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playmochi
01-13-2014, 12:13 AM
Hi guys!

Brand new to lighting here. After many days of searching and deliberating, I went ahead and bought 4 LED par cans from China to start a mobile lighting rig. They are a lot smaller than I imagined, but that just means they'll be easier to lug around.

To give some perspective, I'm looking to expand what I do as a DJ by adding a couple of lights here and there. I've started with the aforementioned par cans to learn with, and will add effects lighting once I get the hang of it and determine client support for lights (not that I have any clients).

I tried and tried to search on definitive guides on how to control these lights as they have a tendency to switch modes on their own (loose buttons I guess). I'm thinking of investing in wireless DMX solutions as I'd really just want to be able to set the lights up anywhere. Sure, wired solutions would be cheaper and probably less of a headache but I'd like the mobility.

So here are my questions:
1. I want to use Freestyler as a DMX program. How are lights connected to the computer? USB/DMX dongle > DMX cable to light (with daisy chained XLR cables to the other 3 lights)?

2. How does this work out if I ever add more/different lights to the setup? And how does wireless DMX come into play then? USB/DMX Dongle > Transmitter > Receivers on lights? Or do I just put a receiver on 1 light and wire-chain the others?

3. Would this work? 1 transmitter connected to my laptop, a receiver in each light. Then I'd be able to just run power cables to the lights and receivers. Or should I just do cables?

robare99
01-13-2014, 09:37 AM
2 is the easiest with wireless. In a perfect world with unlimited dollars 3.

I use the wireless on the first fixture of each chain.

conanski
01-13-2014, 11:49 AM
Brand new to lighting here. After many days of searching and deliberating, I went ahead and bought 4 LED par cans from China to start a mobile lighting rig. Post up a pic or a link to them. Most if not all LED lighting originates in China these days so that in itself says nothing about the quality, I have purchased quite a bit of LED lighting recently and the stuff I sourced directly from China has been higher quality than what I got locally.


I tried and tried to search on definitive guides on how to control these lights as they have a tendency to switch modes on their own (loose buttons I guess). Most fixtures will have built-in programs and some default to sound active in the absence of a DMX signal, so there may be nothing wrong with yours. Also par cans can often be set to a static color or a color chase using dip switches or via the control panel.



So here are my questions:
1. I want to use Freestyler as a DMX program. How are lights connected to the computer? USB/DMX dongle > DMX cable to light (with daisy chained XLR cables to the other 3 lights)? Yes that will work


2. How does this work out if I ever add more/different lights to the setup? And how does wireless DMX come into play then? USB/DMX Dongle > Transmitter > Receivers on lights? Or do I just put a receiver on 1 light and wire-chain the others? Both options are possible. There are 2 basic strategies for configuring DMX lighting, you put all fixtures of the same type at the same DMX address or each fixture gets it's own unique address. Option 1 gives you simpler control but all fixtures do the same thing at the same time, while option 2 lets you control the color and action of each fixture individually. Fixtures are also available with built-in wireless now too but that doesn't mean it will be compatible with another brand wireless DMX system, there are lots of different frequencies, channels, and wireless protocols a wireless system could operate on.


3. Would this work? 1 transmitter connected to my laptop, a receiver in each light. Then I'd be able to just run power cables to the lights and receivers. Or should I just do cables? The wireless transmitter would have to connect to the DMX dongle and not directly to the laptop, but ofter that it's the same. Cables are cheaper and given that you're probably going to be deploying these lights on some kind of stand to light the dance floor you're not talking about very many or very long cables, and there will just be 1 cable from the computer to the stand so it'll be pretty tidy. I usually build custom cables for my lighting rigs to keep the mess at a minimum and velco strap them to the stand.

playmochi
01-14-2014, 10:38 PM
Thanks for the replies~!

@conanski
The lights I bought are these http://www.aliexpress.com/snapshot/312431928.html , they're small but I think sufficient for small house parties.
When I said they switch modes on their own, they really do. They went from the DEMO mode into static mode, and sometimes from static will switch to strobe (this happens after maybe 2 hours or so). Could be vibrations causing buttons to jump. Again hoping to fix this using DMX. I wish they defaulted to sound active!

As to the wiring vs wireless DMX systems, I think I'll buy a couple of wires to play with that first before going wireless. I wanted to be more flexible with wireless, but I guess that's in the future! :) But thank you for your detailed reply, it helped!

For my initial 'training-wheels' setup, I think I will go with just 1 T-bar with the 4 cans and any effects lighting I invest in and it'll be set up near my console. I'll connect them with wires to the laptop and see the response on that. I think I'll buy a USB/DMX dongle from E-bay. The ads said they're compatible with Freestyler.

Questions:
1. Considering my cables will be short and not many, can I use XLR cables? I know there's a big debate about it, but I am not sure where to find DMX cabling in my country. The XLR option is pretty cheap ($5 for 10m) and I can always use them to extend mics or mixer connections.

