DMX 512 Protocol Standards 3: Splitters

My interest in DMX 512 networks were peaked during one of the several workshops that I attended in late March at USITT 2012 in Long Beach.  I wrote last week in the  2nd installment on DMX 512 of the role that DMX splitters might play in such a network.  To recap, since a passive Y-configuration does not work with DMX 512 because of the tendency of signal reflection to degrade the signal, resulting in potentially disastrous unreliability, the only way to split a wired DMX-512 signal is to use an optically isolated splitter which allows a single input but delivers multiple cloned but optically isolated outputs.  As a bonus, the splitter boosts the signal.

However,  Selecting the right splitter for your installation requires a little research and consideration. DMX-512 is a very mature standard now over 20 years after its establishment, and most manufacturer’s products should work with one another.  Below are brief descriptions of some of the common models produced by the most established manufacturers of DMX-512 splitters:

Pathway Connectivity Solutions:

9016 Repeater from /www.pathwayconnect.com

  • 9014:  1 isolated input/ 1 passive through-put/ 8 output with 5-pin XLR ($1000 list)
  • 9014-3:  same as 9014 except featuring 3-pin XLR ($1000 list)
  • 9016:  same as 9014 except with connectors on front of unit. ($1000 list)
  • 9016-3:  same as 9014-3 except with connectors on front of unit. ($1000 list)

Goddard Design:

Goddard FD HUB5 photo from goddarddesign.com

  • FD CC 05: 1 isolated input/5 grounded output with 5-pin XLR ($560 list)
  • FD CC 95a:  1 isolated input/1 isolated output (user-groundable) /4grounded output ($600 list)
  • FD ISO 5:  1 isolated input/ 5 isolated output (user-groundable) ($1000 list)

Doug Fleenor Design:

Doug Fleenor Design 1211-5 from www.dfd.com/

Doug Fleenor Design 1211-5 from http://www.dfd.com/

  • 123-5: 1 isolated input/5 grounded output with 5-pin XLR ($610 list)
  • 125-5:  1 isolated input/5 output with 5-pin XLR ($870 list)
  • 1211-5:  1 isolated input/ 11 output with 5-pin XLR ($1800 list)

ENTTEC:

ENTTEC RD S8 from http://www.enttec.com

  • RD S4: 1 isolated input/4 grounded output with 5-pin XLR ($420 list)
  • RD S8:  1 isolated input/8 output with 5-pin XLR ($735 list)
  • 70572 D-Split:  1 isolated input/ 2 output with 5-pin SLR/ 2 output with 3-pin XLR ($110 list)
  • 70575 D-Split:  1 isolated input/ 4 output with 5-pin XLR ($110 list)

Many other  DMX splitters  are available from other manufactures including Levitron, Elation Pro Lighting, Eternal Lighting Company (ELC).  Other theatrical equipment manufacturers including Martin, Chauvette, Strand, ETC, etc…probably also supply quite satisfactory devices.   As you can see from the list prices, there is a wide range of price points.  While a cheap device might be as satisfactory as an expensive one, there is some truth to the adage “you get what you pay for”.  This wisdom was shared with me by several of my colleagues from the Stagecraft Mailing List.

The major factor affecting price within a manufacturer’s line is the number of outputs.  Again, popular wisdom is that you should not skimp on outputs.  Once you determine how many you think you will need, choose the next larger size in your chosen manufacturer’s line.

That’s it for now! Have fun!  Be safe!

SJM

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