• To download a Plugfest brochure, click here.
• Download the latest article on Plugfest from Protocol.
Full Plugfest Schedule
Plugfest 2020 dates to be announced
ESTA’s Plugfest is a unique opportunity to connect your lighting products with those of other manufacturers to test and resolve network compatibility challenges. Attendees bring controllers, intelligent lights, control protocol analyzers, and other network-connected components. People attend from around the world to pursue improvement of their customers’ product experiences. The ESTA Plugfest has become a required step in many global manufacturers’ product development roadmaps.
Last year’s Plugfest attracted a wide array of prototype and production level products from a diverse range of architectural and entertainment manufacturers. Remote Device Management (E1.20-RDM) is currently experiencing wide adoption within the architectural lighting community and many first-time attendees brought architectural products for interoperability testing.
Plugfest is a chance to take advantage of the knowledge and experience of the CPWG - one of the Technical Standards Program’s largest working groups. ESTA invites the industry to drop in to test your gear, refresh your knowledge, and become a part of the Plugfest community.
Plugfest Frequently Asked Questions
What is Plugfest?
The ESTA Control Protocols Plugfest is an informal event designed to allow hardware engineers and software developers an opportunity to conduct interoperability testing with other products that use ESTA control standards. It offers a chance to debug in a friendly “bits and bytes” focused environment, without the pressure that often occurs when encountering issues in the field. The Plugfest is run by ESTA volunteers, many of whom are members of the Task Groups that wrote the standards, and who are available to answer questions, and to provide guidance and debugging assistance.
What protocols are being tested?
Any product using an ESTA Control Protocol is welcome at the Plugfests. ACN (E1.17), RDM (E1.20), DMX512 (E1.11) and sACN (E1.31) are routinely tested. We are also starting to do early stages of RDMnet (E1.33) interoperability testing based on draft versions of the RDMnet standard .
How much does it cost?
There is no charge for attending and participating in Plugfest. The only costs are for your own travel and lodging. Attendees are encouraged (but not required) to become a member of the ESTA Control Protocols Working Group. Applications for the working group may be downloaded at Procedural Documents. There is a $100 per person per year fee. Additionally, members companies are encouraged to support the TSP efforts by joining our Investors in Innovation Program.
How do I register?
Registration is simple. To reserve space, send an email to
with your intent to attend.
When is Plugfest?
The Plugfest is typically held around the 3rd weekend of July. Note that occasionally, due to a change of meeting locations, Plugfest may not be held some years. You can check for the dates of the next upcoming Plugfest at ESTA's Meeting Schedule.
Where is it located?
The Plugfest is held at the Dallas/Fort Worth Marriott Solana hotel in Westlake, TX. Once the ESTA room block for the event is released, the reservation link can be found here.
How do I book my room?
ESTA has a group room rate for the hotel that provides a number of discounts on the hotel restaurant and WiFi. Booking through ESTA helps defray the costs of the Plugfest that allow us to host the event at no charge. When available, please book through the ESTA group room block link at ESTA's Meeting Schedule.
Why do I need to book the hotel through the ESTA group rate?
Simply put, booking using the ESTA Group Rate code with Marriott allows us to provide the Plugfest event for free. The ESTA rate provides a 20% discount in the hotel restaurant, significant discounts on hotel WiFi service, and elevator access to the 7th floor for the Plugfest and ESTA Hospitality Suites. Complimentary drinks and snacks are available in the ESTA Hospitality Suite. To access the Plugfest Suite or the Hospitality Suite, you must ask for your room key to be coded for 7th floor access, if your assigned room is not on the 6th or 7th floor.
How do I get there?
Travel is easy to ESTA's Plugfest. The hotel is located near the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) Airport which serves as a major international hub. There are complimentary shuttle buses provided by the hotel to and from the DFW Airport. To arrange transport from the airport, call the hotel and follow their instructions. Shuttles typically leave the hotel for DFW Airport every half-hour.
Do I need a rental car?
Possibly. There is very little within walking distance of the hotel. There is a full service restaurant located in the hotel and a few other food options with limited hours in the same complex. The hotel also provides complimentary shuttle service to nearby food and shopping destinations. In addition there are generally others attending with vehicles for doing group dinners in the evenings. A rental car is not necessary, but, if you desire to be able to get farther out to see the area, it may be useful.
Who is it for?
