DIY USB DMX Controller for under $10 – Ethernet Cable

The DMX protocol is exactly the same as the RS485 protocol, so we can use any RS485 USB converter to control DMX devices. DMX controllers are usually not that cheap, using this guide, you save money for possibly a hardware midi controller for your lighting software.

 

Requirements

Click HERE for a similar guide creating a XLR DMX Dongle.

– Soldering Ion + Tin
– A spare Network cable.
– USB RS485 network interface :
!!You need an RS485 adapter, an ethernet adapter will NEVER work!!

usbtors485torj45

Ebay.co.uk
Aliexpress.com
Amazon
Lunashops

-Other confirmed working adapters:
*UNITEK Y-1081 USB 2.0 to RS485 RS-485 DB9 Serial Adapter Converter

– Female XLR Plug:
DX_XLR

eBay

*Any Female XLR will work. Dealextreme has cheap / Decent quality plugs.

Wiring

Take your network cable and cut one RJ45 connector off:

catdmx1

Then strip the end of your open wire :

catdmx2

Now cut off all wires EXCEPT Orange, Orange-White, and Brown-White :

catdmx3

Now take apart your XLR Plug :

DMX_Netw3

Take your cable and slide the last 2 parts over your cable, This cannot be done once your cable is soldered!

catdmx4

This will be the 3 wires we will be soldering to our XLR plug :

diydmxethernetpinout

1: GND => Brown-White
2: Data- => Orange
3: Data+ => Orange-White

DMX_Netw2

Solder the connections, screw your plug together, Your cable is now done.

catdmx6

catdmxresult2

catdmxresult1

USB Ethernet adapter Pinout :

diydmxethernetpinout

Software
The best free software available is Freestyler DMX, download and install  HERE.

Freestyler DMX Loadscreen

Now in settings choose the interface “Enttec open DMX”.. this device is based on an RS485 and works with any RS485 device.

freestylerdmxsettings

Now click save, add your fixtures and start programming your show.

***Other compatible software :
DMXControl
Martin M-Series Software + (Fixture Library)
(Mac Appstore)JV Lightning DmxControl free and pro

FAQ
? – I wired everything correct but no signal:
Are you sure you used a “Straight” network cable?

? – What is the maximum length?
I’m not sure but network cable has a maximum length of 100meters, i only tried 15meters and had no problems.

Drivers? :
The FTPI chip should work without manual driver installation, if for some reason you want to install drivers manually or you are using Windows XP or older, download these drivers :
http://www.ftdichip.com/Drivers/D2XX.htm

Small, quick and easy test software?:
kmtronic.com DMX Tester

ethernetdmxfinished

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Colby Conkling
Guest
Colby Conkling

I noticed you’re using a mac. Are you running FreeStyler DMX in a VM or are you using another piece of software? Thanks

Jeppe Heyvaert
Guest
Jeppe Heyvaert

so it will work with windows? i just need to download freestyler?

Jeff Navarro
Guest

Hi Steven, thanks so much for these tutorials, this is what I’ve been looking for! Can you clarify for me, if I try the method you describe on this page, is there still a chance of needing to hack the chip, like you describe on the “Wrong Board Fix” page?

raj
Guest
raj

will any USB to Ethernet work??

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Is it possible for you to post the pinout from Ethernet to XLR adaptor? The Ethernet cable I have seems to have a different wiring color scheme than what you posted above and I want to make sure everything is soldered correctly. (And no, it’s not a crossover cable).
Also has this been confirmed to work on Martin M-Series Software? Haven’t read a confirmation yet on this page or the XLR page yet.

Thanks!

Alex
Guest
Alex

Hi Steven! thanks so much for the post. It works great. I am using Windows7 and Freestyler. Apparently there is small “inconsistency” on the wiring instructions. The picture shows Orange as the middle pin on the XLR but above that you mention Orange as the 2nd pin (Data -). the middle pin is the 3rd one not the 2ns. So, to make it work you need to flip orange and orange-white on what you see on the photo. Did it work for you the cable on the photo?? Text is correct though. 1 : GND => Brown-White 2 : Data-… Read more »

Matt
Guest
Matt

Hey Steven- Thanks so much for doing this.

I bought the USB adapter that you linked to on Dealsextreme, and it came with an install disc that only has drivers for operating systems up through Windows XP. Do you know where I could find the driver for Windows 7 or 8?

Vee
Guest
Vee

How would I connect more lights?

warreceulemans
Guest
warreceulemans

I solderd everthing as said and set the output to open dmx. but i get no reaction from my fixtures. Only one fixture goes on and of randomly.

Kevin M.
Guest
Kevin M.

This looks very interesting to me. I am looking to do something a little bit different. I want to see what is coming across the DMX512 line to troubleshoot an install with a possible wiring problem. Do you know if this device will work with any sort of software to troubleshoot? Preferably free software.

