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Rail-DALI-DMX: Power cycle and fault conditions

Users who are more familiar with DMX512 than DALI can find the way DALI ballasts respond to power cycle or fault conditions confusing. A key difference between DMX512 and DALI is that DMX512 is continuously refreshing whereas DALI is not.

When a DMX512 fixture is power cycled it will immediately take the DMX512 level data. When a DALI ballast is power cycled it will go to a pre-programmed level called “POWER ON LEVEL”. It will stay at that level until a new DALI level command is sent. DALI-Scope can be used to both read and programme the ballast’s “POWER ON LEVEL”.

When a DALI ballast detects a fault, such as a brown out of the DALI BUS POWER SUPPLY it will go to a pre-programmed level called “SYSTEM FAILURE LEVEL”. It will stay at that level until a new DALI level command is sent. Dali-Scope can be used to read the ballast’s “SYSTEM FAILURE LEVEL”.

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Dali-Scope: Adding a ballast to an existing system

It is sometimes necessary to add a new ballast to an existing installation. Usually you will want to do this without changing the short addresses of the existing ballasts.

To do this you need to isolate the new ballast from the existing network prior to commissioning with Dali-Scope. This means that you should connect the new DALI ballast, the bus power supply and Dali-Scope together. If the new ballast has previously been assigned a short address, simply change the short address to the preferred address using Dali-Scope. If the ballast is in factory default state, run an “Automatic channel discovery”. This process will assign short address 1 to the ballast. Then change the short address to the preferred value prior to connecting it to the ballast network.

You can then connect the new ballast to the existing network.

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Rail-DALI-DMX: Quick start

Often a customer simply wishes to use Rail-DALI-DMX to convert a DALI channel to DMX. The following instructions allow this:

  • Open the top cover to access the DIP switches.
  • Set Switch-6 to off. This puts product in ballast mode.
  • Set Switch-3 and Switch-4 to off – this tells the product to emulate a single DALI ballast.
  • Connect the DALI input to your DALI controller and start discovery. Your DALI controller will discover one new ballast which you should address to a free short address – this is your virtual DALI address. (Your controller may do that automatically).
  • Connect the DMX output to your DMX receiver.
  • Any intensity changes sent to the virtual DALI address will appear on channel 1 of the DMX output.
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DALI: An introduction

Artistic Licence offers a number of products used to convert and manage DALI.

Rail-DALI-DMX converts DALI to DMX512 and Rail-DMX-DALI converts to DMX to DALI.

There is a very large speed difference between DMX512 and DALI which means that care must be taken when designing a lighting installation which converts the between them.

This link offers a primer on DALI and discusses some of the pitfalls.