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CTB16PC controller problem


doubleeaz
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All my controllers were running fine and all of a sudden one of my CTB16PC controllers is acting up. It has a wireless unit connected to one input and then has 6-7 units downstream. The LED is flickering very, very fast. Not something documented in the manual. Also, the outputs seem to be slightly on as my lights are on very dim. Strangely, my show runs fine. This controller runs as if nothing is wrong except that when all the channels are supposed to be off, they are on very dim. I have tried swapping the PIC between controllers and the problem stays with the box. Tried connecting it directly instead of through RF and no change. Tried disconnecting all units downstream and still the same.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

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I had something like this myself last year. But it escapes me at this minute. A gut feeling says to check all of your power leads to this controller. I am thinking that there is a bad connection and not powering up the controller with full voltage. Maybe something along the lines of 85 to 95 volts. Again just a gut feeling, but worth while to check out.

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Ok, so would seem like if the show runs perfectly fine, that probably eliminates the controller...otherwise you'd see similar behavior at one point or another in your show, when you had the lights dimming or down to low brilliance, or off.

If you disconnect the ELL, what happens?

If you disconnect the downstream controllers, what happens?

Does the controller exhibit the same behavior just sitting there, powered up, but not linked to anything?

Have you tried disconnecting channels one at a time on that controller, to see if there is one channel, when disconnected, stops the problem from occurring on all channels?

Two line cords or one? If two, and you disconnect 1-8, so the logic runs, and 9-16 runs, what do you get?

Can you control the lights with full functionality with it in your network, connected to the ELL, via the hardware utility? Do they exhibit the same behavior when doing so? What about with the controller all by itself, either connected via cat-5, or via the ELL.

So all minis..no LEDs?

My bet is, nothing wrong with the controller, but you have something in a string of lights, one channel, on that specific controller, that is creating some sort of loop and keeping them energized...its a power/wiring issue, not a controller issue...just a guess, but I'd be looking in that direction first.

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Just talking it out. Ok, show runs fine and lights worked perfectly. Also all worked just find last year. Then all of sudden one half of one controller the lights will not dim all of the way down to off.

What could have changed all of sudden?
Someone has a non-polarized plug and by unplugged the plug and when plugging back in, by chance got it backwards and now have hot on the boards neutral and neutral on the boards hot?
The neutral has a bad connection and causing the one half to float above ground.
There is something wrong on the circuit board not allowing all 8 Triacs to turn all of the way off.

Have you seen any resistors or any other components that are discolored from heat? Have you taken a voltmeter and checked the voltage to neutral, both sides for comparation?

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But you would think any kind of component issue on the controller board would also affect show performance...

It sounds as if the controller shuts down to 0 on the output channels when needed, but something else is keeping the VAC "afloat"...

Would definitely like to know what is on the output terminals when the lights are acting up...

I'd bet some FL warm weather (if we ever see it again..), there is one string that will be disconnected, and everything goes quiet..

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Ok Don,
Lets bounce this back and forth.
Was working fine. Suddenly ALL outputs are dim when they are suppose to be out. Now I have to say that I mistook that it was only one half of the board but is actually all of the board has this dim problem. Also I believe he is making reference to the status LED is flashing rapidly. When it should be solid, even if it is with an ELL, right?

Now I know that when I messed up my power leads last year. If not for the lights (LEDs) staying on dimly, there was no other problem. Not sure if the LEDs where flashing rapidly (Faster than if there was no comm). Again, yet the show goes on.

Ok, just a matter of time, but maybe Don has something. By removing all loads and then adding them one at a time and see if the problem shows up on the first load, then remove it and plug in the second. The name of the game is can you reapply any loads and have no dimly lit loads when the output is suppose to be off. Just a reminder. you can not put a volt meter on an output that does not have a load. There is to much leakage voltage and you will get a false true if you try to measure voltage without a load. I personally would use a set of mini icans or a C9 bulb or anything else that will draw about .1A or so.

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Max-Paul wrote:

Ok Don,
Lets bounce this back and forth.
Was working fine. Suddenly ALL outputs are dim when they are suppose to be out. Now I have to say that I mistook that it was only one half of the board but is actually all of the board has this dim problem. Also I believe he is making reference to the status LED is flashing rapidly. When it should be solid, even if it is with an ELL, right?



I would expect the board doesn't knowRS-485 via cat-5 versus RS-485 via ELL, so the LED should behave the same way.

What has me wondering and second guessing myself is, the reported symptoms:

1. when no show operating, the LED is flickering..as if it loses comm after the show is over. The board loses communication with the show computer.

2. but when a show starts, everything works well...

