Jump to content
Light-O-Rama Forums

How to incorporate DMX lights into a show


Recommended Posts

Hello!  I have been an avid light o rama user now for the past 5 years making Christmas shows as well as Halloween shows for the neighborhood block party each year.  The past two years I have incorporated 8 CCRs to the roof line and feel I have really set the bar high and each year try to do something more.  This year I wanted to incorporate some DMX 512 lights.  I know you need to buy a special controller to connect the light to the light-o-rama boxes, but I am very much so shooting in the dark here on how to do anything with DMX.  How do you program the lights to move, change color (the ones I am looking at are 3 color LEDs) etc.  Do you use the same software you use to make light shows in the past? do you need new software?


 Like I said, I have no idea on how to do anything with DMX, but have years of LOR experience.  Any help in this would be awesome!! We put on a show for all the kids in the neighborhood each halloween (about 50-60) and since I feel this will be a huge undertaking, I am hoping to learn this now so I am not rushing this fall.  Appreciate the help guys!!!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Using DMX is not as hard as you think. You would use same software but just make sure it's the Advance. Sequencing would be like what you did for the CCRs if they are RGB lights. DMX devices like moving heads is a bit different. Several chs for the one device. To connect to DMX devices or lights, there are several options....iDMX, Enttec Pro, E1.31, ect. Since your unsure, I'll start with the easiest options.

Easiest is an LOR iDMX. It's a single universe which has 510chs. You assign it a Unit ID just like the LOR controller you have. And you can see it via the HU and test your channels. The output of the iDMX is just a DMX signal only which you would connect to your data input devices and/or lights. You likely need to inject power to these lights.

The Enttec Pro or compatible would be next easiest. Also a single universe. You can't see it in the HU nor test it. The setup is a little different but not to complicated. You could use a different software to test like Xlights but run the sequence is S3. Output is the same...only a DMX signal and inject power to the lights

There is E1.31 which a different animal...I just learn this myself. You use the Ethernet port of the PC to connect to E1.31 controllers. These controllers are very heavy on the channel count and several universe from one controller. Setup is different, can't test with HU but sequencing like CCRs. There is so much more to explain and don't want to complicate too much. If you interested in E1.31, there is a section here on it.

Edited by CLD Kevin
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites


mmais68569 / CLD Kevin - thanks for the videos and the post on which to use!! that first one seemed pretty straight forward.  Just connect the DMX lights, i am leaning towards the light-o-rama iDMX, via ethernet and then go in and add RGB and you are set on controlling it.  Now, is there a way to take advantage of the lights being able to move?  Would love to make it move up and down and left and right!
Sax-  Awesome forum read.  I have made it through about half so far, then started to get lost so I will def need to sit down and fully research and read it.  What confuses me so far is you talk about "one DMX universe".  Not sure what that is about?  Also, the flood lights you wanted to do...can you briefly tell me what you ended up using? (like I said, havent finished reading the entire forum post so I appologize if it is in there).  What I had to do last year was use 8 red standard home depot floods, 8 green and 8 blue to do my show.  That eats up 24 channels.  If there is an easier way to just use one bulb and control its color, that would be amazing.  I know LOR sells the those color cosimc floods, but they are so expensive and I cant afford to by 8 of those.  So not sure if there is a cheaper alternative.
Here is a link to my last halloween show with all the kids as well as my christmas show dry run to kinda get an idea on the floods


this one may have to view on computer due to copyright for the song.  or if on an iphone, the jasmine app allows you to still watch it


you guys all rock!!! Amazing how much help there is from everyone doing LOR and enjoyment we all get :)  Thanks again!!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the dmx world everything goes off universes. The dongle and the iDmx from LOR each control one universe. One universe is 512 channels. Each channel can be anything from a light, a motor or a set of motors in the case of say a dj rotating light.

In most cases, the channels are simply lights. For an RGB light it will be 3 channels. Now, you can share channels if you wish so you can have more than one light per channel. But those lights will be controlled as one light. This is useful if you want to put floods on the house and it takes 3 lights but you want to control them as only 1 light.

So the universe is what limits how many lights you can have. 512 channels is a lot if you are controlling large elements. For example, entire sets of lights in a tree. Maybe I have 100 bulbs in that tree. If they are RGB lights that would be 3 channels.

But, if I want to control each bulb in that tree, and again it is 100 RGB bulbs then that is now 300 channels I am using.

The first example is commonly called dumb lights. Second example is smart lights or pixels.

In my write up I was only controlling dumb lights. So one universe works perfect for that. I chose to go dmx with dongle because that is cheaper than an iDmx from LOR AND I run my show from my PC. The thing about DMX you have to remember is that you need the dongle device that converts the data from PC to DMX AND a controller. If you don't control your show from your PC then you can't use a dongle. The dongle plugs into a USB port.

RGB flood lights from LOR are not as expensive as the wall washers were. $30 a piece. They work using a DC card from LOR or on a DMX controller. LORs DC card controls 24 channels and runs direct off the LOR network. This means you can just daisy chain the DC card network into the LOR AC controllers network. No dongle needed. If you have a limited amount of RGB devices this is an option.

