Thornton Way Xmas Display

Living Xmas large on Thornton

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What is E1.31?

E1.31 is the standard by which DMX data is transferred over a Streaming ACN Network. Architecture for Control Networks (ACN) is a suite of protocols designed for entertainment technology equipment such as those used for lighting, audio and special effects equipment. The ACN suite is maintained by the Professional Lighting and Sound Association (PLASA), a British trade association based in Eastbourne on the south coast of England. PLASA was originally known as the British Association of Discotheque Equipment Manufacturers (BADEM).

The ACN suite was originally designed to be layered on top of UDP/IP and therefore will run on most IP transports such as Ethernet and Wi-Fi… So our light show is effectively “online”

Network Messages

The E1.31 messages can be delivered across the Ethernet or Wi-Fi network by one of two methods, Unicast and Multicast.


Unicast is a method of sending data across a network where two devices, which are in our case is a control computer (a PC) and a lighting controller, are directly connected (via the network) and the lighting control information is sent only between these two devices. Unicast therefore is a point to point protocol. Using Unicast the data packets are sent directly to the device instead of being broadcast to the entire network of devices. The analogy being two individuals having a private conversation whilst in a busy bar.

Our lighting network tends to use the Unicast approach for most lighting control signals.


Multicast is a method of send data across a network where a sender, typically a PC, broadcasts the lighting control data to all devices connected to the network. Multicast is a point to multipoint configuration where the controllers need to listen to and only respond to information they are configured to use because of this multicast addressing can be simpler to configure but depending on the amount of data being sent around networks can become swamped. The analogy being a professor providing instruction to a room of individuals together.

How does this fit in our display?

  • The Unicast address is the address we are sending our package too
  • Ethernet is the road network on which we send the package
  • E1.31 is the delivery truck
  • DMX is the package
  • SPI is the local delivery guy
  • The light is the recipient
Technology: E1.31

This is a charity light show, we don't collect any information on our visitors…