# Multiplex?

#### benintights

##### Member
We own a series of dmx scanners and also old NSI muliplex dimmers. With my current setup, we have a multiplex signal and a dmx signal running to a group of our stagelights. The dimmers and the scanners are located on the same lighting stands. Is there anything I can do to the dimmer, other than sending the signal through an dmx to multiplex converter so that it will read dmx? It wouldn't make any sense to use a converter because I'd need several at the top of each stand, or I'd have to convert the signal before it gets to the stand (which would still require two lines and wouldn't accomplish anything). I don't really understand the difference in the two signals. If someone could explain that to me too I'd be grateful!

Thanks,
benintights

#### JasonC77

##### Member
Unfortunately, DMX and Multiplex are completely incompatible without the translator. Basically, DMX is an industry standard data protocol that is maintained by a USITT standard. Multiplex is a prorietary protocol for most NSI gear... All of their old gear runs on Multiplex, but some of their newer gear can recieve either. Why they decided this route was best? who can know, but it sure does cause trouble.

If running two lines becomes too much of a problem, i see only two other options you may want to pursue. One, replace the multiplex gear... seeing how it only can recieve multiplex says that this gear is a bit dated anyways... or Two, call NSI and see if they have any translators that are small enough to mount on a stand.

Hope this helps a little.

#### JasonC77

##### Member
Unfortunately, DMX and Multiplex are completely incompatible without the translator. Basically, DMX is an industry standard data protocol that is maintained by a USITT standard. Multiplex is a prorietary protocol for most NSI gear... All of their old gear runs on Multiplex, but some of their newer gear can recieve either. Why they decided this route was best? who can know, but it sure does cause trouble.

If running two lines becomes too much of a problem, i see only two other options you may want to pursue. One, replace the multiplex gear... seeing how it only can recieve multiplex says that this gear is a bit dated anyways... or Two, call NSI and see if they have any translators that are small enough to mount on a stand.

Sorry i couldnt be of more help.

#### DMXtools

##### Active Member
I'm really not supposed to plug my product on ControlBooth, but I make a small translator, designed to be velcro'd to the side of an NSI dimmer pack (1.5 X 3.5 x 5 inches and all of 12 ounces in weight). While it translates enough DMX channels for an entire NSI system (128 channels), if the cabling is a problem you could use one per stand. I've been selling them on eBay with a starting bid of $139.95 ($8 over dealer cost) and a "buy it now" price of $229.95 ($10 below list). Registered ControlBooth members get them for the \$139.95 price - period. Just drop me an e-mail ([email protected]).

Microplex (NSI's old multiplex system) goes 'way back, several years before DMX-512 was invented. Most lighting manufacturers had their own more-or-less proprietary protocols back then. DMX-512 is intentionally non-proprietary, an attempt to allow lighting gear from different manufacturers to play nicely together. NSI and most other manufacturers have adopted DMX-512 for their new designs, but with a large installed base of the older proprietary stuff out there, they weren't about to stop making microplex gear. That would have been a nice way to alienate a whole bunch of existing customers. DMX is better, but microplex was there first, so they'll probably have to coexist for quite a while longer.

As for microplex and DMX-512 being incompatible, I think incompatible is too mild a word. Hostile is closer to the truth. Microplex puts 15 volt power on the cable... on a pin that DMX-512 uses for a 4.5 volt signal. Plug a microplex dimmer into a DMX controller and it almost instantly fries at least one chip in the controller.

John

#### JasonC77

##### Member
Thanks for the clarifications there John, probably should have let you field this one from the start :wink:

#### ship

##### Senior Team Emeritus
To be fair, NSI also sells converter boxes for doing this. They are a bit harder to figure out which micro link to put into which position on the cirucuit board than DMX' Tool's version which is automatic if I remember right, but It's also available for about the same price. Perhaps more - bought my universal adaptor from them quite a few years ago and think I got it at dealer price. NSI might also sell internal adaptor kits for the gear - should just be a question of swapping out dimmer brains because they produce gear speaking both languages. This option might be the most inexpensive yet.

There are other companies who also produce or can make similar language translators. No where I work, we don't do things like this unless you really want to pay for our electronics person to do make one which would not be difficult just take time - as with most other lighting companies with a electronics repair/production department in various stages of hack. Such adaptors are not difficult to figure out how to do, but given the time it would take, it will not be cheap when one of a kind and not mass produced. Should you wish I can probably provide a source for links to companies that either make or can make such things to weigh your other options. None would be as inexpensive as DMX Tools is selling his gear for I am fairly certain but in being fair, his product for doing NSI to DMX is not unique. His above listing is a good solution in my opinion now that other options are weighed. Balanced options for commerce would normally be my rule for listing your own stuff as an answer. Post who else has similar products so the buyer can choose fairly. No offense meant, Tools' translator is probably the best option given NSI does not sell the upgrade circuit boards cheaper.

