In the past 2 years or so, I have begun setting myself up as a sort of “DJ”, playing music and bringing a light show to parties for friends in the various congregations around town. One thing that has been a bit of a roadblock was getting some uplights set up. It seemed obvious that I needed DMX control, so that I can tune the colors to the décor of the event, and then once the dancing starts I can switch over to the beat controlled color patterns of freestyler. I already have a nice DMX control setup in the PC I use to run the music. But running wires takes a lot of setup time, and is not practical on the other side of a large room, or a pavilion.
However, wireless DMX hardware is normally not cheap, and uplights that are factory equipped with wireless hardware are either expensive, or underpowered, or both. So I kept looking. And looking…..
At one point I picked up a couple of high powered par LED lights by American DJ, ( Mega Tripar Profile ) and I love the coverage and the smooth color range. However, I don't love the price! So with those in mind, I went looking for a cheaper alternative that brings most of the quality along. After much looking, I found these lights on Amazon. “GBGS Super Bright 10W x 7 Led RGBW Par Light Dmx512 Led Par Can Stage Lighting For Wedding DJ Event Party Show”
They are approximately 1/2 the price of the ADJ brand name lights. They are a little bit brighter. Their color mixing is as good. The build quality is only slightly lower, and the one part that is weaker is a part I will soon be discarding. This is the perfect find! Now, to take these excellent DMX lights and make them wirelessly controllable. I ordered one as soon as I could, and went hunting for the other components needed.
Here is the parts list:
The Light Fixture GBGS Super Bright 10W x 7 Led RGBW Par Light Dmx512 Led Par Can Stage Lighting For Wedding DJ Event Party Show”
The Voltage Regulator MP1584EN,Honbay® 6 Pack MP1584EN ultra Small DC-DC 3A power Step-Down Adjustable Module Buck Converter 24V To 12v 9V 5V 3V
The Wireless DMX Board Wireless DMX512 2.4G Led Stage Light PCB Modules Board Transmitter Receiver
Plus a soldering iron, a hot-glue gun, some electronics wire, some drill bits, a multimeter, and assorted tools.
Optional extras: an old phone charger that outputs 5v, a small plastic box, and a cat sniffing around your workbench and getting in the way.
Before we launch into the gritty detail of the process, I will spoil the ending. I got one and set it up. It was so good that I immediately got a second one and made it wireless too, getting them built and tested a week or two before a 25th anniversary party I was scheduled to handle. I used those two as color-coordinated uplights behind the couple’s table (matching the tablecloths and ribbons that the decorators were putting out) and it was FANTASTIC! And when we shifted to various kinds of dance music, a click of a mouse brought them into sync with my other lights changing with the beat. I hope my little write-up here will help somebody else to achieve this, my results have been better than I could have hoped for! Now as I prepare to write this build guide, I have just ordered two more, along with voltage regulators and transceivers to go with them.
More to come after the parts all arrive: check back in a week or so
Update: 7/24/2016, it took a bit longer than a week. I actually did the upgrade not long after I wrote the initial post. And it went great! However time and repairs on house and car got in the way of blogging……. So, now I will add in a few descriptions, and all the pictures I took during the process.
Here is the Light Fixture I started with. They are the GBGS ones I linked above. Great Lights!!
The trim ring and the top cover come off with a number of phillips head screws.
< UNPLUG THE LIGHT BEFORE YOU BEGIN>
You will have to do power-up tests, so please be careful of live circuits and do not get shocked!
And the cylidrical light diffusers simply lift out. These can go back in any order, and their orientation is fixed by the shape of the LED on the board. Simply turn them until they fit down over the LED.
A word of warning here. These LED’s are REALLY BRIGHT!!! If you look at them without the diffuser or even just turn it on while pointed at your head you will be seeing after-image for a while. It hurts.
Unscrew the LED board from the housing and lift it out of the way. DO NOT disconnect the cabling that connects the board to the circuitry below.
Instead, just let it hang over the side.
Now, Carefully plug the unit in and probe around for the 24v source.
You can see the tips of my multimeter probes here. This will supply the DC voltage to your power converter module.
Once you identify your power source, immediately unplug the light again. DONT GET SHOCKED!
I keep a set of electronics wire spools hanging from a shelf above the workbench. 22GA, stranded copper wire. Nothing special, but really handy. I used these to power my DC converter.
screw your power leads into the 24V source, and then solder them into the input side of your convertor. 24 volts is the max input that these convertors can take, but most of the fixtures I have done this conversion on are 12v internally. So we are good.
You will now need to adjust the output of the converter board to be as close to exactly 5.00v as you can get. Hold the tips of your meter into the outputs and use a small phillips screwdriver to adjust the small screw on the converter board.
It was a neat trick to take this next picture while holding the probes in place…..
5.11v is probably close enough, I actually got it to 5.03v with some more fiddling. That adjuster screw (potentiometer) is really touchy!
Next solder the power input leads from your wireless DMX board into those outputs on your converter board.
Find a spot to test fit your DC converter where it is out of the way, and then hot glue it there. remember to leave enough slack in your DMX power leads to reach.
Then make a hole in the casing for the radio Antenna and mount the fitting.
At this point, you have 5v to your DMX board, and your antenna connected. You can TAKE YOUR TOOLS AND FINGERS AWAY FROM THE HIGH VOLTAGE PARTS, and then plug the light in. You should see the DMX board light up with a steady LED in one of its channel/colors. Pressing the button on the DMX board changes it to a different channel/color with each press. It will both send and receive depending on how you connect it. If you put in a signal it will begin sending it. If you don’t, then it will go into ‘receive’ as soon as it picks up a transmitter on its same channel. In this case you will want to connect the White and Yellow DMX signal leads to the solder points on the back of the DMX-IN jack. I programmed Freestyler to run the fixture before i started, using a normal DMX cable. Then I was able to simply touch the signal cable to the solder points until I identified the right connection points. I will cover the construction of the wireless DMX transmitter unit in a separate blog post.
Once soldered in and tested, remove the power and screw the DMX-IN jack back into its place. Now you can experiment with the placement of the wireless DMX board inside the casing. You will need to drill two holes, one for the LED to show thru, and one for the button to be accessed thru.
My holes are less than perfect, but still they do the job nicely and nobody else will ever notice!
Here is the board, test fitted, working and ready for hot-glue to hold in in place.
When its running, and receiving, the DMX board LED will flash green. I took a whole series of shots trying to get it showing the LED lit, at the same time as the main colors are running. I never got that pic, but it does flash. And the lights totally work!
Here is part of that series of pictures, shot during my final testing before reassembly. I ran it thru a number of programs and changed the wireless DMX channel. Its all good!
And finally we have the finished product. In the last image you see the antenna is mounted so that when the light sits on the floor on its rubber feet, the antenna is out of the way. My plan is to use all 4 of these lights as ‘uplights’ on the floor. I am considering removing the bracket completely, but that bracket does allow it to be tilted. That bracket on the back of these lights is the only weak part of the design. It is thinner metal than the “brand name” light from American DJ, and I’m not sure it would do good supporting the hanging weight of the fixture.
Now, go make yourself some wireless DMX lights on a budget!
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