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Second Opening Night Problem


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I lost another channel on a different controller last night. This is one of the two 16 channel controllers that I use for my mega tree. Each channel controls only 200 mini lights and the light strings are not plugged end to end into each other. I am well under the maximum per channel and controller amp limits. It's a 150 foot run from the dedicated, 20 amp, circuits for each controller, but I used 12 guage wire for the power runs. Based on other threads, I assume I lost a Triac, but is there anyway to check this with a voltmeter to be sure? I would just bypass the channel and use another spare until the I take everything down, but I don't have any spare channels in close proximity to the mega tree. Can someone provide me any test points and what the readings should be to help troubleshoot the channel?

Side Note and Lesson Learned for Next Year: Keep spare channels, but not all on the same controller and in the same location.

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circus4u wrote:

I lost another channel on a different controller last night. This is one of the two 16 channel controllers that I use for my mega tree. Each channel controls only 200 mini lights and the light strings are not plugged end to end into each other. I am well under the maximum per channel and controller amp limits. It's a 150 foot run from the dedicated, 20 amp, circuits for each controller, but I used 12 guage wire for the power runs. Based on other threads, I assume I lost a Triac, but is there anyway to check this with a voltmeter to be sure? I would just bypass the channel and use another spare until the I take everything down, but I don't have any spare channels in close proximity to the mega tree. Can someone provide me any test points and what the readings should be to help troubleshoot the channel?

Side Note and Lesson Learned for Next Year: Keep spare channels, but not all on the same controller and in the same location.

Check that that lights still work.... Generally a triac fails ON but it can things can fail with a channel stuck off.
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I plugged the two light strings into a regular outlet and they do light, just not on the LOR channel. Last night, I noticed that the adjoining channels is now out. Will check those strings out this morning.

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I lost another channel on a second controller last night, that makes three channels on two controllers. This channel has ten strings of 35 lights each (350 mini lights total). Lights on the three inoperative channels do not come on. Any suggestions on what I need to check? I am not over the amperage limitations for the controllers. All channels worked initially. I have not changed or added any sequences; they channels just stopped working like the lights are unplugged.

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Circus,

Have you tried the extension cord out that you use for those channels elsewhere?

Everytime I've had this problem the issue was related to the extension cord, not the LOR unit. Also, check to be sure your plugs are seated well, sometimes they are loose.

How many total amps are you using on each side of the LOR box? Maybe you overloaded it, but not that specific channel.

Sorry if this sounds like I'm being Mr. Obvious, but I had a similar problem on Friday ... and it turned out to be a cord ... not the unit.

If the above is of no value, just ignore it.

Good luck,

T.

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Problem with second controller loosing a channel is resolved. Still can't figure out what is going on with the other controller on the mega tree though. However, for the channel that went out yesterday, here is what appears to have happened and it is extension cord related. I attached some angels to my fence and used extension cords to connect them together. The extension cord from the last angel was stapled to my fence. I then connected a 100 foot extension cord to that and ran it back to my controller. In daylight, this morning, I noticed that the extension cord had come loose, but not totally unplugged, from the 100 foot cord. Both cords were tightly secured with no slack whatsoever in the cords. When I installed these cords, it was 89 degrees outside. Since putting them up, the weather has cooled down into the low 40s. I think that perhaps the copper wire contracted and partially pulled the plug from the socket of the other extension cord. This may not seem feasible to you, but I also do garden railroading here. We have to put expansion joints in the rail about every ten feet because the heat will cause the rail to bow. I think the opposite happened with the extension cords, when it cooled at night, the cords contracted. I went around and made sure I had plenty of slack where all my cords plug together.

I still don't know what is wrong with the other controller and two channels though. Replaced the extension cords and tested the lights again. Still can't get those two channels to work.

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The original controller I mentioned in this post is driving me crazy on the two channels that do not work, 7 & 8. Everything is fine back to the board, lights, extension cords, pigtails, etc. The other 14 channels on the board work fine. If Triacs "fry" in the on position, and these lights are off, what could be the problem? I doubt many people notice that they are out since it is on the mega tree, but this has become a challenge for me now, i.e., figuring out what is wrong. I have checked the sequences to make sure I have the correct unit and channel designated. Is it possible for two channels to get "stuck" in the off position? If the other channels are working properly, should I do a reset? This is one of the five boards I built from kits and it checked out OK when I ran the hardware utility after constructing it. The channels worked fine the first night too. Suggestions? Is there anyway I can troubleshoot the board?

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On a kit-built board, you could have a bad (cold) solder connection on one of the components driving the channels in question. When you get large temp extremes like you mentioned above, it brings out these issues sometimes...

One thing to try (at your own risk) -- turn on the channels constantly (e.g. with the hardware util), and using something like a DRY wooden pencil (unsharpened) or some other nonmetalic tool that won't hurt the board, carefully poke each of the components driving that channel (triac, resistors, opto, etc). If the lights flicker on, you have a bad connection.

But just to be clear, I think we need to verify the controller itself is bad. Do you have a multimeter or neon tester? Place it on the terminal screws for the channel in question and see if you get a reading. If so, your problem is with wiring.

-Tim

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