Next Story in this issue
News & Notices
Enter Now for Awards
News From:
Conference & Stage Expo
For the Record


Publish Second Edition of Recommended Practice

Mitch Hefter
ESTA / USITT DMX512 Revision (ANSI E1.11) Task Group Chair
USITT Engineering Vice-Commissioner, DMX512 Subcommittee Chair

Adam Bennette, a leading authority on DMX512 in the lighting industry, has released a new edition of his book Recommended Practice for DMX 512: A Guide for Users and Installers.

The DMX512 standard was developed by USITT in 1986 and is the standard lighting control protocol for the entertainment industry. After an update in 1990, in 2004 a revision to DMX512 became an ANSI standard through the ESTA Technical Standards Program, and the name was changed to USITT DMX512-A (formally known as ANSI E1.11-2004 - Entertainment Technology - USITT DMX512-A - Asynchronous Serial Digital Data Transmission Standard for Controlling Lighting Equipment and Accessories). Two years later, an extension to DMX512, known as Remote Device Management (RDM), became an ANSI standard (ANSI E1.20 - 2006 - Entertainment Technology--Remote Device Management over USITT DMX512). It was time for an update to the Recommended Practice to address the new features of DMX512 and the RDM extension.

Mr. Bennette again took on the task, and the revised edition is now available. This second edition contains information for both users and installers of DMX512, DMX512-A and RDM systems.

The need for new version of this guide has arisen due to the revision of the DMX512 specification as well as the publication of a new Standard, Remote Device Management (RDM). The new specifications add features to the original DMX512 control protocol. Some of these features require systems to be set up differently from the previous simpler systems. It is recommended that all new systems be set up in the way described in this edition.

This document is a joint PLASA/USITT Recommended Practice, not an ANSI, USITT, or PLASA standard. Readers wishing to design DMX512-A compliant equipment must refer to the ANSI E1.11-2004 (USITT DMX512-A) and ANSI E1.20 2006 (RDM) standards, and the EIA 485 A standard. This Recommended Practice does not replace the USITT DMX512 (1990) nor the ANSI E1.11 2004 (USITT DMX512-A) and ANSI E1.20 2006 (RDM) Standards.

The recommended practice explains the DMX512-A specification and offers examples and professional advice on how to set up a successful DMX512-A system. While it also offers advice on certain aspects of the design of actual DMX512-A equipment, it does not necessarily contain all the information required to design DMX512-A compliant equipment.

Steve Terry, the chair of the original USITT committee that wrote DMX512 in 1986, said, "Adam's book has been used for many years by thousands of entertainment technicians and equipment designers. When DMX512 was updated in 2004 to become the new ANSI E1.11 standard, and when the new E1.20 Remote Device Management (RDM) standard was published, it left Adam's book somewhat out of date, and left the industry clamoring for an updated version. No one was better suited than Adam to write that update."

According to Mr. Bennette, "Users who only require a simple DMX system, without any of the new features, may still use the original advice in the first edition if they wish. However, systems set up in that way may not be upgradeable in the future. I therefore recommend that all new systems be set up in the way described in this second edition."

The new edition was made possible through the help of ETC, a longtime supporter of entertainment-industry standards and a founding contributor to the ESTA Technical Standards Program. Mr. Terry, who is also ETC's vice president of R&D, was the founding co-chair of the ESTA Control Protocols Working Group, which is now responsible for the maintenance of the DMX512 standard. Mr. Bennette is also technical director for ETC Ltd. in the United Kingdom. Mr. Terry said, "We're very pleased that ETC could help make this much-needed new edition happen in a very short period of time."

The guide, published by USITT and PLASA, is available for purchase through both organizations. USITT members receive a discount when purchasing through the USITT Bookstore.

To Top