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

I have a second similar USB DMX Controller tutorial Here. If you decide to build this one, make sure you order a USB-RS485 adapter and not a USB-Network Adapter as these will NOT work. We specifically need a USB-RS485 adapter with an RJ45 output.

  • Soldering Ion+Tin
  • A spare Network cable
  • Female XLR Connector (Buy Here)
  • USB RS485 network interface (Buy Here, Here, Here, Here)

usbtors485torj45

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

Then solder these wires in the following order onto your female XLR Connector

  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. I made a short and a longer one and both are working perfectly.

catdmx6

catdmxresult2

catdmxresult1

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 & pro
Passive DMX Splitter

You can buy a simple RJ45 passive splitter to split your DMX signal. I have to mention this is a bad way of splitting DMX signals and may cause interference or signal drops. The chances for these drops increases by the length of each fixture in the DMX chain that’s attached.

ethernetdmxpassivesplitter

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
Colby Conkling
6 years ago

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
Jeppe Heyvaert
6 years ago

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

Jeff Navarro
6 years ago

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
raj
6 years ago

will any USB to Ethernet work??

Jeff
Jeff
6 years ago

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!

Jeff
Jeff
6 years ago
Reply to  Steven

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!

Alex
Alex
6 years ago

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
Matt
5 years ago

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
Vee
5 years ago

How would I connect more lights?

warreceulemans
warreceulemans
5 years ago

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.
Kevin M.
5 years ago

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.
Kevin M.
5 years ago

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

herrvlkr
herrvlkr
5 years ago

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…

HellVlkr
HellVlkr
5 years ago
Reply to  Steven

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…

HerrVlkr
HerrVlkr
5 years ago

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
Skyler
5 years ago
Reply to  HerrVlkr

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
Patrick
5 years ago

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
hari prasath
5 years ago

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

hari prasath
hari prasath
5 years ago
Reply to  Steven

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.

hari prasath
hari prasath
5 years ago
Reply to  Steven

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

hari prasath
hari prasath
5 years ago
Reply to  Steven

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

hari prasath
hari prasath
5 years ago
Reply to  Steven

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?

Max
Max
5 years ago

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
HerrVlkr
5 years ago

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
Zech Nelson
5 years ago

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

Timothy Wilson
4 years ago
Reply to  Zech Nelson

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

Timothy Wilson
4 years ago
Reply to  Steven

Alright, I’ll give one a try!

SD
SD
5 years ago

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
5 years ago

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)

Jeff Navarro
5 years ago
Reply to  Steven

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?

D
D
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Navarro

I also want to use this adapter wit Ableton and Freestyler on Windows. Jeff, have you figured how to make it work?

D
D
3 years ago
Reply to  Steven

Sorry, I mean Ableton+DMXis with DIY Controller

Jeff Navarro
3 years ago
Reply to  D

No, it will not work. Enttec only sells DMXis as a package with their DMXis interface…..the VST is locked to the device and will not detect other interfaces. It’s a bummer!

dennis
5 years ago

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

thankyou

Edson Silva
5 years ago

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
wilfrid
5 years ago

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
adil nota
5 years ago

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
5 years ago

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

charles
charles
5 years ago

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
Thomas
5 years ago

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
5 years ago

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
Russ Kahle
5 years ago

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

Russ Kahle
Russ Kahle
5 years ago
Reply to  Steven

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.

bob
bob
5 years ago

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

Jack
Jack
5 years ago

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

Diego
Diego
5 years ago

This does not help me?

Andre
Andre
5 years ago

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
Caio
5 years ago

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
Christian
5 years ago

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

Charlie
Charlie
5 years ago

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
Charlie
5 years ago
Reply to  Steven

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..?

Charlie
Charlie
5 years ago
Reply to  Steven

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

Charlie
Charlie
5 years ago

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

Nicolas
Nicolas
5 years ago

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 !

Nicolas
Nicolas
5 years ago
Reply to  Steven

Thanks for your response 😉

Julian
Julian
5 years ago

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.

Julian
Julian
5 years ago
Reply to  Steven

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.

Royce
Royce
5 years ago

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!

Royce Lee
Royce Lee
5 years ago
Reply to  Steven

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

Royce Lee
Royce Lee
5 years ago
Reply to  Steven

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. 🙂

rainz
rainz
5 years ago

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

Julian
Julian
5 years ago

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.

Julian
Julian
5 years ago
Reply to  Steven

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”

Julian
Julian
5 years ago
Reply to  Steven

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.

Julian
Julian
5 years ago
Reply to  Steven

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. Loading...

Julian
Julian
5 years ago
Reply to  Steven

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

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

Julian
Julian
4 years ago
Reply to  Julian

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.

Julian
Julian
4 years ago
Reply to  Julian

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

Royce Lee
Royce Lee
5 years ago

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
Andrea Z
4 years ago

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
4 years ago

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
4 years ago

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
prashant gadhavi
4 years ago

Yes this device is working properly

thanks steven b.

alma
alma
4 years ago

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
alma
4 years ago

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

alma
alma
4 years ago

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