Control/Dimming DMX software and the dongles required.

Okay, so I am looking into DMX software since I want somthing that I could program anywhere and have with me on all my gigs(Installed on my laptop). That being said there are a lot of ones I have found but none that are refined or work 100%. My top three are hog3pc, Jands Vista PC and D-Pro by Enttec. I have demoed all three of them and from pros and con's about each.

Hog3pc:
Pro's:
Dongle is only $670 and Software is free.
Software is smooth, clean and runs all around great.
All custom to what I want and capabilities are endless.
Con's:
Wings and all playback devices start at the 5k area new and just go up from there.

Jands Vista PC:
Pros:
Amazing UI
Fixture mapping as well as live feedback
Cons:
Cost all the way around - 512 dongle is over $1800 and then the console wings are starting at 2k for a four channel one.

D-Pro:
Pros:
The cost is really cheap - $200 for the dongle and $200 for the software.
Has the visual fixture map
The play back and programming wings start at $500 making them the cheapest.
Cons:
The software seems clunky and limited

My main questions is does anyone have a set-up the would be better and a similar price range? I am buying this for personal so cost really matters but I am willing to spend rather than limit my self. I don't want a hardware console. If anyone could tell me more about the software I listed or give me a better plan please let me know. This is my first post so if I did something wrong please let me know. :)
 

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MagicQ and an art-net / enttec pro / or whatever else you can dig up interface. Wings are very well priced.

[Off-topic: Does the wiki autobot ignore the last or only line in a post?]
 
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telmnstr

Member
My main questions is does anyone have a set-up the would be better and a similar price range? I am buying this for personal so cost really matters but I am willing to spend rather than limit my self. I don't want a hardware console. If anyone could tell me more about the software I listed or give me a better plan please let me know. This is my first post so if I did something wrong please let me know. :)

I'm just a hobbyist but have owned some random stuff.

Are you using moving fixtures?

There is a free app called Freestyler DMX. It can take MIDI input, so it might be possible to use it with something like the Akai APC-40. I'm working on getting the laser show software I use to work with the APC-40. The 40 is a bit tricky in that it uses multiple midi channels so if the software can't handle listening on multiple channels then it won't work so well.

Chamsys MagicQ is cheap for the dongle and software, then the wings cost a good bunch. I think you have to buy their midi interface which costs quite a bit more than just plugging in any DJish control surface, and given that most of the control surfaces now lack the 5 pin DIN standard midi port there are additional issues.
 
Chamsys MagicQ always seems undone and really clunky to me. The UI is just bad. That could be me or me using it wrong. Any other suggestions? I don't have movers now but will soon so my solution has to be ready for them aswell.
 

essentials

Active Member
Chamsys MagicQ always seems undone and really clunky to me.

You´re not alone.

As for the original question, you seem to have checked the market well. My personal would-be choice, GrandMA2 onPC is missing, but I guess you cast that one out for its price - onPC node is about 2k and command wing about 8k.

From your options, I´d go for Hog if the need for a physical control is merely an option, not necessity, and for Jands if otherwise, deciding budget-wise. Both are good and reliable systems and choice between them is rather a matter of taste. Off-line editors are free, so try before buy. ;)

However, what is the reason for not wanting a hardware console? Size/weight/transportation? If so, have you considered ETC SmartFade ML?
 

gafftaper

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I have come to really dislike MagicQ because I desperately want sliders and dedicated buttons. The inability to move more than one virtual slider at a time is a HUGE problem with PC software.

It seems like money isn't a really big problem for you if you are considering the Vista PC. For about that same price you could either buy a Smartfade ML or you could get a Chamsys Mini Wing. I haven't used one, but I have the feeling that adding even a mini wing could make a big difference in the clunky feeling of MagicQ.
 

AhClem

Member
Full disclosure, I manufacture and distribute it... but I'd suggest you try out our BlueLite X1 software and hardware. The software is available for download at our Web Site on the Support page. Let me try to address some of the features mentioned above...

The software is avalable for free.
You can get the single universe X1-Mini for $399 or the full 4 universe X1 for $999.
You can connect up to four X1 devices to provide 16 Universes of DMX control.
The X1-Mini is slightly larger than a computer mouse, while the X1 come in a 1U, 19" rackmount case.
We offer ArtNET input and output capabilities.
The X1 hardware has a DMX input to allow you to use ANY DMX console as an external control surface in addition to the PC controls.
AN existing Library of exisiting Fixture Templates, a Template Editor, and support for new Template requests.
MIDI control is available using the Live Panel and/or our API's MIDI sample apps.
Additional Sample Apps including the Windows Media Player playlist and CD tracker apps.
We also offer the iPanel mobile app to provide control of the LivePanel using your iPhone, iPAD or Android.
SMPTE Timecode Input/Output connectors plus other features...

