Control/Dimming Seeking DMX distribution solution

LBCSeattle

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We are looking at utilizing a large number of digital LED tape strips as part of the set for a musical. We want to control them on a pretty granular level (6" segments with 3 emitters per segment). We know we can control them with DMX, but we will require multiple DMX universes (8 I think, but that is not settled yet.) There is currently only one DMX run from the booth to the stage (in addition to the one to the dimmers). We do not want to have to run 8 separate dmx lines from the console (Eos or similar) since each run would be a couple hundred feet minimum. That's a lot of time and $ in labor and cable. I would like to "bundle" multiple universes so we can minimize the runs from FOH. Ideally I picture a single run (ethernet?) from console to backstage, then split to the different locations

I have read a little about ACN and ArtNet, and understand that they are capable of handling many universes, but I have never used them, and I don't have a clear picture of how to put such a network together: What do I need (hardware and software) to make this happen? I am a capable stage electrician, but not a computer networking geek, so please speak English :)
 

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SteveB

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If you think of 1 train on 1 track, that's a single universe of DMX on a single cable. If you stay with DMX you need multiple cables/tracks.

DMX over Ethernet is multiple trains on the same track at the same time, as multiple DMX lines (32, 64, etc...) on a single Cat 5 cable.

The console converts the single or multiple DMX universes to the protocol of choice, sACN, ArtNet, etc....

At the device end will be some "nodes" or Gateways that convert that e-net protocol to outputs of DMX (or input as that's what nodes/gateways are capable of and why they are so useful, though expensive). Different console manufacturers use their own proprietary e-net protocol to communicate between the console and the nodes/gateways.

ETC Net3 is sACN so a lot of consoles can theoretically use sACN and have ETC Net 3 Gateways to break out the DMX universes where you need them. It's really your choice as to which console you use and then if there are available Nodes/Gateways for that desk. As example, to get 8 or more universes in an ETC desk you would need at minimum a Gio desk, which can control 4 to 16 universes (Ion can only run 6 universes - or 3,072 addresses). Note as well that the Gio has 2 DMX ports on the rear of the desk so you can send to that local DMX right out of the desk. An Eos does not have local DMX and you would need a node/gateway somewhere in system to get that local DMX (to dimmers, as example).

Here's a basic line drawing showing a system that would do what you require. Substitute you console and gateways as per your preference.

Note that in this (and typical systems) there would be an Ethernet switch between the console and the gateways, as you cannot daisy chain the e-net cabling. As well, the gateways (at least ETC models) can use Power-over-Ethernet to inject the operating voltage required by the gateway, as opposed to needing local AC power and a wall wart to power up the gateway, thus the e-net switch is a PoE model.
 

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danTt

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Chances are you will also want opto-splitters for each universe, so that you don't have to worry about daisy-chaining things together all over the stage. I'd definately recommend pulling a "spare" ethernet line when you run it, so that if something breaks you can just swap cables, and not worry about rerunning a 200' cable in a time crunch. Many shops rent prebundled 2x ethernet snakes for just this purpose.
 

jhochb

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Ft Lauderdale FL
Good Morning LBC

Do you really need 8 UNIVERSES? Over 4000 DMX addresses
Or do you need to go in 8 different directions? That would be an OPTO-SPLITTER .

Simple over view:
If you have an EOS/ION console it's not hard. You would run a CAT5 cable from the console to the stage.
Into a PoE network switch ( Power over Ethernet ). If you don’t have a PoE switch you will need a P/S at each GATEWAY.
From the switch you run a line to an ETC GATEWAY. A portable GATEWAY can give you 2 universes.
There are also 4 port GATEWAYS
You set the GATEWAY to the universes you need. You will need ETC GCE ( gateway config. Editor )
GCE would be the only software you'd need. the EOS/ION does everything else.
Then run your DMX to the LEDs
If you’re renting, they can help you set up the system / gateways.
It sounds harder than it is. There’s plenty of help here & at ETC.
 
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derekleffew

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Is your console sACN / Art-Net capable? In addition to the existing DMX512 cable currently going to the dimmers, you'd add a CAT5 cable from the console to a convenient location backstage where an eight-port (or two four-port nodes connected to an Ethernet switch) node would output multiple 5pin XLR DMX universes.

Here's a thread from another forum with some node suggestions: The LightNetwork . I suspect your choices will be limited to what your friendly local dealer has available in their rental stock (although nodes, being small and lightweight, are inexpensive to ship).

... We do not want to have to run 8 separate dmx lines from the console (Eos or similar) since each run would be a couple hundred feet minimum. That's a lot of time and $ in labor and cable. ...
Yes, it is an expense, but may not be more than the rental cost of the nodes. You might look into the rental of an 8-pair DMX snake instead.

Wait, just noticed that you said "Eos or similar." Eos does not output any DMX directly, so you'll have to have one node (and network switch) for the line to the dimmers in the booth, as well as the one(s) on stage. Not very many consoles are coming with eight DMX outs anymore. After four outputs, everyone automatically assumes you're either a) using a network to distribute the data, or b) using distributed processing (NSP s, NPU s, DP-8000 s, etc.).

EDIT: Man, I'm slow.:(
... I know of no console that has 8 outputs onboard with the exception of the Avo gear.
Not willing to take the time to look up the specs for certain, but... GMA, GMA2, Maxxyz, Hog3...
 
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danTt

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I did take the time :)

MA2 Full size: 6 outputs.
MA1 Full size: 4 outputs.
Hog: Looks like no outputs? All DP*000
Maxxyz: 8!

Ethernet distribution came into popularity about the same time as devices that require lots and lots of addresses, it seems, so there was no real need to manufacture a device that had such a large amount of local dmx outputs.
 
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derekleffew

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I knew if I trolled someone would do my homework for me.;)

So LBCSeattle, it looks like you're going to be entering the exciting world of lighting network data distribution, whether you want to or not. It sounds like you're renting, so make the lighting shop do all the work in configuration and so forth. But have an understanding of what's going on, just in case.

It's all very system/manufacturer dependent; certainly not plug-n-play the way DMX is. True, full, ACN is/was supposed to fix all that.
.
 

LBCSeattle

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Seattle area
Thanks for the input, everyone. Lots of good info.

As it turns out we are going a different route because the LED materials were too much $. We are using fewer LEDs and an LED controller that works as a node; the console will just be triggering a laptop running ETCs PixelToy software (like for a media server) connected to the LED controller.
 

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