Whether you're working in a studio or on location, controlling your lighting setup can be a pain. As your setups get more complex, it takes more time to tweak individual lights and even if you're working with a larger crew making final adjustments can eat up a lot of time unless you have a dedicated pre-light day which is pretty uncommon for the kind of work we do.
In 2014, I worked on a Superbowl campaign that used Rat Pac Dimmer's Cintenna system to wirelessly control DMX lights via an iOS device and it was awesome. Unfortunately, it costs a lot to get up and running so I wanted to build my own for smaller projects.
Another roadblock was that many of the lights we use (fresnels, Quasar Science LED tubes) might not have DMX control built in like some high end lights do so I needed to figure out how to make a system that would work with that.
This is that system. It's a combination of a portable wireless router, an ethernet to DMX adapter, and a portable dimmer pack that allows you to have DMX control over any light that accepts a dimmer. This setup works great on in the studio, and packs into a pelican case for using on location. You can plug it into any DMX system, wired or wireless and it'll just work. Here's what each part does.
Luminair on iOS
The brains of the whole setup. This is an industry standard app for controlling lights over a network. It's very intuitive to use and easy to setup, for high end lights like Skypanels or theatrical units they have a large library of fixtures built in so configuration is minimal.
TP-Link N300 Travel Router
This is the smallest wireless router I could find that still has an ethernet port. Configuration was a little confusing because of the software. Setting it up in Acess Point mode works perfectly to create a wireless link to the DMX adapter. This runs off of USB power.
DMX King eDMX1 Pro Ethernet DMX Adapter
This allows a DMX setup to talk to other devices over the network. It's plug and play, it automatically configures itself on the network and supports both major DMX network control protocols: sACN and Art-Net. It's a single universe adapter, so it'll communicate with up to 512 DMX channels. Like the router, it's powered via USB.
Chauvet 6 Channel DMX Dimmer pack
This lets us control fixtures without DMX built in. Any tungsten or dimmable LED/fluorescent fixture will work with dimmer packs like these. This particular pack has two power leads so it can support up to 40A of lighting if you use different circuits for each lead.
In addition to the main items, we also have DMX adapters to go from 3 to 5 pin DMX cables as well as terminators to use at the end of cable runs.
There's a lot going on here, but it's really easy to get up and running.
1. Configure the wireless router in AP mode with whatever IP and SSID you'd like
2. Connect the router to the DMX adapter via ethernet cable
3. Connect to the wireless network, open Luminair
4. Add fixtures and set up dimmer channels in Lumetri
With everything setup, you're good to go. Right now, this still requires a cable between fixtures and the adapter bundle. In the future, I'd like to evaluate a solution for wireless communication between the adapter and fixtures for a 100% wireless setup. Overall, it's really awesome to have so much control for less than $200 of hardware.
I'd love to hear comments and any questions about the setup in the comments.Have a question or need consulting on this topic?
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