Look for DIY Timer for Chinese Blackbox

Discussion in 'Do It Yourself (DIY)' started by Javamahn, Oct 24, 2018.

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  1. Javamahn

    Javamahn Active Member

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    Has anyone made a DIY Timer that can be used with the dimming feature of the Meanwell drivers? Something that can ramp up and down and set intensity of the 2 channels?
     
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  2. dantimdad

    dantimdad Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award R2R Secret Santa Build Thread Contributor North Alabama Reef Club

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    Working on it with a buddy.

    We are doing 0-10v with a raspberry pi. Meeting with him Friday for an update on his part.

    Meanwhile, the blufish does it, so does the storm and several others. But, I want it for a specific purpose that will have a thread later on if we succeed.
     
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  3. Javamahn

    Javamahn Active Member

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    I saw the bluefish do you know if the Current will work? I assume most of these boxes are 0-10v and not pwm. Considering that bluefish is more expensive then many of the LEDs themselves I was looking at DIY to minimize costs of modding some existing Black boxes I have for a lowboy frag tank. Good Luck and keep us posted on your progress
     
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  4. dantimdad

    dantimdad Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award R2R Secret Santa Build Thread Contributor North Alabama Reef Club

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    That's my argument against a premade controller.

    I like to DIY but, cost is also a factor. If it costs almost as much to DIY then why bother?

    Our total cost should be under $30 and it will control 4 channels. We could control 8 channels for about $50 according to my buddy.
     
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  5. Javamahn

    Javamahn Active Member

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    That's sounds promising. You could revive all those Chinese black box users without an Apex. Good luck
     
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  6. cvrle1

    cvrle1 Active Member

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    Not sure if you looked at reef-pi build thread. They were just talking about light controllers in there, so perhaps you can join in the fun and share your knowledge with @Ranjib and rest of the builders. Could be beneficial for all parties involved :)
     
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  7. dantimdad

    dantimdad Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award R2R Secret Santa Build Thread Contributor North Alabama Reef Club

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    ok so I just talked with my buddy. Code is done for 6 channels. I just have to get my end of it done and build a voltage doubling circuit and an enclosure to pretty it up.

    This is getting fun.

    Basically, an Arduino has 6 controllable 0-5v outputs what we are doing is converting the signal to them via (up to 256) steps multiplied 51 to get the output desired. That goes through an OPAMP then to the 0-10v analog input of a driver (or up to 6). I am using inventronics and meanwell with 0-10v inputs. Theoretically, this could directly control Kessils or what have you.

    In all honesty, I am not sure why more folks haven't done this.

    Judging from the code, it's super simple stuff.

    But, again, I haven't implemented it yet. I may hate myself for saying it's simple. LOL
     
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  8. tonkaoz

    tonkaoz Active Member

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    i bought an outdoor timer from home depot for mine . works great . i bought 2 . one for blue one for white
     
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  9. dantimdad

    dantimdad Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award R2R Secret Santa Build Thread Contributor North Alabama Reef Club

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    Keep in mind, that this must be hooked up to a computer to program it and test it.

    No wifi/Bluetooth.

    There is not storms or crazy mood lighting or anything of the sort.

    It is simple 6 channel control with ramping up -> staying on a preset time at a certain power -> ramping down

    Right now, he said the ramp up and down are 30 minutes but we could adjust it easily.

    I can't wait to get the parts in I need.
     
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  10. dantimdad

    dantimdad Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award R2R Secret Santa Build Thread Contributor North Alabama Reef Club

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    That's what I did when I had black boxes but I wished it would have had a ramp up down.

    That's why I have worked on this.
     
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  11. dantimdad

    dantimdad Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award R2R Secret Santa Build Thread Contributor North Alabama Reef Club

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    I didn't realize my buddy switched it to Arduino. He said it was much easier.
     
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  12. Javamahn

    Javamahn Active Member

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    Agreed think of the "flashbulb effect" when you turn on the lights in the morning..:) Will the programming of the arduino will allow for a daily schedule? I saw many mods that used 2 POTs hooked to a 10v wallwort and then to the lights but was not sure if anyone had even considered a programmable controller. Glad you went Arduino. Less expensive than Pi which would be overkill for this application considering you would have to program based on an OS which I would assume is would have been linux.

    Also not to sidetrack your concept but maybe look into a wifi shield and web interface as an eventual alternative to PC to USB setup.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2018
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  13. Javamahn

    Javamahn Active Member

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  14. dantimdad

    dantimdad Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award R2R Secret Santa Build Thread Contributor North Alabama Reef Club

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    Well, I wasn't really planning on further development beyond setting up my lighting schedule and letting it run. :)

    But, I may get bitten by the bug to do more.

    Yes, it will allow for a daily schedule but, you would have to manually change the code. I am not doing a user interface. Just too complicated for the scope of what I am wanting to do.

    When we finish it, I will post a thread and instructions for how to change the code to alter the schedule and such.
     
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  15. dantimdad

    dantimdad Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award R2R Secret Santa Build Thread Contributor North Alabama Reef Club

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    Exactly!
     
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  16. Ranjib

    Ranjib Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor

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    Almost all the LED lights can be hacked to make dimmable.
    - The blackboxes can vary significantly depending upon the manufacturer. I personally have not tested them, but aware of some members build involving viperspactra, with very good feedback.
    - The electronics knowledge involved in hacking them is trivial, if you have some background, or have some0ne to help you out if you are stuck. The build costs are also fairly low, but remember this does not include time, reading up and the tools required, something not everyone has.
    - You can go with Arduino or Pi. Most embedded programmers will choose Arduino, while most web programmer will go for Pi. Arduino has both analog and digital input and output. Pi will be cheaper (pi zero W is 10$), more powerful, will come with wifi and all the good things, has 10 times bigger community then arduino (they went pretty shady for couple of years in between). Unless the builder has prior experience/competency with embedded systems (such as PLC), pi zero is almost always a better choice. You can connect it to your TV and configure it with a normal keyboard, without needing any extra laptop.
    -Almost all the light that we tried that expects a 0-10V input, works just fine with straight 10V PWM signal as well, which is easy to generate using a common transistor, let me know if you need any help with circuits. You can use opamp and some extra RC circuit to get a somewhat triangular signal (better than PWM but not exactly 0-10V smooth wave)
    - Pi has two hardware based timer/pwm, Arduino has 4 (if I recall correctly). If you need more, throw in a pca9685 IC, which will give you 10 PWM channels.

    Hope this help and godspeed
     
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  17. baldbrah

    baldbrah Member

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    interested to see where this is heading. looking to build one for my viparspectra as well.
     
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