The Plugfest is open to all. It is primarily intended for engineers and product developers to be able to interactively debug their products. Many issues can be corrected on the spot to enable continued testing. Product Managers, Technical Support, and Dealers also regularly attended with their products. Plugfest attendees can provide feedback that can be communicated back to their product development teams. Consultants and System Integrator may find the Plugfest to be a good learning experience and a good opportunity to ask technical questions.
What should I bring?
Bring your product and anything you need to operating and debug it. For large products, you may find it's easier to just bring the PCBs and a power supplies rather than the entire system. We typically have a limited amount of general purpose test equipment available such as: oscilloscopes, voltmeters, small hand tools, DMX and RDM test equipment, and a managed network infrastructure. You should bring any design specific equipment such as compilers, in-circuit emulators, firmware update cables, etc.
Can I leave my stuff in the Plugfest Suite?
Yes. The Plugfest event is hosted in a very large suite upstairs. This means that it has the privacy of a normal hotel room. Most participants leave their equipment setup in the room so they can come and go throughout the weekend. The room is always staffed and there are adjoining sleeping rooms that are occupied by Plugfest members to help keep an eye on things.
What are the hours?
The Plugfest starts at 9am on Friday morning and runs through Sunday at 11pm. Specific hours are posted on ESTA's Meeting Schedule, though there are often people in the suite each night later than the scheduled hours.
Who will be there?
Since the Plugfest is held in conjunction with the ESTA Technical Standards Program meetings, many of those that are involved in writing the standards will be in attendance. Your fellow attendees often have decades of experience developing products for the entertainment industry, and freely share their experience and knowledge in a judgment-free zone where there are truly no “stupid questions.” Many first time attendees have arrived with barely communitive prototypes and left with fully working implementations by the end of the weekend.
Can I ship stuff into the hotel?
Yes, it is possible to ship product or other gear into the hotel. Most attendees will pack and check their gear with them on the airplane, but it is possible to ship stuff to the hotel. For address details and hotel shipping instructions, email .
What kind of power is available?
The Plugfest suite generally has about (3) 20A circuits of 120VAC / 60HZ power available for everyone to share. Be sure to bring any adapters you need for use with a standard US 120VAC outlet. Three phase power is not available, neither are high-current circuits. For any questions or concerns on power please contact us at: .
Can you sign my NDA?
No. Plugfest attendees should be respectful of confidential information as a professional courtesy. Plugfest is open to anyone, so there's no promise of confidentiality in our open standards work.
Can I bring prototypes?
Absolutely! Prototypes are often the most valuable products to bring, because you can find and fix problems before the product reaches customers.
How do Standards Meetings work? Can I attend?
The meetings are open to anyone to attend. We always encourage people to join the Working Group as it allows you to keep informed on the progress and current state of all the standards and other topics that are of interest to the members. The Control Protocols Working Group (CPWG) is the formal meeting that all the official votes and actions are taken on the projects we are working on. There are a number of different Task Groups, typically one for each protocol, where the actual details of how the protocol works and the standard is written. Both the Task Groups and Working Groups are open to anyone with a material interest in the subject matter. Information on joining the CPWG can be found in the Working Groups section of this site. The current schedule for all the standards meetings can be found on ESTA's Meeting Schedule.
Can I hire you?
Everyone at the Plugfest is a volunteer who is giving up their weekend to help make sure ESTA's protocols work. We're passionate about the entertainment industry, and entertainment control protocols. Some Plugfest participants do offer consulting, product development, and product evaluation services, but any such engagement must be between you and that individual, and take place outside of the Plugfests or ESTA meetings and events.
Can we discuss marketing plans and prices?
No. ESTA and its members take seriously their obligation to comply with all applicable antitrust laws. Therefore, during meetings and during all ESTA events, all discussions will be limited to those subjects that are permitted by the antitrust laws of the United States. All members should refrain from any discussion or mention of competitively sensitive subjects such as the current or future prices charged for any member product or services, current or future marketing plans or strategies, and current or future costs, including employee salaries. There also must be no agreement on the suppliers or customers that members will do business with or the markets in which members will conduct business.
Violations of the antitrust laws can have serious consequences. If you have any questions or concerns about anything that is discussed at an ESTA meeting or event, please bring your concern to ESTA management. An easy to read pamphlet describing the antitrust laws is available from the ESTA staff.
How can I support the Plugfest?
Become a member of ESTA, participate in future Plugfests, or become an Investor in Innovation. Today you're learning from others, but next year others may be learning from you. Tell your friends and colleagues about the Plugfests and the ESTA Technical Standards Program!