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Thread: Arduino 32-channel controller

  1. #1
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    Default Arduino 32-channel controller

    In the spirit of DIY, I thought I would share my most recent project. 2013 was my first year doing the synchronized christmas light show and I decided to embark on designing my own controller (I enjoy the hardware/software design more than any other part of this hobby). I ended up designing a controller using TLC5940 PWM chips to provide 32 channels of dimmable control per Arduino shield. For the 2013 show, I didn't have the dimming capability working correctly, so everything was on/off only. Now that I've had some time to experiment, I've had PCBs made and have tested the dimming capability now.

    My original design was for a stackable shield that would allow 4 of these shields to be stacked on a single Arduino to provide 128 channels. At this point, I think I've decided to go more towards multiple controllers scattered throughout the display, so I haven't tested (or done the software to support) multiple boards on one Arduino.

    Anyway, I've created a quick webpage that documents my design to some degree (mainly to help me remember the design), but thought it might be useful for others. Any feedback appreciated.

    https://sites.google.com/site/rkwood...ightcontroller

    Thanks,

    Keith

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Arduino 32-channel controller

    Keith,
    Thanks for sharing. Keep us posted on your design and updates. Always like seeing new ways to skin the cat.
    Thanks,
    Brian, your friendly site Admin.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Arduino 32-channel controller

    Keith:

    Interesting project.

    For zero-cross, did you write your own sketch/library or did you use something in the public domain? I have studied "ACPhaseControl" in the Arduino Playground and for a project was thinking of using that.

    Please post here when you've updated your web pages with schematics and code.

    Thanks.

    \dmc
    ________________________
    The only thing more dangerous than a software engineer with a soldering iron
    or a hardware engineer with a compiler is a liberal-arts major with either.
    [b]Christmas lights:[/b] [url]http://www.PacificaLights.info/[/url]
    [b]uC/LED hacking:[/b] [url]http://www.dmcole.net/[/url]

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    Default Re: Arduino 32-channel controller

    Very nice. I had those same chips (tlc594x) in mind for a stackable/chainable SSR interface. Definitely interested in schematics/code when you're ready.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Arduino 32-channel controller

    Quote Originally Posted by dmcole View Post
    For zero-cross, did you write your own sketch/library or did you use something in the public domain? I have studied "ACPhaseControl" in the Arduino Playground and for a project was thinking of using that.
    Thanks. For the zero cross detection, I used the H11AA1 with a 6 VAC transformer (I didn't want line voltages on the board). The two 330 ohm resistors connected to the H11AA1 drop the current going through the H11AA1 to around 10ma. Near the zero cross of the AC waveform, the H11AA1 outputs a pulse which I feed into one of the interrupt pins on the Arduino. I wrote my own sketch that handles the interrupt. As part of the interrupt handler, I pulse the blank pin which starts the next PWM cycle on the TLC5940s. I also use a global flag to indicate when I need to latch in new data. If the global flag is set, the interrupt handler will also latch in the new data.

    Currently, my code is using portions of the TLC5940 Arduino library. I mainly use the portions that setup the GSCLK signal and the SPI routines that pulse the data into the chip. This is the one area of my code that I would really like to clean up before sharing.

    I spent a few minutes and cleaned up the schematic and have uploaded it to my web page. I'll try to get an initial version of the code uploaded in the next couple of weeks (time permitting).

    Keith

    PS. I like your signature. As a software engineer who often uses a soldering iron, I'm always telling my coworkers that they must be out of their mind to let a software guy near the hardware tools

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    Default Re: Arduino 32-channel controller

    Quote Originally Posted by pmscientist View Post
    Very nice. I had those same chips (tlc594x) in mind for a stackable/chainable SSR interface. Definitely interested in schematics/code when you're ready.
    Thanks. I've uploaded the schematic to the web page. The board was designed to be stackable (up to 4 boards per Arduino), but I've never tested that feature. I'll likely be ordering some new PCBs in early spring. If you want a couple to play around with, send me a PM and maybe we can work something out.

    Keith

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Arduino 32-channel controller

    I hope you make a few videos of your setup. I am starting a project using 595 breakout boards but I like the compact design you have going. Keep us updated

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Arduino 32-channel controller

    Hmmm...

    That chip was designed to do PWM for LEDs...

    How are you generating the gs clock and are you synchronizing it for 120hz (need to fire the triacs on both the positive and negative parts of the ac waveform).


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Arduino 32-channel controller

    This is looking good, I've been looking for a dimming controler to replace my Grinch but I didn't like the thought of programming PIC's as in the REN-C / REN-T controler. I already have an ARDUINO uno which I used to animate some pond pumps in a water feature earlier last year but removed it when we moved house. I eagerly await the final version with 4 TLC5940's and the software published, well done Keith.
    Thanks Paul.
    192 + 12 Channels, P4 1.8GHz, Grinch & Parallel12, Win XP Sp3, Vixen 2.0
    [URL]http://tyzzerslights.org.uk/[/URL]

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Arduino 32-channel controller

    Quote Originally Posted by kwoodard View Post
    PS. I like your signature. As a software engineer who often uses a soldering iron, I'm always telling my coworkers that they must be out of their mind to let a software guy near the hardware tools
    Yes, in my deep, dark past I often worked with the armed camps that call themselves "hardware techs" and "programmers/analysts" ... I believe a hardware tech once gave me the first part of the sig ("The only thing worse than a software guy with a soldering iron is a hardware guy with a compiler") and as I began pursuing this hobby it became clear that I was a double-threat to both groups, giving rise to the sig.

    Also: I too have fiddled a lot with TLC5940s and the Arduino libraries thereof. I actually bread-boarded a 16-channel DC DMX controller that worked just dandy.

    Best o' luck.

    \dmc
    ________________________
    The only thing more dangerous than a software engineer with a soldering iron
    or a hardware engineer with a compiler is a liberal-arts major with either.
    [b]Christmas lights:[/b] [url]http://www.PacificaLights.info/[/url]
    [b]uC/LED hacking:[/b] [url]http://www.dmcole.net/[/url]

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