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Thread: Firegod Flicker is back....

  1. #1
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    Default Firegod Flicker is back....RESOLVED!!!

    For 2 weeks I have been testing and running sequences, checking channels, fixing lights, even ran the whole show through 2 full times wed night, not once did I ever see a flicker... tonight, now that I have "launched" my show to play every night, it looks like it's having a seizure... the flicker is HORRIBLE.

    I have spent a bit of time tonight trying to isolate this... I am not 100% sure if all channels within a field module are flickering together, but one thing I do know is that the flicker is not the same across all field modules (and some have none at all).

    The fact that this has not been seen once in 2 weeks makes me believe this is some kind of outside influence to the signal somewhere along the chain... If you look at the flicker close, it almost looks like a data burst from something. I have torn my hair out trying to go back through the house to see if something is on that wasn't before but can't find anything.


    So, what I am really after here today is asking for any ideas on where to look for something that might be interferring with my controllers (btw- the Renard's are not having the issue at all) Don't know if David will see this post, but wondering what all you suggested to Greg in Canby (or maybe Greg will see this!!) to try on his setup this year?

    Thanks... Between this problem and the ledtriks problems I am having this year, I'm about ready to go tear the entire display down and give this hobby up. This flicker is so bad you can't even see half of the sequencing because everything is flashing instead of just what should! (I didn't think it was possible to have TOO much flashy)

    Thanks everyone. -James
    Last edited by jcizek; 12-19-2011 at 12:44 PM. Reason: Change subject to resolved

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Firegod Flicker is back....

    James,

    I hope you don't give up.

    It's perplexing about the stable test but flickering show.

    I believe (can't prove it) that using a 2 amp power supply and replacing the big CAP on the computer interface fixed my issue. I'm not however all set up nor fully tested with actual lights. I did my testing with either fake loads on the FM's or actual SSRs some with AC lights, some without. Appeared to be stable.

    Other issues have pushed back my setup big time and to make things worse, I have to go to work tomorrow, gone til Monday.

    Keep with it. My only advice is don't let small pieces of evidence limit your big picture troubleshooting.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Firegod Flicker is back....

    How long are the cables from the PC interface to the field modules? I don't own a Firegod system but I wonder if there may be a timing issue with the ZC if there is a long distance to travel or possibly if the cat5 cable goes near anything magnetic such as a motor or fluorescent light, which could inject noise into the cable. Would shielded cat5 (or perhaps cat6) be helpful?

    I'm just throwing darts at the wall here, but I recall reading in a different thread that passing a ZC signal along too long of a cable to a Renard board causes inconsistencies, too.

    I'll butt out of the conversation here because I know squat about Firegod... just trying to think outside the box a little at "outside influences."

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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Firegod Flicker is back....

    Dirk, please don't butt out!! I appreciate the insight!! I have 7 field modules out there, 5 of them are within 20 feet of the PC modules, and 2 are about 50 feet away. 6 of the 7 modules within 20 feet are flashing, and only one single channel on one of the two 50 feet away is flashing. I really need to get a 2 channel scope setup on this so i can see where the problem is, one on the output of the FM and one on the input of the SSR.

    Greg, I probably won't give up, I was just super frustrated (we've all been there right?) Just needed to walk away from it for a while :-)
    Do you know which capacitor it is that he suggested you replace? and how big of one to replace it with? That's an easy thing to try! Did you measure what kind of current draw you were seeing on the PC module? I wonder how close to the 1 amp it is...

    I'll do some more testing today and get back with more details.

    Thanks. -James

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Firegod Flicker is back....

    OK, I threw a scope on an opened up SSR to see what things look like.
    When the lights are just sitting stable at 34% dimming, this is what they look like:

    (sorry for the bad quality, my cell phone doesn't do macro very well)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZ_UoW-6Tgg

    Not really so much of a flicker to 100%, but sort of "hunts" around the right level.

    Now, the input to the optocoupler of that SSR while sitting at 34% on the scope:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ah8b0uvip_s

    and a scope view of a dimming effort (I had the "test" channel panel up in vixen, set it to 0% and held the up arrow to let it slide to 100%)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88V0yMB5hqA

    Even though we don't see spikes in the dimming, the lights flicker to 100% quite badly during the dimming/brightening process.. Worse then by far than just sitting at one dimming level.

    So the only thing I can see here is that this MIGHT be a zero crossing problem. Due to the fact that I see no vertical artifacts on the scope (ie, not falsely triggering) but there is horizontal movement indicating that the SSR is being sent the command at slightly different times.

    I had the scope set to sync with "line". My biggest problem is that my scope is really old and in kind of sad shape (guess that's why i got it for free!) and I can't read the horizontal timing dial. I *think* it's set to 1ms/div in this video from the best i can read it

    Anyone have any guesses with this info where I might go looking next?
    Thanks. -James

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Firegod Flicker is back....

    Quote Originally Posted by jcizek View Post
    Greg, I probably won't give up, I was just super frustrated (we've all been there right?) Just needed to walk away from it for a while :-)
    Do you know which capacitor it is that he suggested you replace? and how big of one to replace it with? That's an easy thing to try! Did you measure what kind of current draw you were seeing on the PC module? I wonder how close to the 1 amp it is...

    I'll do some more testing today and get back with more details.

    Thanks. -James
    Yes, yes I have been there.

    I replaced it with the stock value but have several bigger ones ready. I did measure the current draw for each FM but am not sure where those records are. It seems to me that my flickering was worse when all channels were on, either dimming or set at a constant level less than 100.

    Looking for the details today before work.

    Greg

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Firegod Flicker is back....

    Well I have learned even more... I am fairly sure at this point that my flicker problems are NOT the firegod!! I had all my white lights on as the sun went down and left them at 35%. I noticed that several sets had no flicker, while others it was quite bad. I put the scope on BOTH sides of the optocoupler in the SSR, sure enough, clean signal going in, and spikes to full on coming out. I also noticed that I have something modulating the zero cross of my powerline that looks to be several volts high.. Something either in my house or a neighbors house is splattering the line up something fierce. I had just discovered all this and was ready to head to my breaker panel to start turning things off and then the problem fully disappeared. The entire show played tonight all night with no flicker at all. I guess I'll just watch for it to come back and then start back tracking the source. I did have a chance before it went away to swap some SSR's that were flashing with some that were not..l the problem stayed with the SSR (different field modules) so I am fairly confident that the problem is power related and that some SSR's parts are more prone to this interference than others.

    On that note, anyone know what the likelihood of power line noise causing either the triac or the triac substrate in the opto to fire erratically if there were noise or some other type of modulated signal on the power line? I think that is what is happening, but wanted to see if anyone had any input on that... you can clearly see the opto conducting the entire half cycle on certain cycles where it should be conducting only part of the cycle..

    Thanks. -James

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Firegod Flicker is back....

    Could be the boys in Cheyenne Mountain playing games with your gear...

    Glad you found something out and that your show ran smooothly. I'd think something that creates that much noise on the line ought to be able to be found fairly easily. One thought I had was the possibility a neighbor is using a PowerLine network, which, if you're on the same side of the transformer, could possibly leak into your house, too.

    Good luck!

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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Firegod Flicker is back....

    Light dimmers and X10 stuff could cause some havoc - do you have any of that type of stuff in your house?
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Firegod Flicker is back....

    I have a bunch of X10 stuff, but have quit using most of it because lots of stuff turned itself on and off without being commanded to do so... makes me think that whatever the interference is it's probably messing with the X10 stuff also... I haven't seen the problem now since Friday, but I am patiently waiting for it so I can try and track it down.

    -James

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