ETCnomad console – a Monstrous review.

If you’re a lighting design student or want to become and are debating whether or not to buy the “ETCnomad Educational package here are some pros and cons that I experience from using it on a regular basis to build the Creek monster habitat.


  • Your laptop is the console.

“You can program and run shows anywhere.”

Or in our case, a computer from the department of theatre and dance that lived in our lovely control shack. Take a look of this great video of me opening it:


The convenience of having the full capability of a console in a single USB key was a great advantage as we couldn’t have a board in the woods for obvious reasons.

ETC USB key and software for HOG, EOS and Cobalt picture by ETC

Besides, you can download the software on any computer and work on creating your color palettes, effects, magic sheets, etc offline allowing the programmer and designer to multitask.

LIVE magic sheet
  • The educational version includes the Gadget II

The Gadget II allows you to spit 512 channels (one universe) at a time with the two-port DMX/RDM to USB it has. Ideal for small to medium shows, installations, and events.

Gadget II picture by ETC
  • The ETC website reads:

“It includes a base ETCnomad lighting controller key and a Gadget II 2-universe USB to DMX/RDM interface. The tiny USB key plugs into a computer, turning it into a flexible controller that runs Eos-family software; ETC Cobalt-family software, HighEnd Systems Hog software. The Gadget connects the computer to your lighting system’s DMX/RDM devices.”

Which brings me to the next PRO,

  • You have full access to the HOG PC software

If you want to get more experience with HOG now you can as the key allows you to use it as a console as well

  • Affordable

Hardware and software for lighting are expensive, but students and educators only pay the $250 cost of the Gadget II

“The recommended retail price for the ETCnomad Education package is $250 (+ tax), which is the usual retail price of a Gadget.”

Here are the cons of the Educational package


ETC says the base version of the nomad, which is the one included in the student package, unlocks 1024 outputs or channels. However, it only allows you to control 512 at a time. I do not remember if it was because its the student version or if it’s the gadget that only allows 512 at a time.

ETCnomad is available in a base or unlocked version. The base unit supports 1024 outputs while the unlocked version supports 6144. 

  • You can’t use the High-End Systems super widget

Since ETC bought High-End one would assume you can use High-End products with the ETCnomad, but you can’t. You only have those 2 DMX outputs unless you buy or rent another gadget or a DMX brain.

Final Thoughts

Even with the few cons, the educational package of the ETCnomad was perfect for our needs. The price is very attractive for students, the portability depends on how big your computer is, and the versatility is something that I wish more companies would provide. Just keep in mind that you only have 512 channels available and 2 outputs when you’re designing or programming.


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