Comments requested on BSR E1.11, the first draft of an updated DMX512 standard

The Entertainment Services and Technology Association is asking all interested parties to comment on the first draft of a revised and updated version of DMX512A, formally known as BSR E1.11, Entertainment Technology - USITT DMX512A, Asynchronous Serial Digital Data Transmission Standard for Controlling Lighting Equipment and Accessories.

BSR E1.11, Entertainment Technology - USITT DMX512-A, Asynchronous Serial Digital Data Transmission Standard for Controlling Lighting Equipment and Accessories, is now available for public review and comment. This document is an updating and revision of the widely used DMX512/1990, which was originally developed by the United States Institute for Theatre Technology.

USITT's DMX512 is being revised in BSR E1.11 to clarify undefined and loosely defined provisions in the original document and to accommodate new lighting technology while maintaining backward compatibility with products that comply with the existing standard. The new version addresses issues regarding the use of alternate start codes, the undefined data pair, grounding practices, over-voltage protection, error detection, and alternate connectors.

Comments on BSR E1.11 are being sought so that the standard may reflect the consensus of the entertainment lighting industry. The complete public review materials packet includes a copy of BSR E1.11 , a comment form for BSR E1.11, and this instruction page. The public is invited to use these materials to review the document and to offer criticism - both positive and negative - by the comment deadline of 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on 24 April 2001. Comments received after that time may not be considered as part of this public review.

The comment form asks you to do two things: tell the standards committee if you think the document is good enough to become an American National Standard as it is, and if not, tell the committee what you think needs to be changed. Please be as specific as you can about what needs to be changed, where, and why. For example, a comment such as, "Should address lightning," would be only marginally helpful. A comment such as, "In section 4.2, the user should be specifically warned against using control equipment on water towers in a lightning storm to avoid electrocution," would be more helpful. It would recommend a specific change in a specific place, and would give a rationale for the change. Even better would be a comment that would give specific wording to correct the perceived problem.

Please send your comments to both the Technical Standards Manager and the Board of Standards Review at ANSI. The relevant addresses are at the bottom of the comment form. If you would also mail your comments on a computer disk or in the body of an e-mail message to the Technical Standards Manager at standards@esta.org, it will be greatly appreciated. If you submit electronic versions of your comments, they will not need to be retyped, which will help to ensure accuracy. Please include your real name and company or organization in your e-mailed message or disk file so your comments can be easily identified.

Please also look for protected intellectual property in the draft standard. ESTA and Accredited Standards Committee E1 do not intend to adopt any standard that contains patented or copyrighted intellectual property, unless that property can be licensed and used by anyone without prejudice or preference for a reasonable fee. If you see any protected intellectual property in the documents, please point it out in your comments.

The E1-11 DMX512A document be download here.

A comment form can be download here.


Please send paper submissions to

Technical Standards Manager
875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 2302
New York, NY 10001
Fax: +1-212-244-1502

All submissions must be received no later than 4:00 p.m. ET, April 24, 2001.


The original version of the DMX512 standard was developed in 1986 by the Engineering Commission of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology, Inc. (USITT). Minor revisions were made in 1990 to create "DMX512/1990, Digital Data Transmission Standard for Dimmers and Controllers." The 1986 and 1990 versions covered only data used by dimmers. In practice, the standard has been used for controlling a wide variety of devices.

In 1998 it became evident that additional updates to the standard were necessary and that formal recognition through an internationally recognized standards organization was required. The USITT DMX512 Subcommittee issued a Call for Comments in order to solicit recommendations for changes to the standard. At the same time, USITT transferred maintenance of DMX512 to the Entertainment Services and Technology Association (ESTA).

The revision effort was taken up by the ESTA Technical Standards Program's Control Protocols Working Group, which appointed a task group to act on the proposals received from USITT's Call for Comments. The task group established several goals as part of their work:

  1. Produce a consensus document following proper standards procedures.
  2. Make editorial updates to DMX512 appropriate for current times.
  3. Add technical features while maintaining a balance with backward compatibility, including formalizing the management of alternate start codes.
  4. Identify among the proposals received in response to the Call for Comments which ones belong in an application note or a recommended practice instead of in the standard.
  5. Take actions on these proposals and deliver a draft of a revised DMX512 standard to the Control Protocols Working Group (CPWG).

New concepts introduced in this current draft standard include:


Last Updated: 10.02.2001 (C) SLH 1997-99