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What is DMX?

DMX is the control protocol (or language) used to connect together DMX enable devices such as digital lighting desks, dimmer racks or moving light to allow them to be controlled.

DMX devices all conform to a standard know as the USITT DMX512/1990 which means that any DMX enabled device can communicate with another DMX enabled device irrespective of who manufactured it.

A DMX ‘network’ can consist of 1 transmitter and up to 32 receivers on a single universe connected together using a 120 Ohm 2 pair twisted cable.  Each of the DMX universes can control a maximum of 512 channels.  DMX must be terminated at the end of the line with a 120 Ohm resistor between the data + and data – connections and should never be Y split to avoid possible issues with the DMX signal.  Mic cable is not suitable for DMX transmission and can cause issues with the DMX network.

The standard calls for the use of 5 pin XLR connectors to be used with the male connector being the input for the device and the female being the thru connector to link to the next device however a large number of products use a 3 pin XLR connector instead.

DMX can be very limited in its capability with modern lighting fixtures due to its ability to address a maximum of 512 individual channels per universe.  Many modern moving lights may need 120 channels each meaning you can only control 4 on each universe.  If you have a large moving light rig with 60 moving lights a total of 15 universes would be needed therefore other control protocols have been developed to address this limitation.



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