Synaxis
01-15-2014, 07:48 AM
Questions:
1. Considering my cables will be short and not many, can I use XLR cables? I know there's a big debate about it, but I am not sure where to find DMX cabling in my country. The XLR option is pretty cheap ($5 for 10m) and I can always use them to extend mics or mixer connections.

If you want the lighting fixtures to continue to behave erratically, than sure, by all means use XRL cables :P

But seriously, no, you shouldn't. Although since it seems like you will only be using them for house parties, and you don't really care too much, XRL should work.

However, you said you are buying stuff from eBay, so what is stopping you from buying DMX cables from there too?

playmochi
01-15-2014, 11:32 PM
:uhoh: You're right @Synaxis, what was I thinking!? Gonna go shop around now :) Thanks for the suggestion!

wapples
01-16-2014, 01:07 AM
Xrl lol

opoat


if you want the lighting fixtures to continue to behave erratically, than sure, by all means use xrl cables :p

but seriously, no, you shouldn't. Although since it seems like you will only be using them for house parties, and you don't really care too much, xrl should work.

However, you said you are buying stuff from ebay, so what is stopping you from buying dmx cables from there too?

Synaxis
01-16-2014, 01:29 PM
Xrl lol

opoat

Damn it!

Same difference!

conanski
01-16-2014, 09:36 PM
I don't have any special DMX cables and I don't have any problem with my lights misbehaving... standard XLR mic cables everywhere. On long runs(100ft) you will need to use a DMX terminator on the last fixture but on shorter runs cable type won't make a difference.

I'm gonna suggest you get a frame buffered USB dongle for Freestyler, that means something equivalent to the Enttec USB Pro instead of the USB Open. This more expensive interface will prevent loss of control of your lighting should the USB signal be interrupted monentarally.. something that will happen if the cable is bumped for example.

playmochi
01-18-2014, 12:17 AM
Thanks @conanski, that is helpful. I got a recommendation on where to get DMX cables and will take a look at how much it costs here.

I have another question pertaining to wired dmx: How do you connect different types of fixtures to a laptop through wired DMX? There's only 1 dongle output, how do you connect that one output to multiple DMX lights (different types)? Complete noob here to DMX. Do you daisy chain all the different lights together and then chain it into a single USB/DMX dongle? Or is there something else I need to get if I were to control effects and wash lighting?

I'll most likely get some other cheap China effects lighting, possibly sound-active only but hopefully with DMX control. if it's sound active only then a dimmer pack would be what I am looking for, yes?

Synaxis
01-18-2014, 11:18 AM
Thanks @conanski, that is helpful. I got a recommendation on where to get DMX cables and will take a look at how much it costs here.

I have another question pertaining to wired dmx: How do you connect different types of fixtures to a laptop through wired DMX? There's only 1 dongle output, how do you connect that one output to multiple DMX lights (different types)? Complete noob here to DMX. Do you daisy chain all the different lights together and then chain it into a single USB/DMX dongle? Or is there something else I need to get if I were to control effects and wash lighting?

I'll most likely get some other cheap China effects lighting, possibly sound-active only but hopefully with DMX control. if it's sound active only then a dimmer pack would be what I am looking for, yes?

You Daisy Chain all the lights. Doesn't matter in which order. That won't affect the DMX addressing.

playmochi
01-20-2014, 02:25 AM
Thanks @Synaxis!

I asked all these questions without even having a stand to put up all the lights in. Bought a T-bar over the weekend and the lights look a LOT more substantial now that I've tested hooking them up to the T-bar. Huzzah!

Now to try and program these things to put on a show. Hoping my dongle ships faster!

conanski
01-20-2014, 01:06 PM
I have another question pertaining to wired dmx: How do you connect different types of fixtures to a laptop through wired DMX? Yep all fixtures are just daisy chain connected one to another regardless of type. The key to the way DMX works is in the addressing, if each fixture has it's own unique address block then it and only it will respond when you put commands on the DMX bus for that address block. It's important to note that the address you set on the fixture is the starting address for that fixture and you need to leave space(addresses) for all the channels available on each fixture. So say you have 3 fixtures, #1 has 4 channels, #2 has 12 channels, #3 has 8 channels. Starting address for fixture #1 will be 001, starting address for fixture #2 will be 005, starting address for fixture #3 will be 017. With this configuration there is no overlap between fixtures so you won't end up with fixture #2 doing something strange when you're adjusting channel 4 on fixture #1 for example.


I'll most likely get some other cheap China effects lighting, possibly sound-active only but hopefully with DMX control. if it's sound active only then a dimmer pack would be what I am looking for, yes?Only the very cheapest fixtures are sound active only, it's worth you while to only buy those with integrated DMX control.