18 March 2013

Can Light-O-Rama (LOR) Controllers be used with DMX Controllers?

A common question we get at HolidayCoro is from customers that would like to "extend" their LOR controllers to also control DMX controllers, such as the DMX controllers we sell.  First, a little background - both Light-O-Rama and DMX controllers use the signalling interface called RS-485 which we have covered here on our blog and on our Knowledge Base.  This is somewhat akin to two humans that can both talk to each other using their voices, as opposed to a human and a cat where there is no hope of any meaningful interchange of communications.  So, since both DMX and the LOR protocols run "over" RS-485 that means we already have the largest issue solved if we want LOR and DMX controllers to "talk" to each other, though one or the other controllers will need to "speak" the others language/protocol which is running over the RS-485 connection. 

LOR controller owners are lucky (excluding some really old LOR controllers) because their controllers are bilingual and they can understand not only the LOR protocol but also the DMX protocol.  When an LOR controller is first powered on, the controller listens on the RS-485 line for which protocol is being spoken - LOR or DMX and then the controller adjusts and starts talking that protocol.  Now that doesn't mean that the LOR controller can talk both protocols at the same time - it can only talk one protocol at a time once it is powered up.  So, this means that you have to pick one of the two protocols but not both - mostly.  From one output "dongle" you can only output one protocol (the LOR dongles can output DMX and the LOR protocol) but if you are using LOR S3, you can output both protocols on two different dongles at the same time.  So your options if you want to mix DMX controllers into your existing LOR network are:
  • One dongle outputting only DMX - In this arrangement, you will run your LOR controllers in DMX mode when you are running your show.  DMX controllers can be attached to your exisiting LOR controllers by making a cross over cable (LOR and DMX use different CAT5 pins for data output.)  This method does require the cross over cable(s) and does require adjustment to your sequences to change from the LOR to DMX protocol method of addressing individual channels.
  • Two dongles - one with DMX, one with LOR - In this arrangement, you will leave your exisiting sequences alone and you will run two networks with seperate cables - one from each dongle and the two networks will not mix.  This method does not require changes to your exisiting LOR sequences or remembering to use the right cross over cables but does require the addition of a second dongle, such as the ActiDongle ($49.)  This is the easiest method if you already have a large LOR setup and just want to add in some DMX controllers to your display. 
Which option you choose really depends on how much adjustment you want to make if you have exisiting LOR sequences as each sequence will need to be adjusted to map from the Controller/Channel system used for addressing in LOR's protocol to the Channel address used in DMX and this can sometimes be a little complex.  If you have just one LOR controller and plan to move only towards DMX controllers in the future, you may find it easier to just talk DMX as opposed to the mixed network.

Additional information:
  • For detailed information on interoperation of DMX controllers with LOR controllers, see our Knowledge Base:  http://www.holidaycoro.com/kb_results.asp?ID=117 
  • For information on how to wire up DMX to LOR crossover cables, see our Knowledge Base.
  • The above does not apply to LOR wireless links, only wired connections. 
  • To use DMX with LOR S3, you will require the purchase of S3 Advanced edition. 
  • We do not recommend the use of the iDMX-1000 LOR-to-DMX protocol converter unless you have a very specific need for it.
  • For information on how to map DMX addresses on LOR controllers, see this LOR document.

David
HolidayCoro.com

4 comments:

  1. Which way would you recommend for DMX lights with moving heads?

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    1. Either solution is ok - it really comes down to how you wish to do your wiring or how your other DMX controllers are placed in order of the LOR controllers.

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  2. I have physical restrictions that would make running Cat5 (or XLR) between my show computer and the specific controller in question very challenging. I am using proprietary Light-O-Rama EasyLightLinker units to transmit LOR data wirelessly, and it works fairly well. However, I have one DMX element that I will be adding in this area.

    Is there any way that you know of to use the ELL unit to transmit DMX to the LOR controller, so that I can daisy-chain the DMX element off of the LOR unit? I know there are wireless DMX solutions, but I don't have an abundance of time on my hands.

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    1. You'd have to direct that question to LOR to determine if their ELL is purely just RS485 or if there is something at the LOR protocol level running over RS485.

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