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DMX Lighting

posted Jun 28, 2013 04:54:18 by DanielGliebe
Hi there. I wanted to share my method for connecting DMX lighting to Artemis.
The USB to DMX adapter that has been recommended by most people is the ENTTEC Open DMX USB which costs about $70 and you will need a 3 PIN Female to 5 Pin Male XLR adapter for another $15.

I am into Light-o-Rama stuff and every year I have a Halloween light display which runs off of two Light-o-Rama controllers. I mention this because if anyone else out there has Light-o-Rama, you don't need to buy the ENTTEC Open DMX USB as you already own a usable adapter! Hooray! You see the ENTTEC Open DMX USB uses an FTDI FT232R chip with an RS485 level converter chip. The Light-o-Rama USB485 adapter has the same FTDI FT232R chip with an RS485 level converter for $29.95.

Now, I needed two adapters for two bridges that I wanted to illuminate. So I went and bought one of these USB-RS485-WE-1800-BT USB to RS485 cables from Mouser for $30.00. It is again, the exact same thing, FTDI FT232R chip with an RS485 level converter all molded into a USB plug. The cool thing about this one is the USB plug is clear and they put RX/TX LED's in it. So you can see if data is flowing just by looking at the USB plug. Very helpful when troubleshooting. This model comes with a 1.8m cable and bare wires on the end. I bought a couple female XLR Connectors for $3.67 each. I decided to crimp an RJ-45 adapter to the USB-RS485-WE-1800-BT cable I got from Mouser and use RJ-45 "barrel" connectors to extend it with standard cat-5 cables. I then created XLR to RJ-45 cables to connect to my DMX lights. I got 2 of these DMX RGB LED lights for $61.17 each. These lights are 4 channel lights, so channel 1=red, 2=green, 3=blue, 4=brightness/strobe. That needs to be taken into account while editing your
DMXcommands.xml file.

The other wonderful thing about doing it this way is, I can connect the USB-RS485-WE-1800-BT cable directly to my Light-O-Rama controllers and it seems to work perfectly with them, so it can be used as a spare! :-)

Here's how to build the cables:

DMX XLR plug to RJ-45 cable:
One one end I crimped an RJ-45 Jack using 568-B standard.
On the other end I connected the Female XLR connector.
XLR Pin ------ Cat-5 Color ------ Description
1 ------------ Green ------------ Ground
2 ------------- w/ Blue --------- Data-(B)
3 ------------- Blue ------------ Data+(A)

USB-RS485-WE-1800-BT cable to RJ-45:
Crimp an RJ-45 jack onto the end of the Mouser FTDI USB-RS485-WE-1800-BT USB to RS485 Serial Converter Cable.
Tape off the unused wires individually so they do not short. you only need 3 of the wires but you don't want the spare 5V wire to touch anything bad.

RJ-45 Pin ------ USB-RS485-WE-1800-BT wire color ---- Description

6 -------------- Black ------------------------------ Ground
5 -------------- Yellow ----------------------------- Data-(B)
4 -------------- Orange ----------------------------- Data+(A)

Cable Datasheet:

I hope this helps anyone out there that is looking for less expensive options and doesn't mind a small amount of crimping and soldering. :-)

Also, I'd really like to see Artemis have DMX event triggers for jump drive. It would be awesome if the room lighting went dark along with the screens while jumping, then fade back up.

More pictures below. Thanks!

[Last edited Jun 28, 2013 05:21:59]
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2 replies
MarkBell said Jun 29, 2013 12:10:55
Great! It's always nice to have more options for making things glow :) This is a really nice write-up. Do you use the LOR for outdoor lighting stuff? or did you get into it for this project? I'm planning on getting some higher powered lights for my own rig, how are these in terms of brightness?

If you aren't as interested in solder/crimping, you can buy RJ45 - XLR adapters for pretty cheap, as well as the USB-DMX dongle with an RJ45 end pre-crimped for about $23.
DanielGliebe said Jun 30, 2013 17:52:03
Thanks. I already had the LoR stuff as I have been running a Halloween light show for a few short years. The lights I bought are ok but are not the brightest and are very directional. They make good starter lights for playing around and testing stuff out.
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