DMX Lasers

DMX lasers.
What they are, how they work.

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Quick Overview

A DMX laser is a very basic, factory-set laser light projector that is controlled using the the DMX protocol.

DMX lasers are very basic, and only allow you to trigger stock laser patterns that are factory-set to the device, using the DMX protocol. The factory set content is often limited to basic shapes, and cartoon-style laser animations. These types of lasers do not allow you to create content, and then control it across the laser projector.

Additionally, the control you have over the factory-set content is often very limiting, only allowing for basic control over movement and position. Generally, DMX laser are not used for standard laser displays, as they do not offer the level of control and creative freedom needed, to create a real show.

What is DMX?

DMX512, also known as DMX, is a standard for digital communication networks that is used across the stage lighting and laser light show industries.

How do I control a laser over DMX?

Before trying to control your laser projector via DMX, there are a couple prerequisites we suggest looking over to ensure a smooth, safe, and successful operation.

To start, you will need a laser with a capable DMX controller (this can be built in, or external). We highly recommended using a laser system with Pangolin's FB4 control hardware (built-in, or external). FB4 is the most widely used laser control hardware for operating a laser via DMX.

If you own an ILDA based laser, visit the tab "How do I control my ILDA laser via DMX".

Unless you only intend on only using factory content from your laser system forever, you are also going to need laser control software like QuickShow or BEYOND to design and export content. Another one of the added benefits of FB4 is that QuickShow is included free of charge with the purchase of any FB4.

Once you have a capable show laser system, watch the tutorial video below to learn how to setup your laser via DMX from a lighting console:

How do I control an ILDA laser via DMX?

If you want to control an existing ILDA based laser, over DMX there are a few workflows to accomplish this.

The first, is to use the FB4 External hardware device. This will give you most of the benefits of an FB4 based laser, but the device is external to the projector.

You can see a quick video overview here

With this setup, we take the FB4 DMX controller, and build it into an external housing. So you can run ethernet, DMX or ArtNET to the FB4 external hardware, and then an ILDA cable to the back of your existing ILDA laser projector. FB4 External supports PC control, ArtNET control, DMX control, timecode control, and stand-alone (auto) mode operation.

The second option, is to use the Enttec DMX USB pro hardware, in conjunction with Pangolin software. You can see a few video examples showing this setup below (with both QuickShow and BEYOND software):

QuickShow BEYOND

What is FB4?

FB4 is a network based control platform for laser shows, developed by Pangolin. FB4 is a media server for your laser shows, giving you complete control over your laser projector and show control parameters.

FB4 can be controlled from a PC with an ethernet cable, with DMX or ArtNET protocols, timecode control, as well as stand-alone (auto) operation and more.

With an FB4 equipped laser projector, you can immediately control the laser over DMX (from a lighting console, DMX console, etc.) with over 3,500 pieces of laser content that is already on the installed on the FB4 memory. These can be actively controlled, including channels for size, position, rotation, effects, geometric correction, safety, colors, and much more.

All versions of FB4 are included with QuickShow software free of charge. FB4 equipped laser systems provide you with a vastly more capable platform for designing and operating laser systems. Simplify your setup, helping you integrate lasers into a much broader range of multimedia setups.

Why should I use FB4 for controlling a laser via DMX?

With an FB4 equipped laser projector, you can instantly control the laser over DMX (from a lighting console, DMX console, etc.) and choose from thousands of pre-installed laser cues located on the FB4's memory card. Most parameters of the laser cues can be actively controlled. These parameters include size, position, rotation, effects, geometric correction, safety, colors, and more.

In more advanced setups, you can interface Pangolin software directly with a lighting console over DMX, allowing for even more control. We call this DMX/ArtNET server, and it allows a lighting console to harness the power of the effect and content creation engines inside of our software. All while allowing you remain using the lighting console of your choice.

You can see an example of DMX/ArtNET server in action below: