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DSC/DirkCheap SSR Hybrid

Started by cbell, January 07, 2015, 06:20:56 AM

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I have an idea for a controller that I would like to design for my mega tree that I am trying to flush out whether I can even (or want) do this or not.  This whole design process is probably over my head, especially the firmware, but I thought I might give it a whirl.  My mega tree is 32 "mega strings" of Red Green and Blue 110v LED lights (96 strings/channels total).  To cut down on the wiring I would like to design a controller that sits at the bottom of each string so that a single 110v "bus" and a single cat5 control wire can be run around the outside ring.  I had the idea of creating what would essentially be a dumb string controller only instead of mosfets the controller would control 3 (possibly 4) VO2223A's to switch the 110v.  Essentially it would be a hybrid of a DSC and a DirkCheap SSR.

What I would like to do is daisy chain the 32 controllers off each other, all (hopefully) plugged into a single port on the falcon hub.  There would obviously need to be a separate 110V input to each controller to provide power for the lights. 

What I'm worried about is whether the pixelnet signal would survive 32 devices?

Any thoughts?  Does this seem plausible or am I barking up the wrong tree?
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Steve Gase

No problem with the 32 controllers...   but have you considered using dmx instead and daisy chaining each controller?  You can still run power over the other 6 wires in cat5 like pixelnet does.

There are cheap 3 channel dmx controllers available from ray wu or holidaycoro...  you'd need to interface the low voltage dumb string controllers with the 110v control.  |  110K channels, 50K lights  |  Nutcracker, Falcon, DLA, HolidayCoro

Steve Gase

With a dmx solution you might also get interest from the non-pixelnet people.  |  110K channels, 50K lights  |  Nutcracker, Falcon, DLA, HolidayCoro


Quote from: Steve Gase on January 07, 2015, 06:37:49 AM
With a dmx solution you might also get interest from the non-pixelnet people.

I'm not opposed to going DMX, but I liked the idea of just being able to plug in to a falcon pixelnet hub because the 12V and data are already there.  To go DMX I would probably need to design an injector board of some sort to put 12V on the cat5 alongside the DMX.  I like the idea of going DMX because there is DMX code out there for the 16F688 and at that point I would essentially be designing a mini renard that doesn't need a 110v transformer or Rectifier.  The more I think about it, I could probably use one of the Pixelnet 4 Port Passive Hubs that I have to inject the 12V onto the line and use it for DMX rather than Pixelnet.  Hmmm... now you've got me thinking  :)
Follow my journey:

Steve Gase

The pixelnet 4-port passive is what I use for some of this...  I was just asking in another string about doing 5v instead of 12v ... they have a lot of other potential uses.

Pre-dating the pixelnet hubs, I was using some of the practices shared by David Moore at HolidayCoro...  he used power injectors that had 45w 12v power and a couple rj45 female pigtails.  DMX comes in on one pigtail (and an power arriving is thrown away), and power from the power supply is introduced to the outgoing pigtail. 

It only takes a couple minutes for this DIY project.

I've used these DMX injectors for years... often powering 4 or more elements before inserting a new injector into the chain to power another 4 elements.   In your project, one 45w supply would have no problem powering all 32 controllers since they are not being used to power up lights.

btw... Recently I converted all of my injectors to use waterproof connectors, and created a system where I can tap off of an existing computer power supply using the 4-pin power connectors...  there are a LOT of options... and these options could be shared with your users on a wiki page.  |  110K channels, 50K lights  |  Nutcracker, Falcon, DLA, HolidayCoro


Looking over a schematic for a renard, I realized no matter what controller I come up with, each one will need a H11AA1 zero cross detector circuit or I would need to pass this signal along the chain which would mean not being able to use a standard power injector.  Things might not be as easy (cheap) as I might had hoped :)
Follow my journey:


Not sure if it gets you what you want, but at some point, the LED string is not actually running on 110VAC is it?  It almost has to be converted to 5, 12 or some other relatively low DC voltage at some point along the way.  So seems like the first thing to do might be to hack the LED lights so they don't need 110VAC anymore.  Probably removing some small box/enclosure after the 110V plug, but before the first LED, then tapping into the wires leading straight to the first LED with low volt DC.  After that, I think the standard DSC would run them.

Since everything is grouped at the base of a mega tree, you don't really need to worry about voltage drop over long distances, hence no need for AC.  Though, you'd likely need a pretty hefty DC supply... 96 strings x even 1 amp per string is ... well, a lot of amps!  You might want to break into halves or quarters to manage the current.

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