For beginners in stage lighting, one of the ideas that can be baffling is how to wire up all of your fixtures. Back in the “old days” you simply ran control cable to your dimmers, and power out to your conventional fixtures.
Today, however, this all gets to be a little more complicated! Most if not all fixtures in a modern lighting rig require DMX signal, and so it can get a little confusing when you’re trying to manage it all.
Check out the video below for the basics, and then we’ll talk go a little deeper into detail:
Video Notes and Reminders:
- Daisy-Chaining – When you wire fixtures together, with each fixture looping out of the previous fixture to create a line of fixtures connected back to the console.
- 32 Fixture Rule – DMX only allows you to connect up to 32 fixtures in a single daisy chain for signal strength. Sometimes, depending on the fixtures and cable length, this number is less. As Nook mentioned in the comments, it’s a good idea to plan never going over 16 fixtures – a rule I think I’m going to stick to in the future!
- Splitting DMX – To get around the 32 fixture rule, you can split your DMX signal and create multiple daisy-chains. Splitting your DMX also can help you make your cable runs cleaner, and isolates different runs of fixtures. Check out my favorite DMX splitter here.
A DMX splitter can also protect your console in the event that you connect a faulty light up to it! I recently was talking with another lighting designer, and he shared with me a story of a client who fried a $15,000 lighting console because they hooked it up to a cheap LED fixture.
The LED fixture was not a name brand, and something went wrong internally, sending voltage down the DMX line and killing the DMX chip in the console. Not cool, and an inexpensive DMX splitter would have taken the heat instead of the console had they used one!
- Remember that you can’t use 3 and 5 pin DMX jacks on fixtures as a split!
- Multiple Universes – If your console has multiple universes, you can “zone” your lighting rig by different universes to stay organized keep your wiring simpler. DMX splitters can’t span multiple universes, though some allow you to input 2 universes and choose which ports you want to assign to each output.
I hope you really enjoyed that video, and that it helps you to create great lighting. There’s nothing worse than hitting a technical hurdle in your lighting!
Like Our Free Content?
For the Very Best Learn Stage Lighting Has to Offer....