The DMX-512 protocol is designed originally to be able to control up to 512 separate light dimnmer channels. If you have one lamp per dimmer channel, the protocol can control the brightness of up to 512 separate lamps individually.
This is what the protocol part is capable to.
Nowadays many complex lighting instruments can use many control channels to control their operation (for example moving mirror lamp has several channels for mirror direction, one for color, one for brigtness, one for gobo selection etc..).
The electrical specification on DMX-512 allows one transmitter (light controlling desk or DMX-512 splitter) to be connected up to physical 32 devices in daisy-chained manner. One physical device is one box with DMX-512 in and out plugs. So one device could be one channel dimmer, multi channel dimmer (typically 4-12 channels), intelligent lighting instrument, etc..
You can have up to 32 instruments connected to one line. Your system can have more than 32 devices by using a DMX-512 splitter. If you have a splitter that has two outputs, you can connect 32 DMX-512 devices to first output and 32 more on second output.
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