Kevin M.
Guest
Kevin M.

Thank you for the quick response. I will have to look into that.

herrvlkr
Guest
herrvlkr

Anyone have a problem where you plug in the device and Windows say “USB device not recognized”? I would have expected the driver to be picked up automatically if it is the stand FTDI chip… Windows won’t even let me ‘update’ the driver to one on the provided driver disc. This happened to me on two different systems. Windows Vista and 8.1. Do the drivers need to be manually installed? Any suggestions welcome…

HerrVlkr
Guest
HerrVlkr

After returning my first device, I got another one from a different supplier. It works great! Even better, it is fully compatible with the Artemis Bridge Simulator game. So now I can have two bridges up and running with full lighting with $10 controllers and $25-30 LED stage lights.

Skyler
Guest
Skyler

where did you buy your’s. I bought mine on amazon and I think they sent me the wrong thing, although it looks just like the picture

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

Hi, Thanks for everything, I’ve made one. I tested it on Macbook Pro with Maverick and JV Lighting. Everything work except when cpu is working, my fixtures are blinking. It’s too blinking to work with it. Can I do something?

Thanks

hari prasath
Guest
hari prasath

hi steven nice work dude..
i’ve selected entecc open dmx for interface in freestyler but it shows no usb-dmx found. if i need to install any driver for usb to ethernet?
thank you

Max
Guest
Max

First of all… Thank You very very much, for your amazing job. My question is: can i send directly the dmx signal out, in to a mediaserver on rj45 port, for controll it? Lot of vj software accept dmx control from artnet. It is possible?

HerrVlkr
Guest
HerrVlkr

Just FYI… If you get an adapter that the PC cannot detect, check the solder points between the USB cable and the circuit board. I did find you can easily pull the casing apart without damaging it. The solder joints were rather poor quality. With an iron and a little bit of solder, a friend of mine was able to repair the adapter.

Zech Nelson
Guest
Zech Nelson

Awesome tutorial, could save a big buck. Do you know if this will work with Elation’s free software?

Timothy Wilson
Guest

Have you found out if the converter works with Elation Emulation? I’m thinking about trying it.

SD
Guest

great tutorial, as I’m just starting to know the light control and DMX controls…

steven, would this be working by adding the DMX connector to it?
http://www.ftdichip.com/Products/Cables/USBRS485.htm

maybe this will be a more solid and faster combination?

Jeff Navarro
Guest

I purchased the USB RS485 network interface from DealExtreme and soldered together the whole setup….it works fine using JV Lightning, but DMXis doesn’t detect it, and so doesn’t work at all. My goal is to sync lighting with sound within Ableton, so DMXis as a VST would be ideal. Any ideas why DMXis doesn’t detect the adapter? (I’m on OSX 10.6.8)

dennis
Guest

it also works with
Daslight virtuel dmx
Standing there all my projects

thankyou

Edson Silva
Guest

This adapter (USB –>> RS 485 / Ethernet –>> DMX) is half/full duplex?
I want to work reading signals to notebook (DMX –>> USB).
The schematic that uses only FTDI and SN75176 don’t receive DMX.

wilfrid
Guest
wilfrid

Hello
Do you think that it is compatible Art-Net?
To use this software:
http://support.vezerapp.hu/kb/art-net-dmx/art-net-preferences
Yhanks

adil nota
Guest
adil nota

Do you have to use an xlr adapter? I was thinking to cut the male side of an xlr cable off that I have at home, strip the wire, and connect that to the ethernet wire…will that work?

Tinh Tinh Xấu Trai
Guest

Hi. I have hp sleekbook envy 4 (4-1101TU). Can i use with LAN port? (Not use USB to RS485)

charles
Guest
charles

hello !
I have a question regarding the number of channel that the controller can handle. Is it the same number as the enttec open dmx device? (ie 512 channels)
thant you in advance!

Thomas
Guest
Thomas

Hi, i’m looking for a DMX interface that works on mac as well as on pc. I prefer to use QLC+. Which interface would you recommend making? The ethernet based one or the usb based one?

William Tamayo
Guest
William Tamayo
Guest

Muchas gracias Steven y un abrazo desde COLOMBIA!!.. leyendo todos los comentarios e investigando un poco, ahora entiendo que para llegar al protocolo DMX desde usb, se debe pasar por 3 protocolos asi: USB>RS232>RS485>DMX y que el único que realiza la funcion USB-RS232 es el chip http://www.datasheetdir.com/FT232RQ+USB de FTDI, por consiguiente si el conversor USB a RS485 no tiene chip FTDI no va a funcionar, por ejemplo este:http://articulo.mercadolibre.com.co/MCO-413815112-modulo-conversor-usb-serial-rs232-ttl-pl2303-arduino-pic-_JM, no tiene chip FTDI y aunque es conversor usb a rs232, no funcionara, pero este si lo hará por el FTDI chip que tiene, http://articulo.mercadolibre.com.co/MCO-413671480-modulo-interface-usb-rs485-ttl-serial-convertidor-adaptador-_JM. de todas formas como usted lo ha… Read more »

Russ Kahle
Guest
Russ Kahle

I’ve tried all day to get this working. I’m running yosemite on 2014 MBP. I checked all of my connections and I only get flashing. I purchased this adapter, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008BZBJ92/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I think its the root of my problem. If I plug the ethernet all the way in the light turns on for a second and then turns off. Then my mini kinta just flashes

bob
Guest
bob

Can I use this dmx – ethernet adapter direct to the ethernet port on my MBP without the need of an ethernet adapter, right?

