DMX512 as a flame effect controller

Flame effect controller, or LED lighting controller?

Using a fenode board and a 12V RGB LED strip, it's easy to make a DMX512 lighting fixture. DMX addresses 1-4 directly adjust the output of the 4 PWM channels using the controller's sliders. Channel 1 is red (above), channel 2 is green:

The fenode and dmxfire boards use RS-485 for communication, which is the serial communication protocol that DMX512 runs over. One simple Arduino sketch later, the boards take DMX512 commands from an off-the-shelf lighting control system. I'm using the Chauvet Obey 10, because it was cheap on eBay ($100 including 4 XLR cables). The only extra work was making an XLR-3 to RJ45 adapter cable; the next version of each of these boards will have a dual RJ45 and XLR footprint for data in and out.

The DMX512 specification states that it is not meant to be used for pyrotechnics and other potentially harmful devices due to the lack of error detection. (This is why the communications protocol used in Super Street Fire and other projects has error detection built in.) However, commercial DMX512-controlled flame effects do exist, and generally use multiple addresses for arming and firing. While I don't recommend using DMX512 as the communication protocol for a flame effect controller, it is possible.