LOR sells the 8 floods and 1 controller package with a discount and in the summer sale it will be discounted more. I use LOR floods, china floods and holiday coro floods. Each has a use and place in my yard. My favorite is the LOR floods. Compact and bright.

For me, the dmx dongle method worked well. Cheap DIY route that works flawlessly in the LOR s3 controlled show. I posted all the items I used and am still using now there in the post I linked but this year I have added pixels so I can control the colors of lights in the trees to make it more traditional looking. That is a different story though.

If you feel comfortable doing limited DIY then the dmx dongle method is the most cost effective. If you want plug and play, the LOR DC card or iDmx is your solution.

If you want to control individual lights, then you would want to look at e1.31 stuff which isn't as scary as it sounds. It is just a different card you plug your PC into to control the lights. There is no dongle for this, and the sans device e682 card can actually act as a dongle. But, this is more DIY than not. So you will most definitely need to be able to do some DIY.

Keep asking questions. I will tell you what I know.

Good luck,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lots if options. I chose e1.31, no singles just right out if a router. It was more of a challenge learning e1.31 than I thought. You can do it but it will take some reading. I chose the sandevices 6804. Its perfect for what u needed, 4 outputs but you can stack pixel stings for up to 12 universes in uni cast 7 in multi. So I will be running 2 universes and 750 pixels from one controller. That is very lite compared to what the controller can handle. Hope I gave you some more help and not confuse you

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just getting home now at 3am from work, so I will reply in much greater detail tomorrow.  First off, THANK YOU for all that guys, especially you Sax.

So far, these are some lingering questions.  You say dongle, what are you specifically referring to?  You say if you connect directly to the computer, that it will work.  I do run from my computer so curious about it.  Right now I go from USB to the RJ45 adapter to ethernet to the LOR boxes.  Where would the dongle fit in?  Does it make it a dumb setup where all my DMX lights would be the same color or can I still do smart?


This is the first piece I have ordered:



those do not move.  So I think it would be straight forward to add from what I have read from you all.  

I am looking to also add something like this:




with the moving head.  Still lost on how to make it move, does that limit if I can use a dongle, or iDMX, or the e1.31

James- Slightly confused, I am still very much so a rookie in this DMX protocol.  I will try to research some more tomorrow on what you were getting at.  



I will add more tomorrow, but wanted to get some more questions out in the mean time.  I didnt realize the floods were 30 dollars, for some reason I thought they were much higher.  I will look into that tomorrow as well.



Basically, this is what I am trying to do.


1-Control DMX LED spot lots that do not move and are RGB (4)  ebay link above

2- Control DMX LED moving lights (2) Monoprice or any ones recommendation 
3- Researching best way to do RGB floods onto house instead of using 36 separate RGB flood lights I have in the past.


if anyone has specific products that I should look at, please let me know!


Thanks everyone!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do a search on Youtube.  You can find just about anything there.  I remember seeing vids on how to rotate and elevate the same lights you bought by adjusting channel intensity in LOR sotware.  Too bad I didn't save the links.....  :(

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

To add dmx it is similar to adding the LOR. Dmx will be a seperate network. You will keep the LOR network as you have it setup. Then you will add the dongle to a USB port on your PC and then you will have a seperate dmx network output. Basically the LOR device is a dongle too.

The items you are looking at are not your typical holiday lights items. These are what I classify as the next step up from normal lights.

They will all work but it will be a touch more complicated. And maybe a touch more pricey. But to control them in LOR it is pretty straight forward.

Once you get your dmx network setup then you set your channels up in LOR sw just like you normally do (add channel, assign the channel as dmx to the correct universe and channel instead of LOR,unit, channel) and then you will control the lights with intensities. All the information on what dmx channel does what should be in the Manual of the purchased light.

For the static lights it will say something like channel 1,2,3 are light colors....channel 4 is macro such and such. Then it will show numbers between 1-255.

For the colors, simple enough. It is typically r,g,b and the intensities of each channel will be the color. I would make that an RGB channel in LOR sw and use the color fade tool.

The macros, well that will be an intensity to do some special thing. The manual will tell you what it does at what intensity. That makes programming easier in most cases. But intensity 1 looks similar to intensity 10 in LOR sw so you have to be careful. If you hover your Mouse over a line in the seq editor it tells you the intensity. But if you are ever in doubt just add the intensity again. I save my common intensities to quickly use them.

For the rotating device, same thing except some channel will be to move the head. Intensities are your friend for these devices.

Now, usually these lights come with built in controllers. You will be able to assign the starting channel and the complete number just follow. If you assign it as 1 and there are 5 channels in the device then the next usable channel shoul be 6. The universe would be whatever you set the dongle up in LOR. Typically it would be 1 but you can make it whatever you wish.

So all you need to do is get the DMX signal from the dongle to the device. . This causes a slight issue because coming out of most dongles is cat 5 cable. These lights you are buying use the 3 pin microphone jack style connector/ cable (xlr jack in think it is called). The LOR iDmx device is truly plug and play for this setup. You would then only need to add cables because the iDmx outputs this style of jack.

