Starting your DMX experience – 6th in a series by Tyrone Blue

December 28, 2012 by Tyrone Blue

tarting your DMX experience – 6th in a series by Tyrone Blue

So, you’re looking at your controller, hooked to the Chauvet LED Spot 150 with a real DMX cable. Some programmers will tell you a normal XLR cable will work, and it will, to a point. All I want to say on the subject is… “they are different”. Real DMX or “DMX compatible” cables, have a little bit different resistance, shielding and properties.

Here’s what your set up will look like with a fixture, cable and a controller:

It can really be as simple as this, and you’ll have a light show.

Now, remember, this fixture has 6 channels of control, but every fixture is different. For example, a very large concert moving head can have up to 32 channels, while a simple color changer may have only 1 channel. NOTE: don’t use this controller if your fixture has more than 16 channels. While you could… you shouldn’t.

The first thing we will do is set the address of “1” into this fixture. You will enter the address digitally with this newer fixture, rather than setting dip switches. Your owners manual will tell you how to navigate the “Modes”.

In order to activate this fixture, you’ll need to go into “Program Mode”. On the right side of this controller, you will notice a series of black buttons running from top to bottom. Push and hold the “Program” button, until you see the small light in the window (next to the “program” icon) light. One additional note: there is a switch on the back panel of the controller that controls “polarity” of the signal. If your fixture isn’t working properly with slider inputs… try changing the polarity switch. Then keep it there with a piece of tape over the switch. And, you must take the controller out of “black out” once you are in “program”. The bottom right button is “blackout” on this controller. NOTE: By default, these controllers revert to “blackout” automatically, when you change the program mode. ALWAYS check the “blackout” button.

The next operation is to activate this fixture by pushing “Scanner/Fixture” button #1 (blue box on the left of the picture). You’ll notice the small light next to that button light up. Remember, this button allows control of channels one to sixteen (9-16 by using the “page” button). On this fixture, slider 1 is the “pan” control. Move the first slider to watch the head move in a circle. Slider 2 is the “tilt”. It will control the up and down of the head.

Now, you’re going to start playing with all of the other sliders & buttons, and thinking you’ve got it down pat, and will want to stop reading this lesson. Been there… done that… don’t! You still have a ton of things to learn… For the moment, have some fun, and see what all of the sliders accomplish. Number 3 controls the color, and 4 controls the shutter. Number 5 is the dimmer and 6 is the gobo. Every fixture manufacturer designates different sliders (channels) for different functions…

Here are two important things to remember. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve thought the fixture wasn’t working… but, it actually was (make sure you have taken the controller out of “blackout” mode). So the first slider you should always move is the lamp or shutter slider (some fixtures have a separate shutter and and dimmer/lamp sliders, and both need to be moved). This will tell you that the fixture is working with the controller, and you have a visual reference that you can watch from a distance.

Once you have the fixture in a position, color and gobo that you like, you’ll want to save this “scene” into the memory. A “scene” is a static look at your fixture(s) as if taken by a camera. The controller will move from scene to scene once you activate one to the movement buttons, so that you have a “show”. NOTE: With this controller, you’ll first want to create 8 scenes. Each scene corresponds to one of the 8 “scene” buttons running along the top of the board. Without 8 scenes, the controller will hit a blank spot at any of the scenes you left blank, and the lights will not function on that scene.

To save a scene, you need to push the “rec” or record button, then, pick a scene and bank button where you want to save this scene. Scenes and banks in the next series… -stay tuned-

Tyrone Blue Tyrone Blue (12 Posts)

I am finishing up my 8th year as a club DJ at the local Resort nightclub ( I have been DJing for 24 years, with a special love/interest in high tech lighting. I teach DMX programming, both hardware, and software. I exclusively use ShowXpress, which I believe is the best DMX software on the planet! I believe I have a couple of years left to do this. I have a crew of 3 DJ’s, who do my “giging” at weddings and the nightclub.

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