Introducing #lighthack: the community-supported Eos project kit

 Today, we’re trying something new…and you can, too. Theatre-makers are truly MAKERS. We are people who find a problem and solve it. Budgets are never high enough, and so we experiment, learn, share — and then experiment more. ETC embraces this maker culture. We get it.

ETC Labs

Concurrent with the implementation of Open Sound Control (OSC) on the Cobalt and Eos consoles, a group of ETC employees and users launched ETC Labs, a GitHub site to share and co-develop open-source apps.

ETC Labs

Most of these apps use OSC as a route in and out of a console. It’s beautiful – you get the absolute stability of proven hardware and software, but with a way to play freely. You can use Sound2Light to trigger subs from frequency bands, use Luminosus to convert MIDI to OSC, and use OSCRouter to, well, route OSC. People even share their templates and setups. Got another idea? You’re likely to find like-minded people. ETC Labs flew pretty low under a lot of peoples’ radar, though. Unless you were roaming the community forums or Facebook groups, you probably didn’t even know it exists.

OSC widgets
Screenshot: OSC Widgets available on ETC Labs

At the same time, we have people creating OSC-based hardware widgets and gizmos. Scroll through the Facebook groups and you’ll see a cornucopia of creations to enable ETCnomad, add a handle, or even (I’m looking at you, Andrew Webberley), use a particle sensor to auto-run the DMX hazer.

So many great gizmos, and even more great ideas, but where do you start? For some makers, writing a network stack is trivial, but for others (including this author) that is just too much, too soon. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could just get a kit of parts to get me started, to learn from, and to play with? Wouldn’t it be cool if I didn’t have to think about networking, IP addressing, or really anything related to the number 802? And wouldn’t it be great to just follow along with the instructions and – hopefully – not hit roadblock after roadblock?

Intro to #lighthacking

Well, there is a way. The #lighthack project is centered around Arduino hardware devices that users assemble from scratch and connect to Eos-family consoles via USB. It’s easy to load and modify Arduino code, and all the communication is still OSC – it’s just via USB.

Box 1

lighthack box 1

Today, we’re officially launching the #lighthack box 1 kit on our US and EU shops. This “getting-started” kit contains an Arduino Uno, two encoders, three Cherry switches, a 2×20 character display, and most of the other bits that you need to build it. When you are done with the project, you will have a little gizmo to plug in and control a moving light’s pan and tilt along with [Next] and [Last] buttons.

Ta da!

And after that, maybe you will experiment. Could you have four encoders? Could you have an effect rate knob? Could you find a problem I can’t even think of, and solve it with #lighthack? If you don’t want to buy the kit from us, that’s cool. The complete parts list is detailed in the assembly instructions. All of the parts can be found online.

#lighthack box 1 kit of parts

Need help? Connect with your peers.

Here’s the challenge: ETC is absolutely dedicated to supporting every customer, and our support is — dare I say — legendary. But #lighthack complicates things. Can (and should) ETC’s technical support team help you write code? Can they troubleshoot an intermittent problem with double-hit of a switch which may be a (ahem) “manufacturing” problem? The answer is: we can help you prove that the hardware is working as it should and let you work out the other problems with your fellow #lighthackers.

Here is the official line for all ETC Labs projects, including #lighthack:

ETC Labs is a home for clever (but unofficial) ETC software and hardware, developed in conjunction with the greater lighting community. All ETC Labs projects are community-supported. For challenges using, integrating, compiling, or modifying, we encourage posting on the GitHub issues page or on the ETC forums.

So go and hack, reader. You will learn so much – how to solder, how to load and modify code, and how to troubleshoot. You will also learn why good, solid hardware costs what it does, and probably gain a new respect for those who design and build good hardware. I know I have.


Do you have your own #lighthacking stories to share? Leave a comment, or email us at

Secrets of Product Listing Part 1: How to be electrically-informed

Previous article

Radio City Music Hall sees unexpected benefits from ETC upgrade

Next article
Luke Delwiche
Luke started working in the Technical Services department at ETC’s U.S. headquarters in 1998. In 2003, he relocated to ETC Ltd. in London, where he worked as a field service engineer and salesperson across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa before returning to the U.S. in 2016. He now serves as ETC’s entertainment market manager.