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.

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

Requirements
Wiring

USB Ethernet adapter Pinout :

diydmxethernetpinout

Software
FAQ

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ethernetdmxfinished

151 thoughts on “DIY USB DMX Controller for under $10 – Ethernet Cable

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

    • I use my mac only for testing DMX with JV Lightning DmxControl. It’s the only software that stil works with mavericks without changing the driver. My shows are still made in freestyler on a windows laptop.

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

    • indeed, install Freestyler, select your dmx device (Enttec Open DMX), add your fixtures and you should be able to control your lights.

  3. 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?

    • No, this guide does not need a fix, this RS485 ethernet adapter works out of the box.

  4. Any USB to RS485 RJ45 adapter should work… but remember this is completely different than a USB Ethernet adapter.

  5. 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!

    • I added a picture of the pinouts of the usb adapter, also the Martin software should work with this device (since it’s the same as the Enttec open DMX which should be compatible according their site).

      • Perfect!
        I ask about the Martin software because it can detect if a genuine Enttec device is plugged in. If it isn’t genuine, it’s unknown if it will output dmx to the unknown device. When my USB/Ethernet-RS485 adapters arrive, I will test it out and report back.

        Thanks again!

  6. 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- => Orange
    3 : Data+ => Orange-White

    thanks again!

    • Great to hear it’s working, i will fix the wiring instructions… I got confused myself since i had 3 straight cables and 2 cables were wired different for some reason (messed up the wire order, no cross-cable).
      Thanks for the reply.

  7. 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?

    • This allows as many devices as you want, you go in your first light with the ethernet cable, come out of the first light with a xld cable in the next light…

  8. 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.

    • Are you using Mac or Windows and what software? If using Mac try “JV Lightning DmxControl”, other software may have problems with the new FTDI driver in Mavericks/Yosemite.

  9. 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.

    • As far as I know, this device can only Send signals. However a RS485 device that has In and Output should be able to read the DMX signals. I am not familiar with existing troubleshoot software but theoretically it should work when you got an adapter like the image below (with Rx+ and Rx-) :

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

  11. 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…

    • any specific error messags? did you do any Fixes to your device yet? your device may be broken

      • Yeah, I think my device is bad. Looking to getting a replacement. Four different PCs could not recognize the device. Anyone figure out how to open the case without destroying it? Then I can check for cold solders and such…

  12. 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.

    • 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

      • i bought mine from ebay or dealextreme i think, there are multiple different devices available looking exacly the same as this adapater, you will need the RS485 version (not usb-ethernet adapeter) only these will send dmx.

  13. 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

  14. 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

      • is this driver for usb to ethernet adaptor?
        because when i”m installing it shows windows unable to install usb serial converter
        i’ve windows 7 steven.

        • when looking in device manager, is there a unkown device when you plug in your rs485 ethernet adapter?

          • in device manager it shows ch9200 usb ethernet adapter
            in other devices

          • now what should i do?
            ftdi driver is not installed for usb ethernet adapter.

          • steven help me i bought usb to ethernet adaptor it has a lan driver cd also . should i install that driver for dmx conversion?
            will this adptor work for dmx?

            • this is not a usb-ethernet adapter, this is a usb-RS485 adapter(with ethernet connector). yours won’t work as a DMX interface

  15. 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?

  16. 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.

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

    • Not sure if this device will work, usually the adapters i used had a FL232RL chips in them, not tested the FT232RQ chip yet but you can give it a try. Should work but i can’t guarantee it will.

  18. 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)

    • Hmmm… if DMXis is compatible with Entec’s Open DMX interface it should work out of the box with your RS485 adapter, the problem may be with OSX, is there any way you could try the setup on another laptop… or update your FTDI drivers since your OSX versions is pretty old. you can also try this setup on a windows PC.

      • Thanks for the reply, Steven! Yeah, DMXis is Enttec software, so you’d think it would work. It sounds from reading other comments that Yosemite might not have full compatibility with FTDI, is that true? Should I upgrade to something less than the latest Mac OS?

  19. 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.

  20. 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?

    • Yes you can do this, but i chose not to wire my cable directly since i’m kinda rough with my Sound&Light equipment it probably won’t “survive” long in my hands :p

  21. 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!

  22. 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?

    • first link will NOT work, second link MAY work but i cannot confirm since there is not enough information on the website.

  23. 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 mencionado, es cuestión de probar.

    • Indeed, There are multiple brands making USB->RS485 Chips. however only the USB->RS485 chips designed/manufactured by FTDI will work for sending DMX. Cheaper clones will NOT work. Your 3rd URL will work, the 2nd URL won’t.