For telmnstr's laser control, we have our "D-Bot" hardware, which was developed for use with the Pangolin laser system, and is used as a DMX input device for the Laser software computer. It connects via USB to the PC (or laptop) and converts the DMX values it receives (2 channels) into keyboard commands that are sent to simulate the Function keys and Number keys used by Pangolin's "Live" software.

If you care to PM me, or call me, I'll be happy to answer any other questions you may have.
 
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len

Well-Known Member
Most dmx software is free to download (except for the ones you mentioned). So why not do that and find the one you like? One thing I know for sure is that just because something is low priced doesn't mean you'll be satisfied. There's an old proverb: spend well, cry once.
 

JCarroll

Active Member
You could use MA2 OnPC with the MA node to unlock the software and then use Enttec wings from there. Those wings are reasonably priced and I'm personally satisfied with the quality.
 

JChenault

Well-Known Member
Okay, so I am looking into DMX software since I want somthing that I could program anywhere and have with me on all my gigs(Installed on my laptop). That being said there are a lot of ones I have found but none that are refined or work 100%. My top three are hog3pc, Jands Vista PC and D-Pro by Enttec. I have demoed all three of them and from pros and con's about

Timothy

There is no 'best' software. Before I could comment I need to understand what you intend to use it for.

What kinds of gigs are you doing? Theatre, acting as a DJ, clubs or corporate events, lighting concerts where you need to be able to busk shows. Etc

Answer that, and I may have some idea as to what to recommend
 
My type of venue is live concerts and theater. I want something where if there is time to pre-program I can but if not I can still make a great show. If I do any dj work or club work it would be in a more formal setting rather than informal.
 

Esoteric

Well-Known Member
My Distributor got me to try Bluelight. It is all right, but I just don't like it as a compromise between Vista and MagicQ. I go with Vista when there are lots of volunteers involved and price is no option. But it is very pricey.

MagicQ feels MUCH less clunky with a wing. You can get a PC wing (2 full universes of DMX) and touch screen monitor (also helps a lot) for under $3300. I love it more than the HogPC for the price, and I cut my teeth on the Hog 500, Whole Hog, and Whole Hog II.
 

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I have come to really dislike MagicQ because I desperately want sliders and dedicated buttons. The inability to move more than one virtual slider at a time is a HUGE problem with PC software.

It seems like money isn't a really big problem for you if you are considering the Vista PC. For about that same price you could either buy a Smartfade ML or you could get a Chamsys Mini Wing. I haven't used one, but I have the feeling that adding even a mini wing could make a big difference in the clunky feeling of MagicQ.

Before we bash the hell out of magicQ here... remember, they give the software away free so you will BUY their hardware. The are nice and allow you to use their software to run an actual show. If you get their hardware and a touchscreen PC things get easy, quick. They designed the software to work with a mouse and no hardware, nobody said it was at all an ideal situation.

Now, while I type we are running a show that the road LD is on his 3rd crashed PC running Hog3 PC with 3 universes and 3 wings... so... the old adage that when you bring a hog, always bring 2 stands true even for the PC software.
 

cbrandt

Well-Known Member
I'd take a look at Martin's software side. The software is free, and there are a lot of ways to open up hardware universes. A USB Duo DMX opens up two universes on their software, and for about $500. Several other ways, if you need more. I run the hardware, but the software is pretty robust as well. Worth downloading and taking a look at, to see if you like it.
 

traxman25

Member
I just learned Hog 3 this summer and I love it. I'm an ETC programmer through and through but Hog 3 is quickly winning me over. It has it's quarks but what doesn't.

I currently have the Hog3PC widget and Martin LJ and I have programmed on all 4 ETC EOS family consoles. If I had to choose from those 6 to be my one choice for all event types it would be Hog3PC hands down, and I have no plans to use LJ for anything now. LJ is really clunky and slow to program with. I know it seems like a pricey jump to get into it but think about it this way; an ION will run you about $10K with a 2x20 wing and monitors, but that doesn't have a lot of the features of the hog. Most of the features it does have don't work as smoothly as the hog. You are really getting a top notch console setup for about $5k (one universe widget and a road hot programming wing which has a built in touch screen).

