Control/Dimming Reliability of sending sACN directly to fixtures.

Hello. I have a festival coming up in June, and we’re considering wiring the majority of the rig with Cat6 and sending sACN or Art-Net directly to the fixtures. How reliable is this? I reached out to a lighting forum on Facebook and got mixed reviews.

Last year, we wired the entire rig with XLR5, but some of my fixtures have a DMX footprint of 80 addresses, meaning some trusses required 3-4 universes. I’m trying to make the wiring more efficient by running a single Cat6 to each truss and taking advantage of the fixtures’ abilities to receive Art-Net or sACN directly.

My console is an MA2UL. I will have a switch at FOH and one at Dimmer beach (not sure on the brand yet). I will also be using an Elation eNode8 to convert to XLR5 for the fixtures that don’t accept Art-Net or sACN. The networkable fixtures are:
24 x Elation Proteus Rayzor 760
24 x Elation Artiste Picasso
10 x Elation Dartz 360
6 x Elation Artiste Van Gogh
4 x Elation Chorus Line 16

Thanks
 
Biased opinion from mfg here: Our VIA line of switches is very popular in the touring world. Just make sure you use etherCON connectors and proper stranded Category cable - no solid-core Cat5 with regular RJ45 connectors!
More educational (less biased) video about IGMP and a real-world example of why.
Hi Rob. I’ve been looking at your switches. They’re definitely a front runner for my rig.
One concern I’ve heard is that the network ports on the fixtures themselves are not switches, simply ports wired together in parallel, which would lead to problems further down the line. Have you, or anyone, ever experienced this?
 

TimMc

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Hi Rob. I’ve been looking at your switches. They’re definitely a front runner for my rig.
One concern I’ve heard is that the network ports on the fixtures themselves are not switches, simply ports wired together in parallel, which would lead to problems further down the line. Have you, or anyone, ever experienced this?
No, they are not. Data doesn't work that way.
 

Rob

Well-Known Member
the network ports on the fixtures themselves are not switches, simply ports wired together in parallel,
That doesn't sound right at all. Are you sure the fixtures are not just DMX512 using RJ45 connectors? For permanent install, that is a valid connector - but definitely not for touring/rental. I'm quite sure if there are two RJ45's on a device that have continuity between the pins, it's expecting DMX512. Nobody would do (could do) this with Ethernet.
 
That doesn't sound right at all. Are you sure the fixtures are not just DMX512 using RJ45 connectors? For permanent install, that is a valid connector - but definitely not for touring/rental. I'm quite sure if there are two RJ45's on a device that have continuity between the pins, it's expecting DMX512. Nobody would do (could do) this with Ethernet.
I was skeptical as well of the comment when it was mentioned. I don’t have access to the actual fixtures yet, but according to the manual, they accept Art-Net and sACN and are IP addressable. I’m 95% comfortable in saying that the 2 RJ45 connectors are a network in and out, used for art-net/sACN.

Daisy-chaining these fixtures with Cat6 EtherCON would be a reliable way to wire the rig for DMX via Art-Net or sACN, yes?
 

Rob

Well-Known Member
It seems there is an internal switch. See attached image.
Note: They talk about IGMP in the manual too:
When connecting fixture to a network switch to control multiple devices, a Gigabit Ethernet Switch
that supports IGMP (Internet Group Management Protocol) is required. Using a Gigabit Ethernet
Switch that does not support IGMP can cause erratic behavior of all connected devices to the switch.
 

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sk8rsdad

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Elation's manuals for the Artiste line do not provide any details on connectivity. The manuals show separate Ethernet IN and OUT jacks but it is unclear if there's an unmanaged switch in the fixture. It's possible. The manual mentions a DMX transceiver but is silent on whether the fixtures will transcode sACN or Art-Net to DMX. Try wiring a few up on a workbench and see what happens.
 

rsmentele

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Premium Member
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Hello,
As has been mentioned before, ensure whatever switch you choose supports the IGMP protocol. Also make sure you are following typical IP network rules on cable length and such.
The In/Out in the fixtures are possible because of the inclusion of an unmanaged switch, it's the only way IP can be chained.
As for using the fixtures to convert from network to DMX, that is not possible. There are patents out on that technology.
 

danTt

Well-Known Member
One thing to consider is that the built in network switches are going to require power. If you need to hard reset a fixture for any reason all fixtures downstream of the one you hard reset are going to lose control if they are chained together via ethernet. I'd probably look at an ethernet to the pipe solution, using either pathport or etc response nodes, and then break out to fixtures from there. It's going to be simpler than juggling ip addresses for all fixtures as well.
 

cbrandt

Well-Known Member
As for using the fixtures to convert from network to DMX, that is not possible. There are patents out on that technology.
Is that patent/restriction because it is a fixture doing it all in one? Could that be bypassed by "installing" a "standard" single port node that accomplishes the same thing?
 
Hello,
As has been mentioned before, ensure whatever switch you choose supports the IGMP protocol. Also make sure you are following typical IP network rules on cable length and such.
The In/Out in the fixtures are possible because of the inclusion of an unmanaged switch, it's the only way IP can be chained.
As for using the fixtures to convert from network to DMX, that is not possible. There are patents out on that
Hello,
As has been mentioned before, ensure whatever switch you choose supports the IGMP protocol. Also make sure you are following typical IP network rules on cable length and such.
The In/Out in the fixtures are possible because of the inclusion of an unmanaged switch, it's the only way IP can be chained.
As for using the fixtures to convert from network to DMX, that is not possible. There are patents out on that technology.
I don’t intend to use a fixture to convert from network to DMX, then pass that DMX to other fixtures. I have nodes for that. I want to send sACN right to the fixture with EtherCON and daisy chain onward with EtherCON. The DMX would be ‘embedded’ in the sACN.
 

