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How does DMX512 work

May 15, 2020

How does DMX512 work

The universe

512 control channels-This means you can control up to 512 different functions that are distributed across any number of fixtures, smoke or effect fixtures you are running. Because there is only one output cable, a very small DMX console can be used. Some of these control panels occupy less than a 15-inch laptop, but still control up to 512 channels of light and effects. If you need more than 512 channels, you will need to use a second universe.


How it works

Each DMX-capable luminaire is assigned an ID / address, and it uses as many channels as needed to control its function. Ideally, each fixture has a unique DMX ID / address, although any fixture with the same ID / address will respond to the same command. Each DMX fixture has one input and one output, allowing you to route DMX cables from one string to another. Just make sure to assign a discrete DMX address to each fixture for individual control.


Is it 8-bit or 16-bit?

The DMX sends an 8-bit "word" for each function, which typically provides 256 control steps per channel. For example, if the luminaire is not smooth enough, some luminaires support 16-bit mode, which will use two channels. One for coarse adjustment and the other for fine adjustment.


The console

Finally, you need a lighting console to control the luminaire, and the capabilities of the board will determine what you can do. Although the DMX Universe has a maximum of 512 features, not all consoles support this feature. Smaller consoles will most likely be limited to between 5 and 12 fixtures with a limited number of channels per fixture.