Road Test: DMXKing LeDMX4 PRO
by Alistair Swanson & Alex Woodmansey
Co-Directors, Light Innovations.
Launched in 2017 by Alex Woodmansey and Alastair Swanson, Light Innovations was created because of our love of building things for theatre, and knowledge of electronics and LED lighting. Specialising in custom electronics and lighting solutions, we work closely with our clients to turn ideas into high quality products, focusing not only on highly versatile functionality but also slick, professional exterior finishes, guaranteeing beautiful, reusable, engineered solutions for the entertainment industry.
In our work with Light Innovations, having reliable, feature-rich digital LED pixel controllers has always been vital to our projects, therefore we have used and evaluated a large majority of the digital LED controllers on the market.
For this personal project we needed something truly special; the ability to record multiple DMX universes of complex LED sequences on a compact, wearable controller for an LED costume, as it’s not exactly practical to carry a GrandMA2 and an NPU, or a specialised media server around on your back!
At the core of the project was two DMXKing LeDMX4 PRO pixel controllers, and their ability to record any streaming ACN or Art-Net source made the project possible.
The annual Western Australian Nightclub Association’s Nocturnal Ball was coming up. It’s where hospitality WA industry people get together and dress up. We wanted to find a personal project that pushed our limits of what we could build and that would also be amazing to wear at the event.
We’re a big fan of Canadian DJ Deadmau5 and love the programmable LED head that he built to wear for his performances, so we decided to make a similar design inspired by his costume, mainly just for fun. It was an adventure, as there were no blueprints or specs. Even the size of the Perspex ball it’s built in had to be approximated. But in the end the results speak for themselves, and it was a great project to build on so many fronts.
The LeDMX4 PRO is amazing in the way it has been thought out. It drives so many varieties of pixels, records to an SD card, and has well-built management software that runs on Mac or Windows, while still be a cost effective and compact device.
We chose the 5V version of the LeDMX4 PRO for the Deadmau5 project (it also comes in 12V and 24V) because we were driving WS2812 144LED/m density LED strips, so it made sense to run on the same voltage as the strip.
The four pluggable headers allowed for quick disconnect and removal of the LeDMX4 PROs to inspect them and make changes to the program via the Ethernet connection. The screw connectors are extremely handy for testing and you don’t have to solder anything to the board.
It was very easy to get working. We connected the power and the LED strip, went into the manager software via Ethernet, set the pixel type to WS2812, told it how many pixels per port it was running, and it started working immediately from sACN out of our console.
The controller records sACN or ArtNet straight to the SD card for you, so you can use whatever software you’re used to for content. We were able to create a mask in
a drawing program and have a face appear on the front of the ball, and then create animations within that.
We attached a ‘light sabre’ to the costume that also ran off an LeDMX4 PRO, the chest piece, and kneepads, all running pixel strips via the two LeDMX4 PROs tied together for playback. This meant that the whole costume could be animated together, stepping through recorded shows automatically.
Through the configuration file on the SD card, you can write simple scripts to loop multiple recorded shows, starting automatically upon boot up, or when the unit receives a DMX trigger channel or contact closure. Within a few seconds of powering up, the LeDMX4 PROs have booted up and are automatically playing back.
We were able to put a battery pack on this costume and it was effectively completely wireless.
The LeDMX4 PRO opens up so many opportunities for driving nearly any type of pixel that you can find. We have used several of them on large animated LED ‘neon’ signs made for schools and festivals. Clients love the recording functionality, as it can be a cost effective solution to avoid long-term lighting console hire, and having the LeDMX4 PRO run in DMX triggered stand-alone mode frees up desk channels for use in theatre.
We’d love to see a larger version that supports more pixel outputs for bigger builds in a robust case, but there is always the discussions about single point failures in large projects. Because the LeDMX4 PRO allows you to network multiple boards and playback a show, it means you don’t have a single point of failure. If any board does fail, you get a new one, grab the SD card from the old one, and you’re back up and running.
The LeDMX4 PRO is a strong product that continues to receive improvements from DMXKing, adding support for more types of LEDs, and other unique, great features. They really love improving their products and we look forward to any of their future releases.
For now, the LeDMX4 PRO earns itself a valuable spot in Light Innovation’s toolbox.
DMXKing LeDMX4 PRO – The Specs
The LeDMX4 Pro is an OEM Board for direct sACN/E1.31 and Art-Net to RGB/RGBW pixel strip/array control.
Static IP or DHCP network addressing.
DIN rail mount possible with DIN clip accessory.
4 Independent outputs each with 5A supply capability.
1x DMX512 IN/OUT port.
Directly drives WS2811, WS2812, WS2812B, WS2813, UCS1903, UCS2912, UCS8903, UCS8904, PL9823, TM1934, APA101, SK9822, APA102, APA104, APA106, INK1002, INK1003, SM16703, SK6812, WS2801, LPD6803, LPD8806 and many more compatible LED strips.
Selectable clock/data rate to suit long cables or fast output.
Up to 680 RGB pixels or 512 RGBW pixels per output spanning 4 DMX universes
(2720 RGB pixels / 16 universes per board).
Up to 340 16bit RGB pixels or 256 16bit RGBW pixels per output.
Automatic RGB / RGBW order correction and additional pixel re-mapping features.
Per pixel intensity control for APA102/SK9822 utilizing the 5bit current pre-regulator. Master Level control independent of incoming universe streams.
Flexible Full Mapping option for outputs permitting any start address and zig-zag
corrections for RGB pixels.
Null pixel support for longer runs to first active pixel.
Art-Net broadcast, Art-Net II, 3 & 4 unicast, sACN/E1.31 Multicast and sACN Unicast support.
Universe Sync Art-Net, sACN and Madrix Post Sync.
Recording and playback to microSD card (not included). See eDMX PRO Record / Playback manual.
Standalone show playback without computer or network connection.
External trigger input.
From the December 2018 – January 2019 edition of CX Magazine. CX Magazine is Australia and New Zealand’s only publication dedicated to entertainment technology news and issues – available in print and online. Read all editions for free or search our archive www.cxnetwork.com.au
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