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Why will my new lighting console not gain control of my existing Colortran ENR of Leviton Topaz dimming system?

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Why will my new lighting console not gain control of my existing Colortran ENR of Leviton Topaz dimming system?  You need a Leviton IF501 converter!


This blog is designed to help the end users of Colortran ENR and Leviton Topaz Dimmer Rack Systems understand how their dimmer racks receive their commands to turn on, off, and dim their lighting loads. The first thing to understand is that the Colortran ENR, NSI ENR, and Leviton Topaz are all the SAME dimming system; just different names. I will use Colortran ENR in the rest of this blog, but they are all the same.

The Colortran ENR Dimming System was developed in the 1980s and was being developed at the same time as the lighting industry was going from proprietary protocols of communication between lighting consoles and their dimming racks to a universal standard. The universal standard is USITT DMX-512. However, at that time period (1970-1980s) each manufacturer had their own protocol and Colortran was no different. Colortran used a protocol called CMX.

DMX (universal language) and CMX (Colortran) are VERY similar protocols, but they are NOT the same. You can use DMX to control a CMX controllable dimmer rack, but you will have flickering in the levels and random lights turning on and off. Since you don’t want that to occur, you must make sure to use the correct protocol.

Back to the Colortran ENR Dimmer Rack, which is very unique in that the dimmer rack is “auto-sensing” and will accept either CMX or DMX. The Dimmer Rack defaults to CMX if no control signal is present upon power up of the dimmer rack. This is problematic, because most lighting consoles, barring those made by Colortran (built in CMX), use DMX (the universal language).

This means that if you use a “modern day” lighting console, the lighting console will output DMX, which will partially work with the Colortran ENR Dimmer Rack, but will not fully work with the dimmer rack. Hence, you will have flickering and other random lights turning on and off in the system.

There are two solutions to this issue:

  1. Whenever you turn on your lighting console with DMX output, go and hit the “reset” buttons on the dimmer racks. The Colortran ENR Dimmer Racks will see the DMX and will “auto-sense” to the DMX receiving mode. This will ONLY last as long as the dimmer rack has power. For example, if you turn off the lighting console, go home, and somewhere in the middle of the night, you lose power. The Colortran ENR Dimmer Rack WILL revert to CMX control signal.
  2. The LEVITON IF501 Converter is the BEST solution. The Leviton IF501 converter will convert the DMX input signal to the CMX output signal that is going to the Colortran ENR Dimmer Rack. The Leviton IF501 Converter is simple to install and can be installed next to the lighting console. All you need is the Leviton IF501 Converter, a power supply (comes with the unit), and a short DMX Control Cable (the standard is 5 pin, but 3 pin is possible). Once the Leviton IF501 Converter has been installed, you will no longer need to reset the dimmer racks prior to using the system, because the dimmer racks will remain on their default CMX control signal. This unit is available at our website store:  https://www.goknight.com/leviton-n0501-002-protoc...


In addition to the two solutions listed above the Leviton IF501 Converter is also able to go from CMX input to DMX output. You might ask why this would be important. The answer is that a lot of Colortran ENR Dimming Systems use an architectural control system called Viewpoint, which can output CMX, but not DMX. If you install the Leviton IF501 after the Colortran ENR Dimmer Racks, then you can control DMX controllable lighting fixtures with the Viewpoint Architectural Control System. This unit is available at our website store:  https://www.goknight.com/leviton-n0501-001-protoco...

Next, the Leviton IF501 Converter can be used to convert from DMX input to AMX output. This would be used whenever you want to use a modern DMX Lighting Console to control an older version of Strand Dimmer Racks. The older versions of Strand Dimmer Racks used AMX as their proprietary protocol. This unit is available at our website store: https://www.goknight.com/leviton-n0501-003-protoco...

Finally, the Leviton IF501 Converter can be used to convert from multiple languages to other languages such as RS232 to DMX, Leviton Lumanet I to DMX, DMX to Microplex and a several additional languages. This unit is available at our website store: https://www.goknight.com/leviton-n0501-000-protoco...

The Leviton IF501 Converter is a work horse of a converter in a very small package, which can help to solve a whole lot of issues in the lighting controls field. If you have a specific application that is not described in this blog, but you want additional help, please contact our office for technical support at 1-866-457-5937 or contact us at info@goknight.com.

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