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drive lasers with a multi-channel audio interface
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DAC_ILDA Adaptor

v 0.1 // Download PDF


This tutorial walks you through building a simple DAC_ILDA adaptor for converting audio signals sent from a multi-channel DAC (Digital Analog Converter) to an ILDA Interface (International Laser Display Association standard used for laser light systems) to control the XY-axis, RGB and intensity of the beam.

Warning: This is an amateur guide for interfacing an audio DAC with IDLA. Use at your own (+ laser) risk – each laser spec may have an custom requirements for voltage/frequency limiting needs. Be careful.

Wiring Diagram




  • ILDA female connector (DB25)
  • 6x 1/4" balanced (TRS) female jacks
  • 6x 1/4" balanced (TRS) cables
  • 1x toggle switch (on/off)
  • Various colored wires (jumper cables)
  • Project box
  • Soldering iron + wire
  • Wirecutters


  • RGB Laser with ILDA interface
  • ILDA cable
  • DAC (multi-channel, balanced, ideally DC-Coupled outputs)
  • Computer for producing audio signals


1 – Prep

Grab 2x jumper cables per 6x different colors (12x total). Cut them all in half and wirestrip the cut ends. Separate into two piles of female/male, using one for the connector and one for the jacks.


Drill/cut holes in project box for 6x 1/4" jacks on the top, ILDA connector and toggle switch on the sides.


2 – ILDA Interface

Feature Pins Comment
X-Axis + / - 1 / 14 Horizontal movement, 10V
Y-Axis + / - 2 / 15 Vertical movement, 10V
Blanking + / - 3 / 16 Beam intensity, 5V
Interlock A / B 4 / 17 Enables output when joined
Red + / - 5 / 18 Red mixture, 5V
Green + / - 6 / 19 Green mixture, 5V
Blue + / - 7 / 20 Blue mixture, 5V
Ground 25 Connected to all jacks sleeve
Z-Axis 11 / 24 For DMX? See Blanking.

ILDA Pin-Out Diagram ILDA Pinout Source

Soldering paired color jumper cables to pins:



Diagram shows female ILDA connector from front, so flip pins horizontally when soldering to the back! I've already made that mistake for you...

Use different colored jumper cables per feature (8 total) to the diagram for easily identifying and patching the jacks to pins.

I wired jumpers to the Z-Axis pins (11/24), but not yet sure if they're needed.

Interlock A / B is a safety mechanism that only allows the laser to work if they're connected. I recommend using a basic toggle switch between these two pins.

3 – Jacks

Solder the opposite end of your jumper cables to the balanced 1/4" jacks, one on the tip and one on the ring. Leave the sleeve (ground) empty for now.


Mount jacks into the box 2 at a time, soldering a common ground wire between all of the sleeves. Eventually connect a jumper cable to this for linking to the ILDA connectors ground pin.


4 – Switch

Solder 2x jumper cables to the toggle switch, so in the on position they're joined.


5 – Patch

Feed the ILDA connector and jumper cables into it's cutout slot until snug. Connect the jumper cables, using + (top) of ILDA connector cables to the Tip soldered cable of the jacks.

Attach the two switch jumpers to Interlock (4 / 17).

Common sleeve jumper to Ground (25)


Hook up your DAC » jacks + ILDA » laser and away you go!



There are plenty of tools for generating a stereo X-Y audio signal from vector graphics, however not all are ready (yet) for all 6 channels of audio (XY + RGB + blanking). Here's a few to check out:

Tool Environment Comment
XYscope Processing Laser functions pending
Vector Synthesis PureData Laser patch planned
ReWereHere Max/MSP
OsciStudio Application




In conversation with Joseph Hyde + Derek Holzer.


Something missing? Create an issue on Github source.


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