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Thread: New Helix V3 Main Board

  1. #1
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    Default New Helix V3 Main Board

    This is to gauge the interest in a new Helix Main Board V3. I've designed what is probably the last major revision of the Helix Main Board under the current architecture. I'm just running out of ways to improve the system while maintaining backwards compatibility with the existing boards.

    My goals for this new design were to reduce the cost, make it more user friendly and add additional capability. I was able to accomplish all three.

    Reduced Cost
    The current Helix Main Board V2 configured as a Helix Network Controller costs approximately $150 to build and requires a second XBee radio and a XBee to USB carrier board that costs approximately $61. For a total of ~$211. A V2 board configured as a Helix Network Node costs approximately $110.

    The BOM for the new Helix Main Board V3 configured as a Helix Network Controller will be approximately $90 and requires a USB to RS485 board that costs approximately $21. Depending on the quantity of PCBs ordered their cost will be approximately $15-20 each. The total cost would be about $126 - $131 (a savings of approximately $80). The V3 board configured as a Helix Network Node will cost approximately $70 - $75 (a savings of approximately $35)

    Most of the savings is accomplished by adding a wired RS485 port to the board. This makes the wireless XBee radio optional. Of course in order to be backward compatible with the existing boards the XBee radio can be added for approximately $34.

    User Friendly
    The new V3 board has seven new status LEDs to let the user know what is going on inside. In addition it has a channel test button that when pressed will turn all of the lights on. When pressed again it turns them back off.

    The new V3 board is also geared more toward the typical user. I've changed the first channel bank from only working with the standard 4ch SSR boards to be a generic port like the other three channel banks. Each generic channel bank port can drive any of the Helix Daughter boards, a Renard chain or a DMX universe.

    I still plan to support the LEDTriks-C also; however, it will probably only work on a Helix Network Node. I'm working out how to sync it in with a sequence.

    Additional Capability
    Besides the Channel Bank changes mentioned above the new V3 board has eight trigger inputs. Each trigger input will be able to start a show.

    I've attached files that show the schematic, PCB layout and the BOM. I welcome any questions or comments on the design.

    As the current V2 board meets all of my needs I don't plan to order the new V3 board unless there is enough interest from the DIYC community.

    The approximate costs for the PCBs will be $15 each with an order of 15 boards. The price would drop to about $12 each with an order of 20 boards.

    There will be an additional cost of $3.00 per main board to cover the presoldered microSD card socket and preprogrammed EEPROM.

    PayPal and shipping fees will be extra also.

    I will be willing to purchase five of the boards so we would only need commitments for 10 - 15 more boards to make this worthwhile.

    If there is enough interest I will open a group buy thread and collect the money. My goal is to place an order for the boards around the first week of Feb with delivery by the end of Feb.

    Please let me know if you are interested in the new design and if you have any questions or concerns.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by gmbartlett; 10-23-2012 at 10:22 PM. Reason: Updated the assembly manual
    Greg

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Shawnee, OK
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    Default Re: New Helix V3 Main Board

    I would be interested in 3 boards.

  3. #3
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    May 2010
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    Default Re: New Helix V3 Main Board

    Greg, great product. I'll be reviewing more later as I've been looking thoroughly through the information about the Helix systems. This may be the year I make my move, love your creativity and the versatility of your system!
    Questions about the world: Read the bible [I]and [/I]pray (or vise versa). :D -Bilateral!
    Questions about Blinky-flashy: [U]READ[/U] the Wiki and forum [B]first[/B]!,...[I]then[/I] ask!-Unilateral!

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Default Re: New Helix V3 Main Board

    Put me in for two, as well. I've always said you can't have too many Helix boards!!

    Underdog - any questions, or want any opinions, feel free to ask, either off-list, or here - you'll get plenty of answers. It's a great system, and if the V.3 boards make it to fruition, the lower cost/still features make it even better!

    I ran 288 channels this year, a network controller and two nodes, and took the show to both sides of the street. If all my plans come together, I might be pushing 1000 channels next year. Hoping to light up the entire town square, and maybe even surrounding businesses.

    R
    [IMG]http://crbest.com/vixenlogo02.jpg[/IMG]

    Roger Phillips
    Oxford, IN
    256 channels of blinkin', dimmin' bliss...
    "[B][I]The road goes on forever, and the party never ends!![/I][/B] [I]Robert Earl Keen[/I]

  5. #5
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    Default Re: New Helix V3 Main Board

    Greg,
    I will order 1 or 2 main boards

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Griswold, Connecticut
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    Default Re: New Helix V3 Main Board

    Greg,

    I'll order at least 1 board. Thanks for adding in the triggers and the test feature. For anyone that hasn't used a Helix, it is a great controller and Greg provides great customer support.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Oshkosh Wi
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    Default Re: New Helix V3 Main Board

    put me down for 2 of them with soldered socket and eeprom.

    thanks it sounds great.

  8. Likes Rjlangley liked this post
  9. #8
    Join Date
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    Default Re: New Helix V3 Main Board

    Will this board support E1.31 and the E681 for pixels?

    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. #9
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    Mar 2010
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    Default Re: New Helix V3 Main Board

    Count me in for two.

    I love this hobby!

    Chuck P

  11. #10
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    Dec 2011
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    Default Re: New Helix V3 Main Board

    I will buy 2.

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