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Beginners Page - Alpha version 1.1
Welcome to the Beginners Page. The first thing to do is to relax and enjoy your journey. No one starts out knowing all of this stuff. It takes some time to read it all and to understand what you need and or want. Ask any questions that you have, this is a super friendly site that is willing and able to help.

General Info

  • What is Light Animation?
A way to control strings of lights using a combination of a computer, music and controllers. Lights can be on, off or a range of dimming.
DMX is a communications protocol that "talks" on low voltage wiring and controls entertainment devices. Some devices are lights and servo motors, etc. It is generated from a computer and is sent to controller(s) which then control your light strings, servos and other devices.
  • What is a Coop?
Cooperative Order. What we call it when we all get together and make a big order for a large quantity of parts. A Coop Manager runs the coop. We give the Coop Manager money to purchase the large quantity of parts, then the Manager sorts the parts into kits that they mail to the coop participants.
  • What is a PCB?
Printed Circuit Board. The electronic boards we have produced to allow people to solder parts on Sort of the basis for whole controller that connects everything together and allows us to control the lights.
  • What is a PIC?
  • PIC originally meant "Peripheral Interface Controller." A PIC is a micro controller manufactured by Microchip. It is the brains of the system that takes the DMX signal and tells the lights to change or dim.
  • I need my pic programmed but I don't have a programmer. Is there anybody that will do this for me? Yes see this page
  • How to program a Pic24f with a PICkit2
  • A bare bones way to program the Pic18f with a PICkit3
  • Getting started with the PICkit3
  • Where can I start looking for other help pages in the wiki? Help Categories
  • Looking for more info? Please see the [Glossary] page
  • LOR Users should check out the [Light-O-Rama] page

Bare Bones Beginning System

  • Computer - Start off with a computer that uses windows as the operating system. Why windows? because the program that "talks" to the controllers is built with .net 2.0 and the program is called Vixen
  • USB cable - This connects the computer to the Dongle.
  • Dongle - The next part we connect is a Lynx Dongle (which translates computer coded signals into DMX signals) which will then connect to some sort of communications link. This is also DIY. You will need a PCB from RJ, parts purchased from Mouser and an enclosure purchased separately.
  • Communications link - This may be a wired link or a wireless link - your choice.
  • The wired link will require an Ethernet cable (cat5 but runs DMX NOT Ethernet) from the dongle to the next part of the system - a controller.
  • A wireless link will require a Lynx Wireless Transmitter, connected to the dongle via Ethernet cable, and a Lynx Wireless Receiver (of which there are a few types) which then connects to - a controller.
  • Lynx Controller - this is the part that connects to your lights and there are many varieties. These are usually made up of:
  • a PCB. These are usually ordered from RJ or included in a Coop.
  • electronic components (the stuff you solder into the PCB) These are usually ordered from Mouser or included in a Coop.
  • an enclosure (box) to put them in. This is usually purchased separately by you.
  • Some kind of extension cords. These are usually purchased separately by you.
  • Lights - purchased separately!
  • Add some kind of optional sound. Most people will use an FM transmitter for people to be able to sit in their car to listen to the show.
  • Some diagrams can be seen here

...and that's all there is to it! Just add some sequencing and you've got your very own blinky flashy universe.

Ordering Info

  • ALL Lynx pcb (printed circuit boards) are from RJ
  • DLA runs something called coops which is a way to get the pcbs and most of the time, parts for the pcbs (the parts are normally the more expensive stuff)
  • You will also need cases and cords. These are not usually included in coops as there is not much of a price break on these items.

