by John Dominguez, assistant service manager for CHAUVET® DJ
Remember the lighting boards from earlier decades? Some were as big as a door and easily recognizable due to their size. Technological advancements and the creation of DMX have allowed the miniaturization of electronic technologies. Lighting control boards are dramatically smaller and can be rack mounted or easily transported in a light case or gym bag.
What is DMX
DMX, or digital multiplex, is a universal digital system used to control lighting effects. It was originally used to control lighting dimmers and various incompatible systems. In the beginning, companies came out with their own methods of control and standards were not universal. As with all things, DMX evolved and is primarily used to connect controllers, dimmers, scanners, foggers and other advanced fixtures. In addition to controlling theater, interior design and architectural lighting, DMX is also used to control commercial electronic advertising and residential holiday-themed lighting.
Always use DMX cables
Microphone and other 3-pin cables look similar and may occasionally work with your fixtures. However, they will eventually fail. DMX cables are a necessity when working with highly sensitive LED lighting signals. If there is a problem with your fixture, cables are usually the first thing to check. Purchase good quality DMX cables to avoid the problem all together.
DMX addressing allows the controller to communicate with the fixture. You must properly address your fixtures in order for them to function correctly. Most controllers will include a guide with the correct address for each fixture in accordance with its specific fixture number.
Know Your Fixture
Take a moment and study your fixture. Each fixture has a specific number of DMX channels that control specific functions. Knowing the function of each channel gives you the means to control each function at your discretion and create customized light shows.
Always Test Fixtures
Prior to a gig, testing fixtures is a must. Don’t take a new item at face value. There are times when human error is to blame if a cable, clamp, lamp or other type of assembly is incomplete or missing.