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Help! Other channels flickering for no reason


chuckd
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Just got everything set up tonight, and went for my first test. It seemed to run very nice, but then I noticed that at certain times looking at the mega tree, channels that shouldn't be on were flickering. Checked the sequence, and it's definitely not in there.

Let me mention about this tree... it's 193 channels and 53 feet tall, all LED lights. Each of the 192 strands consists of four 17 foot full wave C6 LED strands (200 per strand). I'm using 13 controllers to run it, plugged into three separate 20 amp circuits in groups of 4, 4 and 5 controllers. It's big...really, really big!

My leaping arches are doing the same thing. Certain sequences make the 'off' channels flicker, while other sequences seem just fine.

I'm using LOR 2.0.16, and my controllers all have version 4.0.1 firmware.

I haven't nailed it down, but it seems when I fade other channels, that's when the problems may be occurring. Not sure though.

Anybody else have 'other' channels flashing when you don't want them to?

Right now, this is a disaster! I appreciate any and all input.

Thanks,

Chuck

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Double check that you do not have two channels set to the same controller and channel num. It kind of sounds like that. Also be sure that if you are using tracks that you used copy to new track, and did not define new channels with the same config in the new tracks.

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If you can really pinpoint down those areas in the sequence that the problem is happening, it might be worth a shot to try and "re-draw" them in the sequence editor.

I remember something about sometimes with a resize or something that things will look like they are correct, BUT underneath there is something hung that you don't see.

Chuck

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Unfortunately, neither of those two are the problems. I wrote a simple sequence that steps all channels slowly, and everything works perfectly. Only when I begin to draw some current, everything looks like it's 'shorting out' all over the place (kinda like ghosting, or something like that). Of course, I'm not drawing a whole lot of power, since I'm using LED's.

Some additional info: my entire run of Cat 5e cable is about 800 feet long. There is a 100 foot cable from my main RS485 box to my first unit, and there's about three 100 foot cables involved for various long runs.

Any possibility this is a communications error?

I remember somebody mentioning something about assigning the unit ID's differently to fix a problem similar to this. Mine are numbered sequentially from 1 to 36. Or am I just dreaming and hoping for a quick fix?

Chuck

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This is taking a LONG stab.

Do you have some long runs of LED strings or long extension cords leading out to the lights from the controller?

Reason I ask. On my house I have the roof outlined in C-6 yellow and Blue icicle. All works fine with a short extension cord (not possible to maintain with location of controllers) or few strings in a line The icicle are like 17 or 18 end to end and the c-6 are like 14 or 15. They would have very irratic operation. Even with the long cord everything would work fine till about 10 strings. My thought is with a total load of LED, maybe you need to add some resistance to the total to make it work correctly.

Like I said long shot.

Another thing that comes to mind. Is this at your home, or at a business? If at a business is it 3 phase power?

Chuck

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To me is sounds like you have a controller that needs resetting. It's impossible to say which one however as a controller in need of resetting can effect other controllers in the way you describe. Random channels doing odd things. I had controller 1 making a channel on controller 5 hang on randomly.
I've learned I have a couple 8 channel controllers that like to be reset once or twice during the season.

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I had a similar problem to this when testing a single 12 channel arch. I had downloaded the sequence into the LOR1600W. I reset the device and am running from an external Showtime MP3 director and haven't had the problem.

I've experienced this several times when trying to run the sequence from the controller itself (both in a single controller setup and with 10 controllers linked). When running external (from pc or director) it seems to do fine with the exact same sequence and cabling setup)

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OK.. an update and correction to my previous post.

The problem is not solved. It turns out my testing was flawed. The actual cause is interference from the White LED's that i have everywhere. When I turn on/off everything works fine. When fading the whole display goes nuts. I could fade a single channel with no ill effects, but when fading higher numbers of them i have problems. It really goes crazy when I try to run my arches (9 of them).

So.. fading the white LED's interferes with the RS-485 signal i presume. Starting somewhere around 50%. Probably magnified by the fact that i wrapped 1200 of these lights around each arch with the AC power cords for them running through the middle of the arch... Argh..

These are the Costco Warm White 100ct LED's. I bought 12 of them and did fade tests on a single controller for days prior to buying the 300 some sets we're using. Never saw a problem until i get them all hung and try to run a test.

Any thoughts? I wonder if it's causing interference at the board level or inducing noise on the CAT5 cable.

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no, i have last year home depot leds they was saleing. i have reset that controller that does it but have also updated the frimware in that one to see if the leds work right afterwards, but it doesnt. i had put 33k resistors on the lights to make them work with fading. i m thinking it could be the frimware v4.2 on that only controller, rest has v 4.01 , maybe????

james

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Some of us are talking about different problems here. It's not the fact the a particular string is or is not dimmable, I'd love to have THAT problem!

The problem lies in the LED string kicking back electrical noise into all the other channels. EVERY other string nearby goes nuts when you want to dim just one channel, even if the other channels are off the entire time.

