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T34 Flyer

Spring Controller Testing

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Now that it's time to start thinking of next Christmas, I want to start by testing my controllers.  Normally I just run all the controls in the Hardware Utility with a C9 on each circuit.  Is this adequate?  For the past 2 years I have noticed flickering after blackouts and cant find it with controller testing, in the programming (Sequence Editor) and I changed the cat5s.

 

What do ya'll do?  Do you had a testing routine beyond the Hardware Utility?  Do you simulate your full load or C9 it as I do? 

 

Brad  

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When I test a controller I use the Hardware Utility and do the following:

 

  • Make sure that when the HW utility finds the controller and that it has something legible for the string in the little display window. If it is messed up or wrong, then I load up new firmware.
  • I check that I can communicate on both RJ45 jacks.
  • Check that all 16 channels are working. 
  • I do a chase making sure that nothing sticks on.
  • All on, All fade off

 

If I find a problem I will hook it up and play a sequence through it. In the past I've seen some problems in the HW that wouldn't reproduce in my show.

 

I use almost all LEDs so I don't worry about load. Currently I test with 1 C9 bulb on each channel.

Edited by jstorms

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Except for my CCP based arches and my pixel tree and star and some GE color Effects bulbs which are all E1.31 based, everything I use for Christmas is used every day of the year for my landscape lighting.  For the non year round stuff (the GECE bulbs also get used for Halloween), I put it away working in January, and it does not get pulled out until October for the GECEs and early November for the rest of it.  It gets tested when it comes out, generally by playing sequences through it.  Since most of it can be repaired as placed for the show as easily or easier than in the driveway, it gets at most a quickie test before install.  The real operational testing is when I start running actual sequences through it - generally very early in the morning.  The exception is the pixel tree which is tall enough that field repair near the top is hard (not impossible) with the tree in place.  It gets tested pretty well in the driveway using the SanDevices test patterns and with real sequences.

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I use 16 night lights and the hardware utility. I'll do a couple slow fade up / down commands along with a chase.

The flickering you're seeing might not be a controller issue. If you're using LED strings you might want to search the forum for 'snubbers'.

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I was testing some of my controllers this week and found something interesting.  Over the years I have had 8-10 channels go bad.  They would display at 50% all of the time.  I've been told that the triac has gone bad.  I would just move that string of lights to a different channel and mark that one as bad.  This year I decided to replace the bad triacs.  So I plugged a string of lights into each of the bad channels to verify and all but one of them seems to be working fine now!  I ran them through the Hardware Utility and they faded and shimmered and twinkled just fine.

 

Has anyone had triacs that start working again after they went bad?

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I was testing some of my controllers this week and found something interesting.  Over the years I have had 8-10 channels go bad.  They would display at 50% all of the time.  I've been told that the triac has gone bad.  I would just move that string of lights to a different channel and mark that one as bad.  This year I decided to replace the bad triacs.  So I plugged a string of lights into each of the bad channels to verify and all but one of them seems to be working fine now!  I ran them through the Hardware Utility and they faded and shimmered and twinkled just fine.

 

Has anyone had triacs that start working again after they went bad?

Better off replacing them now, they will fail when you don't want them to

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