Can a 3rd Party DMX Stage Light Controller connect to my ETC system?

tjsha

Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2020
Location
Seattle
I volunteer as my kids school and we will be having a dance coming up next month. The DJ took a look at our setup and wanted to know if he can use his own light controller (which has some chase/strobe functions or something) for the show. He told me it is a "universal DMX controller". I know extremely little about our system but this is what I have figured out so far (pictured attached):
We have a ETC (Unison?) Paradigm System with the P-ACP (I think) Control Processor and what I assume is the LinkConnect Power Module in the rack (rack is locked so I couldn't look inside). This somehow connects to a 6-pin (XLR?) female port in the back of the gym, which a (Unison) 13-fader portable console controller plugs into. The portable console is what we usually use to adjust the stage lighting but it is very limited on it's capabilities.

In reading through the documentation, it seems like we can connect a DMX compatible controller to the Paradigm System, but given how tight the ECT ecosystem is, I don't know if just any DMX compatible controller can connect.

So my question is, can a 3rd party controller be used? And if so, can someone help me understand what I would need to do?


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RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
I volunteer as my kids school and we will be having a dance coming up next month. The DJ took a look at our setup and wanted to know if he can use his own light controller (which has some chase/strobe functions or something) for the show. He told me it is a "universal DMX controller". I know extremely little about our system but this is what I have figured out so far (pictured attached):
We have a ETC (Unison?) Paradigm System with the P-ACP (I think) Control Processor and what I assume is the LinkConnect Power Module in the rack (rack is locked so I couldn't look inside). This somehow connects to a 6-pin (XLR?) female port in the back of the gym, which a (Unison) 13-fader portable console controller plugs into. The portable console is what we usually use to adjust the stage lighting but it is very limited on it's capabilities.

In reading through the documentation, it seems like we can connect a DMX compatible controller to the Paradigm System, but given how tight the ECT ecosystem is, I don't know if just any DMX compatible controller can connect.

So my question is, can a 3rd party controller be used? And if so, can someone help me understand what I would need to do?


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@tjsha Have you discovered any 5 contact XLR connectors in your system, 5 contact XLR's are among the DMX standards; the connector's sex denotes whether it's a DMX input or output.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

MNicolai

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Fight Leukemia
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Mar 30, 2008
Location
Sarasota, FL
That fader station can connect to that 6-pin "Portable" connector but it is not using DMX. What you are looking for is different.

The P-ACP can bring DMX (anyone's DMX, this is non-proprietary) into it and it is usually common practice for the installer to provide a place to plug in that has a 5-pin XLR input that will be labeled something obvious like "DMX IN". I would look around room and see if you can find a jack like this.

It is not a given that you definitely have a dedicated place to plug in though. If not, it can be added but an authorized ETC dealer would need to add the jack for it and log into the Paradigm processor and set that up.

If in doubt, contact ETC Technical Services at 1.608.831.4116. They keep every customer's project drawings on file and should be able to tell you at least if this jack is installed somewhere. May not necessarily have a plan drawing showing exactly where but they would be able to see if the the jack was supposed to be wired up.
 
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tjsha

Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2020
Location
Seattle
Thank you @RonHebbard and @MNicolai , I will poke around tomorrow to see if I see a 5-pin port. I know there's a bunch of 3-pin XLR ports scattered around the gym for microphone connections, so maybe one of them is a 5-pin (fingers-crossed). If the port exists, my assumption is that the DJ would just plug his system in via a DMX cable and be able to assign the channels on his board. Right?
 

MNicolai

Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
Joined
Mar 30, 2008
Location
Sarasota, FL
Pretty much. I would not be surprised if the DJ's console has 3-pin XLR's for DMX instead of 5-pin, in which case you would need a 5-pin to 3-pin adapter cable.

If a lot of your electrical conduits are surface-mounted and visible, sometimes when looking for mystery plug boxes you can visually follow the conduits and see what direction they go to try and discover what's at the other end.
 
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lwinters630

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 12, 2011
Location
west of Chicago
That fader station can connect to that 6-pin "Portable" connector but it is not using DMX. What you are looking for is different.

The P-ACP can bring DMX (anyone's DMX, this is non-proprietary) into it and it is usually common practice for the installer to provide a place to plug in that has a 5-pin XLR input that will be labeled something obvious like "DMX IN". I would look around room and see if you can find a jack like this.

It is not a given that you definitely have a dedicated place to plug in though. If not, it can be added but an authorized ETC dealer would need to add the jack for it and log into the Paradigm processor and set that up.

If in doubt, contact ETC Technical Services at 1.608.831.4116. They keep every customer's project drawings on file and should be able to tell you at least if this jack is installed somewhere. May not necessarily have a plan drawing showing exactly where but they would be able to see if the the jack was supposed to be wired up.
I agree to call ETC. have on hand the unit serial number from paradime and year. Seriously they are #1 in the world. They may need a back copy.