Wow! I never though that getting an AMX to DMX converter would be so hard!

As some of you make know from my previous posts, my school uses some old CD-80 dimmer packs, and for the last few months, our Mantrix lighting board has been working on and off. Well a few weeks ago if finally died, about 3 days before our performance! Thankfully the lighting setup up for that play was ridiculously simple, just a white wash, lights up, lights down, so we just plugged some unfocused lights into the wall outlet, and they could be controlled be using the breaker panel, conveniently located in the boy's dressing room. :roll:

After this fiasco, I had a talk with our principle, and English teacher (he is the master of the stage, because no other teacher will take the job, and our school is to poor to employ someone) about our options. It was hard to convince the principle to spend any money on the stage, (the English teacher trusted me that I would not ask for money unless there was no other way around it) because we are having a new school built in about 2 years, and he's convinced that our problems will go away when we get a new school. So, he told us that we just couldn’t use the stage until the new school was built. 8O After explaining to him that the people that pay him to rent the stage would not want to rent it without lights, he agreed to give us $700 to fix it. Not a whole lot of money to work with.

My dad has a DJ DMX light board that he is willing lend us. It’s small, but big enough for the amount of lights that we have, so, that saves us some money. Then we started looking at converters. I wanted to get the plug in controller cards that Wolf had told me about, but it would have cost slightly more than we had.

DMXTools has a converter that he is working on building, but it would not be ready for use before our next performance. We had two other choices, the universal DMX converter, or a AMX to DMX converted made by a guy named Doug Fleenor. The English teacher (Mr. Strong) wanted to call a local (Milwaukee) based company, and see want they had. I had talked to the company previously, and they did not sound like they knew what they were doing. They had a used universal DMX converter that they were willing to sell to us for $800. More than we wanted, but they also said that they would include shipping and all the cables that were needed to hook it use to our system, so, not to bad.

I was not involved with talking to this company; my communication with them was through Mr. Strong. They were having a hard time understanding what kind of connector our system had (it turned out to be a mini-XLR type connector) so I had Mr. Strong send him a picture of the connector box. They called us back and said that it was a mini-stupid type plug. :? I didn’t think that it sounded right, so I Google the term “mini-stupid” and couldn’t find anything.

The converter and cables arrived two days later. I could have killed someone. The connector that they send us went from a DIM-5 connector to a 5-pin XLR (DMX) connector. I don’t know where they got the idea that we had a DIM-5 connection, but more surprising was that we told them repeatedly that we had a AMX system, (why else would we need a converter!!!) and they send us a cable with a DMX end! :evil:

So I went online and looked up the name of the plug that we have, and took some really close up pictures of it and had Mr. Strong send it to them. The next day we get a connector in the mail, it has with the DIM-5 end and a 4-pin XLR (AMX) end. Closer, but still not right.

I have Mr. Strong send them one last e-mail, explaining how our system is set up in detail. Next day we get a package from them with a 4-pin XLR cable (AMX, and looked like it had been through a war, complete with camouflage wires) and a new plug to put in place of our mini-XLR socket.

I’m no electrician so I ask my dad if he can install the new wall plug. He says that it would be no problem, so we go in on a Saturday to work on it. We open up the wall socket, and find that the AMX signal is run on low-voltage thermostat wire. :? AMX requires four wires to work, and clock + and -, a common, and an analog signal. For AMX control system to work correctly, the clock + and - MUST be a twisted pair, which they are not at this school. This explains why the lights in our theater flickered. :roll:

So, for now everything works okay, and this setup will hopefully last for 2 years, because I can’t get any more money out of that school, even to buy new light bubs.

Well, thank you for taking the time to read this, now I have to get back to setting up for our musical “Sleeping Beauty,” which is another fiasco, but I’ll write about that later.

And if you know what a mini-stupid is, please tell me. :wink:

nickpl said:
And if you know what a mini-stupid is, please tell me. :wink:


Hmm.....I believe the "mini-stupid" plug the mini-stupid company could not identify is a TA-4F style plug (a plug style now used in wireless microphones). This is an old/ancient AMX CD 80 pack right...? I recall those old old CD 80 packs with AMX, the plug was a TA4F. One of those mini-4pins..using a Tiny-Q style plug which is the TA4F. This kind of plug was used in the very early CD80's, prior to the larger AMX 4pin-XLR style connector that was common in the later years of AMX CD 80's. I've never seen a DIN plug used for AMX. Here's a link to show you what the TA4F and other Tiny-Q plugs look like....

This the style you talkin about, right??

BTW, Doug Fleenor FWIW is the father of DMX...and Johnson Systems makes excellent upgrade kits for those old AMX CD-80's...I posted a couple of links on Johnson and a couple company's that rep them on that topic last time...

For a long time, the "Tiny-QG" connectors were only available from Switchcraft, overpriced and often hard to get. They're nowhere near as reliable as full-size XLR's and difficult to solder in the field because everything is so small and close-together. I think a lot of people felt Strand was stupid to use them. Maybe that's why they're calling it "mini-stupid."


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