For my setup I use cat 5 cable to control my dmx devices. Cheaper cables for sure. And there are ways you can still do this but you would have to find cat 5 to the 3 pin xlr cable or create them yourself.

I don't have any experience in using dj dmx devices. I use intensities for the CCR macros. I have looked at dmx fog machines that are similar but as far as rotating laser lights, that is just a dream for me. Those devices would fail in the first year due to rain without water protection for me in Oregon. So that would raise the cost and create plastic protective bubbles in the yard that would make the display look...well make it not look the way I want it too.

One person on these forums that I have seen using this stuff is ken Benedict. Search his posts and you will gain more knowledge.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

As previously stated Sax, Thank you sooo much for all that!!!  I ended up getting sick today so have been dozing in and out of it with medicine and don't want to try to tax my brain right now :)  But I did read through what you said...

Real quick though, you said my lights are a touch more complicated and pricey.  Do you have any recommendations on products?  I haven't purchased the moving LED lights yet, so still open to hear about something easier or better!!  I am alittle embarrassed to admit I have never used a macro or know how to.  that question I will save though for now haha.

In regards to fog machines, I was able to use a electric relay to control the fog machines last year.  Very easy to do and when I sent the signal to the LOR box to whatever channel I had it plugged into, it activated the relay and shot off fog.  So basically in S3  when I wanted fog, I turned the "light" on and out came fog.  The fog machine it self has to be plugged in at all times obviously.  If you are interested, I can help you with that :) The theme this year is Pirates of the Caribbean and I plan on building a small cannon with a light inside as well as a hidden fog line. 

Anyways, thanks again!  Please let me know of any better RGB LED lights you know about!!! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also, real quick.  Those floods you recommended, it comes as a package of 8 with the controller card.  How do you wire in the floods? is it straight forward???  Everything I used so far has been the traditional plug in to 16 channels and the CCRs have there own small included box that just is connected via cat5.  They dont show the end of the cable on the flood so not sure how to do it.  Also, is there a box for the controller you can buy?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you are using USB to RJ45 adapter, then this is the 'dongle' you need http://store.lightorama.com/rjtoxlr3fe.html


The 8 pack RGB floods are very easy to assemble to the controller.  They dont come with a box but I used this one http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006EUHT2W/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 for the controller and power unit, works great.

Edited by doctorp61
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The link I provided above lists everything I purchased. Make it down to my post in that thread and I have a list with links and such.

I use this for my dc cards and for my CCR I use the cg-500 from same site:


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey everyone! Sorry, been out sick for the past week!!  I am just finally kicking it and getting caught up in all these replies.  I really appreciate all the help in this!! I am now waiting for some of the DMX cables to arrive and then I can start testing.  Ken, your video was absolutely amazing!!! Thanks for taking the time to record that. 

I guess this is where I am confused now.  I have the lights and cables and how to program in S3, but now whats the best way to connect it.  The iDMX1000 costs 300+ dollars, but the dongle that doctorp61 linked to says USB to DMX and costs 10 dollars...What am I not seeing here...?  Whats the benefit of the iDMX1000 over the 10 dollar dongle?  The show will be controlled from my computer.  


Thanks again all!!!  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have an iDMX and run my regular DMX Universe from it. I have had it for 7-8 years.

First off, I only scanned this thread, so if I missed something....

The $10 unit you mention from doctor61 is not a DMX dongle. It only converts from RJ45/Cat5 to XLR, nothing else. These are handy for sure, if you need to gender bend the connectors/cables. I keep quite a few male/female versions of these on hand:


You can find them cheaper than listed above.

You need to use an USB485 to control your DMX universe, or some other form of dongle, such as DMX King, Enttec/Enttec Pro etc... (if you do not go the way of the iDMX)

There are only 2 advantages with the iDMX. First, it will sit inside your LOR network and branch out to your DMX Universe. Not a great reason to have it.

Second and more important, as Ken's video pointed out, within the Hardware Editor you get a DMX Console to test and refine your DMX measurements to then take those values and plug them into your sequences.

I am not familiar with any other way to from within the LOR environment that you can actively control a DMX mover. That is not to say one does not exist. Another option to get your measurements is to buy an inexpense DMX Console (I have one of these 2, again for remote testing and measurement where I don't want to take my laptop outside). DMX Movers are critical to understand those measurements, (what is the start point of a pan, stop point of that pan, same with tilt, etc...). If you move your light by just a few feet for any reason, you have to re-measure those extents, (and change them in your sequences too)

Even new, the iDMX is $260 plus shipping. From time to time, iDMX's get sold by users who do not need them anymore for a nice discount, watch the forums. LOR will stand behind the iDMX and fix it if anything should go wrong. So I guess the latter is a 3rd reason.

I use the iDMX in my show. I have numerous other dongles, mainly Enttec Pro's to play with and at some point if I need to expand, I have those handy.

BTW nice video Ken, first time I looked at that, there is another thread I need to point someone to, to check that out.

Just as an FYI, I have some DMX material on my How To page on my website.

Edited by zman
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have what I used listed in that post I linked above. I use the holiday coro dongle. It is based on the entec pro and it shows up as such in my computer. The holiday coro version was just less expensive. At $50 it won't break the bank.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...