DMX cabling is the backbone of any professional lighting setup, serving as the lifeline that connects lighting fixtures, consoles, and controllers. This knowledge base article dives into the essentials of DMX cabling, covering everything from cable types and connectors to best practices and troubleshooting tips.
DMX cabling refers to the specialized cables used to transmit DMX (Digital Multiplex) signals that control lighting fixtures in a variety of settings, including stages, theaters, studios, and entertainment venues. The goal is to establish a reliable and efficient communication pathway between the lighting console and the fixtures. Though this could look similar in nature to a Sound/Microphone cable, it is not recommended to use Sound/Microphone cable in your DMX installation.
- DMX Cable: This type of cable is specifically designed for DMX signal transmission. It features twisted pair conductors that help reduce electromagnetic interference, ensuring clean and accurate signal transfer. DMX cables usually come in various lengths to accommodate different setups.
- Ethernet Cable: While Ethernet cables can carry DMX signals over Ethernet, the Cat5/6 cable can also be used to carry standard DMX512 signal transmission as well, this technology is seen within our Storm10 device.
- XLR Connectors: The most common connectors used for DMX cabling are XLR connectors. These come in 3-pin and 5-pin configurations. The 3-pin XLR is the standard for most DMX applications, while the 5-pin version is often used in professional setups. The 5pin DMX512 standard (ANSI-ESTA E1-11 2008 R2018) pinout as followed by ENTTEC is as follows:
|Pin 1||Ground (0v)|
|Pin 2||Data -|
|Pin 3||Data +|
Note: never connect the data or cable shield to DMX Pin1.
2. RJ45 Connectors: Ethernet connectors like RJ45 can be used for DMX signals when using Cat5/6 cabling.
|Function||RJ45 pin||Core Colour (terminated to TIA/EIA-568-B standard)||DMX (XLR5)|
Best Practices for DMX Cabling
- Use Quality Cables: Invest in high-quality DMX cables to ensure reliable signal transmission and minimize signal loss.
- Avoid Excessive Lengths: Keep cable runs as short as possible to reduce the risk of signal degradation. If long runs are unavoidable, consider using a DMX splitter or booster.
- Proper Termination: Terminate the DMX signal properly by placing a 120-ohm resistor between the Data+ and Data- lines at the end of each DMX line. This prevents signal reflections that can cause interference
- Separate from Power Cables: Keep DMX cables separated from power cables to prevent electromagnetic interference.