Creating a Motorized Lighting Desk with Isadora

  • Tech Staff

    Hi there guys,

    As some of you might know, I'm a student, and let's be honest I don't have the money to buy a new ETC Lighting desk (or second hand for the matter). So I was thinking about a possible solution.. Perhaps we can make something with Motorized faders and hack our own Lighting desk using Isadora as middleman.

    For this built I use the Presonus - Faderport 8 (, ETC Nomad and some standard MIDI mapping software (MIDIOX + Loopmidi to create virtual midi ports)

    In this thread I'm going to post my progress, share the actors that I make and showcase the final results of this build :)

  • Tech Staff


    I'll take a Nomad over a desk any day. I use the keyboard commands anyway for just about everything. Much easier to transport and a fraction of the cost.

  • Tech Staff


    It heavily depends, I have to say I really love faders to control my subs, CP (Color Palettes), IP (Intensity), etc. Same goes for Audio programs, that is why I decided to build a interface that can support all that. So using some clever patching I can have 4 kind of categories that I can control (Light (EOS OSC), Audio (Abelton), Video (Resolume Arena) and Control (Isadora / etc))

    Since I need some reliability regarding the hardware I came to the following conclusion :

    1. Since we wish to control all the programs named above, we need motorized faders to reset itself. A normal MIDI controller that has faders doesn't reset, so that is useless for this application
    2. It shouldn't be too expensive. (You can also buy a Mackie Pro xD)
    3. It should be really to follow for others as well, sometimes I use a operator for my installations / theatre work
    4. The hardware should be relative new and maintained by the manufacturer.
    5. It should have a display to get information regarding the program that we are controlling.

    The following hardware solutions where presented :

    1. Icon Platform M+ with Display (
    2. Behringer X-Touch (
    3. Presonus Faderport 8 (

    I choose for the Presonus Faderport 8 since it has native MIDI support and has more room on the display for information. Other then that, it just felt nicer in general then the Behringer (And I have to say, I don't like the quatilty of Behringer that much to be honest..)

  • @juriaan i built a 36 channel light board  some years back. i still use it but it does not have motorised faders (YET ;))  Lightboard

  • Tech Staff


    Lovely control panel, do you also have a picture of the hardware ?

  • @juriaan i use entec pro dongle for this...


  • I do this quite a bit.  I have an Allen & Heath QU16, which can map MIDI commands to the motorized faders.  It always blows people's minds when I grab a fader on the sound board and the lights change.

    As you probably know, ETC has a really great deal for students where you can buy a nomad license and a 2 universe DMX interface for $250.


  • Izzy Guru

    Dear @juriaan

    What are your experiences with the Presonus Faderport 8? Is the movement of the faders good hearable or is the volume ok?
    Thanks for your answer in advance.

    Best Michel

  • Tech Staff

    Hi there @Michel,

    I really enjoy using my Presonus Faderport 8, I use my Faderport as general control surface (Light, Video, Sound, Interaction) and use it on tour with different theatre companies where I'm the main LD.

    The screens are nice and bright, the faders have a nice feeling, overall a great controller. The only thing that is a pain is that the faders themself are a bit fragile, as in don't move your Faderport without a proper Flightcase / Tape down your faders to the bottom so they can't move during transport (or use some foam in your case), if you don't do this your faders will get askew.

    Q : Is the movement of the faders good hearable or is the volume ok?

    A : It depends, you can set the speed of the faders in the Settings menu. How faster you set this, how more hearable it is. I never had a situation where I felt that it was to loud for the rehearsal room / during plays. If you wish to have an audio recording of it, let me know and I will make a recording of the volume of the faders :) If you ever used a BCR2000, it is way less then that monster ;)

  • Izzy Guru


    Thanks for your detailed answer. Yes I did use the BCR2000 thats why I asked :-). Thanks again.

    Best Michel