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Posts: 188
Reply with quote  #1 
Hello gang,

Thanks for the great discussion and resources here on getting started with DMX.  I wanted something simple, without soldering, and cheap to try it out before diving into something more serious.  Amazon to the rescue (after returning a few that didn't work). 

I was able to put together the simplest plug-and-play set-up using this:
Lightahead LA-18w DMX512 RGB LED PAR Light, (Red, Green, Blue)
$10 Prime

Connected to the PC with this:
Dmx Control Cable Usb Rs485 Cable XLR DMX512 Cable Stage Lighting Equipment Coniy Cable for SGM Dmxking Dmxcontrol Freestyler Downloadtroller cable (180cm)
$18 Prime

I installed the USB driver for the cable with this:

Then tweaked the DMXcommands.xml here

To work with a 4-channel system:
Channel 1 (Artemis index 0):  On/Off
Channel 2 (Artemis index 1):  Red
Channel 3 (Artemis index 2):  Green
Channel 4 (Artemis index 3):  Blue

Then I turned on the PAR and pressed menu once until it read d001 (the setting for 4 channel DMX).

Once I set up the DMXcommands.xml file, I loaded the game and it worked like you dream it would (I was frankly shocked).  I'm uploading my DMXcommands.xml file in case anyone wants to copy (it's the stock file with the channels changed). 

Next step is to hook up a second PAR either as a slave (repeating the same colors as the first) or as an independent (adding more channels, so that one can shine blue for shields, while the other shines red for red alert, for example).

Attached Files
zip (1.34 KB, 20 views)


Posts: 17
Reply with quote  #2 
this has been noted and the link saved, thank you for sharing

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Posts: 96
Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks for posting this... I like the looks of that USB to XLR cable, I've been using a FTDI chip between my PC and DMX board, but I've been bouncing around the idea of setting up something on fighter stations now that Artemis Bridge Tools has support for DMX by specific station.

This might be in my future as a new project!

Cincinnati Shipyards ~
There are no problems you can't fix with a large enough hammer.

--EYES ONLY: TSN Bergeron refit--

Posts: 231
Reply with quote  #4 
Just set this up. Prices weren't quite the bargain basement HaydenBarca referenced, but still good. DMX editor from Artemis Bridge Tools detected the connection as Entec Open right away. Worked like a champ. No fuss. Just needed to create a 4 channel device profile.

Of course now my overdo it guy that lives in my brain wants to see how many of these devices I can chain together. My bridge is probably going to look like a rave by the time I'm done 😉

Posts: 231
Reply with quote  #5 
Its worse than I thought. 

I have this pure DMX light running now, controlled from the same profile in Artemis DMX editor that is doing my custom animated lights via ArtNet, and I've added in triggered sounds too. This rabbit hole is getting deep. Its worse than getting sucked into a wikipedia vortex. I can't stop myself!

Thanks again for linking these up HaydenBarca!


Posts: 188
Reply with quote  #6 
Very cool!  I'd love to hear more about how you did the Art-Net set-up, if you have the time.

Yes, it definitely is a rabbit hole of possibilities.

Posts: 231
Reply with quote  #7 
Absolutely. That was one of my favorite parts about the project so far. I decided that I wanted to do animations on the WS2812B LED strips that seemed to be overly complex to do with DMX as is. And to do it with DMX native multicolor independent LEDs looked to be extremely expensive. Contrast that with the cost ofWS28012Bs and money alone makes it a no brainer. Just poses an implementation problem in that I'd need a way to turn DMX into Arduino. Additionally I didn't want to have to have power running to each light - I wanted a central power source, so I decided on cat5 network cable as the solution. (I like networks 😃 )It could easily carry the 5v needed for the strips along with the data control signal for the lights. 

The whole thing is controlled by an Arduino Mega and an old ATX computer case & power supply. The control for the lights is written in C++ for the Mega. I did this for maximum flexibility in what I could potentially do in the future, and in some ways it seemed like an easier option.

I use the DMX Editor from DaveThaler too set the DMX signals. But instead of using the DMX output to describe what the lights are doing in "DMX speak", I have each effect send a single, discrete number to indicate if an effect should be on or off. For example:
Red Alert = 1 or 0 for on or off
Impuse 100 = 100
Impulse 80 = 80

Each effect is assigned to a specific channel for DMX.

The transport to the Arduino is then done via Artnet. Was pretty simple for me to do it this way. I'm a network engineer by trade, so 5 minutes with Wireshark and I had the locations in the Artnet packet for each channel identified. Some code on the Arduino to receive the packet and decode it into an array and assign to variables on the board. 

