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Advice on DMX Controlling please


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Hi all,


These forums look like just the thing I've been searching for so here I go...


I bought my first Moving Head today, a used Futurelight MH-660 for use at home. I have absolutely no knowledge whatsoever when it comes to how to control the lights and have just spent a while trying to find some information out on which routes I can take.


My PC is quite powerful but I don't really want to have a cable going from it to the light. I have a laptop which is no where near as powerful - it's 1gb, 2.8ghz p3 thing , would that be competent enough for a DMX USB software controller? If so, what's the best DMX USB software to get - I don't need anything too fancy or expensive.


The light has 16 DMX channels...


I'm aware that there's a free software called Freestyler DMX - is this any good?


If I am to get a DMX USB cable can I go for any one I see on ebay or are there particular types to avoid / particular ones to go for?


Many thanks for your help!

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Hi smr,

Yes you're correct; the dongle in this instance is the little box which sits between your laptop/computer and the light itself. You'll have to look on the side of your moving light to find out what cable you'll need. You should see either a 5 or 3 pin chassis. This will incidate type of cable you'll need, do a Google search for either a 5 pin or 3 pin XLR cable (also known as DMX).


I'd also recommend that you look through the Blue Room Wikipedia.


Edit: Hmm, I think you might be talking about the cable between the computer and dongle, in this case it should be just a normal USB2 cable.

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is that a box between the PC and the light ? If so what cables do I need?

yep,although on the £10 chamsys unit its all built into the cable,1 end plugs straight into a usb port the other end has a 3 pin XLR socket


Thanks for the replies guys,


I have a pretty long unused DMX lead which I bought from HTFR a about a year ago... it's male to female XLR and the packaging says LiveWire on it, on the cable it says 'Livewire professional OFC low noise microphone cable' ... will this be suitable ? If I buy the Chamsys box I will just be able to plug the female 3 pin end into the box and I presume the box comes with a USB lead to plug into my laptop?


Then just a case of downloading the MagicQ software and away we go?


Am I right in assuming that the MagicDMX is just if I want my one light connected which bypasses a dongle and goes connects the light and laptop directly and that the MagicQ Two Universe is incase I want two lights connected?


I just downloaded and installed the MagicQ software to see what its like and it looks a bit noob unfriendly, is that just me being a bit too weary of it or is it easier to use than I'm thinking?


Freestyler looks a bit more basic and probably more suited to me!

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hi sorry. can someone give me the link for this dongle please. mine went kaput. thanks.

Link for *what* dongle exactly? Chamsys? Freestyler? And what went kaput? The link or the dongle? If you can provide some more information in your post, and use some capital letters, your post will be better understood. :)


SMR: Yes that cable will work, it's not recommended to use microphone cable for DMX lighting control but it will work. With DMX you can have up to 31 devices on a chain, you just address them seperately. I agree that MagicQ is at first a little complicated to understand, but perservere, and see what you can find online with guides etc.


The 10 quid dongle is the cheapest out there, however if you don't find it to your liking, the most important thing is to choose your software FIRST before you choose the hardware, not all interfaces work with all hardware.



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You need to do some reading on DMX - the wiki here has info, but Googling helps- BUT the manual for your Futurelight actually explains it quite well - there's even a diagram!


The computer sends out data on a group of channels from a total of 512 (hence why DMX is really called DMX512). The individual fixture you connect simply has it's address set to the first channel in the group. If you had two, then the second fixture would be set to the address of the second group of channels. Each one is connected to the next with a cable with 5 or 3 pin DMX connectors. They should really be 5 pin ones, but lots of manufacturers use 3 pin. Doesn't really matter. Cables are often microphone type - nice and flexible and cheap - but electrically, when lots of these are joined in the daisy chain, data errors can happen with often very odd results. Lights might suddenly flash or spin around! Proper DMX cable is simply electrically better,and more expensive. This daisy chain is 'a universe'. So depending on how many lights you have, and where they are, means more than one universe is common.


Download MagicQ, buy the ten quid dongle and play away. It times out after a few hours so you start again. Good software to learn on.


Let us know how you get on.

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I admire someone who buys a moving light then wonders how to control it. I have had long time with conventional stuff and control by DMX. Then along came LEDS so got used to a fixture on the desk , just controlling colours. I have som mini2 ultrascans that have been driven very effectively. Now onto some pilot 150s and lower powered MACS.

I dont think I would have bought any of the kit without first having the means to control, even if I did not understand things, Good luck, by the way if you are using in your bedroom I guess there will be built in programmes of effects an probably sound to light control as well,

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Thanks for the feedback all... thats' a great help and I will read up on the wiki and how DMX works.


Just a quick question... how does sound to light via DMX work?


Say for instance I'm playing music from my decks - which aren't attached to my computer, and have the light and dongle connected to magicq... how does the sound to light thing work then? I mean how does the light or software on my PC know what the beat or bpm my music is playing ?


I have a three laser scanners which are sound to light but I know how they work as they have a little sensor on the back which detects the beat / kick drum or whatever.



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