How Do I Address My DMX Dimmer Packs? – Learn Stage Lighting .com

How Do I Address My DMX Dimmer Packs?

So you’ve decided to re-arrange your small lighting system, but now the numbering of the dimmer packs don’t make sense.

Your lights may start of one side of the room, then jump to the other, then in the middle, and you want them to go in order again.

Or perhaps you’ve bought a new dimmer pack and it’s addressed the same as your old one.  All you’ve got to do is re-address your dimmer packs.

Image from rocksee on Flickr

The first step in addressing your dimmer packs is to go and read my guide to DMX512 if you’re not familiar with how DMX works.

For addressing your dimmer packs, you need to know how many channels your dimmers take up.

The popular amounts are 4 channels and 6 channels for truss-hung dimmer packs, and 8, 12 and 24 or more channels for dimmer rack units.  This is important because you don’t want the packs to step on each others toes, or else you’ll have 2 very different lights come on when all you wanted is one.

Then, you need to figure out what pack you want addressed to what address.  You’ll typically start with 1, and then address each pack seamlessly after that.

Next, you need to look at your dimmer pack and figure out what type of addressing mechanism you have- whether that is via dip switches or a digital LCD display.

Most newer dimmer packs have the LCD display, making it easy to just select the number you want and hit enter.

If you have dip switches, however, you need to do a little math.

You’ll see these little switches, labeled with an “ON” position, and then each switch has a number with it.  These numbers are 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128 and 256 – this is called the binary system.

In order to set an address, you add up all of the ON switches, and that’s where the dimmer is addressed to.  If you are starting from scratch, turn on the switch closest to, but below the number you want.

Then, figure out the difference via subtraction, and turn on the closest switch to that.  Keep repeating this step until you have the number you desire.

For example: say we want to address a dimmer at 36.  We would then turn on the switch labeled 32.  The difference left over is 4, so we’d then turn on the switch labeled 4, and the dimmer would be patched correctly.  Check that you did it properly before you put away your lifts or scaffolding.

A few last things to keep in mind are that you always need to consult a manual for the use of dip switches after the 256 switch, if your dimmer has them.  These may set the dimmer on automated modes, enable/disable DMX, or something completely strange, and you may need them on!

It’s also important to remember what universe you are plugged into, as it is completely normal to have a “1” on universe 1 and 2- the 2nd universe “1” may end up at 513, or at 2:1, or something like that, depending on your console’s setup.

Keep these things in mind, and you should have no problem re-addressing your lighting system’s dimmers!


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