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Thread: Grinch + Ren-C Losing Heartbeat

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Default Re: Grinch + Ren-C Losing Heartbeat

    If I have up to three relays hooked up, everything works fine, blinky flashy and all.
    Between 4-10 relays, Everything just flickers randomly; the LEDs on the Ren-C and all the stands of lights hooked up to the relays that are plugged into the Grinch, all flicker in unison.
    After 10 relays are plugged into the Grinch, only the power LED on the Ren-C is lit, no heartbeat, and all strands of lights that are plugged into the relays that are plugged into the Grinch remain a steady on.

    I am using Sean's SSR's, not sure what version, one of the first.

    I have tested each of the relays by having only one plugged into the Grinch at a time, and they all worked OK.

    The ZC, is as stated above, I don't know if its a H11AA1, or what. I'm not an electronics expert. I took the plants, bought the parts and put it together. Then relied on this board to get it to work, lol. The Ren-T has it's own power cord, runs the ZC through Cat5 to the Ren-C. The Ren-T sits on top of the computer in the garage.

    The Power Voltage for the system comes from the same ATX computer that runs the Vixen Program. I spliced an old plug and every year I just plug it in and run the cord through an open PCI slot in the back.

    Yes, it sucks to work on this thing from the tube on the tree. I had removed it, took it into the garage, and got it to work fine in there. Took it back out, hooked it all up, and same problem.

    We've got about 5" of snow out there now, not really going to mess with it anymore. I'm going to run a new power cord and see what happens, but if that doesn't fix it, it'll wait until spring.
    WOOT! Christmas!

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Northern Illinois
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    Default Re: Grinch + Ren-C Losing Heartbeat

    Since you brought it inside and all worked fine, I would be willing to bet that if you moved the REN-T outside with the REN-C/Grinch boards that things would work much better. The Ren-T generates a low level signal from a center tapped transformer and two diodes for the ZC. As I said above, I could never get things to work with the Ren-T generating the ZC signal although others have. I ended up building 2 small boards with an H11AA1 and 2 resistors connected directly to the AC feed and feeding the ZC signal directly in to the Ren-C on the onboard header strip. It did strange things when ever I tried to send the ZC over the cat-5 cable. If you check the Ren-C Wiki, at the bottom of the document it gives 3 different possibilities to generate a Zero cross signal. I found that Option# 2 for the H11AA1 works far better than any other solution. Here's a link to the page in case you need it:

    http://www.doityourselfchristmas.com...hp?title=Ren-C

    Just another thought. When you tested your configuration inside, did you test it with the same length of cat-5 cable as you are using from your garage to your tree ??? I had this bite me last year. I tested everything inside my shop with 10-15' cat-5 cables. When I hooked everything up outside I found that I needed 75-100' for a couple of my cable runs. Guess what, that additional resistance due to the cable length made a big difference. It's not a huge amount of resistance but it does dramatically affect the low-level ZC signal especially when feeding more than a single Ren-C board. It sounds like your Ren-C/Grinches are outside on the mast of your mega-tree with the Ren-T (for ZC) and the computer that supplies 5vdc power to your boards is in the garage. If that is how you are setup I would bet the cable distance is causing your issue. Check the voltage drop charts, it is surprising how much drop there is at 5 volts, even at very low current.

    I would test inside with the same length ZC and 5 volt cabling. Also FYI, if you are using RS232 and it requires more than 15-20 feet of cat-5 from your PC to the Ren-C outside, that distance is probably farther than this setup is known to work without probable data issues. I tried RS-232 at 50 feet and had data loss and framing errors.

    Let us know what you find out.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Default Re: Grinch + Ren-C Losing Heartbeat

    I made one realization last night as I was going through and answering your question on weather I used the same wire/cable lengths or not. The SPT-2 cord was shortened when I tested the unit in the garage.....the Cat5 was the same. And I realized one thing had changed on the computer this year as well, the video card. Previously I ran off the onboard video, but this season, it went out, so I grabbed the gaming card out of an old computer, which required an extra power plug. The same cord that I had pigtailed to my Grinch system. I unplugged the video card and my voltage went from 4.97 to 5.11...and everything suddenly worked!

    So the video card was hogging the power. I reran the internal power cords in the PC and everything works fine! Too bad I don't have enough time to set everything else up now.
    WOOT! Christmas!

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Northern Illinois
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    Default Re: Grinch + Ren-C Losing Heartbeat

    Yep, the Grinch has a fairly narrow voltage tolerance. Glad you at least found the problem. Sorry time is winding down for a display this year.

    Merry Christmas !!!

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