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LED Floods from Action Lighting


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I built the circuit above... it does not work. My electronics are a bit rusty (I took EE in college but never used it and went into computer programming instead). I'm just out of practice.

The class A amplifier above is flawed and doesn't work. The detector stage works, but the 555 isn't using it the way I expected. The pitch varies only about 500 Hz... not enough to do any significant dimming (it only goes down to about 80%).

Having spent several hours debugging the circuit (and once accidentally shorting out a channel and toasting a triac), I'm abandoning it and am going to write a PIC program instead. The next you hear from me will be whether or not I got it working.

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They dim& fade via computer control!!!

While waiting on some parts to build a real dimmer circuit I got to thinking and did a quick experiment:

Since these don't require a full 120V to operate, I had a hunch. I put a 2 megaohm resistor in series with a 10k resistor to form a voltage divider that would bring down the 120VAC into something acceptable to the input of a stereo amplifier. I plugged my voltage divider into a D-Light channel in parallel with some minis and then I plugged the output of thedividerinto the input of the amplifier and attached the flood to the speaker output terminals. I turned up the volume to 90% and fired up the channel.... it does work and it dims!

At the time I am writing this, I also have a message from someone saying they got these working with D-Light without any extra circuitry, so I'm going to pursue that path instead and abandon my interface.

WARNING: DON"T TRY THE SAME EXPERIMENT I DID AT HOME... a lot depends on the stereo design as to whether or not it is safe. In the best case of failure you lose your equipment... in the worst case you lose your life. Lights aren't worth that!

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UPDATE: I sent Action Lighting an email, informing them of the concerns about the dimming. I also mentioned, on the plus side, that the lights were flicker-free. Surprise! They updated their product page for the LED spots to include "FLICKER FREE DESIGN" and "NON-DIMMING". That's some good customer focus right there.

PS: M-Class, if you get a special dimming circuit to work, please don't confuse Action Lighting and let them know. They may mistake it for meaning that these lights can ordinarily dim like other lights. :shock:

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Randy,

We're going to have to wait and see with the D-Light method. I've heard that someone has it working with a beta firmware, but when I asked Darryl for an official opinion I was told that the firmware update (which could be released soon) does not fix diming on these floods. The updateis supposed tofix the problem with them getting stuck on though.

Given that Darryl has said these will not dim, I am back at testing buffer stages to make these dimmable. I've determined that these will not run on a steady DC supply but will run on a pulsed DC supply. The reason is their design... they have a capacitor in series with the load. The capacitor is acting as a high-pass filter to reduce the voltage to the series wired LEDs. A capacitor will filter a DC bias though, thus they will run on pulsed DC. In theory one could full-wave rectify a continuous AC source to become a pulsed DC signal to the hot side of the flood. The negative side could then be switched by an NPN transistor that is triggered by the waveform from the dimming module. Circuit below:

dimmer_buffer.jpg

I haven't had time to build this yet, but it should work. A word of warning though: it isn't the safest circuit out there! For starters, the negative side of the flood is being switched instead of the positive side (this means that high voltage will always be present even when the flood is off). It would only take a curious person to complete the circuit instead of the transistor! Secondly, the design is said to have a "floating chassis" (much like the guts of a TV set does), which is to say the output "negative" terminal is not tied to neutral (it is actually 75VDC away from neutral). I suppose this could be remedied by redesigning with Q2 as an optoisolator but I haven't done so yet. All in all, although not the safest circuit, it should work as a proof of concept for testing. That said, I have not yet built this circuit. If I get the chance, I'll pick up some parts and try it sometime soon. The good thing about it is that it is a cheap fix (versus the PIC or 555 projects I had started earlier)!

Edit: Update Report - Built the above circuit with some modifications. Q1 and Q2 were replaced with a single NPN darlington (TIP120 I believe but I'd have to look to be sure), D2 was replaced with a 1N4003 for the proper reverse voltage requirement, and D3 was omitted (having it there was a mistake on my part - I was trying to make the circuit work full-wave but didn't think to notice it would result in half of the wave always on). I had some success with a set of minis with the circuit, but when I plugged in the Action flood I blew the transistor (it is now shorted from collector to emitter). I also tried a TIP31 I had laying around and the same thing happened. I'm not sure why the flood is resulting in blown transistors (do any electronics gurus here know why?), but I think it may be due to the collector-emitter voltageduring the transistor's off state. I wouldn't think so since I had a parallel load as a discharge path (the minis), but who knows. I'm going to try a transistor with a higher VCE and VCB sometime. That will have to wait until a future Mouser order though... the local Rat Shack doesn't carry anything with those specs that I am aware of.

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I received my LED floods this week. I finally hooked them up to my Animated Lighting controllers and voila... ack...no dimming. Sigh, oh well. It's not 100% necessary for the show and there's no way I have enough power on the controller to run non-LED lights.

On the other hand, I can flash these LEDs much faster than an incandescent flood light. I'll use that effect once or twice!

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  • 4 weeks later...

