The $50 DMX Tester

DMX

Despite being around for about as long as MIDI, DMX, the industry standard for controlling stage lighting and smoke machines, is still an astonishing expensive protocol to work with. Where MIDI can be banged out with a simple microcontroller – with odd bit rate requirements, no less, DMX testers cost hundreds of dollars. Of course this means the market is wide open for a DIY DMX tester, and over on the projects site [Tony] has just the thing.

For the hardware, [Tony] is using few 4×4 matrix keypads for user input, and a character LCD for the display. With this, he can set any of the 512 lighting channels in a DMX setup to any one of the 256 intensity values. Setting a range of channels to any intensity is a snap, with an extremely cut down command protocol. All the processing is handled by an Arduino, which seems more than capable of handling the DMX protocol thanks to the Conceptionetics DMX library.

While it’s not a full-blown lighting console you’d find in the back of a theatre, it’s more than sufficient to test a lighting rig. It also seems pretty simple to use, just the thing if you’re trying to wrap your brain around some theatrical lighting.

Controlling your Christmas lights without ever getting off the couch

remote-xmas-tree-light-switch

14 year-old [Connor Smith] has been busy this holiday season, thinking up ways to improve the lighting situation at home.

A few weeks ago he put together this 3-channel light controller to toggle his parents’ external lights, incorporating an Arduino for control. The Arduino was used to switch the channels on and off at specified intervals in order to create a simple light show on the house’s exterior. Not satisfied with just a few strings of blinky lights, he took his controller back inside for some additional modifications.

He had grown tired of crawling behind the Christmas tree to plug and unplug it every day, and decided to make things easier on himself. He stripped the IR receiver out of an old VCR and interfaced it with the Arduino in his light controller using the IRremote library. After taking a bit of time to decode the values for two infrequently used buttons on his TV remote, he had himself a Christmas tree light switch that he could activate from across the room.

Check out the short video below to see his remote switch in action.

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