DMX Explained

DMX 512 is a protocol standard in digital communication networks mostly used in lighting. The signal is transmitted from a controlling master device to slave devices. Multiple DMX devices can be daisy chained together in any order, just make sure you only have one master device per chain. Our Processor is the DMX master and all our DMX Driver are slaves. We usually refer to a DMX daisy chain as a 'DMX Bus'.

Once all the DMX drivers are in place, each one will need to be configured to a specific address. This is how the master DMX device tell the slave DMX device what to do.

For information about the DMX Wire itself, please proceed to the DMX Wire section.

The network (also referred to as a universe) can be split or expanded across parallel busses using a DMX splitters. Our DMX splitters also act as DMX Amplifiers. This amplification helps ensure a strong signal between the devices.

Basic System This is an example of a simple setup that has a CBNA-200-Z4, a SRPC2108 and a CBNA Processor.

DMX Address and Universes

DMX is a relatively simple protocol, but it does have some limitations. The DMX protocol only supports 512 addresses on a single DMX bus. This could be an issue on very large installation that need a many different lighting loads. When this becomes a problem, you will need to setup different DMX universes. A DMX universe is just a different DMX bus. But that also means you will need to a separate DMX master, CBNA Processor, to control that universe. How and what you connect to each DMX universe is really up to you, but it will impact what you need to configure.

DMX Universe


Make sure there is only one CBNA Processor per DMX universe. Or else, two DMX masters that are sending commands to the address can cause the lights to behave erratically, thus creating a DMX address conflict.

This doesn't mean that you never shouldn't ever have DMX drivers with the same address. It just mean that if 2 DMX drivers have the same address, they will do the same thing. This can help save the on address space for large installations.

For example, lets say you have a large room to install luminaries in, which requires twelve 36Watt luminaries. Each 36Watt luminary needs to occupy a whole port on a CBNA-200-Z4. This means each CBNA-200-Z4 can only power four 36Watt luminaries. So to power all twelve 36Watt luminaries, you would need 3 CBNA-200-Z4 and each CBNA-200-Z4 listens to 20 address. So in this scenario, if all 3 CBNA-200-Z4 listen to the same address, you would be able to save 40 DMX addresses, thus allowing you to control to control all twelve light as if there where only four.

DMX drivers

Colorbeam currently has many different DMX drivers. But the 2 most common drivers are the:

The CBNA-200-Z4 automatically listens to 20 address, starting at the address configured too. And the SRPC2108 can be configured to listen up to 5 channels starting at the address configured too.


The main difference between the CBNA-200-Z4 and the SRPC2108 is the kind of electrical output. The CBNA-200-Z4 supplies electricity as constant current (Amps). While the SRPC2108 supplied electricity as constant voltage (Volts).

DMX Amplifier

The DMX Amplifier is used to insure the strength of the DMX signal. Typically recommend not connecting more than 6 DMX devices on the same chain. The DMX Amplifier will help you create new chains, all the while being connected to the same DMX universe.

When the DMX Amplifier is successfully connected to a CBNA Processor, it's status light indicator will light up green. If it's light is red, that means it isn't receiving any DMX signals and you may want to double check your DMX Wires.

Colorbeam Enclosure with DMX Drivers and CBNA Processor

Last Updated: 8/9/2018, 7:36:32 PM