtures next door.
Control still worked through two or three walls and 80ish feet, shelves of metal stuff in between.
This will probably work! :D
Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Paul G. OBrien on January 06, 2020, 11:23:08 pm
I might end up plugging a Donner Tx into the dmx out of the DFi Tx.  Would two different Tx systems in close proximity be problematic?
Hasn't been for me with the two units on separate channels. You can also physically separate them by inserting a piece of DMX cable between the Dfi output and the Donner Tx module.

Here is a shot of the event I did this past weekend. I brought 8 moving heads with the new battery powered Donner Rx units and 20 uplights with built-in wireless. Control is from the laptop on the small table next to the stage, I had the transmitter taped to the upright beam next to the table about 7ft up. None of this lighting was static, the uplights ran chases and patterns and the heads constantly scanned the building.

Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Mal Brown on January 07, 2020, 01:22:40 am
I run Donner on the input side of the d-fi and Motion Drape controller.  That works fine.

Close placement of transmitters isn't an issue in my rig.  I have the Donner TX plugged into the console.  d-if lives on stage with it's own RX.  So I skip the run from FOH to the stage.  Keeping the RX count low has been helpful.
Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Steve Garris on January 07, 2020, 11:28:10 am
Hasn't been for me with the two units on separate channels. You can also physically separate them by inserting a piece of DMX cable between the Dfi output and the Donner Tx module.

Here is a shot of the event I did this past weekend. I brought 8 moving heads with the new battery powered Donner Rx units and 20 uplights with built-in wireless. Control is from the laptop on the small table next to the stage, I had the transmitter taped to the upright beam next to the table about 7ft up. None of this lighting was static, the uplights ran chases and patterns and the heads constantly scanned the building.

That looks like a nice money-maker to me!
Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Jeff Lelko on January 07, 2020, 05:26:30 pm
Since we're all sharing pictures to show how well wireless works (?), I'll contribute my own from a recent event - dark and ambiguous enough as to not violate performance rights agreements.

Console - ETC Congo Kid
Fixtures - Martin Mac Vipers, Robe Pointes, and Clay Paky Sharpys
Wireless - None

/satire - sorry I couldn't resist.

I'm glad to see that you found a working solution though Dave!
Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Scott Holtzman on January 08, 2020, 08:09:04 pm
Since we're all sharing pictures to show how well wireless works (?), I'll contribute my own from a recent event - dark and ambiguous enough as to not violate performance rights agreements.

Console - ETC Congo Kid
Fixtures - Martin Mac Vipers, Robe Pointes, and Clay Paky Sharpys
Wireless - None

/satire - sorry I couldn't resist.

I'm glad to see that you found a working solution though Dave!

You still rockin' the Congo Kid?  There are a couple of Jr's up on eBay right now.
Title: Re: wireless DMX
Post by: Jeff Lelko on January 08, 2020, 09:11:15 pm
You still rockin' the Congo Kid?  There are a couple of Jr's up on eBay right now.

That I am!  Along with the 12 universe flavor of Nomad and a Universal Fader Wing for smaller jobs or when I need to control a high numbers of channels.  For the big jobs itís a grandMA like most others use, but for small-medium jobs and walk-ins where the venue has an unfamiliar, dysfunctional, or nonexistent console I still really like my Congo Kid.  With a few more years of promised software updates from ETC I donít plan on giving mine up anytime soon!

After that, Iíll have to see where my business stands and how well grandMA3 sticks...