Creating a Motorized Lighting Desk with Isadora

  • Beta Platinum

    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.

  • Beta Platinum


    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

  • Beta Platinum


    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.