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Thread: Major Firegod Problems

  1. #1
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    Default Major Firegod Problems

    Hey all-
    Still experiencing some issues with the Firegod and I could really use some opinions.
    I have been adding more and more SSR's to the system as I got them built up. As of last night I had 3 field modules running with close to 22 SSR's going. All the lights are LED minus about 8 mini trees.

    And so the problems begin. When at 100% I had no problems with any lights at all- they wee all as steady as can be expected for LED's. When dimming at any level some of the lights are still strobing and some are solid. Even more weird is that the strings have transformers at an end and the middle so each set is essentially two 120 circuits. Well a lot of times when dimming, half of the string will go dark and the other half will strobe. I am hoping the better transformer and upgraded vreg will fix this issue.

    But the worst of the matter showed up tonight. It is very, very cold for Florida (~26 degrees) so I don't know if this has anything to do with it but all of a sudden Im completely losing channels when the entire display is on steady. Random channels from different SSR's will either dim or completely shut off. When I go start unplugging SSR's from the FM the channels which are out in the remaining SSR's come back on. This is only with SSR's connected to the third FM.


    For example- a tree has Red green and blue sets on it connected to the first port of the FM 3. When everything is at full the red set in the tree will not light. If I only select the red in channel test it turns on fine. If I select the Red Green and Blue all three turn on fine. But with everything on it is dark. Yet if I start unplugging SSRs from the field module such as the one that runs the candy canes I get some channels back including the tree reds but they flicker a lot. If I unplug another SSR then I get all of the channels back that were either dim or out and the red flickering goes away. Clearly it is not Vixen since unplugging SSR from that module let the channels return to normal. But it is not any one SSR causing the problems...

    Sorry to make this so long but I am really at a loss here. The only thing I can think of is that the FM 3 is not receiving enough power and by unplugging SSR's it has more power to send the proper control voltages to the remaining SSR's. If anyone has any ideas or thinks this could be related to the FM regulator and power supply please let me know.

    Thanks so much for all your help
    Aaron

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Major Firegod Problems

    This defintely sounds like a power issue. What are you using for power to the PC module? Are you using the walwart? or did you move to the bigger transformers?

    Are you using commercial cat5 or homemade? If homemade, you might double check to see that the connectors are crimped tightly and properly.

    If you have a digital voltmeter and a steady hand, you can pretty easily check to see if your having a siginificant voltage drop due to a bad cable, connector, solder joint etc...

    Fire up the system and turn on everything you can to duplicate the problem, then measure the DC voltage across pins 31 and 32 on the PIC on the field module (be careful not to short these pins with the meter probes though!!)
    See what voltage you have there, you need pretty close to 5 volts for the system to work, I suspect you'll find 3 or less there given the problems you describe so far...

    What length cables are you running from the PC module to the FM?

    -james

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Major Firegod Problems

    That sounds like the problem exactly. I was able to measure the voltage at the PC interface ports and found that all the field modules were getting between 3.9 and 3.6 volts under load. Yet still the problem is only with the 3rd FM.

    I am still using the wall wart transformer but have ordered the larger ac transformer and am about to install the upgraded 6v regulator. What exactly am I supposed to do with the large capacitor on the PC interface?

    So as Ive been troubleshooting for several days I have found out more.

    Field Module 3 has 2 channels that do not come on when everything is at full (Measured at ~ 52volts), one channel that comes on but flickers wildly (measured at ~70 volts), and one that only half the string will light measured at (~90 volts). All the dimmer inputs are receiving a steady 119 volts. Remeber- the entire display works as normal when running as a show with flashing lights. Only when everything is on steady burn does this problem arise. Otherwise the before mentioned channels receive the full 119volts. If I start unplugging SSR's from Field Module 3 then the remaining channels that were out in the other SSR's will come back on. With two unplugged (5 remaining) all remaining channels receive the full 119 volts. It does not matter which 2 are unplugged.

    The next morning I turned on everything and the problem was there but not as bad. Every channel was on but the ones that were giving me trouble were flickering more. Next I moved around the SSR that had the red flickering in the tree. No matter where it was on the Field Module the red still flickered- indicating a problem with the SSR itself. I changed the Optoisolater out on the red channel of the SSR and voila, perfect steady lights.

    I thought this was the solution and planned on changing out all the Opto's of channels that flickered / did not receive proper voltage. However when I came home that night the entire house blue were out and only some of the blues in the tree were on. And the reds were flickering again. The funny thing about the blues in the trees... some sets were lit others were not. They are all plugged end to end. I don't understand how that is even possible...

    Now I'm right back at square 1. It is always much better when im trouble shooting during the day for whatever reason. It seems as though the problem is with the firegod- but then I don't see how when I changed out the optoisolator in the channel yesterday that channel was suddenly fine...

    I'll let you know if adding the 6 volt regulator helps at all,

    Again thank you all so much for your help. Couldn't ever pull this off without the support of this forum and its members.

    Aaron

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Major Firegod Problems

    Ya, you need to change that regulator out. There isn't a lot of sense troubleshooting more until you can get the voltage on the FM's up higher. The voltage you are seeing at the FM's is JUST enough to make the PIC's work ...sorta... You will see all kinds of funny behaviour with the voltage that low.

    I had the MOST improvement over anything I tried soley by changing to the 6 volt regulator. (I also tried a 7.5volt, which is a bit high for the onboard max232 that is on the PC module, but it didn't help anymore than the 6v so stayed with the 6v). When you change that 5v to a 6v, your 3.6 out at the FM will go to 4.6 (approx) and you will see much better results!
    Cat 5 just isn't that great for moving current, 24guage wire just isn't the ideal transport for much current at 5 volts!

    Let us know if that helps solve your problem!
    -James

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Major Firegod Problems

    Going back and reading your post, I see you mention some channels at 52 volts and 70 volts... what is it exactly that you are getting those measurements from? What are you measuring?
    -James

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Major Firegod Problems

    That was me measuring the power out of the SSR outputs to make sure when I told them to be at full they were getting the complete 119 volts.

    The 6 volt regulator solved almost all my issues. Fading is still not great but certainly much smoother than before and all problems with missing channels have dissipated. Thanks for you help a lot. Glad you were able to understand the problem so well and pinpoint a solution. I'm very grateful.

    Aaron

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Major Firegod Problems

    Aaron, glad to hear that things are better! I suspected that your regs would change the picture quite a bit.

    Congrats on your show!

    Can you tell me what SSR's you are using? I'm still collecting data on what to troublshoot next on my flicker problems! Thanks. -james

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Major Firegod Problems

    Aaron,

    Glad to hear of your positive progress. I may have missed it in a thread above but are you using a wall wart or a higher amperage transformer?

    Greg

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Major Firegod Problems

    James, Thanks, I am using the SSR ez's. And please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you troubleshoot.

    Greg, I am still running the wall wart that was in the original BOM although I have ordered a new transformer rated at 2.5 amps. When they arrive I will swap it out with the wallwart but everything has been running well since I replaced the reg. Now I need to troubleshoot the terrible dimming that I'm getting from my LED's.

    Aaron

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Major Firegod Problems

    Aaron, are you using AC dimming or PWM dimming on the modules driving the LED's?? I haven't done a lot of looking at the difference in the plugin, but it's maybe something to look at! I don't have any LED's so I am using the AC setting, but I assumed that the PWM setting in the plugin was just for such thing (someone can jump in and tell me I'm wrong if I am!!) -James

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