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Problem keeping neighbog lights on!


ed26105
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I have three neighbor houses controlled via wireless. (My house doesn't need the wireless.) Between the 16 circuit boxes and 5 CCR's, I have 23 separate control points. One house has a 16 and an 8 circuit boxes, and a CCR associated with it.

I have an animation sequence that turns on all neighborhood lights at 5:15 pm, while waiting for music and lights to start at 7 pm. This animation is contain in a separate show. The one neighbor's lights in question sometimes will stay on through that animation sequence, and sometimes go off, going off anywhere from a few seconds after being turned on to going off after sevral minutes.

If their lights go off, I can go to hardware function and 'see' all control boxes. I can even turn on the lights via the hardware program. However, once the animation sequence starts, those lights go off after a short period of time.

I have recreated the animation sequence to no avail. The problem effects two boxes, and since the signal is passed from one to the other, even if one is off, I can't imagine it being a box error.

After the music and lights are finished, I have a second animation sequence, which is in the shutdown portion of my main show, which keeps the lights on until 11 pm. The problem occurs in this animation sequence as well.

The boxes are in the neighbor's garage, so not so easy to get to. Any help is appreicated.

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If there is something between the ELL antennas, such as trees, cars, walls, etc., then the signal may get partially absorbed or blocked, reducing the reliability.

Another possibility is interference, from things such as cordless phones, baby monitors, etc.

If your animation sequence is 1 minute long, then it will send an "on" event once every minute. In between, if the wireless signal gets blocked for more than a second or so, then the controllers will assume the network is down and shut off all the lights. They won't go back on again until both the signal in restored and your animation loops back to the start, sending another "on" event.

The ELLs are powered by the nearest controller, so if that cable is very long, the ELL may get an insufficient amount of power, which would also affect their reliability.

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Meant to add that main show runs flawlessly. That is the lights in question turn on and off to music as designed. It is just before and after music they drop out.

It can't be an overload situation, since they will come back on. Can't be interference, since signal is picked up for main show.

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During the main show there is much more data being sent on the network, so the ELL connected to your computer is transmitting almost constantly. That may be the difference.

If so, you can work around the problem by putting slight fades into your before-show and after-show animation. For instance, you can fade a channel from 100% to 90% over 1/5 of a second, then fade it back up to 100%, doing this 5 times every second. That would keep the network data up to a similar rate as during your main show.

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During the show you are sending frequent signals to each controller. So a short interruption might not be noticed. In this case where it is failing, you send a signal telling the controller to turn on at the beginning of the sequence and no further communication is sent to the controller.

If your animation sequence has the default timing marks of .10 or some other value shorter than the duration of the sequence you could easily alternate each event between 99% and 100%. The change should not be visible to the human eye and in the event the controller is losing connect for just a moment and decides to shut off, .10 seconds (again assuming default timing duration) later it is going to come back on.

(On Edit: Oops, too slow Steven already said the same thing.)

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Might simply be more difficult to tell there are interruptions during your musical show. Besides the above mentioned interference from physical objects and from other electornics. What is the physical cable distance between your ELL and the first device next to it. If more than about 10 feet you may be experiencing a voltage drop that is causing the ELL to not operate properly.

Another thing to try is changing the channel that the ELL is operating on.

Chuck

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I am experiencing a similar issue. My arches (particularly one controller) is not consistent. The lights seem to flash randomly. I have switched out the controller, the ELL and the cable and still have a problem. While the cover to the controller was off, I noticed the LED would flash periodically.

I am using the short CATT5 cables from LOR and the distance between all ELL's is not more than 100'. The one I have trouble with is only 20' from the computer.

I took the cover off a different controller (on it's own ELL, next to the arch controller) and noticed its LED would also flash, not always at the same time the arch controller blinked, causing me to believe it is not the computer, USB Connector with voltage boost, cable or ELL.

I have even tried resetting the controller.

Any ideas would be appreciated.

Lee

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There are more and more cases being reported of cable issues. Take a real careful look at all your cable ends, for corrosion, defects, and other flaws... Same with the connectors on the controllers.

We haven't quite got to the point of testing our cables every year before they are installed, but I am considering it. We also try to treat our data cables far more carefully than rest of our hardware.

Our Home Depot has a Klien cat 5 tester that detects issues including split pairs, and I would post a link, but for some reason, it is not on their web site. I've been using almost exactly the same tester from a different manufacturer for the last couple of years on all new cables.

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My system worked well last year, so something has changed this year.

I only use 10' cables between the ELL and first control box.

I have noticed my neighbor wired up a little different than last year. He his C7 'stake lights' and first year we did this I had to get all his stake lights on separate 8 channel controller. My power chart shows max 11 x 25 bulb strings to load 15 amp to 80%. A couple of strings are on his 16 channel recorder, and when I keep that circuit off, things seem to run better.

The puzzle is both boxes going off at once. That leads me to the ELL and/or cables between ELL and box. However, all hardware has been in his garage so you wouldn't think weather and corrosion would be a big issue.

Anyway, used the brute force method of keepig lights on. Divided animation into 0.1 second intervals and every 5 min turn his lights off for 0.1 seconds, then back on. If they go off, they will kick back on within 5 min.

And it is very cold so really not interested in getting out and trouble shooting since brute force method is working fine.

The good news is 5 CCR arches are still running smooth.

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Possible solution, at least issue seems to be fixed now.

When all else fails, read the directions.

The ELL manual page 12 says to place the unit 1 foot from any vertical surface and about 8 feet off the ground. If possible try to avoid obstructions between transceivers.

Although it indicates the until can be indoors, range will be effected by the walls.........

I had mine in the garage with the PC. Last night I moved it outside, 4 feet off the ground and within line of sight to all the controllers.

So far I have not had any issues, arches are working great.

Guessing since the arches performance is so time sensitive that any signal miss is very noticeable. If something other than an arch "misfired" I probably would not have noticed it as much.

Lesson, next year install ELL outside 8' above ground.

Lee

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  • 1 month later...

I'm going to add my late observation to this. We had a very similar issue. One of our houses, already known to be on the fringe of the ELL signal would lose network connection at random times and for random duration. Environmental observation solved our issue. The ELL's were in line of site and about 8 feet high, one in a maple tree and one in a mega tree on opposite sides of the street and about 200 feet apart. Anytime a large vehicle came through it disrupted the signal. The slower traffic was moving the worse it was.

The solution was to drastically change the locations of the ELL's to put them in a location that allowed the fringe controller to receive its signal from an ELL on the same side of the street. This made it's distance only about 100 feet and it also changed signal length across the street to a much shorter run, only about 50 feet from 120 feet.

Consider alternate ELL locations that place each unit in a better position relative to the next closest one. It makes a lot of difference. This may sound a little elementary but that first ELL, that does all the talking, does not need to be at the control PC or at Unit 1. (DOH!)

Larry

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