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Torqumada286

Tracking down a short

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It rained here today. I now have a short some where in my system on the circuit that has the LOR controllers and lights. Any advice on how to track it down?

Looks like I need to work on weather proofing things a bit better.

Torqumada

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Well when I was in the USAF radio repair classes. They taught us the divide and conquered method. So, unplug half of your controllers. If the breaker still trips, disconnect power from half of those still plugged in. And if it did not trip with the first half, then plug back in half of the ones that are unplugged. Using this method you can get to the root of the problem a lot faster.

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That's actually what I started doing. It's a circuit off of my second controller. Everything runs fine off of my first controller. When the second controller plugs in, the GFCI kicks off and everything shuts down. Thanks for the help. Are people using dielectric grease to coat their plugs to help water proof their systems?

Torqumada

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Not I! Only for my converted to LED lamp display items. A little bit in the lamp sockets. Now you might want to find a way to keep sockets and plugs off of the ground.

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Weather proofing (or the attempt to) can create more issues than it solves. Tape over two plugs, plastic, and other things of that nature can trap moisture around the very item you are trying to keep dry. As for dielectric grease, I won't use it on the display.

Speaking to the choir perhaps... but worth noting for others.

Once you have it isolated to a single controller, you can unplug half of the controller (assuming it isn't bridged) and see if you get a fault (trip). Remember that the controller gets its operational power from one side (9-16 IIRC). Same scenario as singling out controllers. Isolate the fault by eliminating the good circuits.

If you get to the end and don't have the golden nugget identified, remember that current does accumulate among circuits that are bleeding to ground. In a rare case you might have multiple circuits with very small faults not large enough to trip a ground fault, but together they do. Odds are that you have a circuit that is wet and bleeding to ground.

No matter how tempting it may be to remove the GFCI protection from the display (i.e. plug it into a regular receptacle), avoid doing so. The GFCI protection is there to keep everyone safe.

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Right, you've isolated the offending controller, now do the same to ID the offending dongle. You'll have to unplug all the cords into the dongles, then plug in one at a time into the corresponding dongle, power it up and see which one trips the GFI.

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Right, you've isolated the offending controller, now do the same to ID the offending dongle. You'll have to unplug all the cords into the dongles, then plug in one at a time into the corresponding dongle, power it up and see which one trips the GFI.

Once he finds the offending strand or dongle, he should hang it from a local tree to warn any others from a mutiny.

Depending on the load it may not only be 1 dongle or strand of lights but a set of them. Take your time with this last step.

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I tracked it down as far as the first 8 channels or main power cords for my second controller. I unplugged channels 9-16 and plugged the main power in and the GFCI kicked off. About that time my wife came home from work and told me that she had some mandatory online training to do, so I had to worry about getting dinner done, taking care of the kids etc... I just left my static stuff on and in place and turned the LOR off. I won't be able to get back to my setup until tomorrow afternoon and I am sure by then, it will have dried out. If not, I'll have several hours of daylight to track things down. My show doesn't go live until Saturday, so I have time to fix things.

No matter how tempting it may be to remove the GFCI protection from the display (i.e. plug it into a regular receptacle), avoid doing so. The GFCI protection is there to keep everyone safe.

When I had the new outlets put on the house earlier this year, I made sure they were all GFCI just for that reason.

Now I just need to figure out how to do my weather proofing. I am getting conflicting information from different sites.

Thanks everyone for the help.

Torqumada

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Wow, what perfect timing! I came to the forum to post this exact question. We had a dusting of snow yesterday, and my GFCI tripped. It was dark, there was snow on the ground, and I had to get the kiddies ready for wrestling practice, so I didn't have time to mess with it. I was going to ask for tips to track it down. So I guess I have to wait for it to rain/snow again. I'll unplug all 16 from the controller, then plug in one at a time until it trips.

Once you isolate the problem, do you guys typically just replace the extension cord?

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Wire frames might be your problem, especially if your wrapped them in lights and use many cable ties. If you over tightened the cable ties to much then this is your problem.

Insulate the wireframe from ground and your problem will go away.

