QLC+ LED Matrix Tutorial

The Harware

This quick tutorial will be based on using a 24ch DMX Decoder which is available at Amazon, however, you can use any group of light fixtures you have. This tutorial assumes you have a basic understanding of how to use QLC+ and have been able to control lights with it in the past. Also, that you know how to connect the DMX decoder to LED Strips and your lighting system.

Setup

In QLC+ make sure you have the Fixtures tab selected. Next, click the + icon in the upper left corner as shown below. 

Because the decoder we want to use isn’t an option in the list of fixtures we would need to create our own fixture definition, but because fixture authoring is out of the scope of this tutorial I’ve made one you can download here and put it in the following folder Windows: C:\Users\MyUser\QLC+\Fixtures Mac: MyUser/Library/Application Support/QLC+/Fixtures

You will need to restart QLC+ after you place the file.

Match your settings to the image above. You can name your fixture whatever you’d like. Set the address in accordance with the rest of your lighting setup. (If you already have other fixtures set up, then make this address whatever the next available address is in your system.) Set the mode to 8 Head. The quantity depends on how many of these decoders you have or are using for this specific matrix. You can set it to 4 here for example and it will generate 4 fixtures, and you can go back and rename each if you’d like. Address Gapping is used to add a buffer between fixtures to prevent the fixtures from mixing up the signal. I’ve never had an issue not putting a gap and there’s on 512 channels available per dmx universe so I don’t like to waste them!

Now that we have all our decoders set up in the software we need to add them to a matrix. I’ll show you how to make a basic 8 x 4 matrix first, then show you how to set it up to make something like this Light Pyramid which is a little trickier.

Select all the DMX Decoders we just set up. Right click them and select “Add fixture to group” then “New Group”

Name the group what you’d like. Again, for this example we will make a Matrix that is 8 pixels wide by 4 pixels high.

You will see a new folder has appeared above “Universe 1”. Click on it and you will see each “head” of all 4 fixtures laid out into a matrix.

Cool… now what?

Now that we have our matrix set up we can add a function that will through color over the whole matrix and change each “Head” to whatever color is theoretically on top of it.

Click on the Functions tab.

Select the RGB Matrix function which is 3 circles blending together as pictured above.

A fancy new window will pop up on the right side of the screen. Name the function what you want. Select the LED Matrix you created in the fixture group drop down. Now you can play around with all the different patterns and their various parameters. The large black rectangle on the left side of this window shows a simulation of what color the lights in the matrix should be representing as. Play around with all the different settings to figure out what they all do. 

Let’s get this thing going!

So you’ve figured out what you want the matrix to do, how do you get it to the lights?

Click on the Virtual Console to set up a button that will send the matrix pattern to your lights.

Select the square icon then double click on the button it creates. which will pop up another dialog window.

Change the button text, and click the Function section icon shown above. 

Select the Matrix function you made and click ok. Also, click ok on the button settings window.

Click the play button in the upper right hand corner to put QLC+ in operational mode. Then click your new button and watch the beautifulness unfold. (Or your face get red with rage when something didn’t work correctly…)

Slightly more advanced set up

If you have a group of elements that are not rectangle you need to add more pixels than you will actually use. For the pyramid, I needed 11 pixels wide by 5 pixels high. I also wasn’t using all 8 heads on 2 of the decoders so I set those two to be using the 7 Head mode.

I then rearranged the heads to reflect their physical arrangement as close as I could. It’s important to realize that you don’t have to use every block in the grid.   

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments below, or tell me what I did wrong. Thanks! 😀

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