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Control/Dimming Interesting Problem: Convert DMX to Leviton Control

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Harrison, Jul 19, 2017.

  1. Harrison

    Harrison Member

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    It's not AMX... It's not MPX... It's not Luma-Net... It's not Micro-Plex. Nope, it's Leviton's weird control standard. I'm working at a school that had the Macro Dimming System installed (modular cabinet, convection cooled, no fans, by Leviton). Instead of installing an industry standard (and this was only fifteen years ago), the system uses DMS (Designer Memory Station) controllers and what I think is a proprietary and obsolete protocol. Pins are as follows.

    1) +12VDC
    2) DCC
    3) Shield
    4) Data
    5) Data

    DMX can be converted to analog and AMX... what are the chances of this being a similar situation? Some kind of Arduino project?

    The end goal would be to potentially use a DMX board with the dimmer rack (40ish dimmers) instead of the DMS board.

    I've attached the specifications for the MDS system, and a copy of the blueprints for this specific installation. This is a really lofty goal, but if anyone has any ideas or suggestions, I'd really appreciate it.

    With that said, if I'm absolutely crazy, I would appreciate being told that too. ;)

    *on the installation specific file - look to pages 6/7 and 12/13*
     

    Attached Files:

  2. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @Harrison Not planning on doing all your work for you but possibly I can point you in a useful direction. Research / Google Leviton's IF-501 (Interface 501) and realize they market it in several models with differing capabilities. Realize each flavor of the box handles a number of different protocol conversions with a degree of overlap between models. As Leviton are the creators of the IF-501's, it's pretty much unthinkable that at least one of the variants of the box doesn't convert to and from their own protocol. You may not find the variation you're looking for purely by peering at graphics of the boxes as they appear fairly similar on their exteriors. If you drill down into the instructions for the specific boxes, you'll find they contain various jumpers and DIP switches enabling some of the less obvious protocol conversions.
    Best of luck.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     
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  3. techieman33

    techieman33 Well-Known Member

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    I would also try doug fleenor design to see if they are able to do anything.
     
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  4. Mac Hosehead

    Mac Hosehead Active Member

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    Are you sure this cabinet does not accept DMX? This is from the specifications:
    Digital communications shall be built in to talk via DMX 512 , L u m a N e t® III, RS485, and RS 232.

    I have worked on Macro dimmers before but I believe they were analog inputs. If you look at the riser for the system, there is one control output per circuit coming from the DMS CPU card. These control lines are most likely 0-10 volts going into the Square Law Dimmer Control Assembly. If the 0-10 lines coming from the DMS CPU are diode protected or you disconnect them altogether then you could add a DMX to analog interface at the connections.

    Reverse engineering the DMS signal sounds sketchy. I would make sure the system doesn't currently accept DMX.
     
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  5. Chris Pflieger

    Chris Pflieger Active Member

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    Just guessing, but DMS sounds like some proprietary bi-directional protocol, probably lower speed, like 38400 bps. It could be reverse engineered, but it'd take a lot of effort.

    The IF-501 would be a good solution if you can't find a DMX input or a point to inject 0-10 analog.
     
  6. coldnorth57

    coldnorth57 Active Member

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  7. Mac Hosehead

    Mac Hosehead Active Member

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    Here is more guessing. Although it doesn't say, my guess is that the DMS stations are using Luma-net.
     
  8. Harrison

    Harrison Member

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    Definitely no DMX. I have opened the cabinet before. Could you elaborate more on how a diode on the 0-10 line would mean I wouldn't have to disconnect it?

    I've looked at that before. As said before, it appears that all these cabinets are built to specification. This one lacks the digital display inside, and has no connections or terminals for DMX or Luma-Net.

    Definitely not Luma-Net. I've had someone from Leviton support confirm that.
     
  9. Harrison

    Harrison Member

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    From Leviton:

    The drawings indicate that the system is a Leviton Macro dimming system. Macro dimming systems were custom designed for the site where they are installed. The DMS control stations for it are obsolete and are no longer available. There is no provision for this system to be controlled by either DMX or Lumanet. If that type of control is needed the school district would have to contact their local EMC&A Representative who would work with Leviton EMCA quotations and applications departments to design an add on cabinet for the system.​
     
  10. Mac Hosehead

    Mac Hosehead Active Member

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    Ouch.