Jack
Guest
Jack

Hi
Is it possible to plug this cable straight into a computer’s network port without the network usb adapter

Diego
Guest
Diego

This does not help me?

Andre
Guest
Andre

Hi Steven

Im from South Africa and am struggling to get the USB to RS485 module. But have found this converter: Unitek USB 2.0 To RS422/RS485 Converter.

http://www.takealot.com/unitek-usb-2-0-to-rs422-rs485-converter/PLID34146520

Do you have any Idea if this will work? I will be running Freestyler on a laptop with XP Pro.

Caio
Guest
Caio

Steven,
Congrats for the blog

Do you have any idea if I can use a Playstation-USB adapter (the ones used for games) and connect the XLR into the Playstation? I’ve the adapter’s driver.
Thanks

Christian
Guest
Christian

Does any one have a link to a working adapter? All links here are sold out.

Charlie
Guest
Charlie

Hi Steven, great cheap tutorial. Just wondering if theres a way to get this working with 5 pin dmx. If so what would be the pinout for this?

Charlie
Guest
Charlie

No exactly, I realised and thought you might have some updated links. 🙂

Nicolas
Guest
Nicolas

Thanks a lot for this tuto !!!
Can you tell me if this product will work as an Open DMX interface ?
http://fr.aliexpress.com/item/Free-shipping-1-8m-FT232-SP485-USB-RS485-to-stripped-cable/363803222.html

Thanks !

Julian
Guest
Julian

I bought a Tlink TL9200 USB to Ethernet adapter (RJ45). I connect this to a desktop with windows 7 and a laptop with windows 8. But on both computers Freestyler doesn’t see it. I earlier bought a usb to rs485 chip but this also doesn’t work.

I hope you can help me.

Royce
Guest
Royce

Hey Steven,

I got a prolific USB to serial adapter but it doesn’t seem to be identified by the dmx tester.

I’ve tried downloading the drivers that youve listed but it doesn’t seem to work either.

I saw that you had another post stating that the Pro 5ft USB – serial adapter is confirmed to not work.

Could you verify if that is the issue with mine?

Thanks!

rainz
Guest
rainz

Steven i cant find my usb device because it is in network adapter what should i do

Julian
Guest
Julian

Hello Steven,

Today i got my usb to rs485 from Dealextreme:
http://www.dx.com/p/usb-2-0-to-rs-485-rs-422-high-speed-converter-adapter-139527#.VW2dzs_tmkq

I install the drivers from the cd i get by the adapter, but Freestyler can’t see the adapter. I tryed the adapter on windows 7 and 8.

Please help me.

Royce Lee
Guest
Royce Lee

I could not reply on your comment, therefore I’m going to post a new one. 🙂

This USB converter that I found is from Unitek. It’s a USB 2.0 to RS485 Cable. I think the most important thing about this cable is that it’s a plug and play? -> did not have to deal with drivers at all.

http://www.goodluckbuy.com/unitek-y-1081-usb-2-0-to-rs485-rs-485-db9-serial-adapter-converter.html

^ The exact product. 🙂

Andrea Z
Guest
Andrea Z

Hi Steven, i’d like to make my own, problem is the usb ethernet adapter you mention in your article is sold out, or does not ship to italy, do you think this ( http://it.aliexpress.com/item/New-USB-2-0-Ethernet-10-100-Mbps-RJ45-Network-Card-Lan-Adapter/32263254028.html ) will work?

Prashant Gadhavi
Guest

Hi steven
thanks for your tutorial. How many total lights can be connect with this interface? and can i connect to direct in DMX Splitter?

Prashant Gadhavi
Guest

http://www.amazon.in/gp/product/B00PAG052W?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00

Please chk this device for me.
Thanks in advance.

prashant gadhavi
Guest
prashant gadhavi

Yes this device is working properly

thanks steven b.

alma
Guest
alma

do you have an ideea why this controller is not working a certain kind of dimmer? i have two dimmers, one stageline and the other logen but just the stageline is working. with hardware dmx controller the both are working.

alma
Guest
alma

the signal is thru(the first one) the non receiving dimmer and it is not blinking

alma
Guest
alma

not sure if it is the interface or the dmxcontrolpro, but i think the software is ok