Norns & DMX Lighting Control

So, I started a new job recently as an AV Tech.
My strengths have always been in audio, and I’m just now learning the video part. Some of my job will involve DMX lighting, but I don’t have a small DMX controller.
At work we have a GranMA2 board that controls all of the lighting through out the facility. Funny enough, it runs on LUA programming. Figure I can kill two birds with one stone. Learn some LUA programming while turning my Norns/Grid into a DMX controller.

I’m wondering, has anyone already put something like this together? Maybe a mod? If not, any suggestions on how I might get started? Any help people might have for starting out is greatly appreciated!


I worked with a really great LD who used an APC40 MKII with our granMA board.

You’d just need the Norns to spit out Midi CC via Grid pushes and display whatever you need. You should be able to control things the same and there are a bunch of Midi focused scripts that you can pull ideas from.

Sounds like a really cool idea and you can lay out the interface however you like your granMA file to operate. You could probably do LFOs too :sunglasses: ala Changes.


Well, the thing is I’m completely new to DMX and the GranMA board. But since it controls the lights for the entire facility with thousands of people walking around, I’ve opted not to mess with the GranMA board until I learn more about it and LUA. So I thought the Norns would be a good temp substitute until then. If that makes sense. :sweat_smile:

this is an old clip which may interest you

one of my favorite interfaces for a grid app
built in max & used to control lighting array represented by the subgrid


I’ve used my grid & arc with Max and one of these to control lights for shows/parties before. I’m going to have to try it out with some norns scripts.


For fun and practice this is the faceplate and encoder section of an Eos console I had worked at a while ago in Max. Eos boards (and GrandMA for that matter) can take OSC input over the local network so that’s how I was sending commands, rather than midi.

I’m not sure it was particularly practical - I much prefer other remote station setups I’ve made with other gear - but it certainly was great practice at the time. Norns can handle OSC messaging just fine.

Added note: This was a rather slavish recreation of the facepanel controls rather than any ‘creative’ imagining of controlling anything. Near the end I had that very particular moment of realization that this wasn’t going to be inspiring to use or anything… a functional copy at best. Good practice, but that was about all.


A word of note, Grandma (2 at least) cannot take MIDI CC or OSC in, only MSC or note data. Generating MSC with Norns might be a viable solution, though.

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Dang it, that’s absolutely right. I must have been using something to translate OSC at the time. It’s been a minute.

In MA you have the effect generator and custom shapes which can achieve this. A neat trick I sometimes do is to run an internal dmx remote, where I let an effect remote control the content of one of more submasters using dummy channels.


Some really interesting stuff to look over so far.
I should probably specify the main idea/question I have.
Mainly I was looking for a script that was already made, or making a script to send DMX commands through one of Norns USB ports.
However, one person in the Monome FB group said I would need some type of converter to do that.
*sad trombone*

i looked into various approaches for exactly this last year (norns support for openDMX usb dongle) and the state of dmx on linux seemed a little messy… i really could not get any code working, and the larger authoring softwares (i forget the names) were extremely opaque (though i did get some sort of response from the hardware, so that’s something).

it feels lazy, but a drop-in shortcut would be to use a midi-to-dmx converter

someday if an experienced linux-dmx dev has some insights i’d be happy to patch in direct support

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I think the openDMX dongle is messy from the start, or from experience getting it up and running with other systems. I think there are different ways to approach light control:

  1. Remote to a current desk solution. This has the advantage of being able to be one layer of abstraction from the actual light, meaning you can remote control different parametres and approaches, without actually having to have a frameworks which implements them. On MA you could use grid for different triggers, but also macros that can do more complex operations within the system.

  2. USB DMX from Norns. I’d look into it using Enttec DMX USB pro instead of the OpenDMX units. I’ve experienced a lot more stability from this.

3.DMX over ethernet or wifi. An implementation of multicast using ArtNet or sACN might be more straight forward or robust than setting up a usb device. Then it’d just be a matter of having a node on the other end that listens and outputs cabled dmx.

For option two, I’d look into this thread. I’ve used the serial port communication implemented in the response with great success.

Option 3, David Butler’s abstractions for Max might be an inspiration. As well as the Open Lighting Project. I’ve had the latter system receiving dmx over wifi on a rpi and passing it onto a usb dmx device.

The big challenge with an implementation of DMX on Norns might not be the protocol, but how to customise and create an efficient control palette for lamps that’ll be highly different depending on the situation. Even the same show might have fixtures with different parametres if you end up changing the venue. Creating a library to accommodate the practicality of that while still being interesting and good to interact with, moreso that you’d prefer that over a lighting desk, is tough.

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