    If you want to look into adding a DMX to analog interface that would connect to TBS1 and TBS2 then it would be good to confirm that you have 10 volts on a control channel from the output of the DMS CPU when that channel is brought to full. These terminal blocks appear to be in a high voltage section of the rack and panels should not be removed if the rack is energized.

    An example of a diode on the output is shown on sheet 5 with H1 - H12 from the backup control assembly. The drawings do not indicate if there are diodes on the outputs of the DMS CPU cards. If there are diodes on the outputs of each source coming into the input of the dimmer then the input will respond to the highest level. If there are no diodes on the outputs then sources can not be combined since the output of one source will pull down the output of another.

    If you go this route it would take a good amount of wiring.
     
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  11. Les

    Les Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Screw that. I would be contacting Pathway Connectivity or Northlight Systems. I think one of them (if not both) could custom-design a protocol converter for a better price, assuming they don't have something already. ​
     
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  12. FMEng

    FMEng Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    That's assuming the protocol is documented and that Leviton is willing to share it. You can't build a converter unless you know what to convert to. I doubt that Leviton will be forthcoming with information for another manufacturer to use, especially for a system that is obsolete.
     
  13. Mac Hosehead

    Mac Hosehead Active Member

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    My impression is that the protocol and the stations were developed when Macro Electronics was a separate company. When Leviton bought them, my guess is that they made new cards to interface with their equipment and eventually dropped the original stations. I don't think there was enough demand to make a protocol converter. Even if you had specs for the old protocol, I don't think any solution to get this working with DMX is going to be cheap.
     
  14. Les

    Les Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Well I guess this protocol is more exotic than I thought.
     
  15. StradivariusBone

    StradivariusBone Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Two thoughts pop up- that documentation seems to lump DMX and their proprietary control together frequently. Have you tried just using DMX to control it and see what it does? It'd be interesting to put a scope on the output of the Leviton controller to see what it's actually doing. Just glancing through the wiring it definitely looks like some flavor of RS-485.

    The other thought would be to see if you could find that digital display board on ebay. It sounds like it's some sort of modular daughter board and I wonder if that's where your missing DMX input is. Granted that's assuming you can just plug and play it in there without adjusting anything in whatever firmware this rack is running.

    As far as reverse engineering goes, Ben Heck did that with a GameBoy printer and a N64 joystick, so I don't think it would be impossible. You'd need a microcontroller and a lot of time for coding depending on what you find the controller doing on the oscilloscope. DMX is a pretty straightforward protocol and I can't imagine that they'd really reinvent the wheel here, but you never know.
     
  16. Mac Hosehead

    Mac Hosehead Active Member

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    Something else to consider is that with most architectural systems the stations do not store the presets and do not stream the data to the dimmers. Typically, they will send commands on the bus, such as: Bring up preset 1.
     
  17. digital1

    digital1 Member

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    We manufacture DMX512 4 channel firing boards to convert the dimmers to DMX. An inexpensive modular 4 channel per card solution to retrofit dimming cabinets.
    http://www.digitallighting.com/protocolfolder/retrofit repair dimmer.html
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 26, 2017
  18. mbrown3039

    mbrown3039 Member

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    vegas, baby..!
  19. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @mbrown3039 If his aren't, Shaun Johnson, at Johnson Systems (Not to be confused with Johnson Controls) and / or Gray Interface probably have type accepted options for you. Both are based out of Calgary, Alberta here in Canada. Shaun Johnson was building replacement cards for some Strand gear and usually building them to a quality level superior to some of Strand's original products.
    [With my Kevlar undies securely in place.]
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard
     
  20. mbrown3039

    mbrown3039 Member

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    Thanks. I had a client call me today because they lost their Leviton DMS controller (about 6 months ago, lol) and they just figured out that they can't make any changes to their ballroom lighting without it. The simplest (although not easy) would be to find another DMS controller (assuming it would interface with their system the same way their original unit did, which i think is probably not a given) but -- aside from that -- figuring out a way to introduce DMX control is preferred.
     

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