On commerce since it's only a rough guideline on this forum so far, it's for the most part to be avoided or taken off line as a rule. "Anyone have any Amps they want to sell," will eventually get it's own section in a commerce part of the forum. Until than it's kind of sketchy and what makes this forum stand out in that we don't have advertising except by Dave. He pays the fees and has the right to do with it what he wants, none of the rest of us do. Such questions as Does anyone have Amps should be taken off forum once it's asked about should anyone have the gear. Where to put such a question is also for the moment mixed in with other topics. That taking it off forum or contact me off line would be best listed as part of the post as a reminder to take it off forum. I expect there are a lot of vendors and silent people reading this forum that would feel more comfortable ethically in taking it off line - buyer be ware.

Lots of other forums especially Pro Sound and Pro Sound - Lighting forums to list what you are looking for and selling in the mean time, they are also free in doing so. As well there are many other forums to do this. For instance, once a year add you can post in Stagecraft to look for specific gear such as the above used amps example and sell stuff you want to get rid of or are marketing. That in addition to a wealth of used gear E-Bay type sites.

Many other sites will allow some commerce as long as that's not your goal in being there. DMX Tools does not have a goal of selling gear, just providing that best option, and many more times that in answers as our own premere house electronics god. The person from Bash/Fourth Phase selling used lighting equipment on the other hand, since his only interest in the forum was to sell gear, and not take part was out of place thus such advertisements should be kept to a minimum. I'm sure nobody would want a vendor hopping on here to just make a sale but not really help or we would rather a balanced - best for you set of options given a dealer's knowledge without the sales pitch. Hey, we sell gel! Buy from us makes me one of about a thousand other suppliers for it thus best kept either off line or kept as a non-specific us-only source. Trust my company name below my post such as Barbizon - we have a member from there though he is silent at the moment, and Barbizon gets more sales by that trust. Bill Sapsis on Stagecraft gets lots of sales by his tag, but above anything else his goal on line is to help people. Best prices verses trust is what you weigh. Sapsis Rigging might have good prices in general, and have pulled my fat out of the fryer at times, but for other things they are more expensive. Depends upon how many other dealers you price against. If he says they are the only source for X rigging component and he does the asker a disservice. The advice is much more valuable than any price discount - if any by a vendor hopping on line in selling only his product. Get the Ethics idea? On other forums I am a major antagonist when I see personal advertising.

When something is probably the best option than commerce in my opinion here is acceptable as an answer especially when balanced with the other options especially by you. Had we a ETC vendor rep, them giving expert advice on their product, in addition to advice on other products and letting you choose would be far more valuable.

My opinion in hoping it clarifies the commerce rules for this forum and what's for the most part generally agreeable to all of us. For now, when you are directly involved in it, it's direct E-Mail. After that, it's best to list all the sources if you are a vendor like many that can provide it. If you want gear that's more difficult, asking for options is probably the best one in having direct people either PM you, or others post the various and balanced sources for the gear. Never list yourself as a supplier for products lots of people offer the exact same in such as from ETC unless part of a large list.

Since asking for specific gear was not the goal of the post, it just headed that way, all the above is fair in my opinion given other sources are listed. Unless directly asked about your gear and it like DMX Tools' transltor is useful for all to know about as an answer, and the best option in answering the question, also an answer that will prevent future and constant asking on the same topic - all is good.

Want a lamp upgrade to this fixture? You will note I never list me as a source unless in rare occasions as part of a huge list. The advice is far more valuable than me trying to get a sale. Had I a call tag following my name and I did not refrence myself as the primary source for this and all lamps, that would also I think being acceptable. Being part of a vendor adds a certain amount of credibility to your advice as long as you feel it's necessary to add that credibility. My personal advice in my off time is my own, take it for what it's worth because it's not representing anyone unless you really can't get the product elsewhere.

Hope it fills in and is generally acceptable in the posting rules part of commerce and is fair to all. That and ethics is the general point. Help is much more valuable than a few pennies off at best.

Last edited by a moderator:

#### DMXtools

##### Active Member
DMX Tools does not have a goal of selling gear...
Actually, that's one of my primary goals... I'm just uncomfortable doing it in the guise of offering advice: that's not what ControlBooth.com is for.

