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Teaser for New String Controller

Started by corey872, December 11, 2013, 06:13:53 PM

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corey872

The official 'introduction thread' is now here:

http://falconchristmas.com/forum/index.php/topic,832.0.html
===============================================

Had a bit of time today to do some refinement on the string controller I mentioned a few weeks ago.  Not sure if there is any want – or need to push the controller this small.  But given a tiny TSSOP-14 PIC chip and other SMDs, it can shrink to almost nothing!



This is a printout for the back side / ground plane of the controller and a quarter for scale.  The overall board would be about .700 x .875 inches...four inputs from the hub and 3 outputs to the lights, as labeled.  Seems people continually have troubles with water in the Cat5 connector, so I'm thinking it may be better to save the complexity/cost and just put solder pads right on the board. 

A person could then add the waterproof 4 pin connector if they wanted to break away the Cat 5, or add a 3 pin connector if they wanted to break away the lights, or add both if they want a totally mobile controller, or just solder both direct and waterproof the whole thing if they don't mind a string of lights with a fixed length of cable.

The additional thought with the design is that all the high current power is on this side of the board and the tiny amounts of power needed for the PIC are transferred to the top side.  The data input, data output and oscillators are all isolated for a clean output signal.

I'll have to get some of these etched up, but with the thick traces and short runs, I can't see why it wouldn't handle way over 5 amps.  The top, of course has all the caps, resistors, PIC, timing crystal (maybe something else which can be kicked out, too), a MOSFET driver output stage, a voltage regulator, etc.

Debating whether it's worth the expense to throw on some LEDs to signal 12V power, 3.3V power to the PIC, Data transmission, etc.  One one hand it would help in troubleshooting, on the other, it's added expense to 'every' board.

Anyway, feel free to drop me a 'heck yeah' or 'heck no' - it will help gauge some interest!
Corey

Steve Gase

heck yeah! :)

it would be nice if it had the following:

  • dmx support
  • pixelnet support
  • test-mode
  • selectable (programmable) test sequences
http://WinterLightShow.com  |  110K channels, 50K lights  |  Nutcracker, Falcon, DLA, HolidayCoro

jnealand

heck yeah

a test mode would be nice.  The other things Steve is asking for do not hold a lot of interest for me.
Jim Nealand
Kennesaw, GA all Falcon controllers, all 12v Master Remote Multisync with Pi and BBB P10 and P5

MrChristmas2000

Looks good.

How about Artnet support for future use.

MyKroFt

These would be perfect for my pixelnet icicle lights :)

Myk


CaptainMurdoch

Definitely interested.

I'm planning on outlining my house with pixels next year and would rather do without the big pipes hanging everywhere
-
Chris

David Pitts

I am interested too. What is the part number of the chip you plan to use? I am also interested in finding a way to waterproof without pipe bombs. What about using/creating a mold to be able to pot the controller in resin or something?
PixelController, LLC
PixelController.com

Frankr

Quote from: David Pitts on December 11, 2013, 10:29:37 PM
I am interested too. What is the part number of the chip you plan to use? I am also interested in finding a way to waterproof without pipe bombs. What about using/creating a mold to be able to pot the controller in resin or something?

So true.  Every time I go to Lowes and buy a bag full of end caps I am certain someone is going to report me for suspicious behavior.

I go with the Heck yeah! as well. This could be the perfect solution for the icicles I want as well.  What kind of cost point do you think this would be at?

Frank

CaptainMurdoch

Quote from: David Pitts on December 11, 2013, 10:29:37 PM
I am interested too. What is the part number of the chip you plan to use? I am also interested in finding a way to waterproof without pipe bombs. What about using/creating a mold to be able to pot the controller in resin or something?

Earlier, I was going to say the LED's probably wouldn't be as useful once you waterproofed the board, but in this case they would still be visible.  Or perhaps there could be 2 options, one with the LEDs attached and one without.  Same board, two builds.
-
Chris

tlh

Echo what others have said - I am definitely interested as they could be a nice solution for pix-icicles.  Waterproofing without the pipe would also be a plus.
Terry


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk 2

drlucas

Add me to the heck yeah list. I like LEDs even with the extra cost. Overall it won't make that big of an impact on the lighting budget and they definitely help in troubleshooting. Ideally though the LED would turn off after a period of time so that they don't distract from anything.
Ryan

gforman

This looks great can hardly wait

Great work

twooly

Looks neat, just pixelnet/test modes and I would love these.

JerryPlak

Add me to the list also have put this on my notfiy list  ;)
Jerry Plak

corey872

#14
Thanks for the input.  Seems like there is definitely some interest!

Based on the replies, there might be a use for a couple different boards...possibly one bare bones at the low cost end of the spectrum, made as small as possible - and one 'full featured' at the higher end.   It's setting right now as a very 'minimalist' controller – I wanted to see what is the absolute lowest complexity / smallest package which still gives rock solid/reliable results.

Ie: 
The ubiquitous 485BN 'transceiver' chip is gone because I don't know of any strings/controller which talk 'back' to the hub(?) – it's been replaced by a simple 'receiver' chip to decode data from the hub.

The 5V regulator is gone because this PIC has no 5V capability (despite some designs *still* trying to force 5V on it!)  A 3.3V regulator supplies power to the PIC (The PIC is the same model as the SSCV4 to have the widest interchangeability / support)

5V data to the strings is provided by a simple resistor voltage divider off the 12V lines LDO voltage regulator to allow the widest possible input and a 3.3V capable MOSFET driver.  This 'should' supply a very nice data pulse from this source.

The ICSP (6-pin Programming header) is about as big as this whole board.  Currently looking at some type of contact pads for a single 'one time' programming, but leaving the option open if a person wanted to install a pin header possibly even programming through the connectors. (omitted due to board complexity)

The waterproofing presents some unique challenges.  Totally encapsulating the board would be ideal, but then what becomes of test jumpers and programming access?  A magnetic microswitch might be an option for testing – just hold a magnet near the controller and it would trip a switch to enter test mode.  Programming is a little bigger issue.  Need to see if it's possible to program through the existing contacts.  I don't terribly like the idea of a 'static firmware' chip, but if it brings cost down to only 5-6 bucks per controller – might be an acceptable trade?

Anyway, keep the ideas coming.  Obviously this is more of a 'jump on 2014' as opposed to anything coming together this year.
Corey

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