November 6, 2012

DMX Lighting Tutorial Part 3: Dip Switches

Learn all about dip switches on DMX lights in part 3 of this DMX lighting tutorial. If you don’t know a whole lot about DMX lighting, start at the beginning of this DMX series with part 1. It will teach you everything you need to know for this video which covers dip switches in detail. You’ll get a crash course in binary, we’ll do some math, and I’ll show you an easy shortcut for setting the dip switches on your DMX lights. We’ve got all of the current parts of our DMX lighting tutorial posted below. Also check out Chauvet’s website for a nifty Dip Switch Calculator.

Chauvet Dip Switch Calculator


DMX Lighting Tutorial Videos

Part 1. What is DMX?
Part 2. What is DMX Addressing?
Part 3. Dip Switches
Part 4. DMX Wiring
Part 5. Hardware and Software Setup


Hello my name is Chris. Welcome back! This is part 3 of the UniqueSquared DMX lighting series in which I’m explaining some of the basics of DMX lighting with the help of this marker board and these turkeys. In this video segment I’ll be talking about dip switches. Ok let’s begin.

So, what is Binary? It’s the language computers use to communicate. It’s a series of ones and zeros.  It’s also the language used with dip switches. It may seem confusing and difficult at first but stay with me until the end and it should all make sense. Stay till the end and I’ll even show you a way to get around all of the math.

In normal life we have the numbers  0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 and with those numbers we can create any number we could possibly think of. But, in binary there are only two numbers: 1 and 0. We can also use binary to write any possible number we can think of. But how does it look?

It’s a string of numbers just like regular numbers except with only 1’s and 0’s. For example, this is a binary number. Let’s try to decipher this number. Every binary digit has a corresponding number from the normal system. To calculate the value of this number, just add together the corresponding normal numbers wherever there is a one.

For this number you’ve got  256, 64, 32, 8, 4, and 1. Add them together and you’ve got 365. So the value of this binary number is 365. Here’s another example 128, 64, 16, and 2 correspond to the ones in this binary number. Let’s add them together and you’ve got 210. That is the value of that binary number. Here’s yet another example. The corresponding numbers to the ones are 8, 4, and 1. You add those together and you get 13. That is the value of that binary number.

So how does this apply to dip switches? Since dip switches consist of a group of switches that can either be turned off or on, you can compare the switches to the numbers in the binary system. The on switch is the same as a one and the off switch is the same as a zero.

Now remember that each binary digit had a corresponding real number. So I set this binary number with my dip switches. I switch these four switches which correspond to the numbers 128, 8, 2, and 1. Add those together and I see that my DMX address will be 139. That’s pretty simple right? But what if we want to do the reverse? How do we translate the DMX address we want into binary? Well it takes some math. You might want to grab a pen and some paper too. Let’s say we’re trying to dial in the DMX address 509 with our dip switches. Take a closer look at our list of normal numbers. From this list, choose the largest number that is equal to or smaller than 509. From this list we see that 256 is the number that we want. Now subtract 256 from our original number. We’re left with 253. What is the next largest number that is equal to or smaller than 253? Yep. 128. Subtract 128 from 253 and you get 125. Again, choose the largest number smaller than or equal to 125. That number is 64. Do the math and we get 61. The largest number smaller than or equal to 61 is 32 so we subtract that and get 29. Continue like that until you’re left with zero. Now you just have to turn on the switches that correspond with the values that we picked. So, we’ll be flipping on the switches 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. It’s always a good idea to double check your math so let’s add up the numbers we chose. We are in the clear.

Now, if you’re like me and prefer to not do math, there’s an easy way out. Chauvet has an online dip switch calculator. Check the description below for the link. Just enter the DMX address that you want and it will give you the appropriate DIP switch configuration.

That’s all for part 3. I hope you stick around for the next video where I’ll talk about how to wire your DMX lights. Also be sure to checkout for great prices on lights, DMX controllers, or any pro audio gear you may need. If you have a questions you can follow the link to our blog in the description below and leave them there. We’ll answer them as soon as we can.