I really loved these LED floods when I got them. But I have to say that I have absolutely hated everything about them after installation. As of last night I had lost over half of them and had to remove the rest. When you lose one, it is like in smoke, and blows a fuse in the controller. Thank goodness I use Animated Lighting products so that I only had to replace a burnt fuse to get it back working.

These LED floods are beautiful to look at, but awful in practice. Remove them immediately before you lose something like a board.

Ken

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Sorry to hear about your LED troubles Ken. I bought 48 of the Action Lighting Floods for my display and have had 3 blow up on me so far and they are all the Green ones. I am not sure if it is the fault of the Floods though since I was using the El Cheap WalMart Plastic Flood Light Holders that acted like a funnel and direct water directly to the socket. I use LOR but I have blown about 4 fuses and ruined one channel so far (Triac always stays on, had to reshuffle some channels around)

I had about half of the plastic holders and half of the metal ones. The metal ones have never had a problem so far (crossing fingers) because of the tight seal it makes around the bulb. These are running in 17 degree temperatures during showtime.

Here is a picture of the El Cheapo Walmart Holder and the good metal one that you get get at lowes.

badflood-02.jpg

I have converted all my holders to the metal style now and have not had any problems but time will tell. I did notice though that some of the the floods have water INSIDE of them so they are not water/tight like they should be.

BUZZ!!!!

badflood-01.jpg

EDIT

I forgot to add that I really can't swith to normal Floods right now. I have every controller maxed with AMPs and there is not really a way to add normal floods at this point. Hope these floods hold up for the season.

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I bought 6 each of clear/yellow/green/blue. So far I've had 3 totall go out (2 green and 1 clear) and several get jittery - half of the LEDs would be on, but it would jitter around.

I just emailed asking for return instructions. I'll use normal floods this year...

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Since my fire incident I requested a return on the Action PAR 30s andreceived an order for the Action MR-16 LED floods. The MR-16s take twice the number of floods to get the same coverage butthere are 20 to a box so that is ok. As with the PAR-30s red is far dimmer than green or blue and will require doubling up. I'm very happy with them.

Although my fire appears to have been the result of the holder, there are still some quality control issues with the PAR-30s. I had a blue one that wouldn't light withoutfirmly tapping on the lens (percussive maintenance) when the temperature was below 40 degrees. The jitter problem really doesn't surprise me.

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So did anyone figure out how to get them from flickering on just by plugging them in? I tried putting a c7 on the cord just before the floods and it didn't do anything.

I tried a firmware fix from d-light and that didn't work either. Ugh...

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1.9 on the D-Light firmware was really bad on the PAR-30 floods for me, but it happend on 1.6 (but less often)as well. I've never seen them on 1.10 or 1.11 as I sent mine back before those were released. I've heard secondhand that the register 13 change does fix them, but it appears that you've already tried that.

When I had them I was extremely close to getting my dimmer (11/8 above)interface to work. I gave up when I sent them back, but if anyone wants to pick up where I left off- removing D3, making D2 an 1N4003,and replacing Q1/Q2 with a single darlington that has a Vce and Vbc of at least 150V should work (and would fix the flickering issues in addition to making them dimmable). I'd test it with a cheap household dimmer first though, unless you like the risk of cooking triacs (trust me, I've been there).

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I was considering LED floods as my regular floods seem a little weak on the color... had to double up for my garage door.. sounds like these things are junk. i am curious though how you are getting an MR-16 to work outside? are there MR-16 outdoor bulb holders? the thought of using MR-16 Spots to create effects on my house would be neat as i can use GELS and get very intense color and high brightness using 15 degree spots..

-Christopher

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My MR-16s are LED so I don't have to worry about heat. I quickly threw together a custom waterproof holder for them them that is discussed here:

http://planetchristmas.mywowbb.com/forum16/9903.html

If you are planning on using gels, keep in mind that they don't always work well with LEDs. Even a "white" LED is actually a combination of narrow chartreuse and indigo wavelengths with little intensity in other bands. Your eye sees white becaue your eye only really sees color with three broad photoreceptors (centered on the additive primaries - Red, Green, and Blue). The chartreuse color affects the red and green receptors in the eye while the indigo affects blue and some red. Technically speaking, we are all really quite colorblind (ask a tetrachromat if you can find one) and just don't know it so these tricks can be done to make us see white! Imagine if your ears only heard bass around 80Hz (red), midrange around 2k (green)and highs around12k (blue) and just extrapolated all of the other sounds from those three.... what you hear would be very different than reality.

When you try pass the light through a narrow bandpass filter (such as a gel) the only energy that is going to come out the otherside is the energy from the source that is at that band... in the case of a white LED that's very littleif any going througha red gel, but much more for a blue gelfor instance. Gels work with incandescents because the light source is more broad and contains information at all frequencies in the visible spectrum to one degree or another.

The narrow bandwidth of LEDs can be taken advantage of though for even more dramatic color effects than gels though. To be able to have the eye see blue without tiny bits of green mixed in is really vivid. I only wish the red LEDs had a better wavelength like the green and blue ones though... to me they are too orange.

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