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Thread: Complete novice - Grinch controller??

  1. #11
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    Default Re: Complete novice - Grinch controller??

    Do you guys in the UK actually run Christmas lights directly from 240VAC? In Australia in the recent past they used step-down transformers to reduce the voltage to 24VAC, and run the lights from that. If that's what you're doing in the UK as well, it changes the picture, because you really need to do the control (including dimming) on the output side of the transformer, not on the input side. Or have things changed recently?
    Phil

  2. #12
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    Default Re: Complete novice - Grinch controller??

    Hi Phil

    I've just thrown away a set of string lights that died on me this year but I kept the label that was attached to the cable. The lights in this case had a jack on the end that plugged in to a transformer, which then plugs in to the mains. The label says "Rated Voltage/Wattage: 24V 10W". I guess this is the step down transformer.

    This particular string had red, yellow, green and blue LEDs in it together with a little control box that allowed you to make the flash, chase, stay on etc. The label also shows the following information.

    Red & Yellow LEDs: 2V 0.04W
    Green & Blue LEDs: 3V 0.06W

    By doing the control on the output side does that mean you can't simply just plug a set of lights in to a socket that you have coming from one of the SSRs. My very basic understanding was making me think:
    Computer - attached to - Renard Controller - with - SSR's coming from controller - with - wires coming from the SSR's with sockets on the end - then plug in your lights to those sockets and hey presto!! I'm sure that's somewhat simplified but that's how I was thinking it basically works.

    I am so out of my depth with all of this information so I hope you can help! Plus, I am not exactly technically minded. Putting the Renard controller together doesn't particularly worry me as I feel confident to follow the instructions. It's the rest of it that has me unsure!!

    Matthew

  3. #13
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    Default Re: Complete novice - Grinch controller??

    If I recall right, there were problems with placing the controllers on the input side of the transformers. I seem to remember that the transformers occasionally self-destructed when they attempted to dim the lights (I think that simple on-off was OK, though). This was a while back, and I hope that you communicate with someone who has had direct experience.
    Phil

  4. #14
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    Default Re: Complete novice - Grinch controller??

    Hi Phil

    Further to my last message I've just been looking over the Renard forums again. You may have noticed that although this thread is titled about the Grinch controller, having had some feedback the Renard seems like a better option I think. I was thinking the Renard 64XC which would work in the UK. Anyway, apologies as I didn't spot it before, but it would appear that the Renard is one of your boards!!!

    Any help and suggestions would be very much appreciated.

    Matthew

  5. #15
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    Default Re: Complete novice - Grinch controller??

    Is it worth building the controller the just plugging in the lights to see what happens? I can't see how you could plug in the lights with the transformer but have the controller connected after this. Is it a simple case of crimping the wires or this that a no no?

  6. #16
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    Hi there Matthew,

    It's good to see another UK member on here. I too had and are still having similar probs to you.
    I decided to go with the Olsen 595 unit, a dearer grinch. I chose this because of the pic programming of the Renard. Although my research of Renards finished as quick as it started. Mainly due to finding the Olsen.
    I purchased two from a member on, all being well they should be here in the next few days.
    I'm not too fussed about dimming on year one, might look at that next year.
    There's another UK member Jeff that started about the same time as me. He has gone down the LOR route and purchased two (i think) from the US.
    The LOR is all in one like some of the Rens, controller and SSR all in one. From looking it wasn't a bad price for a kit. Down side it's 16ch per unit so if you're looking for 64ch it gets dear. But remember its an all in one unit, you just run your extension leads to your lights.
    I've found a seller on eBay that does 240v LED strings with no attached controller; meaning you could connect these directly to any SSR in the UK.
    I'm currently battling with my wallet, my heart and my common sense as to SSRs. Do I build my own with strip board or go for a group buy maybe even wlc SSRez package. Argggh mind meltdown again.
    Where do you live? I'm in Mansfield, Notts. Heart of Robin Hood country lol.

    Matt B

  7. #17
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    Default Re: Complete novice - Grinch controller??

    The Grinch dimmer from RPM might also be an option you might want to explore... 256 levels of dimming full dmx control and a great piece of gear..
    This is the year for my Mom.She passed away Feb 12 2012 and this year is dedicated to her and her memory.I will finally have it all finished and set to music all for her as I promised.Heres to you Mom (Dec 10,1944 - Feb 12,2012.I love you...

    Now on the web [URL="http://kraftchekchristmaslights.webs.com/"]http://kraftchekchristmaslights.webs.com/[/URL]

  8. #18
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    Default Re: Complete novice - Grinch controller??

    G'day Matthew,
    I too am new to the whole Xmas lights thing. This forum is great and full of helpful advice and people. You may also like to check out
    http://auschristmaslighting.com/forums/index.php
    It's an Aussie forum also dedicated to Xmas lighting. Good luck with everything

  9. #19
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    Default Re: Complete novice - Grinch controller??

    Thanks for the new replies!

    Matt B: I'm based in Southampton. I originally posted this question just after I'd first joined this site and had done some research on the subject. In the end I've actually decided to go with the Renard board. I've ordered a Renard64XC, partly due to the fact that the Grinch and the Olsen595 seem to be becoming hard to get hold of, and partly as the Renard64XC is one of the boards that will work with 240 volts. Also, it will give me the capacity to dim if I want to.

    I like the ease of the LOR units but it looks pretty expensive and I think a lot of the fun will be building your own controller and getting it working. I don't get much free time at the moment, what with work and young kids, so I'm not sure if I'll get this done this year. I guess I'll see how it goes.

    As for the SSRs, I've ordered some SSRez boards to build. It'll be fun putting it all together.
    I've also been trying to learn how to use vixen - a challenge in itself.

    Warlock: G'day to you!

    This forum is excellent, together with the wiki. I've learnt so much from here although I'm still baffled by a lot of it. I'm not an electrician and have never really dabbled with electronics so the learning curve for me is going to be steep! I need to learn to solder too!!!

    Im already a member of the AusChristmasLighting forum. It's great aswell and one significant thing about that forum is that you use 240 volts in Australia just as we do in the UK, so when you run in to issues with the 110 volts referred to here, I know where to go!

    So much to learn!!!

  10. #20
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    Default Re: Complete novice - Grinch controller??

    Something that *might* interest either one or both of you is a new product in my store called RenBuss. Pretty cheap way to get a lot of capability without a lot of hassle... Also would work with 240v with the proper step-down transformer...

    http://diychristmas.org/store/catego...id_category=15

    http://digwdf.com/store/
    The DIGWDF Store is closed for all sales. Thanks to everyone who supported us through the years!
    User guides, documentation and other files are still free and available for downloading.

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