However I will bring up that GrandMA onPC wing is about the same price and it looks to me to be even better software yet. I've never tried it out myself though.

Just remember that for the bigger companies you shouldn't pay list rate for anything. You should be able to get much better pricing for GMA and Hog than the list prices.

Quick tangent, I would still program a standard conventional theater show on an EOS series console. They are laid out better for that.
 
I tried out "Light Factory" for a recent summer show, since the software supports "basic" audio and video cues in addition to being a lighting program. A more accurate description would be that the software supports "short" audio cues and "short and tiny" videos. On a rather beefy laptop (3.2 GHz Dual Core, 8 Gb RAM, 1GB VRAM, etc.) the software crashed trying to play a 20 minute audio track, crashed trying to play the accompanying HD video, crashed when I changed the video to SD, crashed when I broke the video up into 2 minute chunks, crashed no matter if I used .avi or .wmv, its only supported formats. That said, it does support incoming timecode and midi commands, I ended up playing the show audio and video through winamp, which can send its own propriety tc to the program. I do like the effects wizard, which lets you easily create chases that can utilize any and all parameters in each step. Turn and LED fixture green, a parcan to 50%, and have a mover tilt down all in one step. I also liked the fixture editor, the patching process, and the UI is ugly as sin but functional. It also supports password protected profiles, which helped keep those newb techs from destroying the programming over the summer.

That said, the $600 price tag for a one universe dongle and software key has me thinking that I should really check out Hog 3.
 
I just learned Hog 3 this summer and I love it. I'm an ETC programmer through and through but Hog 3 is quickly winning me over. It has it's quarks but what doesn't.

I currently have the Hog3PC widget and Martin LJ and I have programmed on all 4 ETC EOS family consoles. If I had to choose from those 6 to be my one choice for all event types it would be Hog3PC hands down, and I have no plans to use LJ for anything now. LJ is really clunky and slow to program with. I know it seems like a pricey jump to get into it but think about it this way; an ION will run you about $10K with a 2x20 wing and monitors, but that doesn't have a lot of the features of the hog. Most of the features it does have don't work as smoothly as the hog. You are really getting a top notch console setup for about $5k (one universe widget and a road hot programming wing which has a built in touch screen).

However I will bring up that GrandMA onPC wing is about the same price and it looks to me to be even better software yet. I've never tried it out myself though.

Just remember that for the bigger companies you shouldn't pay list rate for anything. You should be able to get much better pricing for GMA and Hog than the list prices.

Quick tangent, I would still program a standard conventional theater show on an EOS series console. They are laid out better for that.

Get a real price first on anything you buy before qouting nobody pays retail. The GMA2 wing is not 8k, just get a qoute first. Also look at the fader wing as well. Doen't get you the programming interface but you get 4 dmx outputs and plenty of faders...


Axis
 

traxman25

Member
Get a real price first on anything you buy before qouting nobody pays retail. The GMA2 wing is not 8k, just get a qoute first. Also look at the fader wing as well. Doen't get you the programming interface but you get 4 dmx outputs and plenty of faders...


Axis

Axis,

I have written quotes for both the MA2 OnPC and the Road Hog Programming and fader wings. It is also not my place to share those quotes publicly. There is no reason to pay MSRP. If one supplier quotes that, call another. Better yet follow standard .gov purchase rules and get at least 3 quotes (where possible) anyway.
 
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JustMike

New Member
I run a small festival every year and thought about better lighting this year. I must have tried 6-7 of them and nearly chose M-PC as we have 2 pro lighting guys we can get tips from. Ultimately it was all in my hands and I ended up going with MagicQ. To each his own but personally I found MagicQ the easiest for a beginner like me. I used a DMXking artnet I picked up used for $100 but recetly bought the 5hr Magicdmx dongle. It runs for only 5hrs at a time but for $18 you can't go wrong. Chamsys was pretty good when it came to getting fixture profiles (the call personalities) that were not in the daily updated library. Now that I've got my feet wet with my 1st successful show last weekend I am considering getting into MagicQ more, as for a wing I had no problem with a touch screen monitor. The miniwing was only $50 to rent if that didn't work out. I almost bought D-PRO and almost used Freestyler X2 for those of you with simple needs do look.
Cheers!
Mike
 

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