DMX LED Stage Light

3M RGB LED strip & DMX receiver

We did DMX receivers, we did DMX pool lights, but now it’s time for something slightly more professional: Buying DMX lights! Oh, and in between we did a DMX transmitter which is remarkably simply. We also had some fun with parties, using Freestyler DMX software (it’s Belgian! but not that user friendly that you can just dive in).

 

The home made stuff was fun, but isn’t very sturdy and requires me to be there to debug things. So let’s buy some low budget stuff from China and see what we get. I ordered this DMX RGBW LED (12W) from an AliExpress seller called “Professional Lightme LED”. At a price of $12, what can go wrong? (also, it’s under the magic €22 limit where you have to pay import taxes). It came in a little box, wrapped in bubble wrap. Decent packaging and the light itself is not that fragile.

 

What do you get for $12? We don’t care about the outside, for that you get stock pictures. Let’s open it up! First impression: The entire thing is plastic (quite light weight) and smaller than you’d expect. The lenses over the different LEDs are a littlebit loose, but not a problem.

4 screws and you’re in. On the left the PCB with heatsinked back for the LEDs, on the right the power supply and controller.

The power supply is probably a generic one, and it squeesq under load, but that’s not an issue at a party. Probably not the best capacitors either, but it does the job. The lamp is only passively cooled (no fan) so it remains quiet, but it does heat up. Over time that can give issues to the capacitors which might be underrated.

On the other side of the PCB, we find the LEDs with their lenses that are squeezed between PCB and housing.

One lens lifted

How’s the housing? It’s compact. I’ve tried to put XLR cables in (the ones I have are for microphones, not DMX…) and it’s a bit of a tight fit (they won’t fall out spontaneously). With the mount attached, you cannot point the light straight up (the DMX cables block it). So you’ll be at a 45° angle.

Cables & mount attached

One thing I noticed was that the connector for DMX output was somewhat rusted. When pulling out the connector, the rust was left on one of the pins. I doesn’t hard operation because you scratch of the rust, but it means the lights were stored in a moist place.

A rusted DMX connector

And what about the operation? We’re using it in DMX 512 mode, but the thing comes with a bunch of modes (plain color, fading, flashing, strobe, voice activated – doesn’t work very well with music, and DMX512). Attached the somewhat cryptic manual, but you figure it out after a while.

 

Front and back of the manual

Conclusion: Quite good value for money! It doesn’t give a lot of light, but we a couple of them, you can have fun on a party. 4.5/5 and now I’ll go buy a couple more!

I’ve just received 2 new lights, but this time from a different seller. (Gao Fei factory Store) I doubt this is a 36W lamp, as the manual even states 15W and the light source is 12 (LEDs) * 1W. So it’s just the same as the previous one. One difference though: it has 8 DMX channels (the previous one has 7). No big deal!

Plug in the thing, try to decypher the manual… get light! So, DMX control works. BUT so far I did not find out yet how to set the LED to a color without a fade in between. I don’t want fades, my DMX software will control that! Sent a message to the seller, hoping that it’s hidden somewhere and not a lacking feature…

5 DMX modes (naturally the boundaries are not documented)

0-9 : Color fade
10-99 : Color jump
101-150 : Color fade (between color change wheel) = gradient mode
151-199 : Music activated = sound mode
201-255 : Strobe + Strobe speed + Color change to select colors = strobe mode

Since we have new hardware, lets open the thing up again!

New controller board (comes with an STM8S003F3P6)

Old controller board (chip label removed)

 

New power module (notice the use of connectors)

Old power module (notice lack of connector for mains)

The new module also comes with a really nice feature: when detecting a DMX input signal, it will blink: awesome for some feedback! Just a bit crap that the basic feature doesn’t work :-(. The overall build quality of this lamp is significantly better, with newer PCBs, cleaner design and connectors. Even the strain relief on the mains is an actual one (and not a knot).

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