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Thread: Here's a Grinch ??

  1. #1
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    Default Here's a Grinch ??

    First off I am a complete newbie to all this and I am not electronics savy. I have a Lights & Sounds of Xmas and would dearly love to step up. Checked out LOR last year and left with sticker shock. I stumbled upon this site recently (because I can't get it out of my head to increase our holiday display) and think I can do the soldering work to put together a board. I'd like to have dimming but the less cost and added channels of the Grinch are appealing to me (in comparison to the Renard). I guess my first question is about the SSR's. I am assuming you guys are building them also. Does the extra time/work involved building seperate SSR's for the Grinch still make it simpler (and less $ ) as compared to the Ren24 with onboard SSR's. It's completely possible I am missing something in the equation here also.Another initial question I have - Are the boards and SSR's subceptable to cold temps (freezing). Anyway this is the first of many questions I suspect but I love the site and am hoping I can pull one of these controllers off before next year ('12). Please excuse the spelling.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Here's a Grinch ??

    Welcome to DIYC! First off, I have never built a Grinch, but this is coming from someone who first bought a Renard 64, which does have external SSRs. Then I discovered the Renard SS series of boards and I love them. I actually think they are easier, less expensive and more reliable than having external SSRs (simply because there are more points of potential failure - that being said, I have never had a REN 64 issue.) As for temperature issues, some of the electronics may not operate in severe cold (10 degrees and below) so you might have issues regardless of the controller you choose if it gets that cold. However, there are tricks of the trade you can implement if that does become and issue. Good luck on your journey, there are a lot of people who are much more experienced in this stuff than I am, and I am sure they will chime in.

    BTW, you WILL want dimming once you get going with this hobby.

    -- John

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Here's a Grinch ??

    I echo John's welcome -- and don't worry too much about the temps. The parts DIYC boards use are generally good to -40C. I live in Minnesota and haven't had any trouble... although once I bought the wrong part that was only good to 0C... and when it got down below zero... it stopped working. Replaced it with the right part and *bingo* problem solved!!!

    BTW, you won't save much, if anything by going the Grinch way over a Renard. You still will need the external SSRs with the Grinch and with an SS24 board, for example, they're built right in!
    www.diychristmas.org

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Here's a Grinch ??

    Quote Originally Posted by baboiler View Post
    Anyway this is the first of many questions I suspect but I love the site and am hoping I can pull one of these controllers off before next year ('12). Please excuse the spelling.
    Welcome! You are correct about the many questions, they are (the questions) free here.

    I agree with John that you will eventually want dimming - it's pretty cool. The SS boards he mentions are pretty slick and are easy to expand upon. There is a group buy interest thread here somewhere and you can get into 8 channels without too much expense - and MAYBE be up and running for 2011!

    I have used the external SSR type system for a couple of years and am happy. That said, I have an SS8 that I may use on the neighbor's house down the street - if he programms the blinky.

    Keep the questions coming!

    Greg

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Here's a Grinch ??

    Thanks for the replies. I initially was leaning toward 2 Renard24ss but as I got to reading the Grinche boards looked much easier to put together and more channels.Like I mentioned I wanted dimming but the trade off for ease of construction + more channels has me reconcidering. I have the feeling I would regret not having the dimming capability. Also 48 channels is probably more than enough for what I have in mind. One other thing I am a bit intimidated by are the PIC's. For one I know nothing about them or how they work.It seems to be the general feeling (from what I am reading on the board) that a person should program them yourself. I can follow instructions but trouble shooting would be a different story.I will keep reading aroung here and hopefully it will become more clear.I may not be understanding the co-op buys correctly.I see posts of people waiting on co-op but it also appears one gentlman(name escapes me but think he is an Aussie) has the Renard stuff available most anytime. Is that correct or am I going to struggle getting parts when I'm ready to start building.Thanks again!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Here's a Grinch ??

    Please let me know if I should be taking this to the Renard section and I will gladly do so. Some forums are more finicky than others about that sort of thing.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Here's a Grinch ??

    Welcome to DYIC!

    Go with the RenSS boards. I have been using them for years and seem to add on average about one board a year.

    The cost of populating a board section can be deceiving. (http://www.doityourselfchristmas.com..._of_DIY_Boards)

    People read it is going to cost $20-25 and think that is all it is going to cost, but they fail to take into account the cost of the SSR's they are going to need. There are many options on how to do your SSR's, but regardless you would be looking at $100 or more to populate all the channels.

    The RenSS's package all this into one tidy package and will work for years for you.

    Tony
    Tony
    Live since 2007
    Moving up to 512 channels and 45,000 lights of Blinky this year.
    Putting the Yule back into Yuletide.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Here's a Grinch ??

    Welcome,

    I used a Grinch my first year and it worked well. it is a little less expensive than some of the other options. One advantage is that it does not require a PIC programmer so that is one less thing that you have to buy and learn to use. Disadvantages include the need for a lot of cat-5 cable. Most new members forget to figure cost of cables to plug all of this stuff together. you will also need enclosures for all of the SSRs the cost there can add up too. I use duplex outlet boxes for enclosures for my SSRs because they are available locally and low cost.

    In my experience freezing temps have never caused any problems. Its those thawing temps in northern IN you need to watch out for. As long as its snow or ice its fairly dry, but once it melts water can get too your SSRs and cause channels to not turn off. I always keep a few extra SSRs so I can change one out if needed. Then I set the wet one on the heat register in the house and its good to go in a day or too if needed. If you're in the Fort Wayne area please let me know if you get up and running I would like to see what you come up with.

    Tyler
    Blinky Flashy on a budget since 2009
    2009: 32 channels of Grench
    2010: 80 channels of home etched Ren-16 Simple and Home etched SSRneons.
    [URL="http://www.vimeo.com/user2720474/videos"]My videos [/URL]

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Here's a Grinch ??

    First there's nothing to worry about when it comes to pic's. Once you have a programmer you plug it in run some software and it's done. Pic's once in awhile get the programming messed up (not very often but it does happen) and you just re-flash and it's good to go. If your not ready for that expense or making that step, it's very easy to find someone to flash them for you. Most group buys it's a option to have it done for you.
    Boards, I know little of the grinch, but being a older less used board there will be less help available. I recommend the SS series of boards. They are designed for new people and to be easy to trouble shoot. They are documented very well with a new person in mind. The boards are almost always available and parts are common from Mouser and other electronic outlets. Their are may different boards here but the SS Series are the one to start with. After building and using that and reading the information here you may decide on other boards and most boards here mix and match just fine.
    So welcome to a great community and have FUN! Also remember, the only dumb question is the one that isn't asked.

    Brian
    2009 - 48 channel MegaTree 4800 lights
    plus 3200 lights static display.
    2010 - 6 Snowflakes on heavy equipment stored in front yard :-(
    2011 - 72 channel Megatree 7520 lights,
    120 channel total about 10k lights total

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    northern Indiana
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    Default Re: Here's a Grinch ??

    I am enjoying the board and thank you again for the comments.I am really leaning toward the Renard 24ss. If I can get 2 of them put together and the PIC's taken care of that will do me fine - for awhile. It looks like they are pretty easy to add on to also. Guess if I feel the need for more channels it won't be a problem getting them.

    tsstraub- Not far away at all. We are east side of Warsaw. I will still have the Lights & Sound this year.I want to give myself plenty of time to put this all together.Next year though !!! Wifey is going to be sooo proud : )

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