DMX Lighting 101

Controlling Garage Lamps

You have lights like these Control 120V lights with DMX and want to turn them on and off and run some cool dynamic effects? Here's a list of the hardware you'll need and how to hook it to Lightjams.

Lightjams's logo USB to DMX interface to send DMX from your computer's usb port DMX cables plugged in the dimmer pack to your dmx interface DMX dimmer pack to control 120V lights Control 120V lights with DMX
Lightjams USB to DMX Interface DMX Cable DMX Dimmer Pack Cheap 120V Lights


Some Definitions

DMX: Lighting industry standard to send commands to light fixtures in real time. The full name is DMX512, which stands for Digital MultipleX and 512 is the number of addresses. Any DMX-enabled lights can be controlled by Lightjams.

DMX Address: You assign a DMX address ranging from 1 to 512 to each DMX fixture. This number is used by the lighting controller to talk to every fixture independently. If you need more than 512 addresses (called a DMX universe) because you have many lights, then you can use multiple DMX output interfaces.

DMX Interface or Dongle: Sends DMX from a computer's USB port. Interfaces are available from various manufacturers. See the list of Lightjams' compatible USB interfaces. There are also network-based interfaces using the ArtNET or sACN protocols.

DMX Cable: Looks like a mic cable with 3 or 5 pins. It is highly recommended you use DMX cables to avoid nasty interference.

DMX Terminator: To avoid strange electrical problems, you need to use what's called a DMX terminator. This is a little plug you put in the DMX out of the dimmer pack or last DMX fixture.

Lightjams: A lighting control software allowing you to create awesome effects.

Dimmer Pack: Converts DMX to standard 120V output. One DMX channel controls one 120V line and defines 256 intensity levels allowing dimming your lights. Most dimmer packs have multiple outputs. You can plug together as many dimmer packs as you need to control all your lights.

Cheap Lights: Yes you can use $5 halogen lamps. If you constantly turn them on and off you may reduce their lifetime. But hey, it's just $5 right?

Not So Cheap Lights: Once you're ready to add lights to your arsenal, go in your local light shop and be amazed by all DMX enabled lights. From simple RGB spots to wonderful moving heads allowing you to add movement to your show, there are thousands of options.

What's next? Try Lightjams for free!

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