From there its a simple call to various animation functions in the code. A tricky part here is that the Arduino can only run 1 thread, which would mean that "delay" calls to control effect speeds was not going to work at all. I eventually found a solution. I adapted the code from this example by Adafruit:

The great part about the DMX editor is that it can talk to multiple devices and as such is not limited to the specific UART chip that Artemis needs for DMX. The flexibility to use an Entec Open device is pretty huge to begin with. Being able to use several different types of devices makes it just awesome

Posts: 188
Reply with quote  #8 
Wow that's fantastic.  I understood what you described in theory but don't have the chops to pull it off myself.  If you ever feel inspired to write a tutorial I think you'll have a lot of interest.

Posts: 231
Reply with quote  #9 
I’ll do that as part of my build log posts then!

Posts: 4
Reply with quote  #10 
HaydenBarca! Thanks for the links and the file! The USB to DMX cable was great. I've been reading tutorials on how to wire my own, but This is perfect. Thanks!

Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #11 
Thanks for the post. I purchased one of the USB to DMX cables you mentioned, three of the RGB lights, and then a couple of patch cords to connect the lights. Basically I have one middle light that I use for indicating things like shields and docking, and then two side lights that indicate warp, firing beams, or firing torpedoes. It took me a little bit to figure out how to configure in the Artemis Bridge Tools, but I have it working.

For settings, the middle light is set as d001, and the side lights are d005 and d009. Then I have four channels per light for on/off, red, green, and blue.

Eventually I am hoping to expand to also use LED strips with a controller added in. I'll provide more details as I get more working.

Posts: 188
Reply with quote  #12 
These PAR lights are back in stock at $10 each.  I ordered 2 more PARs and some patch cables:

Artemis DMX Editor does a good job of making it easy to do multiple channels and effects.  I set two PARs to channel 1 (d001 on the can, channel 1 in the editor) shining left and right.  Then two additional PARs to channel 7 (d007 on the can, channel 7 in the editor) shining up and down.  This allowed me to sustain the main effects (shields up, red alert, damage, etc.) on channel 1 while adding additional effects (like nuke armed, reverse indicator, etc.) to happen simultaneously.

Add in some sounds cues and things start getting shiny.  For voice effects, I used the Android app "Voice changer with effects" to record my own voice and then put it through the cyborg filter ("nuclear torpedo launch, proceed to a safe location") or the megaphone filter ("Medical, report to the engineering bay!").

It is indeed a deep hole that you can run down here.

Posts: 188
Reply with quote  #13 
So after getting an extra pair of PAR lights, I decided to build a mounting rig behind my TV.  I don't have a room to dedicate to Artemis, so I need our living room to look normal when it's not a starship bridge.  So I built this simple stand with 2x4s to mount the PARs onto and hide behind our entertainment center.
PAR Rig.jpg 
This stand does a couple of things:
  • The par lights are mounted with carriage bolts, washers, and wing nuts, so it's easy to remove and replace the PARs by hand if needed.  It's also easier to aim them precisely to achieve different effects.
  • From the view of the photo the two lights in the middle (#2 and #3) are on one channel and show the main status (nominal, shields up, docking, etc.).  The lights on the ends (#1 and #4) are on a second channel and show supplementary info (red alert, nuke loaded, reverse activated).
  • I mounted a power strip on the stand and plugged all of the PAR lights into to it and it into the wall, so now I just need to flip the power strip on and all of the lights are ready.  Fortunately, the PAR cans remember their last setting so I don't have to reset the channels each time.
  • All of the DMX cabling is plugged in and tucked out of the way.
  • No soldering was needed at any point  :-)
All together this was $85 in parts and hardware.

From the front/bridge it looks like:

Nominal (light purple main)
Nominal at Red Alert (light purple main with red sides)
Red Alert.jpg   
Shields Up (royal blue main)
Shields Up.jpg   
Shields Up and Nuke Loaded (royal blue main with yellow flashing sides)
Nuke Loaded.jpg  

And when the game's over our living room looks normal again :-)  .  Thanks again to the forum for all of the great knowledge, resources, and tools that make this possible.

Mike Substelny

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Posts: 2,402
Reply with quote  #14 
That looks wonderful!

My experience is that white walls and furnishings work best with DMX lights. It really shows on your white ceiling.

"The Admiralty had demanded six ships; the economists offered four; and we finally compromised on eight."
- Winston Churchill

Posts: 9
Reply with quote  #15 
This is an awesome little setup 😃

Sadly, I lost the instructions that came with the Lightahead LA-18w DMX512 RGB LED PAR Light

Maybe someone has them and can scan or take a photo of the pages?

Thanks in advance,

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