Power and control

Theatrical lanterns use a great deal of power and this needs to be controlled safely.  generic lighting fixtures are plugged into dimmer packs like the one below.  this can be either patched using flying leads.  This is useful where there are more lighting circuits than dimmable channels. The circuits being used are plugged in in a similar manner to an old fashioned telephone exchange board. Dimmers can also be hard wired so that each circuit has a dedicated dimmer associated with it. intelligent lighting is plugged into “hot” or undimmed power.  it has mechanical dimming built in.  the dmx lead is attached directly to the fixture rather than the dimmer unit.

Control surfaces come in many different shapes and sizes.  They can be very simple with two sets of sliders(2 preset) desks to fully computerised monsters that can control many thousands of channels.  they can even be run from pc’s with break out dmx or ARTnet boxes.


DMX512 is a standard for digital communication networks that are commonly used to control stage lighting and effects. It was originally intended as a standardized method for controlling light dimmers,  It can control up to 512 channels through one 3 core cable similar to a microphone cable. However the plugs are usually 5 pin though 3 pin options are available. THis is referred to as a dmx universe. advanced desks can controlmany universes at once.


Art-Net is a "broadcast" protocol in which messages are broadcast to all connected devices. Up to sixteen DMX512 universes can be accessed  through one IP subnet.

This allows the traditional dmx to be transmitted over a tried and tested ethernet setup.