    • you should try a windows laptop with freestyler to make sure it’s not your mac, this device should be working

      • Found an xp desktop, installed FTDI driver and Freestyler. Freestyler says No USB->DMX Found. Lights are on but don’t respond to any inputs. Light is set to Channel 1. Even tried Freestyler Standalone with no luck.

        • can you open device manager and post the name of the device, also i found this on the amazon page :
          TXD+ pin 1
          TXD- pin 2
          RXD+ pin 3
          RXD- pin 6
          Ground pin 8

          it seems that the pinout is different than the adapter i got… you can try rewiring your xlr plug but first make sure the adapter gets detected by software before rewiring:
          TXD+ = Data+ => connect pin 1 of the adapter to pin 3 on your xlr
          TXD- = Data- => connect pin 2 of the adapter to pin 2 on your xlr
          Ground = GND => connect pin 8 of the adapter to pin 1 on your xlr

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

    • no you can’t, this is not a “ethernet” adapter, this is a RS485 adapter with an rj45 connector. you cannot send DMX from your pc/laptop’s ethernet port.

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

    • this adapter probably works, however i cannot guarantee. it’s the right usb->rs485 type

  26. 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

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

  28. 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?

      • Oh okay awesome, thanks. Will try it. Also do you happen to have an updated link to an RJ45 adapter, because both of the original links are sold out, and I’m pretty sure you can’t just buy an ethernet adapter, it needs to just be a usb to RJ45..?

        • you actually need a “USB to RS485” adapter with a RJ-45 connector. i will update the links

          • That would be great if you could thanks, searching on ebay for me just turns up some random adapters with only two terminal blocks.

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

  30. 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.

    • That’s because i’m not using a Ethernet Adapter, i’m using a RS485 adapter with RJ45 connector, those are two completely different devices.

      • Thanks for the response!

        I gonna try my FTDI USB to rs485 chip again.
        But on the windows 7 dekstop the RX LED on the chip flashes for 5 min. and then it stops. On the laptop with windows 8 the RX Led flashes just 2 seconds and then it stops. On my windows 7 dekstop at properties stands “USB Serial Converter” and “USB Serial Port (COM7)”. On my laptop with windows 8 stands only “USB Serial Converter”. I download on both computers the Enttec drivers(I also tryed the standard windows drivers).

        Sorry my english is poor.

  31. 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!

    • That’s because it is not a FTDI chip doing the serial conversion, DMX can only be send from USB-serial converters that have a FTDI chip, this converter has a PL2303 chip. I will add the device to confirmed not working. i’m sorry

      • I managed to get it working when I changed out the cable. 🙂 Thanks for your help! It’s a sweet hack!

        • wutwutwut 🙂 are you sending DMX with your prolific USB to serial adapter which does not have a FTDI chip?

          • No no. Haha, that’s not what I meant. The cable that did not work, I tested it with various programs and it refused to show up so I took it back and went on a hunt to the shops with my laptop. Managed to find one that would show up on the DMX tester program. 🙂

            • aha, nice… glad you found a working one, could you tell me the brand/type?

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

    • you bought the wrong product, you don’t need a usb network adapter you need a usb RS485 adapter with RJ45 connector

    • Je had beter eerst de windows drivers geprobeerd, wat is de naam van het device in apparaatbeheer?

      you should try the windows drivers first, what is the device name in device manager?

      • Windows could not find the drivers for the device , so I tried one of the CD .
        In device manager he called ” ASIX AX88772A USB2.0 to Fast Ethernet Adapter”

        Windows kon de drivers voor het apparaat niet vinden, dus heb ik degene van de cd geprobeerd.
        In apparaatbeheer heet hij “ASIX AX88772A USB2.0 to Fast Ethernet Adapter”

        • you’ve bought the wrong device, thus you can not unfortunately. you need a USB – RS485 adapter with an RJ45 connector.

          je hebt het verkeerde apparaat gekocht, hiermee kan je niets helaas. je hebt een usb-RS485 adapter nodig met een rj45 aansluiting achteraan.

          • Too bad, maybe you can edit the link from your tutorial there are more people with this problem.

            Jammer, misschien kun je dan even de link uit je tutorial halen anders zijn er nog meer mensen met dit probleem.

            • checked the links , all the links are correct . where did you find this ?

              net even de links nagekeken, al de links kloppen nog. waar heb je deze gevonden?

          • I could not respond to your last comment but here.
            I bought this adapter DealExtreme via the link in your tutorial : http://www.dx.com/p/usb-2-0-to-rs-485-rs-422-high-speed-converter-adapter-139527#.VW9DLc_tmkq
            The pictures of DealExtreme correspond with the product I received from DealExtreme.