I hooked up 16 LED strands to one controller box. Using the hardware utility, I faded UP just one single channel. ALL OTHER 15 went crazy during the fade.

My old Diogen half-wave LED's don't have this problem (although they don't actually fade either).

Now I'm deep into a Sequence re-write to eliminate all fading. Grrrr!

Chuck

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In reference to the Other Channels Flickering:

I just added a C9 light to each circuit on an arch to see what impact that would have. Unfortunately it did not help at all. Most other channels flicker when fading the arch up or down.

So.. it is definitely interference from the LED strings.
Any chance we could add a filter of some sort between the controller and light strings? Or on the cat5 cable?

one observation.. it appears that it only affects channels on other controllers.. not the same controller that is doing the fading. I can't say this conclusively, but it did appear to operate that way.


That's 300 stings of installed lights that i cannot fade...

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You're lucky, I have nearly 1800 installed! It really, really hurts.

The noise is going back through the power lines (extension cords), not through the Cat5 cable.

I haven't tried a ferrite choke, but I doubt you'd kill this much noise. Plus from what I understand, continuing to fade will toast your LED's. (if they don't quit on their own anyway). These things are FLIMSY! Amazing how poorly made they are.

I'm now spending about 20 hours to remove all fading from the sequences. Doesn't help that my live date is this Friday! Aaaaaahhhh!

Chuck

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I'm so sorry, Chuck.

I know this won't help one little bit, but at least you're not alone. I've got 108 of the C6 100 count strings. No. Wait. Let me rephrase that: I had 108 strings. I'm not so sure how many working strings I have left at this point. But, I know it's nowhere near 108!

On the bright side, I don't need no stinkin' gym membership. I'm lookin' like an old man version of Popeye from all the ladder climbin' and mega-tree winchin' those strings have invited me to do!

Misery loves company, right? :P

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Fred, are you finding most of the failures are with strings that are sort of 'suspended', like on your mega tree? That's where all mine are failing.

I have to climb a 60 foot radio tower, lower the offending strand by a pulley, cut off the zip ties that hold the strings to a guy wire, replace the offending string, re-zip tie, and hoist it back up! Guess I'll get over any remaining fear of heights!

Seems like they avoided all glue/sealing from these strands too. The wires aren't attached to the sockets, so any strain eventually pulls the wires loose in their sockets.

Every other LED strand I've ever seen was sealed in both the bulb AND wire entry areas. I guess this was a cost saving measure gone very, very bad.

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Chuck what CDI LEDs are you referring to - the smaller, replaceable LEDs from this year, or the full wave sealed LEDs strings from the year before??

I have boxes of the latter, and have been fading them without issue for all of last season. No failures were noted..

Greg

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This years stuff.... Not sealed in the bulb OR wire area, replaceable bulbs (spelled 'extremely fragile'), and can't be dimmed (unless you like freaky looking light shows with smoke and fire effects).

I bought them on everybodys glowing reviews of last years model.

They will replace them all, but I've got a tough 6 weeks ahead. Go-live is this Friday!

Chuck

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Update on troubleshooting.
I isolated the power supply cord for a single arch to a different circuit. This initially seems to have stopped the flickering of other channels on other controllers when fading channels on that single arch.

This means the interference is most likely not leaking into the RS-485 signal but over the power. I may do some more testing to see how much isolation is really needed.
but.. maybe there's hope!

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chuckd wrote:

...Fred, are you finding most of the failures are with strings that are sort of 'suspended', like on your mega tree? That's where all mine are failing...


A lot of mine failed just laying on the floor. :P

Other than the large number I had fail due to fading, most (but not all) of my subsequent failures have indeed been on suspended strings. I'm not sure why. I've been very careful not to put tension (other than gravity) on them.

Greg Young - these are the 2008, removable lamp, 50/100 count strings. I've heard nothing but glowing praise for the 2007 strings.
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During testing and before construction of my Leaping Arches, my 36 strings of CDI warm white M5 LED's were flickering during fades. The colors of the lamps varied from bluish white to almost a yellow color. The bulbs were also very flimsy and falling out of the sockets. I thought they were going to be sealed lamps like the 2007 strings were. Due to these problems I scrapped the idea for this year and I'm sending them back to CDI for 2009 strings.

On the other hand... my 144 strings of C6 LED's from CDI for 2007 were flawless!
I guess we can only hope the LED's for 2009 will be better.

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Update on our testing regarding other channels flickering while fading an arch. We've done our best to isolate all power and data cables. One test that shows the interference is on the AC line is that we unplugged the data cable from the last several controllers and they still flicker.

One moderate success came from installing in-line EMI filters (like the x10 noise filters) on the supply side of several of our controllers. Oddly enough adding them on some controllers actually make all the lights flicker.
Right now i have about 5 of them installed and things are better.. but definitely not solved.

Has anyone else found any more solutions to the other channels flickering problem?

dave

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