DMX Hardware Info

What does what? Need more information see our Equipment page which includes Assembly Manuals, Special software called firmware and a parts list (BOM) for each piece of hardware

Lynx Express {16 Channel Controller with on board ssrs - all in one unit - Wireless - Light Normalization}



  • 16 Channel AC Controller
  • On board SSRs
  • Wired and Wireless
  • One channel splitter (two dmx outputs when using wired / one dmx ouput (wired) when using wireless)
  • Light Normalization - Makes all lights turn on and dim the same all the way up to full on (up to 4 different dimming curves)
  • Auto Select 50/60 HZ
  • On board Diagnostics
  • On board programming of start channel
  • ICSP connector for reflashing the pic

The Lynx Express is a 16 channel all in one controller like the Lynx but using the standard phase angle dimming with some advancements built in. The dimmer will be based loosely on the Freestyle and will fit in the same case. While based off the Freestyle the device will use much a more powerful controller to allow me to make the dimming absolutely smooth. From level 1 to level 256 you will have the exact same output change like the Lynx could do.

It will have the SSR's on board. It will have the wireless connector to plug the wireless board into so it will be wireless ready.

The difference is it will be programmable from your computer for not only start channel, using the configuration software I will provide there will be no jumper for programming you just use the software to do it. It will also have the ability to do something I call light normalization.

As we all know LED's and incandescent lights do not dim on the same curve. They come on at different points and their brightness curves do not match very well. But even inside of these different types each brand sometimes dim different also. I have a number of different Led's and they all have differences although slight.

My new setup allows you select the type of lights you have on each controller when you program it and then have it use this custom curve to make every light in your show come on the same amount at level 1 and max out at level 256. And be at 50% output at level 127, etc. It will do this not on a few points in the curve but on each of the 256 levels to make them match exactly.

This is what I call light normalizing. Like audio normalizing when you make all your MP3's play at the same loudness so one is not blowing your ears off and the next can hardly be heard.

The benefit to you will be you can just program your show with out regards for what is on what channel and the results should look much closer to what it looks like on the adjustable preview in vixen.

The cost of the Express is projected without case at $50 on a qty 50 coop and about $60 on single one time order.


Lynx Freestyle {128 Channel Controller - Using external ssrs}



  • 128 Channel Ouput
  • Up to 32 SSRs (4 channel SSRs)
  • 50/60 HZ
  • Can control low voltage SSRs
  • Full Dimming
  • Vixen can set the start address with a simple on board jumper

The Freestyle is a External SSR based Controller that will operate 1 to 32 4 channel standard DIY SSR's giving you 128 channels of lighting control from one controller. It has it's own built in power supply that can operate on 120v/240v AC. Plug it in to power and send it your DMX signal and you have from 4 to 128 channels. It is a very cost effective setup costing about what most 64 channel controllers cost. I was designed to fit its case well and is coop at diylightanimation as a kit complete with all parts, pcb, and case for around $75 so just add solder.

It is also offered as just a pcb board for those that wish to buy just the pcb.


Lynx SSR4-DMX {4 Channel Controller}



  • 4 Channel AC controller
  • Full Dimming
  • Vixen can set the start address with a simple on board jumper

The SSR4 is a new design of the Solid State Relay like do it yourselfers use on the external ssr design controllers like the Freestyle.

This is a new design which has a twist.

the twist is it can be made a full 4 channel dmx controller and ssr unit with the addition of a few inexpensive parts. This will give you freedom and flexibility in your layout of the show.

It has a nice encolsure it fits into so it make a very nice setup.


Lynx MR16 {16 Channel MR16 LED Light Controller uses 12VDC}



  • 16 Channel MR16 LED Controller
  • 12 volt DC
  • Up to 192 MR16 LEDs
  • Full Dimming
  • Vixen can set the start address with a simple on board jumper

The MR16 Controller is a specialized controller for the purpose of controlling your MR16 light Canons. It has 16 channels of independent dimming control. Each channel is design to handle 12 MR16 spot lights. It is setup to allow you to operate 4 cannons which include up to 12 Red, Green, Blue mr16 each. with each color of each canon on its own channel to allow blending of color. It uses simple spade connects to connect to it so you can any suitable cable and use female spade connectors to interconnect. It uses DMX and has perfectly smooth dimming with no flicker. It uses any external 12v supply you choose to use($19 computer supply works well). It has been tested with two different sets of MR16 available from Wirekats coops. It is design to fit into a nice small weather resistant case.

One controller can handle up to 192 MR16's if the external power 12v power supply can supply the 35 amps needed to handle them.