HELP! RGB LED ribbon controller advice

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HELP! RGB LED ribbon controller advice

Postby StevenTheGreat » Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:03 pm

Moments ago, the controller unit powering some LED lights in a sighted sign I'm finishing up for the burn blew. I was using a RGB-DC99 Dream-Color Chasing RGB controller (along with the corresponding SEDC-RGB160 led strip) from superbrightleds.com. I connected the 12 v power supply to the controller and there was a soft audible pop and the smell of fried electronics coming from the control box. The controller is, of corse, now inert. The controller display does not light and the unit does not light the Dream-Color string. Right out of the box, I noticed that the temperature of the controller got unmistakably warm to the touch after just a few minutes of operation (about 30 mins- long enough to scan through the 99 functions). Does anyone know if this normal for this controller (i.e. does this sound like I received a bad controller)? I have used the lights and controller only 5 times for a total run time of less than 3 hours. I like the functions of the controller, but I need something reliable. The website states that although the controller takes 12 v DC input, the output to the light strip is only 5 v DC. Does anyone have any expertise in alternative controller units I could get FAST to salvage my project?

Oh, shit! the man burns in 18 days! (and I hit the road in 8!! Aaaaahhh!)

Thanks and may your burn prep be without similar speedbumps!
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Re: HELP! RGB LED ribbon controller advice

Postby percussivepaul » Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:54 pm

Controllers generally don't smoke and burn unless they are 'bad'. Definitely abnormal behavior. I would be returning it to the shop for a refund or replacement. I don't think the data protocols on these things are standardized so I doubt there is a controller you can just buy off the shelf as a replacement, and I don't know too many places that stock these things -- they are newish products and mostly ship direct from China (and not enough time to ship a replacement, obviously). If you are good with microcontrollers you could try to figure out the data protocol and drive the wires with an Arduino or something, but this might be a challenge. Maybe someone on the web has figured it out already.

My suggestion would be to look for a local supplier of electronics and see if they can help you, and maybe be prepared to buy a new 5m LED reel with controller, if they' have one to sell to you. Send the package you got from superbrightleds.com back and try to get a refund.
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Re: HELP! RGB LED ribbon controller advice

Postby Theres Always One » Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:28 pm

It sounds to me like you are the one who broke the controller.

That sound and that smell is the smell of you frying your electronics. It's toast.

Now, the reason for that is interesting.

I'm assuming this is the unit your talking about? http://www.superbrightleds.com/moreinfo ... ler-/1138/

The product specifications says the operating voltage is 5V DC. In fact, it says this in at least 2 different places. When you plugged the controller in with the 12 V DC plug, it was the equivalent to trying to spray a garden hose through a straw. The overload of voltage causes the electronics to heat up and eventually burn/fry/melt.

The product page says that it comes with a 12V DC plug. I don't know why they would ship a 12V plug for a 5V device. That makes no sense. Does the wall plug happen to have an adjustable switch on it?
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Re: HELP! RGB LED ribbon controller advice

Postby BBadger » Wed Aug 15, 2012 12:51 am

Powering the the power supply--which then connects to your controller/strip--with 12VDC should be fine. However, powering the controller or strips directly with 12V is a different matter.

Did you power the power supply the product was shipped with with the 12V or the controller with 12V?
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Re: HELP! RGB LED ribbon controller advice

Postby percussivepaul » Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:35 am

Sounded to me like he connected 12V to the controller (it's the controller that fried, not the lights?) and it looks like this was correct from the website's description. But it's sort of immaterial, you know? Bottom line is the controller is broken and dude has 8 days (er, 7) to get sorted.

So... you can just buy another controller from superbrightleds.com and have it shipped overnight. It's gonna cost you, but it should work, assuming the next controller is not defective too. Maybe call the company and try to work out what happened and see if they can overnight you a new one.

By the way if you don't care about having 'chaser' patterns and can live with the lights being all one colour at once (though they can do fades and stuff) than you can buy 5m reels with controller and power supply for under $40 on eBay. But they come from China and I doubt they'll get here in time.
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Re: HELP! RGB LED ribbon controller advice

Postby junglesmacks » Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:49 am

Wow.. that site is a rip off...

$140 for 5m of addressable LEDs? I thought Adafruit was bad.. damn.. :lol:
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Re: HELP! RGB LED ribbon controller advice

Postby DustHand » Wed Aug 15, 2012 10:43 am

The page seems to have conflicting information.
In one spot, it says:

1.)VERY IMPORTANT: Supply voltage for Controller is 5 Volts DC, power with included 12VDC Power Supply, do not exceed

Wha? Is it 12 or 5 volts?

Then in the Specifications chart it says:

Operating Voltage: 5 Volts DC

OK, so 5 volts. But....later down the page:

Power DC 12V/2A

The photo shows a typical AC-DC "wall wart" type of power supply, so it really isn't clear to me what it shipped with and what the controller supply voltage is supposed to be.
if you powered it with an INCLUDED power supply, that would be some sort of screw up on the manufacturer's part, or at least whomever is packaging the different components.

If it IS supposed to be 5v supply voltage, I bet the lights were BRIGHT!!!!