            Ik kon niet op jouw laatste reactie reageren dus dan maar even hier.
            Ik heb deze adapter gekocht van Deal Extreme via de link in jouw tutorial: http://www.dx.com/p/usb-2-0-to-rs-485-rs-422-high-speed-converter-adapter-139527#.VW9DLc_tmkq
            De foto’s van Deal Extreme komen overeen met het product dat ik gekregen heb van Deal Extreme.

            • This is a mistake of dealextreme apparently, the title is correct but the photo’s are wrong … You bought the right product but they shipped wrong. you should ask a refund or change the product and definitely notify dealextreme.

              Dit is een fout van dealextreme blijkbaar, de titel klopt maar de foto’s kloppen niet… dit is een fout van dealextreme dus zou dit even melden je hebt het juiste product gekocht maar het verkeerde aangekregen. zal even de link.

              • Okay thanks for your help ! I ‘m reporting it.

                Oké bedankt voor je hulp! ik ga het even melden bij Deal Extreme.

                • Ja ik zag het. Ik heb Deal Extreme gemaild en ze wilden graag bewijs dus ik heb de oude site terug kunnen halen(die had namelijk dezelfde SKU als de nieuwe site), en daar stond nog “RS-485”. Ik heb ze foto’s gestuurd en ik moest na 3 dagen weer contact opnemen. Maar ik heb na vele mailtjes nog niks van ze gehoord.

                • Nee denk ik ook niet, maarja het ging niet om een groot bedrag. Bedankt voor je hulp!

    • no it will not work, you don’t want an ethernet adapter you want a RS485 serial adapter with a RJ45 connector.

  33. 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?

  34. 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.

    • Hmm, the other brand may be a bit more sensitive to small timing changes, have you tried connecting only the non-working dimmer directly to your controller… is it responding, my dimmers have a small indicator led that only flashes when valid dmx signal is read.

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

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

  37. Hi there, really excited to try this out myself!

    After reading the comments above, can I suggest that changing the title to say RJ45 cable would hopefully force people to read the instructions, rather than jumping straight to the complaints section!

    Also, between ‘Wiring’ and ‘Software’ you call it an Ethernet adapter (oops!) – could I suggest changing it to ‘RS485 adapter RJ45 socket Pinout :’ as it’s caption to hopefully remove all doubt that it won’t work on Ethernet!

    I’ll keep you posted with my results!

    🙂

    • Thanks for the corrections xD, didn’t notice I called it an ethernet adapter :o, i will edit the post thanks.

  38. Great! How can I implement galvanic isolation to this cable?

      • Ok, you just don’t know how to do it. But do you know that using DMX controllers without galvanic isolation with laptops is too dagerous?

          • I think that using non-isolated controllers is at your own risk. If you want to get cheaper controllers without galvanic isolation you may forfeith your laptop later. It is a sort of lottery depending on situation.
            Regarding this DIY controller – I have a laptop with Ethetnet (LAN) socket, should I buy USB RS485 interface anyway?

            • Using DIY products is always on your own risk. I used this controller on a daily basis for years with my macbook but haven’t experienced any problems so far.

              • I have a laptop with Ethetnet (LAN) socket, should I buy USB RS485 interface anyway?

                • yes you should still buy the rs485 interface, because you have a LAN adapter and no RS485, please read the post before asking questions.

  39. Hello Steven,

    Thank you for making this guide!

    I am having some issues with both of them however. 🙁

    I first got the USB to RS485 Module, and got it to work. The only problem is, it keeps freezing intermittently, and stops sending a DMX signal. Sometimes it only lasts minutes, and sometimes for days, but ultimately, it stops working and I have to unplug the USB and re-plug it to get it to start working again. I have tried all of the troubleshooting guides, but nothing seems to fix it.

    So, I got this one here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008BZBJ92/, and it is not sending the DMX signal at all. I am using WinXP, and tried installing the drivers from the link provided, as well as the drivers that came on the disk for RS485 WinXP, and made certain I was using a straight cat5 cable. The drivers install without error, and even Freestyler recognizes it as a valid controller, but my dimmer is not receiving any DMX signal at all.

    I followed the instructions perfectly as far as I can tell. I just don’t even know what to do. Any ideas?

    Thanks!

    • hmm, yeah there are some problems with newer devices.. I’m currently bundling all “solutions” from these comments and putting them in a forum… check back in a few days.. it may be a bit easier to find the fix that’s working for you. i’m sure there is

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