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Newbie question regarding LED strip and DMX
Old 24th November 2019
  #1
Newbie question regarding LED strip and DMX

Hey guys,
Pardon my ignorance, I've never had any experience with lights.
I have this kind of a situation:
Electronic band (2-piece), we play live with Ableton running on a MBP, Ableton also sends midi to another laptop that runs VJ software. And also we have a stylized letter V made with LED strip hanging from our stand for the mixer, laptops etc. AT the moment the V is just constantly glowing. What I want is to make this glowing fade in and out in automated way (only white light, nothing colored).
As I understand I will need a midi to DMX or USB to DMX converter that I'll have to somehow connect to the lights. Is it correct?
Could you please recommend me some easy and budget solution to achieve this with the least amount of soldering (that's not my strong suit).
I also thought of replacing the LED strip (which in my case I attached to the wooden V profile) with a couple of LED whatchamacallits sorta tubes or sticks thingamajigs. I've seen a lot of artists use them nowadays, these thingamajigs glow, fade and flicker and can light up the whole thing or only segments of it etc. Unfortunately I've no idea what are they called, how to search for them and do they exist in a smaller format (something you'd put in a travel bag for a flight). Any input on those will be highly appreciated too.
Thanks a lot!
Old 30th November 2019
  #2
Lives for gear
 

DMX512 is just a system for connecting controllers of some sort to lighting equipment; at its core it transmits 512 different intensity levels. To connect it to an actual light fixture or LED strip or whatever, you need something at the other end that understands DMX512 and produces the appropriate power output to change the light. For conventional incandescent fixtures, that something would be a dimmer; for LED strips, it's some sort of an LED controller. Most theatrical LED fixtures do have this DMX512 receiver/controller built into the fixture, but that's not at all true for generic LED tape or similar things.

Do be aware that a USB to DMX512 device won't do much of anything if you don't have software to drive it. I don't know if Ableton or whatever VJ software you are using would have that capability or not. A sequencer should be able to drive any of the MIDI to DMX512 converters I've happened upon, and some lighting control boards have a MIDI input at least for syncing chases to the music if not for more control.

If you're thinking of incorporating additional light control into the show, getting set up with DMX512 would probably make the most sense. If this is just to control the stylized V, there might be simpler approaches. It's hard to say too much more without some technical details on your LED lights. None of this need include a great deal of soldering (though, of course, you could also find plenty of soldering-intensive DIY solutions if you wanted to improve your skills and perhaps increase your frustration....)
Old 9th December 2019
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrewE View Post
DMX512 is just a system for connecting controllers of some sort to lighting equipment; at its core it transmits 512 different intensity levels. To connect it to an actual light fixture or LED strip or whatever, you need something at the other end that understands DMX512 and produces the appropriate power output to change the light. For conventional incandescent fixtures, that something would be a dimmer; for LED strips, it's some sort of an LED controller. Most theatrical LED fixtures do have this DMX512 receiver/controller built into the fixture, but that's not at all true for generic LED tape or similar things.

Do be aware that a USB to DMX512 device won't do much of anything if you don't have software to drive it. I don't know if Ableton or whatever VJ software you are using would have that capability or not. A sequencer should be able to drive any of the MIDI to DMX512 converters I've happened upon, and some lighting control boards have a MIDI input at least for syncing chases to the music if not for more control.

If you're thinking of incorporating additional light control into the show, getting set up with DMX512 would probably make the most sense. If this is just to control the stylized V, there might be simpler approaches. It's hard to say too much more without some technical details on your LED lights. None of this need include a great deal of soldering (though, of course, you could also find plenty of soldering-intensive DIY solutions if you wanted to improve your skills and perhaps increase your frustration....)

Thanks for your input! I've actually figured some bits out so far. I am in fact planning to add more lights to the show later on, so DMX is kind of a way to go. I figured that I can use Enttec open dmx controller to output dmx512 signal out of my video laptop. I'll run freestyler to control lights, it allows midi mapping, and my video laptop receives midi via ethernet from Ableton. Piece of cake
I also found some chineese led tubes addressable via DMX (as it says in the description). The tubes only have dmx in on one side and dmx out on another. Now I'm facing a new challenge. I don't really understand how to power the things if they are powered via dmx. Obviously the usb-to-dmx box won't be nearly enough. Are there some special power adaptors that can pass dmx through?
Another problem is that chineese stuff is cheap, but there's no any info or manuals to find out what it does and how it works... Ughhhhh
Old 9th December 2019
  #4
Lives for gear
 

DMX512 in itself doesn't carry any power; those Chinese fixtures must be doing something nonstandard if powered via the DMX512 connector (or getting power from some other means, maybe a battery?). Documentation on these really cheap fixtures is often limited and distinctly less than perfectly crystal clear, and in any case should be verified before being relied upon as accurate.
Old 9th December 2019
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrewE View Post
DMX512 in itself doesn't carry any power; those Chinese fixtures must be doing something nonstandard if powered via the DMX512 connector (or getting power from some other means, maybe a battery?). Documentation on these really cheap fixtures is often limited and distinctly less than perfectly crystal clear, and in any case should be verified before being relied upon as accurate.
I've decided to look more into these things https://www.thomann.de/intl/ru/varytec_giga_bar_240_led_rgb_bundle.htm
As I understand they can be dynamically dimmed, color changed and animated via DMX, they are properly powered with a normal plug and have DMX in and out. So basically I can just get two of those, connect Enttec Open DMX to a PC, then daisy-chain those two led bars with xlr cables and be happy ever after (or not, depending on the steepness of the software learning curve, but I'm sorta tech savvy, this won't spook me).
Am I right, am I right?

Old 9th December 2019
  #6
Lives for gear
 

Basically, yes you're right.

Do be aware that DMX512 cables are not standard microphone cables; the wires have different electrical properties. For short lengths you may very well be able to get away with standard microphone cables, but it's not recommended and if pushed too far it will lead to problems. Also be sure to properly terminate the last unit in the DMX512 chain. Plenty of information on these things is available online.
Old 10th December 2019
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrewE View Post
Basically, yes you're right.

Do be aware that DMX512 cables are not standard microphone cables; the wires have different electrical properties. For short lengths you may very well be able to get away with standard microphone cables, but it's not recommended and if pushed too far it will lead to problems. Also be sure to properly terminate the last unit in the DMX512 chain. Plenty of information on these things is available online.
Thank you so much for your patience and help!
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