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I have 8 mini trees that I used 54" tomato cages for. They're wrapped with about 300 lights each, and have plastic zip ties securing them. I have them anchored into the ground using dog fence flags that I bent into a "V". How do you typically insulate them from the ground and still keep them secure so they don't fall over in the wind?

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I have 8 mini trees that I used 54" tomato cages for. They're wrapped with about 300 lights each, and have plastic zip ties securing them. I have them anchored into the ground using dog fence flags that I bent into a "V". How do you typically insulate them from the ground and still keep them secure so they don't fall over in the wind?

My mini-trees are of a similar design. I gave up on tying them to the ground. What I have chosen for this year is to place them on a length of PVC that has a PVC tee on the top. That keeps them up off the ground a little bit. I drove a piece of rebar into the ground as a stable support for the length of PVC. The effect was to turn them into bells which is much easier to tolerate than dealing with the lights not working. On Thanksgiving (opening) night we had sleet and snow. The mini-trees kept right on working through it all. In years past that would not have been the case.

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I do have 6 wire frame trees on the second controller (4 of them are on the 1-8 side) and I have quite a few zip ties. It will be something that I look at. Thanks for the heads up. I, too, would like to know how you insulate them while keeping them secured.

Torqumada

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Well not seeing the construction of your trees its hard to make a sure fire suggestion. I have two possible suggestions, and I am sure if you think about it some will maybe come up with something better. Several say 1' long, 1" sch 40 PVC pipe pounded into the ground with a hole drilled an inch down. Set tree on top and zip tye to the PVC. Need to leave enough PVC out so that the tree is about say 3 or 4" above ground. Do the same with some wooden stakes. But note a wooden stake can conduct once it becomes soaked.

Here is a bit more for all to chew on. Wire on a wet yard will capacitivly (SP?) conduct current. A single instance will not be enough. But with all of the wires we lay across the ground, it all adds up. So, on top of putting wire frames of any kind up off of the ground cause of capacitive coupling to the metal frame and then to ground. Or getting stakes and tying the wires to the stakes so that the majority of the wire is up and off of the ground.

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Try setting the trees on a couple of 2x4's or a small peice of plywood. then try your test again.

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I had the same issue with my minis last season.I tried to wrap the bottoms with the foam that you wrap around copper tubing,don't know how it's going to work as we have not had any hard rain yet.

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In my opening sequence, the mini trees are the first thing that light up. It is at that point the GFCI kicks off It seems that it's quite possible that is where the problem is. I'll see what I can do about insulating them before the forecast rain comes next week. Thanks for the help everyone.

Torqumada

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Thanks for the suggestions. Sorry I don't have a picture right now Max-Paul, wish I did. It's just two 54" tomato cages stacked together and turned upside down. Didn't clip them or anything...just zip tied the tops (bottoms in normal garden use orientation) together. Then wrapped them with standard incan mini light strings. Used about 3 zip ties on each. I have them anchored into the ground using 3 metal stakes. The stakes are about 10" long each, but folded into an upside down "V" shape so each side is 5" and stuck in the ground.

jldavis, I thought about trying to stick plywood under it, but would then have to tackle the issue of securing them so they don't blow over.

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jldavis, I thought about trying to stick plywood under it, but would then have to tackle the issue of securing them so they don't blow over.

I have a couple of display elements mounted on wood, and I just drilled a couple of holes in the wood and drove spikes (large nails) through them and into the ground. For isolation and securing of your cages, that would be the best of both worlds.

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Buzzzz I disagree about the trees on wood then using metal spikes. The metal spikes null what we are talking about. Wood or plastic and zip ties is the route to take. Metal spikes in the ground and used as an anchor and touching the wire frames or tomato cages. This is the same as the tomato cages on the ground.

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I came up with some PVC feet for my wire mini-trees. I have some 2 inch pipe left over from building my arch. I have cut some pieces to about 2 inches in length and place my trees on three of them and zip tie them in place. We'll see how that works.

Torqumada

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Can you take a picture of that? I'm still not clear on how I'd secure the tomato cage to the PVC to that it's stable.

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I used 11/2 inch PVC pipe in the center and secured the cages on the top using a hose clamp... I have to get them high enough to be seen over a 6 ft privacy fence and that worked well...

post-10124-13542987632755_thumb.jpg

The ground stakes are metal fence posts...

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