And Brian's right, there are other translators out there. The most reasonably priced units I've found (besides my own) are the IF-501 from NSI and the TX-20 from Lightronics.
The TX-20 is similar to my product, about as easy to use and only a little more expensive. The IF-501 is essentially an anything-to-anything translator, throwing AMX-192, 0-10 volt analog, MIDI, RS-232 and Lumanet (a Leviton thing for architectural lighting) in with the DMX-512 and microplex. As such, it does require you to set switches and jumpers inside and carries a higher pricetag - but I've occasionally seen them on eBay, used, at much more reasonable prices.
NSI has a DMX-512 option for many of their microplex boards, but I haven't seen a retrofit kit for their older dimmer packs - still, it wouldn't hurt to give them a call.

John

#### ship

##### Senior Team Emeritus
Thanks, I keew of sources in general but none specific after NSI. The tongue and cheek (in addition to me making it) plus your own reviews of the other products are style and advice that's very valuable also in differences and help because you do know what you are looking at as opposed to a first time buyer, glad you included them. It's also known there are other sources now as opposed to it being a surprise later as often happens at such times after the purchase.

Sales might be a side line and important, but at hart as with all of us I'm sure it's more help that's at the fore front and given the trust they will no doubt be calling you anyway. What ever the case, the amount of help you have given since you joined has been huge to all and I. Your origional notes on your products are very interesting also and important in their own right, plus you offered the how to others would not.

Me posting my thoughts on selling gear was more in general to help establish standards for posting such things than any kind of concern I had over your own post. Right before hand I was reading about someone looking for sound equipment which was fine in general but would be difficult a year from now when someone responds they have the product. Two years from now, them saying they are looking for gear is still going to be on their initial post and someone will respond. Different in the case of your post being an answer to a question asked, but what if in five years prices go up? Anyway my intent in posting. Again I'm glad you offer such products and advice at a reasonable rate - I will never leave the little theater days when blowing one lamp for a show meant at times that fixture was down for the rest of the season as compaired to lamps costing twice as much as I pay for them now and me having a minimum of 10% spares in stock at all times.

At work, someone wanted three EGT lamps for their 14" focusing scoops. I had two and did not mention at least five other places that might have them at least almost as locally available. Instead, if they really needed them I could get them in the morning but it would be more expensive that way. That's direct business and fair not to mention the other sources available to the customer on a more normal sale. Something they would be better served elsewhere or I did not have sure, but after that no reason to shop elsewhere if satufied with quality and price. My prices were good and fair thus I did not have a problem. Buyer beware and it's your own job to shop around. On other things I quote I get the "I'll give you a call" just as I give to my suppliers before I call around. But this is all at work and only when I have to play sales person. At home that's another thing. Also sold some of the upgraded Altman 360Q lamp bases today a month after I quoted them out. I expect my pricing or at least expert advice was the ending key factor in the sale. Does not matter, in the end I still got the sale and more important two returning customers as long as I'm fair in price. My own favorite supplier starts at best price he can, the rest do as our own sales people in charging what they can get away with. If there is a on-line sale of interest for me to offer, it's definately taken off-line and no offense just business either way.

Just a personal thing with me in the end, on other forums I constantly see even my own suppliers offering advice by way of selling their product and not really helping on the actual question. Such suppliers pass on to me the inside info which I relate where needed, such info is much more valuable than a good deal this time around from them in keeping me a constant customer. They trolling for sales not only cut me and the rest of the suppliers out of the more natural bidding and local supplier markets, (we could do the DMX converter also though it's not something I'm upset about because it would not be worth the cost for us to do it,) but the suppliers in advertising their product don't really offer any help or advice - just say for all intensive purposes they are the only supplier of the product by way of being the only one advertising it. Very obvious they are just out to make a buck. Again DMX Tools you are not out for a easy buck it's both clear and known.

Your posts were not like that, but others will stop by in the future to do so. This is to the point of one little lighting company I had never heard of but in my area offering good advice in the first part of their post on another forum, than saying they would be available to help in providing that expert supervision given scheduling worked out. The asker did not ask for such help or even live in the same state much less pay was implied in addition to that company being "unique" amongst about 100 others suited not mentioned able to provide similar help. This on a forum where the webmaster owns his own lighting company and most of the members work for other lighting companies.

Anyway, my posting was meant to help try and hold off such people posting here where the info and discussion is the most important service still. Nothing ruffles my feathers faster than when I'm playing by a general ethic and other's without tact as you have, don't.