View Full Version : Lots of questions: New here, but not to lights

12-22-2014, 04:57 PM
So we finally made the switch to LED lights this year. We are running 3 Oslen 595 with renard dimmers and 1 grinch board with a renard dimmer (and a parallel port with some solid state relays). We have been having some dimming issues: To start out, Led sets (multiple stings attached together) that have more then 400 bulbs won't dim at all. Ones with about 300 bulbs dim if an incandescent bulb (nightlight style) is attached to it. 200-300 bulb strings flicker but this can also be fixed by the night light bulb. Is there a way to get these 400 bulb channels to dim? they seem to be On/Off... With the amount of channels we have, it is starting to get kinda crazy to deal with all the dimming problems. Any suggestions? Also We bought some icicle style lights and some green "Martha Stewart" brand LED lights that seem to have larger plugs and these don't dim at all (transistor or something built into the plug). I should mention that we are still using Vixen, don't like the layout of the new one much and haven't done any pixels yet so this seems to fit our needs.
Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!

--On a side note, anyone have 595 boards for sale?
--Secondary side note: I am not the best at circuits, Majoring in ME, but my dad is an Electrical engineer and we did build all our own stuff so technical advice is great too!

This years light show:

12-22-2014, 05:06 PM
For the Renard boards, you need to use the PWM compile time setting to properly work with LEDs. That will eliminate the need for the nightlight and give you better control.

12-22-2014, 05:44 PM
Ok, assuming PWM means pulse-wave modulation, how do I change the settings in the older version of vixen? Would I need to upgrade to fix this problem? I have looked through options and haven't found a place in there yet. http://puu.sh/dFwIH/426604c685.png

I really appreciate all the help!

12-22-2014, 05:49 PM

12-22-2014, 06:20 PM
This is not a Vixen issue. This is a controller issue. You need to modify the code in the Renard controllers to properly support LEDs.

12-22-2014, 06:26 PM
Thank you for the link!
So just confirming that my dimmer board is a Renard to oslen595 V 2.0. Its chip says PIC16F627A. I don't see an option for this on the wiki link. I appreciate all your quick help! Thank you!

12-23-2014, 11:24 AM
First of all, you need to keep the conversations about a Renard controller separate from discussions about an Olsen controller. They are different animals and each have their own issues. The information I have been giving you is for a Renard based controller. These would have a 16F688 or 16F1825 chip in them. For a Renard controller you would need to compile the software to work properly in PWM mode to support a string of LEDs. Next, I am not sure what you mean by " Renard to Oslen595". The Renard boards come either with integrated SSRs or the ability to drive an external SSR. The Renard does not typically 'drive' an Olsen595 controller. Many of the Renard boards do have a daisy chain communication port on them that allows you to pass the Renard protocol control data stream on to another Renard protocol compatible device (Does the Olsen accept the Renard protocol on its input?).

As for the Olsen controller, I have no experience with Olsen controllers. Someone else would need to help out with how to drive an LED string on an Olsen595.

12-23-2014, 12:31 PM
I believe he is talking about connecting a REN- T and REN - C to the Olsen or Grinch boards. The REN -T supplies the Zero crossover signal and the REN-C is the Renard board that does the dimming they both get connected to the front end of the Olsen board. The PIC chip is located in the REN - C board, that is the PIC chip that will have to be re-programed. Being an old timer I ran 3 if these setups myself, some of the newer people don't remember these old boards. Later they combined all these boards into one board. The PIC chip on the REN-C board should be a 16F627A if I remember right. You do need the PWM for the LED lights to dim correctly.


12-23-2014, 05:49 PM
Great info, Thanks! And yes, the board set-up mentioned above is what we have. Which one of the firmwares would be appropriate to program them with? Also is there a way to buy one pre-programed so we don't have to worry about messing up our current setup? We currently can dim LED strands as long as they dont have more then 200-300 LEDs so its not like the show is broken. My dad's business works with computer chips so reprogramming them wont be an issue, but we would like a backup "Better safe then sorry". Thanks for all the help!

Another thought, Here is my board (found it).
It seems that it may already be set up for PWM as we are now using both cable connections between the board and the 595/grinch boards.


To 595 In (JP1) – Provides the Data, Clock and Strobe signals to the 595/GRINCH controller. Also, provides the Ren-C an operating voltage from the 595/GRINCH controller.

From 595 Out (JP2) – Brings the output of the shift-register on the 595/GRINCH board back to the Ren-C to enable PWM operation. This cable can be omitted if PWM operation is not needed/desired.

the wording of this sounds like it is already setup just need to connect the cable (which is connected). I appreciate all the help!!!

12-23-2014, 10:36 PM
You will need to reflash your REN-C with the PWM software from this thread as suggested earlier.

To do that you will need a Pickit or similar.
I still run two REN-C/Grinch combos with LEDs and Incans as well as a heap of pixels, with Vixen3 for sequencing and FPP for output.

Here is the REN-C wiki entry http://www.doityourselfchristmas.com/wiki/index.php?title=Ren-C
I am sure there is a page on how to use the MPLAB software and the Pickit but kind fine it at the moment.


A Marchini
12-30-2014, 08:06 PM
Also look into snubber resistors for these long runs.