These Ads will no longer appear once you have logged into ControlBooth.

  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

DMX Cables?

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by musictom, Mar 13, 2008.

  1. musictom

    musictom Member

    Messages:
    59
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    A, A
    Hi all,
    Please pardon the noob question. :)
    We're just now getting into some intelligents (well, a couple of Elation LED 60 strips to be exact), and need to run some DMX. I've read that I shouldn't use mic cables (of which I have hundreds upon hundreds of feet available!)
    Do you guys make your own cables? Do you have a favorite source? What should I pay for say, 100' of DMX?
    Thanks so much!!
    Tom
  2. LD4Life

    LD4Life Member

    Messages:
    162
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Fort Wayne, IN
    To be perfectly honest, I almost always just use high-grade XLR (mic cable) for my dmx fixtures. Its a whole lot easier if its 3 pin, which your units are, but I do deal with converting 5 pin to 3 pin. I've also heard people say not to use XLR, but I have never had any problems with it. I buy high-grade cable and have had no problems with data transmission or the like. Plus, its cheaper that way.
  3. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

    Messages:
    3,782
    Likes Received:
    471
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, UT
    While it has been said that you could run DMX down a barbed wire fence, it is not advisable. DMX cable is a data grade cable, where audio cable is not. If you get full 5 conductor DMX it will be more expensive than 3 conductor. I try to build my own cables as it is cheaper. Last time I bought DMX it was $0.44 per foot (plus connectors). You may be able to do better, but that was the best price I found at the time, from here. There are also a bunch of belden cables that are suitable for DMX. Here is a PDF from Belden explaining their cables that meet the DMX standard.

    Also, you should build yourself a couple terminators.
  4. derekleffew

    derekleffew Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

    Messages:
    4,848
    Likes Received:
    1,987
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV, USA
    The practice is frowned upon in the industry, but also done very often. Though it doesn't specifically address using mic cables for DMX, much valuable information about DMX can be found at Doug Fleenor's site, in the "Dr. DMX papers" section.
  5. LD4Life

    LD4Life Member

    Messages:
    162
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Yeah, I guess I should preface (though after the fact) my statement about XLR with this. I prefer to use industry standard DMX when possible. However, I work in educational theatre with a very tight budget. The venue I work in has a ton of high-grade XLR, so for budgetary issues it makes more sense to use XLR. I was stating that is was possible and that I had not had any problems with data loss. I'm sorry for any confusion I may have caused.
  6. musictom

    musictom Member

    Messages:
    59
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    A, A
    I sure appreciate the quick responses!!!

    So I guess in a pinch, I can go to my audio cables, but I'll try and have my tech put some 3 pin DMX cables together.

    Now, I just gotta figure out how to label them so they don't go in the audio cable bin!!! :)

    Thanks again,

    Tom
  7. avkid

    avkid Not a New User

    Messages:
    5,945
    Likes Received:
    215
    Occupation:
    Stagehand/ ME
    Location:
    Asbury Park, NJ
    What color are the connectors on your mic cables?
    For example, if your mic connectors are black your DMX should be silver etc...
  8. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,632
    Likes Received:
    419
    Location:
    North Wales PA
    Ummm.. covered in a lot of other threads, but basically, the cable is also a different impedance. (110 - 120 ohm.) Although you can run simple systems with mic cable and probably not have a problem, it is best to use DMX, especially if you plan on expanding. Whatever you do, don't mix cable types as the different impedance of the cable types may cause standing wave problems. (read as things may not work correctly at the darndest times!)
  9. musictom

    musictom Member

    Messages:
    59
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    A, A
    Unfortunately, our audio cables have both black and silver connectors!

    Good thought, however.

    Tom
  10. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,381
    Likes Received:
    218
    Location:
    PA & NJ
    Use a band of electrical or spike tape on the connector. Or, plug the cable into itself, tape over the connection with masking tape, and spray paint the strain reliefs a dark color. It does show up on black connectors, this is how all of our cable types are denoted.
  11. avkid

    avkid Not a New User

    Messages:
    5,945
    Likes Received:
    215
    Occupation:
    Stagehand/ ME
    Location:
    Asbury Park, NJ
  12. derekleffew

    derekleffew Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

    Messages:
    4,848
    Likes Received:
    1,987
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV, USA
    A certain lighting company paints all their 5pin XLRs red, 4pin XLRs white, and 3pin XLRs blue. Then a piece of colored electrical tape under shrink-wrap to denote length. Gets confusing, "Bring me a cable with red connectors and blue tape" (15' 5pin) but it works. I wouldn't advice using their color scheme if you ever plan on renting from them, however.

    If you're making cables with 3pin connectors, no reason to spend the money on two pair cable, so I'd use Belden 9841 or equivalent. It's somewhat "stiffer" than mic cable, so easy to tell apart.
  13. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,858
    Likes Received:
    46
    Two pair is for 5pin data cable?! Finally someone tells me!

    I have a significant length, in spool format in the electrics storage area. But the jacket seems terrible, I can't imagine it would last long. I guess it is meant for in conduit use. Is it worth doing anything with?
  14. avkid

    avkid Not a New User

    Messages:
    5,945
    Likes Received:
    215
    Occupation:
    Stagehand/ ME
    Location:
    Asbury Park, NJ
    Take a picture of it.
    If the jacket is anything beside black chances are good that it's for in wall installation.
  15. Jezza

    Jezza Member

    Messages:
    287
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Poughkeepsie, NY
    Just out of curiosity, anyone know what the standard resistance for mic cable is? I'm just wondering what the resistance difference is between the two cables -- want to do some math based on it.
  16. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    1,066
    Likes Received:
    75
    Location:
    Vegas
    Well then buy a can of pink spray paint and make the connectors pink, then you'll know in an instant that it's your cable....
    Yah in reality often when you buy DMX (especially the good stuff) it has a shinier black jacket and doesn't really feel like mic cable when you coil it cause of the stiffness. So all you have to do is pay attention and it's usually easy to spot your cable.
    As far as audio cables go, I used audio cable adapted to both 4 and 5 pin mixed with good DMX cable in high school and it worked.......alright. We used some scrollers, two moving head units, and two moving mirror units. This is where I learned the importance of terminators. There cheap and well save your butt when you really need it. (techno beams had a tendency to twitch REALLY bad with out them)
  17. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,858
    Likes Received:
    46
    Grey, and very thin. Hmm, I have no purpose for it.
  18. musictom

    musictom Member

    Messages:
    59
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    A, A
    I like the idea of spraying/taping the ends of the cable!

    Thanks, everyone.

    Tom
  19. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,858
    Likes Received:
    46
    Football and theatre?
  20. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    1,066
    Likes Received:
    75
    Location:
    Vegas
    and track and skiing and weightlifting... I had a jock side

Share This Page