How To Program DMX Lighting | Beginner Tutorial

If you’re new to event lighting, it can overwhelming to try and learn all of the technologies involved in controlling your lights and making your event look how you want it to look.

We put this video and blog post together to try and provide helpful information for those who rent from us and are interested in the technology behind the lights that they rent.

Your first step should be to plug in your lighting console and your lighting fixture. In the video above we use an Elation Stage Setter 8 for a controller and a Chauvet FreedomPar LED light.

By default, most small controllers will activate with their blackout mode turned on. If this blackout mode is on, it means that it will not send any signal to any of your lighting fixtures. Turn off blackout mode.

When we connect the DMX controller to the LED light, it’s important to know that it’s sending 512 different channels of data down a single cable. The controller in the video can only send 16 channels at a time, but the cable itself is capable of sending much more. Each channel of data coming out of the lighting console contains a value between 0-255. 0 is off and 255 is full.

Note: You should not use a microphone cable for DMX lights. You might get away with it once or twice, but more often than not it will cause more grief than it’s worth. DMX Cable has a much different resistance than microphone cable.

Next, we want to make sure that the LED light knows what channel it should be listening to so it can receive the data that we want it to receive.

If the lighting console is sending 512 different channels and each channel is sending values between 0 and 255 – How do we get these lights to know what they’re listening for?

These lights and most LED lights have different DMX modes that need to be configured. In the video, we put both of the Chauvet FreedomPar lights into 4-channel mode.

When the light is in four channel mode, it is listening to four channels at once. In the manual for this particular light, you will see that the four channels are: Red, Green, Blue, and Amber. If we set the address to channel 1 then we can expect the following:

Channel 1: Red
Channel 2: Green
Channel 3: Blue
Channel 4: Amber

If we set the address to channel 5, then we would get:

Channel 5: Red
Channel 6: Green
Channel 7: Blue
Channel 8: Amber

For each channel, the value of 0-255 would set the intensity of it’s respective colour.

Keep in mind that you don’t want to have any overlap with addresses for your lights. If your lights are in 4 channel mode (like this example), then you want to keep your starting address at least 4 channels apart like the example above.