Colorsource 20av vs. MyDMX 2.0 (Chauvet 4Bar Tri patching)


I'd rather be light designing but I'm having issues with my Colorsource 20av, which I am demoing as a replacement for American DJ's MyDMX 2.0. Both have problems that I'll detail below. In general the two consoles are still "neck and neck" -- most of what the Colorsource does right MyDMX also does but with a mouse instead of a touchscreen. Colorsource is limited in some really frustrating ways, it seems like ETC was so concerned with keeping this console from competing with their flagship EOS models that they neglected to make it a genuinely robust board in its own right. In particular, the handling of Parameters and DMX values is hacky and feels like a work-around. If you need easy control and good-looking live light operation, the Colorsource will get you there from scratch easier than MyDMX. If you need precise control of specific channels and are willing to sacrifice some flexibility, MyDMX is still far ahead of the Colorsource and literally a tenth of the price.

A little more background about myself: in my small town I design lights for a variety of amateur and professional organizations, usually on the Ion and Express 125 consoles. I've used ETC for decades and in general love the EOS family. In this particular installation I am trying to find an affordable system that "anyone can use" to create dynamic shows with our mixture of satellite incadescent dimmers (12 channels currently) and cheap DJ lights (ADJ Profile PARs and Chauvet 4Bar Tri).

Specific issues with Colorsource:
- Edit step button did not appear in Sequence Editor. I paused my sequences in the playback menu, changing their button to blue, "Step." Selecting steps a yellow box appears around them, but no "Edit Step" button was visible. Updating the firmware to 1.1.1 fixed this issue.

- Personalities. While I was able to create profiles for my unsupported lights, one light in particular does not function well: the Chauvet 4Bar Tri. This fixture has two modes: 3 channel (RGB on all four heads) or 15-channel (Color Macro, Master Dimmer, Master Strobe, then RGB mixing on each of the four individual heads, which Chauvet calls "Pods"). Creating a 15 channel personality doesn't work: the console automatically loads the Parameter values into the preceding cue, turning the light on. Two work-arounds: creating two blackout cues, a real black-out and then a blackout where the values can appear, auto-following into the next cue. This doesn't work, it doesn't fade. ETC tech support suggested making a 3-channel Channel for Macro/Dimmer/Strobe and then a 3-channel RGB color mixing channel for each of the Pods. I don't have enough channels to do this. Probably going to end up just changing the units to 3-channel mode for this show. A bummer, they have power and punch, their strobes and area control have been vital in previous shows.

To be fair, MyDMX 2.0 also couldn't handle these fixtures. However MyDMX 2.0 also has the GUI fader board so you could set individual channels. While clicking 15 gui faders was tedious and unpleasant, so is dragging 15 touchscreen parameters. The individual mouse clicks could be made into small motions by resizing the fader board; the touchscreen has no such work-around. The values were recorded and faded in time (although please scroll down to MyDMX issues for complaints about imprecise time codes).

I have not seen this problem yet with my user-created Personality for my Chauvet Swarm 4fx. This fixture is very similar to the 4bar, with 12 total channels, 3 controlling one moonflower, 3 controlling the other moonflower, 3 controlling lasers, and 3 controlling LED strobe. I don't know why this fixture is recording values for each dmx channel and fading between them but the other Personality isn't. I don't know why I can't tell the Colorsource I have a 12-channel Chauvet Swarm 4fx and have those 12 channels really be the 12 channels of my satellite dimmer packs. At its core the board should be doing the same thing, fading in time between the recorded values for each DMX channel.

It seems like it should be straight-forward to create a multi-channel Personality with each individual channel controlling an individual dimmer channel on my satellite dimmer packs. That is literally what the dmx is doing: channel 12, go to 80%. This would dramatically increase the flexibility and power of the board. So why doesn't it work? Why can't I go into a spreadsheet view of cues or sequence steps and edit individual channels with a keypad? "Because then you have an Element." @Ukrainian hackers, thank you for jailbreaking John Deere tractors, please come up with the darkweb firmware update that makes this board fully controllable.

- No encoder wheels. No globally-accessible command line. ETC touchscreens have improved a little since the Express 125 but are still imprecise and frustrating. Particularly rearranging stage map. Maybe the grounding sucks in the converted fire station but I just spent my power conditioning budget on my new lighting board.

Okay I gotta back to these lights but I want to record for posterity some things MyDMX does right:
- You can patch individual channels and set their values exactly, by typing in numbers if desired.

Thought that would be a longer list lol, I'll update it if anything comes to mind. Things MyDMX doesn't do right:
- No personality editor. No command line. Tbh if MyDMX 2.0 had the personality editor it would still be competitive with the Colorsource for the main functionality of this dance studio lighting board, creating repeatable cue sequences to play back alongside music.

- Quirky and bad time-codes. MyDMX is internally consistent, if you program it, the playback will be the same each time. The time codes on this 2010 ASUS laptop seem to get slower when a lot of channels are changing. The ASUS also puts out low-quality DMX signal through the dongle. The ASUS sucks, the same thing happens when I plug it into my Mackie ProFx8 soundboard with USB, low-quality laggy sound rendering. But it's what we have. Don't know if this is actually a MyDMX issue but I wanted to mention it.

- No "on-the-fly" operation. If you have a good variety of cues you can handle basic things like blacking out the stage, turning on and off an emcee light, turning on and off onstage worklights. Anything more complex you will have to plan in advance.

- Only 512 channels.

Long story short the Colorsource 20av is much better than MyDMX in many ways. Where the "rubber meets the road" there are still some frustrating problems. In particular the inability to control more than 40 (80 w CS40) individual DMX channels makes it impossible to generically advise, "Get this console!" If your lights work with this board, it is a dramatic improvement. If they don't, you will have to decide for yourself whether sacrificing functionality is justified by the far superior cueing and sophisticated controls of the Colorsource. Even writing this out, they probably are. Just a bummer that the 4bar, an otherwise excellent and affordable LED fixture, can't fit into the current programming environment.
Update: firmware patch made Edit Cue function work again also. I changed the 4bars over to 3 channel and programming is proceeding apace.

New issue is that whenever I'm in patch with a light cue loaded the lights pulse in an unsettling manner, particularly the incandescent dimmers. Very regular, about one dip in intensity every 1.5 seconds. Looks like an instantaneous zero value sneaking into there, weird.
I just replaced a MyDMX with a colorsource 40 at a local community theater. The bottom line for me was that no one there would learn the MyDMX so I was getting calls all the time to come in and program everything. They've had the colorsource 40 since around June now and the only shows I've had to do were the ones I wanted to.

My DMX could do some pretty cools stuff, but took AGES to program a full show on. With the color source I can do much more, in much less time. That being said, you are right in that it doesn't play well with all fixtures. For example I could not use just the UV on my hotbox5 fixtures because it automatically included color information. So that ate up quite a few channels having to run them off of faders, but was still WAY faster than clicking the faders on MyDmx.

Every since the switch the directors I have worked with can't believe how much faster it is to program with the Colorsource 40, and for the things it can't do, I can generally find a work around. Worth every penny. Being a new father, my time is by far my most valuable asset, so anything that keeps me out of the theater and out hanging with my little guy is priceless.

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