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Thread: Lights at DIYC?

  1. #1
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    Default Lights at DIYC?

    Well i've been completely flabbergasted that their is no lights section here. Different light questions are scattered threw out the forum. I found a thread on dimming but was to highly technical for me to get....

    I've scraped enough information on LED lights to decide most led's are dim-able in some capacity.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Lights at DIYC?

    So "flabbergasted" that you were not able to formulate a question? Only observations. What kind of information are you looking for?


    Quote Originally Posted by enuro12 View Post
    Well i've been completely flabbergasted that their is no lights section here. Different light questions are scattered threw out the forum. I found a thread on dimming but was to highly technical for me to get....

    I've scraped enough information on LED lights to decide most led's are dim-able in some capacity.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Lights at DIYC?

    Well as a new guy here i'm looking for everything.

    My search skills are above average due to the number of forums i host & frequent. However lights are such a gigantic part of this hobby i'd expect to see an entire section dedicated to it.

    I realize allot of "light" information would be stale. But still a centralized location for new guys would be hugely helpful.

    Here are some bits of info i've gathered but dont fully understand.

    LED / Incandescent / RGB
    LED
    Difference between Full Wave & 1/2 Wave, Dimming options, & user results with certain lights. How to make the end plug thing with a resistor to make dimming work.
    What systems do what with the lights. I know the wiki has info on this. But to add a sticky of the supported devices would be handy.

    Incandescent
    Don't have any idea here, i'm going all LED as i've only started buying decorations. (thank you DIYC for giving me the holiday spirit)
    Controllers / Tips

    RGB
    I for one would like to hold out on buying anything and just get all RGB. But i dont understand it, and i cant even search for RGB on the forum using V's search. I've honestly not put much effort into this as i doubt i can afford it this year.
    Controllers / Tips

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Lights at DIYC?

    You know - I've been here a while and I completely agree. I know there is some resistance to adding new sections so that the front "page" doesn't get all bloated but with the new pixels, strips, etc coming out this would actually be a very good idea.
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Lights at DIYC?

    I'll try and throw out a few things that may help...

    Quote Originally Posted by enuro12 View Post
    Well as a new guy here i'm looking for everything.
    LED / Incandescent / RGB
    All three are kinds of lights. Sounds like you already know what LED is, since you're going with them this year. They take very little power, are supposed to last a long time and virtually never "burn" out. However, they're more expensive because the process for making them and putting them into continuous strings of LEDs is a more expensive manufacturing process.

    RGB means "red-green-blue", the three main color components of light. These are virtually exclusively LEDs, and they are like having a red, green and blue LED all inside one little package. You can turn on any combination of the colors, and depending on the brightness of the colors, you can create light of virtually any visible color. Red and green together creates yellow light, for example, and when all three are on at full brightness, it creates "white". RGB can also be created by using individual red, green and blue LEDs, too, but most folks go for the super-bright high powered RGB leds because they are so bright. BTW, when you're talking brightness and LEDs, you're also talking $$$.

    An incandescent light is one with a filament that glows and gets hot when electricity flows through it. Think "common light bulb" and you know what it is. You turn them on, they get bright, they get hot, and they eventually burn out. But they're relatively cheap to manufacture and don't need all the special manufacturing considerations that LED lights do, so that's one reason why they're still so popular. They also usually have a warmer color to them than LEDs, which can look kind of "cold" sometimes.

    LED
    Difference between Full Wave & 1/2 Wave, Dimming options, & user results with certain lights. How to make the end plug thing with a resistor to make dimming work.
    A/C current is called 60-Hertz electricity (in the USA anyway) because it has both a positive and negative portion of a wave. You've seen a sine wave on a graph, I'm sure -- think of cutting a circle in half horizontally and sliding the bottom half to the right so the top half coming down meets the bottom, which curves around and goes back up. At the point where the top and bottom halves of the wave meet, there is essentially zero volts when. There's 120 volts at the top, and 120 volts at the bottom, but as it nears the zero point, the voltage diminishes to zero, then builds again to 120. It does this 60 times/second, which is why it's called a 60-Hertz "cycle." (It used to be called cycles per second).

    Full wave current means that the electrical device gets both the top and bottom halves of the electricity -- it gets a "full cycle." Half-wave is like erasing the bottom altogether so that only the top half is left. Therefore, the voltage still gets to 120 volts, but there's a longer period of time before the wave gets up above the 'zero volts line' because the bottom component is missing. Half-wave lights can, to some people, appear to pulsate and just aren't as smooth as full-wave lights.

    The pulsation of half-wave current is generally more noticeable with LEDs because they turn on and off so darned fast -- they don't need to warm up like incandescents do. An incandescent light is still glowing (cooling down) by the time it gets another jolt of half-wave current, so it's not quite as noticeable.

