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Not sound, but lights... DMX from a laptop or tablet?

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Not sound, but lights... DMX from a laptop or tablet?

Postby MarkOne » Thu Feb 15, 2018 5:05 pm

So, full disclosure. What I know about DMX lighting would fit on a very small sheet of paper.

I am looking at controlling a church lighting system from a laptop (or potentially an iPad)

Currently the rig has around 12 parcans, a couple of fresnels and a couple of pinspots on 4 DMX dimmer packs connected to a simple 12 fader DMX controller.

Soon we want to add some RGB LEDs to add colour washes against walls, and so forth.

I'm guessing I need a USB-DMX interface and see that they range from around £30 upwards.

Anything I should avoid? Any recommendations?

Also recommendations for software would be useful too
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Re: Not sound, but lights... DMX from a laptop or tablet?

Postby resistorman » Thu Feb 15, 2018 5:29 pm

I use this personally, and I also installed it in a theater where visiting light people don’t care so much for it, but everyone else like sound people and musicians like it quite a bit. It comes with good software, which is what you’re really paying for.

https://www.chauvetdj.com/products/xpress-512/" target="phpbbpopup
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Re: Not sound, but lights... DMX from a laptop or tablet?

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:08 pm

I have their 'Student" model, cost only £15 and the software is a free download (and fully functional). As it's designed for students to learn the system it is only a single universe and has a 3 hour limit, then you need to unplug it from the computer and replug it (can't remember if you need to restart the app but I'm sure a computer reboot is not required) then you get another 3 hours.

Even if this is not suitable for the installation it is well worth considering for learning the software (something I haven't real done but I'm a sound guy and Lampies are from another planet IMHO..... :beamup: ).
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Re: Not sound, but lights... DMX from a laptop or tablet?

Postby Wonks » Thu Feb 15, 2018 9:50 pm

I was asking about something similar about 2-3 years ago and was recommended using this: https://secure.chamsys.co.uk/magicdmx
I was looking at other systems from the main stage lighting manufacturers but they generally looked like they only supported their own products (some may have been more flexible but it wasn't obvious to me from the descriptions), which is fine if you're only going from products from one supplier, but you've probably bought a mixture of kit, so you are better off going for something more generic, even though there's more setting up to do and not just selecting a particular lamp from a pull-down menu.

I never did get around to getting the Chamsys software as their DMX interfaces were unavailable at the time and then I lost interest.
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Re: Not sound, but lights... DMX from a laptop or tablet?

Postby MarkOne » Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:27 pm

Thanks for the suggestions guys...

I've taken the plunge (well all 12 quid's worth inc vat!) on a Chamsys MagicDMX Basic.

It only has 1 universe, and will time out after 5 hours when you have to re-patch the device and reboot the software... I can't think of a time in our situation where it would ever be on for 5 hours (!)

And the software runs in demo mode, so not all the bells and whistles will be available
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Re: Not sound, but lights... DMX from a laptop or tablet?

Postby Wonks » Sun Feb 18, 2018 6:45 pm

But it's enough to give you an idea whether it works for you and you then want the full package.
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Re: Not sound, but lights... DMX from a laptop or tablet?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Feb 18, 2018 6:52 pm

MarkOne wrote:Thanks for the suggestions guys...

I've taken the plunge (well all 12 quid's worth inc vat!) on a Chamsys MagicDMX Basic.

It only has 1 universe, and will time out after 5 hours when you have to re-patch the device and reboot the software... I can't think of a time in our situation where it would ever be on for 5 hours (!)

And the software runs in demo mode, so not all the bells and whistles will be available

I stand corrected, regarding the 5 hour curfew but the website implies the MagicQ software is un-crippled. I'll try to have another look at mine later.
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Re: Not sound, but lights... DMX from a laptop or tablet?

Postby MarkPAman » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:36 am

Sam Spoons wrote:I stand corrected, regarding the 5 hour curfew but the website implies the MagicQ software is un-crippled. I'll try to have another look at mine later.

Given that it's a simple one universe output dongle, all features are available. So there's no DMX input, no MIDI etc, but other than that, it's the full, very powerful, package.

IMO it's not something you can download and just start using, the learning curve is very steep, and it's really optimised for touch screen operation, rather than with a mouse.

There's lots of "how to" videos on YouTube of course - though quite a lot seem, to me at least, to come from the angle that you know all about programming a lighting desk, but have never used a computer before :headbang:

Having seen it used by people who know what they're doing, it's easy to operate once programmed properly, but despite many many hours of "playing", I just never seem to get it to behave as I want it to.
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Re: Not sound, but lights... DMX from a laptop or tablet?

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:33 am

A very fair assessment Mark, much as I remember it when I tried to learn it. The lampies who used it on gigs considered it amongst the best so it may well be worth spending some time with it.

The alternative for the OP is a cheap DMX controller but that's a fairly considerable price hike. When I bought my Chamsys Basic it was far and away the cheapest way to get some DMX control.

There are others available now though and maybe with less 'difficult' software. I will try a couple of demo's, something drag and drop would be nice..... :D

[url=Stairville DMX Joker]Stairville DMX Joker[/url]
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Re: Not sound, but lights... DMX from a laptop or tablet?

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:11 pm

For the benefit of anybody else following this thread (the OP having already bought the Chamsys Basic) the DMX Joker software is available as a demo, there is a link on the Thomann product page right at the bottom. It looks a little friendlier than the Chamsys Magic Q but, presumably, has somewhat fewer features. Since I only have 8 x LED PAR64s and, maybe, a couple of mini moving heads in the future it might do what I need if I don't get to grips with Magic Q.
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