Almost seems as if the ELL is sending some trash that is being interpreted as RS-485 signaling?

I've never used ELLs, but if I look at the HU setup, it looks like you set channel and power..there is nothing like an option for a "sleep mode" when the show is over, so would assume the comm link stays live.

Thats why I'd love to know if things work fine with the hardward utility. If they do, and all lights can come down to 0 with no flickering, then that has me leaning towards something on the ELL side. Or, if the problem goes away with a cat-5 connection..

If they do this in hardware utility mode, then I go back to my first theory of something related to one (or maybe more) channels worth of lights. Otherwise, I start wondering about that ELL link and setup.
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DonFL wrote:

Max-Paul wrote:
Ok Don,
Lets bounce this back and forth.
Was working fine. Suddenly ALL outputs are dim when they are suppose to be out. Now I have to say that I mistook that it was only one half of the board but is actually all of the board has this dim problem. Also I believe he is making reference to the status LED is flashing rapidly. When it should be solid, even if it is with an ELL, right?



I would expect the board doesn't knowRS-485 via cat-5 versus RS-485 via ELL, so the LED should behave the same way.

What has me wondering and second guessing myself is, the reported symptoms:

1. when no show operating, the LED is flickering..as if it loses comm after the show is over. The board loses communication with the show computer.

2. but when a show starts, everything works well...

Almost seems as if the ELL is sending some trash that is being interpreted as RS-485 signaling?

I've never used ELLs, but if I look at the HU setup, it looks like you set channel and power..there is nothing like an option for a "sleep mode" when the show is over, so would assume the comm link stays live.

Thats why I'd love to know if things work fine with the hardward utility. If they do, and all lights can come down to 0 with no flickering, then that has me leaning towards something on the ELL side. Or, if the problem goes away with a cat-5 connection..

If they do this in hardware utility mode, then I go back to my first theory of something related to one (or maybe more) channels worth of lights. Otherwise, I start wondering about that ELL link and setup.


You are correct. The LEDs on the board function the same with ELL or just a CAT5 setup.

I wonder what the LEDs on the ELL board are doing. LED 01, LED 02, and LED 03.

On my ELLs LED 01 has a steady blink (once per second) LED 02 indicates transmission activity and flashes (appear dim) erratically. LED 03 is not lite on mine. If lite it indicates an error.
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The status led flickers all the time, regardless of whether or not a show is running. Anytime the lights should be off, the lights on all 16 channels are dimly lit. Very faint but visible, especially at night. Tomorrow I will unplug and plug things back in. The thing that really bugs me is that it was working when I put the display up this year. My wife reminded me that it started acting up after we had a big rain. I had powered off all my controllers and also opened up the box to make sure nothing happened like condensation.

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The status LED on the controller PC board flickers all the time, even when the show is running?

Is that controller truly controlling lights during your show? If it is flickering, not sure how it can be..that indicates loss of connection back to the show computer.

How easily can you completely remove that controller, bring it indoors, and connect it directly, via cat-5, not ELL, and test each channel using the hardware utility?

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So, the story gets even stranger. We had a big storm in Arizona for a couple of days so I turned off all the breakers to my controllers. When everything dried up (and the controllers were powered down for a couple days), the controller in question now works perfectly.

When the controller was not working before, I had opened the case and checked for condensation or any other water intrusions but found none. I had also tried unplugging the loads one channel at a time and it did not fix the problem.

Maybe Santa was reading the forum and replaced my controller as a gift!

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ARRRGGGHH...even worse..."TLHOK"...(trouble left here ok)...

Seriously, glad to hear it is working now...makes sense, my humble opinion only, to run the controllers off that ELL for awhile, including the problematic one, and see if you can duplicate it again.

Unless it was something that cleared with that power down, meaning moisture, etc...its bound to reoccur.

Thanks for updating..

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Yes, thanks for the feedback Doubleez. But I agree with Don, you might be seeing this again in the future.

This summer, I highly suggest that you might want to do this. I do it to all of my controllers.

I mask off all of the socketed chips with painters tape. I also mask off all of the quick connects (male stake ons) and the fuse and fuse holders. Also the comm jacks. Then I take a clear spray paint and spray paint the boards. This will help prevent shorts from condensate and/or slugs. Now note I did not say it WILL prevent, but will help prevent shorts. There is a lot of stuff that might not get any paint if you are not diligent and keep the tape from covering more than intended and you must spray from several angles. Yes in the future you might need to work on the board. This will require you to scrap away the paint in order to get the solder to melt and if you dont scrap away from both side of board it might make it harder to get the solder sucked out of the joint. But I feel that this coating helps prevent problems. YMMV

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