    The problem with some LED strings is that they take so little electricity, it's below the threshhold of the electronics trying to control it. So often, just by adding a C9 bulb at the end of the string is all that's required. If you choose to add a resistor by itself, it's not a bad idea to reconsider because a C9 bulb will burn out and the string just won't work anymore until you replace the bulb. With a resistor, which could get hot, you might wind up with a fire instead... It depends on the resistor you use at the end of the line, and there are examples out there for calculating that.

    What systems do what with the lights. I know the wiki has info on this. But to add a sticky of the supported devices would be handy.
    If you're using either full-wave or half-wave LED strings that are rated for 120 VAC use (in other words, you can plug them right into the wall socket) you can use any controller that has all the electronics included for not only the control signals, but the circuitry to power the lights, too. Typically this is done through the use of Triacs, and examples of ready-to-go boards are the SS24, SS16, SS8, and REN24. (I'm not a Helix, Lynx, or Firegod user, so I can't help you there...). However, remember that full-wave LEDs will react better to dimming situations. Incandescent lights can also be controlled with the same kinds of controllers.

    If you're using some special LED strings, or making your own, or some special displays, the other controllers are better suited for them because their output is not 120VAC. Instead, they offer various ways of delivering DC voltage to lights, and LEDs LOVE DC voltage. Examples of these controllers are Ren24LV, Ren48LSD, Simple Ren16 and Simple Ren24, and the Ren64.

    Into the fray, I'll throw out another item, called an SSR. This is a device which controls main power by the use of smaller voltage commands, such as come from tiny computer chips used in almost all the controllers. You can read more about SSRs in the WIKI, but there are those for both AC and DC current. They work essentially the say way, but they are generally not interchangeable with one another -- at least not without burning something up...

    RGB
    I for one would like to hold out on buying anything and just get all RGB. But i dont understand it, and i cant even search for RGB on the forum using V's search. I've honestly not put much effort into this as i doubt i can afford it this year.
    Yes, it can get pricey, and each color requires its own channel, too. So if you had a layout where you wanted to have 3000 RGB Leds out there, to control them each individually, you'd need 9000 channels (one for each color, for each LED). That's why RGB is more-or-less developing separately into a sort of individual light addressing system using DMX or other scheme. To date, there are only a couple folks that have all RGB displays -- mrpackethead is one, but that's part of his business. For most of us, that kind of a display is so far out of reach financially that it's not even a consideration. Even a small display of RGB can cost many hundreds of dollars.

    However, there are "flood lights" made up of either RGB LEDs or combinations of red, green and blue high-power LEDs that can light up whole areas of your house, and you can control them with only a few channels, so to get into RGB at all doesn't have to be terribly expensive. A couple of these products are the Rainbow Flood or the Porta-Flood, and you can build either for about $25 or so.

    Hope this helps. Welcome to DIYC and a hobby that has no end!

    -dave
    Last edited by dirknerkle; 11-23-2010 at 11:11 PM. Reason: dang typos!

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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Lights at DIYC?

    crap does this mean my REN64 isnt good for dimming my 120v LED's?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Lights at DIYC?

    Guess my SSR's determine that ;)

    Anyway, this really supports my point. This kind of information would help us noobs out tremendousness. But to have to type it every time someone joins is just silly.

    If nothing else that piece should be added to the "Getting Started" part of the Wiki.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Lights at DIYC?

    Quote Originally Posted by enuro12 View Post
    crap does this mean my REN64 isnt good for dimming my 120v LED's?
    Not at all. Not sure how you read that in there. The only difference between the 64XC and the SS series boards is External SSRs.
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Lights at DIYC?

    Quote Originally Posted by enuro12 View Post
    Guess my SSR's determine that ;)

    Anyway, this really supports my point. This kind of information would help us noobs out tremendousness. But to have to type it every time someone joins is just silly.

    If nothing else that piece should be added to the "Getting Started" part of the Wiki.
    Dude, Relax. I think you got agreement on your point, but it isn't going to happen in an instant. If and when Brian creates the categories, I put you in charge of summarizing all of the info and populating the forums

    FYI... I don't think its ever been answered quite like Dirk answered you. It is a great piece, but I'm guessign he won't be writing that ever again. All of the information is there, but since it grew over time, its spread out across a few areas.
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Lights at DIYC?

    A Ren64 should do OK. In general, if it is AC-powered, an AC dimmer/SSR will work.

    As said above, in some cases if the channel load is too low you'll get "weird" behavior, so in that case you may need to add an extra load to that channel (such as a load resistor, an incandescent light, or a few more LED strands).

    Another example of the "RGB Flood" category is Frank Kostyun's "Mighty Mini" - Thats an RGBW (red/green/blue/white) flood. As to why "W"? - Sometimes the white created by mixing R, G, B isn't quite ideal, so some people use a dedicated W channel.

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