LED Drivers for DMX Lighting
The DMX LED driver, used in controlling DMX LED lights, has been primarily used in theatrical or stage lighting in the past, but is also now being used more and more in architectural and other lighting uses. It can now be found in everything from Christmas light strings to electronic billboards. DMX, short for Digital Multiplex, has multiple control channels, with LED drivers for DMX lighting being offered here featuring 2, 3 and 4 control channels. You'll also find multiple (2, 3 and 4) LED outputs.
Most units here are 12-24 volts DC, although several are 50-watt AC units. Drivers are available in long plastic, long metal/plastic, square metal/plastic, long metal or square metal casings.
The Basics of DMX LED Lighting
Digital Multiplex, also referred to as DMX or DMX512, is a digital communication network protocol for data reception and transmission between controllers, drivers and outlying devices used to create special lighting effects. Originally designed for stage lighting and theatrical effects, DMX lighting systems have later been introduced by designers and lighting engineers to performance venues, architectural lighting, holiday lighting installations and even home lighting.
You can find DMX LED drivers acting as a control for decorative lighting, intelligent lighting, billboards and special-effect fog machines or weather lighting.
How Do DMX LED Drivers Work?
In a DMX network, a controller transmits a signal to one or more drivers. Those drivers transmit signals to the outlying devices. Hardware-only controllers do not connect to a computer, while many controllers act as a communication bridge between a computer and an RGBW DMX driver.
Communication in a traditional DMX512 lighting system is unidirectional. Data flows from the controller to a driver and then to the device. The devices, such as lighting devices, do not send data back to the controller.
A hardware controller will have a limited number of pre-assigned addresses to use. Controllers that connect to a computer can be assigned an address within specifications for the product.
Once you assign an address to a DMX driver, you can install it on the bus system (see "How To Set Up DMX LED Lighting System" below). The device under control connects to the DMX driver.
The development of the RDM protocol has expanded the capabilities of the DMX512, making it a bidirectional network in which controllers can not only send signals to outlying devices but also receive responses.
Constant-Current Vs. Constant-Voltage DMX Drivers
A constant-current DMX LED driver is built with a range of output voltages while having a fixed output of current. Devices of multiple voltage ratings can function on the bus, as long as they maintain the proper current.
Constant-voltage DMX drivers work on a single DC output voltage. The device will maintain the voltage, no matter how much current is flowing.
How To Set Up a DMX LED Lighting System
- Determine the number of devices you will use.
- Purchase an appropriate DMX controller.
- Purchase appropriate DMX LED drivers.
- Verify the best path for bus wires.
- Install the components.
- Wire the controller, drivers and devices.
- Power up.
Begin by determining the number of fixtures or groups you need. That will help you calculate the size of the controller you need to run the system. Purchase the fixtures, taking possible wattage and bus runs into consideration.
Next, you will want to acquire your DMX controller. Hardware control will limit the number of fixtures you can control and are best for small systems. Using a controller as a communication bridge between computers and devices offers you more unique addresses that you can assign.
You will need drivers that will work with the controller. Begin by calculating the wattage for the device or group. That will help you shop for a proper DMX driver.
A major hurdle on most jobs is the path that your bus wires will take. You want to keep them away from electrical lines when possible to prevent interference. Local and national codes must also be applied.
For many, wireless products are an option. This will eliminate difficult runs and save on cable. At most, you will only have to wire for device power and the DMX driver to the device.
Use a cable that is rated to handle the run you have in mind. You will be wiring the system in a "daisy chain," meaning that the wire will go from the controller to your first driver. It will exit that driver and move to the next driver in your bus system.
Once you run the bus wire, you can return to each driver and wire it to the device or group under control. Each outlying device has instructions that provide the connection points for communication. Finally, you can run the wiring needed to power each outlying device or group.
Once you have completed your wiring, double-check your system to verify that addresses are assigned correctly and that the controller is sending a signal. Power up your DMX LED lighting system, confirming that the lighting or effects are working.
Remember That ...
We offer a wide variety of LED drivers, controllers and LED emergency ballasts. Contractors, installers and enterprising customers are welcome to shop our catalog and contact us with any questions about our products.
Please note that LED drivers sold at LL-Sales can be programmed when ordering from us. That can save you time and provide less hassle out in the field!