Somebody asked me a question the other day that prompted me to think about some of the issues that i've had in getting DMX over IP to run. While the lessons learned come from larger commercial installations, i think they are still well worth considering in any display. You can "get away" with things when they are small, but those decisions might come back to haunt you at a later date. I'm thinking I'm going to write a few things about what i've learned over the next few weeks...
Theres two main protocols that are used for transporting DMX over an IP network; Art-net ( and that comes in three versions, v1, v2, and most recently v3 ) and Streaming ACN otherwise known as E1.31. At a most basic level both of them take a "universe" of channels ( thats a block of 512 channels ) wrap them up in a data packet and transmit them onto a IP network. The specifications for the 'standards' are published.. The art-net standard is free, the e1.31 standard you need to pay for.
So the first thing i've learned is that while there is standards, theres not that many devices / systems that really adhere to the 'standards' to the letter and or fully. This isn't just in DIY style hardware and software, this also in commercial systems as well ( and some of them cost > $100k !! ). I must add that the controllers that i've developed and sell also are not 100% compliant with the standards, but we are working on it.
The lack of adhering strictly to standards is done for a bunch of reasons. Sometimes its clearly just bad design, but more often its a compromise that has been made to make something work and it was a deliberate choice.
Lesson #1. Don't assume because your media server ( vixen, lsp, Grandma, madrix or whatever ) which says it runs a 'standard' will interconnect and run flawlessly on a network with your end devices and controllers, when they also say they will use a 'standard'. Either test it all out yourself, or take the easy path and learn from someone else's experience. This testing needs to be at the scale you intend to run it at.
My lesson 1a is to try to design into the stuff i'm doing 100% compliance to the standards. Though thats really tough.
I've love to hear your stores about when stuff hasn't worked ( or worked ) the way you expected.. I hope that we can all learn some good stuff.