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Thread: Grinch + Ren-C Losing Heartbeat

  1. #1
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    Default Grinch + Ren-C Losing Heartbeat

    I can't figure this out. I have a Grinch+ Ren-C Combo that keeps losing it's heartbeat. When that happens, the lights just stay on, or flash uncontrollably. You don't have to touch it or anything, it just does it. I've used two different Ren-C's and get the same problem. What do you think it is?
    WOOT! Christmas!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Grinch + Ren-C Losing Heartbeat

    This is driving me batty! I have two Grinch and Rec-C setups. We'll call them G1,R1 and G2,R2. The problem one was G1R1. It's for my mega tree, and it's all encapsulated in a 3'x 4" PVC pipe. LOTS of wires and network cabling. Because of this, I cannot physically remove R1 without extensive work, and definitely not while it is on the tree. G1, on the other hand is much easier. I have the same problem no matter the combination. G1R2, G2R1, even G2R2 on the tree! And that's without any SSRs plugged in. I am so lost! G2R2 works just fine in it's cable box. I've replaced the network cables, I've checked the replaced network cables. I'm totally lost!

    Either the lights stay on constantly, and there is no heartbeat, or the row of LED's on the Ren-C flash violently. And when they do that, the lights follow.
    Please help.
    WOOT! Christmas!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Grinch + Ren-C Losing Heartbeat

    What are you using as ZC source ???

    I would start with that. The Grinch with a Ren-C will behave very strange and unpredictable without a good reliable zero cross signal. I did extensive testing with that kind of a setup over the summer. I learned a couple of things. I had the best results when using an H11AA1 direct from the AC line as a ZC source. I tried the transformer with two diodes and that worked........sometimes but was not reliable. I also had unacceptable results when passing the ZC signal between Ren-Cs on pins 7 & 8 of the data cable. I have 256 channels running on Grinch/Ren-Cs right now. Each of my four Ren-Cs has it's own H11AA1 for ZC. That was the only way I could get them to work and dim the way I wanted them to.

    Not sure if ZC is your problem but it sure sounds like it might be.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Grinch + Ren-C Losing Heartbeat

    Also how long are your data cables ???

    They need to really short.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Grinch + Ren-C Losing Heartbeat

    I have two Grinch RenC combos and they are stable as.
    I use the H1aa11 thingies and extremely short cables between the RenC and the Grinch. I agree with the OP, check your ZC.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Grinch + Ren-C Losing Heartbeat

    My data cables from the Grinch to Ren-C are 3" long. I'll have to check on the ZC, as I built this system years ago.

    Wait, the Ren-T board says Ren-T v2.4 Phil Short Wayne James 2007.
    WOOT! Christmas!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Grinch + Ren-C Losing Heartbeat

    UPDATE

    The problem area is my bazooka. It has 64 channels with relays all tucked into a tube. 49 of those channels are hooked up to the mega tree. When I unhook all of the relays from the Grinch, I have my heartbeat.

    I can have up to three relay boards hooked up, and the system functions fine, blinky flashy and all. If I have between 4 & 10 relay boards hooked up, the 5 LED's on the Ren-C flash, so do any Christmas lights hooked up to those boards.

    If I have more then 10 relay boards hooked up, then the lights are just a steady on. The only LED lit is the power. No heartbeat.

    The order of the connected relay boards doesn't matter. It also doesn't matter if I have power to the Christmas lights as well.

    Any thoughts?
    WOOT! Christmas!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Grinch + Ren-C Losing Heartbeat

    What are you using to supply power to the Grinch and RenC ??? You may not have enough voltage and/or current to supply the RenC, Grinch and all of the relays.

    I supply the power individually to the Grinch and RenC. And I inject power remotely to the SSR relays instead of passing power from the Grinch board.

    If the voltage and current check out OK then I would reflash the PiC on the RenC board with the newest firmware.

    Let us know if you get this resolved it may help others still using the old Grinch boards.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Grinch + Ren-C Losing Heartbeat

    Wow, I swear I replied to this already!

    My +5 comes from the PC. I checked the voltages, 4.97v at the PC. 4.74 at the Mega tree, 4.45 at the in RJ45 on the Ren-C.

    I have swapped the G1R1 which in the tube with G2R2, and the exact same problem remains.
    WOOT! Christmas!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Grinch + Ren-C Losing Heartbeat

    You may try re-flashing the PIC on the Ren-C board but I would bet that it is either a ZC or voltage/current problem. 4.7 volts seems a little bit low to me especially if you are supplying voltage to relays from the Ren-T, through the Ren-C then through the Grinch to your relays. All of my Grinch and Ren-Cs are running on 5.11 volts and are as stable as can be with no problems dimming or on-off. I know my setup will go crazy if the supply voltage drops below about 4.9 volts. That is why I decided to inject the power to my SSRs and relay boards. Everything was drawing too much power through the Grinch board. I can also tell you from my testing that some Ren-C/Grinch combos work on lower voltages than others. I can't explain why, but I spent about 150 hours of testing different Ren-C/Grinch setups over the summer. I have one Ren-C that only works with a certain Grinch board. Again I can't explain it, as all the boards have the same type of Allegro chip on them and an 820 ohm current limiting resistor. I also could never get two Ren-C/Grinch combos to work from a single Ren-T. In theory it should work but I never had good results. As soon as I added the second set of boards to get to 128 channels both Ren-Cs would go crazy and no blinky-flashy. I power the boards from a small ATX power supply and each of my Ren-Cs has it's own ZC source from an H11AA1. The SSR relay boards are powered from a high-current ATX server power supply with the grounds of both connected together.

    You said that things are good up to 10 relays. What kind of relays are you using and how much current do they draw ??? Are they SSRs, if so what kind ???

    Also did you test this setup with all of the relays attached and determine that everything worked OK ???

    Again I am fairly sure that you have either a Zero Cross or voltage issue. Unfortunately it will probably be hard to trouble shoot while it is all inside of a 3 inch pipe attached to your tree.

    PM me if you want, and I can give you a number to call me.

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