StradivariusBone

Custom Title
Fight Leukemia
As for using the fixtures to convert from network to DMX, that is not possible. There are patents out on that technology.

This came up on the Discord a ways back when I was trying to get a Maverick spot to do just that. Here's the relevant bit from @dvsDave who got this from @Ford :

Okay, messaged Ford and got the following response on the Chauvet as a node thing.

When we first started including networking in our fixtures (on the NEXUS fixtures, I believe), we did this by default.
It seemed like a no-brainer... However, controller companies (a certain 2-letter touring console which has been on almost every major tour for the last decade), were not following the actual protocols, and were always Broadcasting the full range of all DMX Values for All universes... which was a LOT for our fixtures to deal with (especially 7-ish years ago). We started to see issues with lagging in cue timing on some of the larger, Nexus-heavy pro-touring rigs (when you hit BO, you want the rig to all blackout together). Interestingly, none of the non-(two letter consoles) rigs had any problems... but they are who they are, and we are Chauvet, so the problem was always assumed (by the touring companies) to be with our fixtures (even though it was also happening with Clay Paky fixtures).
At that point, we made a decision as a team that we would remove this feature, and encourage people to use dedicated nodes (like the NET-X, and NET-X II), to handle "mission critical" data management.
The last thing that we want is for someone to "value engineer" a lighting rig, and have performance and timing issues that come back to one of our fixtures. Especially since it was only the people using $50,000 lighting consoles that seemed to be having the issues. Better to just disable the feature.

Recently (as in, in the last couple of software releases) the 2 letter console company has started figuring out how to properly work in Unicast (Finally, when the data off the console was being seen by IT companies worldwide as DNS Storms, and they could no longer claim that it was the lighting fixture's fault). In addition, most lighting rigs that are using TCP-IP are not also trying to connect to the internet (creating a lot of opportunity for packet collisions, which can COMPLETELY HOSE cue timing).
This has made it possible for a fixture to handle this data without fear of "sloppy looking cue timing", again.
So... we have started to test this again, in some of our newer fixtures.

Off the top of my head, the only fixture that I think has that feature in it's publicly released softtware is the COLORado Solo Batten...
 

danTt

Well-Known Member
So is the jury still out on the dependability of sending Art-Net or sACN directly to fixtures through a fixture-to-fixture daisy chain of Cat6 EtherCON?

Isn’t it strange that fixture have these connectors and can accept these protocols if the industry isn’t ready to accept them as a standard?
People like predictability and things they know work, especially on large shows. It's one of the reasons you still see 8way data snakes.

Personally I don't see the benefit of Ethernet as you describing, given the additional configuration necessary and potential issues. DMX is easy and solved for the most part these days, sACN is still being implemented in many different ways by many different people, I don't want to find out what elation is doing different
 

TimMc

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
So is the jury still out on the dependability of sending Art-Net or sACN directly to fixtures through a fixture-to-fixture daisy chain of Cat6 EtherCON?

Isn’t it strange that fixture have these connectors and can accept these protocols if the industry isn’t ready to accept them as a standard?
The wonderful thing about standards is having so many to pick from.
 

StradivariusBone

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DMX is just bog standard reliable and so many spaces have it hardwired and are a ways away from having a solid Ethernet infrastructure in place, I think most of the lower-mid tier products are going to cater to that. The last two fixture purchases I made have the capability to communicate via DMX or either of the Ethernet protocols, plus one had a proprietary wireless standard as well.

I think what was interesting about what Ford said regarding your question about chaining fixtures is that you're really putting the onus on the fixture in the chain to be able to parse that data. If it can handle IGMP well enough it might work, but depending on your topology, you could work yourself into a bottleneck. The nice thing about Ethernet is the ability to incorporate a clock sync as well as error correction. But it's incumbent on the manufacturers of the products you use to take advantage of those things.
 

Ford

Sr Product Manager, Chauvet Professional
I think you'll find generally that sACN is a little more robust than ArtNET... That said, we still recommend using a node to turn it into DMX for fixtures that don't accept it natively. Most manufacturers make pretty good ones now. I like our Net-X, Pathway makes great ones, too.
 

SteveB

Well-Known Member
My question is every fixture on an electric sACN capable ?, or is it some are ?. I would think if its a mix and match, you'll be needing DMX on some trusses, thus might as well just run DMX everywhere. Then just design the data disto around that, even if its 4 universes per truss in some cases. I don't think I'd want the crew having to deal with "Fixture q1,4,5,7,9 are Cat 5, remainder DMX, etc.....

As well, is the LD OK with a requirement for a particular fixtures are to be used because its sACN capable, or do they want a choice, regardless of the data connection ?
 

Ford

Sr Product Manager, Chauvet Professional
Hi Mike,
If you're going fixture to fixture with sACN, you likely won't have an issue. sACN is used on a lot of major tours and festival rigs. And, Elation has gear on a lot of those rigs.
That said, it's probably best to use a quality switch to distribute out to each Truss (or position, or whatever). Most of our fixtures have relays on the Ethernet ports, so that they can pass data even if they lose power. I am not certain if other manufacturers are doing the same.
 
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