October 15, 2020

When getting started with finding lights for your Christmas display, you decide to add some DMX stage lights. As you may know, my professional background includes working with stage lights and with that, I can help you set up DMX lights inside of the lighting program xLights.

DMX lights may have a few extra steps compared to adding pixel lighting, but it can definitely make a huge impact in your Christmas display. In this post, I’ll help walk you through how to properly setup a DMX light in xLights.


Things to Know About DMX

With most of the controllers that we use for display, there is usually a DMX port that is an ethernet port. You may to make or purchase an adapter to get it into a DMX jack. A DMX jack is typically a 3 or 5 pin XLR.

When working with Christmas or house displays, we typically use fixture on the budget end and 3 pin XLR is the most common DMX plug that we see.

Another piece to remember when working with DMX is that when you’re setting up and assigning the lights you will set the universe for the output port and match that in xLights. There will also be a DMX address, which you will enter on the light itself.

Setting Up a DMX Light

To set up a DMX light inside of xLights, you’ll want to launch your xLights program and go to “Controllers”.

Adding DMX Lights to Your Display

In most cases, you’re going to set up your lights as ethernet. Click “Add Ethernet” or in other scenarios, you may use the “Add USB” option. Once you add the light, it’ll come up as E131 or Art-Net.

Next, you’ll want to add the IP Address of the node or controller that you have the light plugged into. Once done, click “Save”.

Set each light to it’s own unique DMX address, Each light will have a certain amount of DMX channels available. For example, you have two lights and each light has 10 DMX channels. You’ll set the first light to be 1 – 10 channels and the second light will be set at channels 11 – 21.

In the layout tab, you want to add your DMX fixture. In the menu bar, select “DMX” and select the best option for the type of light you are adding. You’ll then be able to add the light to where it will be located in your display.

Back on the left side of your screen is where you’ll set the specific channels for your DMX light. You’ll need to refer to the light manual that will help walk you through what to set your channels for. Anything in xLights that you don’t have listed in your manual, you can leave it blank. Once done, just click “Save”.

Testing Your Lights

Setting up DMX lights compared to adding pixels does have some extra steps but once you get it set up, it’s worth having the DMX lights in your display.

Now that you have your DMX lights set up, it’s time to test them out in the sequencer. You can go through to test all of the colors, pan/tilt, and the movements. If there are any issues just be sure to reference your light manual to make sure the channels were set correctly. And that’s it! These are the basic steps to get DMX lights working via xLights.

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