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In this tutorial you will learn the meaning of the DMX start channel and the DMX address.
The DMX address of a fixture is a combination of the assigned DMX universe and the assigned DMX channel. This DMX channel needs to be set up on the fixture itself (the universe is usually automatically assigned by using the specific DMX line) as well as in MADRIX. Using the right DMX address is very important for DMX fixtures to function correctly.
The DMX start channel also refers to the DMX channel mentioned above. It is the DMX channel where the fixture will start to react. In DMX you can only setup the start channel of a fixture and you will have access to all the other channels of the fixture. To change the assignment of a fixture, it is only necessary to set the first DMX channel anew. All other channels will be changed automatically.
Usually, all fixtures have a unique DMX address so that they all can be controlled individually.
Note: 1 DMX universe includes 512 DMX channels. That means you can control a maximum 170 RGB fixtures (if each fixture needs 3 channels). If you need more channels, it is necessary to use additional universes.
Using Unique DMX Addresses
For example, we want to set up the DMX start channel for a generic RGB fixture to channel 1. Now, we have access to the red color channel with DMX channel 1, to the green color channel with DMX channel 2, to the blue color channel with DMX channel 3.
Note: The DMX start channel of a fixture should be an unassigned DMX channel in the specific DMX universe.
Note: It is also possible to set up more than one fixture to the same DMX start address. But in that case, you cannot control every fixture individually.
The Last Usable Start Channel For A Fixture
The last usable DMX start channel for a fixture can be calculated as follows:
(512 available channels) - (DMX channels required by the fixture) + (1).
For instance, if a fixture uses 5 DMX channels:
Imagine we have an empty DMX universe and we want to patch two fixtures. The first fixture is set up in 4-channel mode (for instance, an RGBW fixture) and the second fixture is a 3-channel RGB light.
The DMX start channel of the first fixture is 1, because the patch is empty and usually the DMX start channel of the fixture is the next, free channel in the universe. Now, the first DMX channel controls the first channel of the fixture, the second DMX channel controls the second fixture channel, the third DMX channel controls the third fixture channel, and the fourth DMX channel controls the fourth fixture channel.
The DMX start channel for the first fixture is 1.
The next free DMX channel is channel 481. This is the new DMX start channel of the first fixture.
Congratulations! You have learned to calculate the correct DMX start channels for your fixtures.
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