I have purchased stuff from them in the past, and never had any issues. In fact, that's where I got the LEDs for the pair of coats that are coming to the playa this year.
http://eplaya.burningman.com/viewtopic.php?f=279&t=53528

Yes, the prices can be a bit steep, but for the number of rolls of LEDs I needed, I wanted them all to be the same and had trouble finding any on EBAY that I could verify were exactly the same.
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Re: HELP! RGB LED ribbon controller advice

Postby percussivepaul » Wed Aug 15, 2012 1:22 pm

The RGB reel I use has a 12V controller input and 12V power supply and 5V output to drive the lights. If you use an Arduino which has 5V ouput it recommends a 7V to 12V input. Presumably this is to give the voltage regulator some headroom. I kind of doubt the controller was designed to take 5V in and push 5V out. More likely there was simply a bad part on the controller which eventually failed and caused a short.

Look, it's really common for new electronic parts to fail. See: infant mortality rate and the 'bathtub curve'. Most manufacturers will run a 'burn-in' test to run the devices long enough to get past the early failure period so they can identify the bad eggs and throw them away, and so that every part they ship is in the 'normal operation' part of the bathtub curve. But good quality control is expensive. Those of us ordering direct from manufacturers and paying rock bottom prices should not be shocked by the occasional failure. This is one of the benefits to buying from an intermediary; a retailer like Adafruit or Sparkfun or others will have a relationship with their supplier and can demand a certain level of quality control that we as consumers can't, and they have an interest in further testing their products to make sure the stuff they sell is not going to fail in the first week.
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Re: HELP! RGB LED ribbon controller advice

Postby oscillator » Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:30 pm

The passive RGB LED strips (where the entire strip lights up a single color) are typically 12VDC, and the individually addressable LED strips are typically 5VDC.

Arduinos have an on-board voltage regulator, hence the need for 7-12VDC input.

FWIW, my past experience with Superbright LEDs has been positive, so a replacement *should* be doable - they might want to see the defective unit first for warranty situations.

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Re: HELP! RGB LED ribbon controller advice

Postby StevenTheGreat » Sun Aug 19, 2012 10:00 pm

Thanks for the responses! The controller unit receives 12 v and outputs 5 v to the strand. The folks were very responsive when I told them what happened. They pronto shipped a new controller the next day. I received it. Hooked it up. It worked for a 20 min test the day before yesterday (although the controller became noticeably warm again during that short test). When I went to show my new completed sign a few minutes ago, the new controller went the same as the first - No lights upon first plug-in, unplugged and retried and got the soft pop of death. -Sigh- At this point, I may have to just swap it out for a reliable, constant on, white 12 v ribbon. Big bummer!
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Re: HELP! RGB LED ribbon controller advice

Postby captain mcguiver » Sun Aug 19, 2012 10:13 pm

Bought 5m of RGB tape with a controller.

Worked great for 10 mins, then controller fried. (12v system)

Cheap Chinese junk. Luckily it was days ago so I had time to re-order backups. That's why you gotta test everything months in advance of BM.

Hopefully the new driver will last longer.
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Re: HELP! RGB LED ribbon controller advice

Postby StevenTheGreat » Sun Aug 19, 2012 10:25 pm

I have to switch it out for plain white, that is, unless anyone knows of some other model of 12 v input 5 v output controller that can be had from some place that can overnight it (the lights themselves still work, the malfunction is in the controller)... Anybody know of anywhere?
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Re: HELP! RGB LED ribbon controller advice

Postby DustHand » Mon Aug 20, 2012 8:57 am

I got my controller from these guys:
http://ledwholesalers.hostedbyamazon.com
All of my stuff is 12v, but they may have some 5v stuff...not sure.
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Re: HELP! RGB LED ribbon controller advice

Postby captain mcguiver » Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:41 pm

Just got my replacement drivers for my rgb strand.

Wow. 2/3 don't work.

The micro controller I got works fine. Super small, 3 buttons control every mode and speed. Very compact.

I got a replacement driver with a 24 key remote and a driver with a 44 key remote. Both of them exhibit the same failure so I'm wondering if it's me.

When plugged into a 12v battery, the strands turn Blue, and don't do anything else. The remote controller effects nothing.
When the 12v input is provided from a wall plug (120v to 12v convertor) it does nothing at all. No lights come on.

Again, I know the strand works because the micro controller goes through all the colors fine.

This would be my third defective driver in a row.

This is the one in question : http://www.ebay.com/itm/24-Key-IR-Remote-Controller-For-RGB-SMD-5050-3528-LED-Light-Strip-/180933810978?pt=US_Lighting_Parts_and_Accessories&hash=item2a207edb22

The original driver I bought worked for about 10 minutes, then poof, like the OP.

Help anyone? Now it's too late to have this stuff shipped over. :(
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Re: HELP! RGB LED ribbon controller advice

Postby DustHand » Mon Aug 20, 2012 7:00 pm

I have that exact controller for a different led project I did a while back. I have ordered controllers and strips from 2 different vendors, and the one big difference I have discovered is that some strips are common anode, and some are common cathode. Meaning, on some strips, the black, or common wire is + while the RGB wires are -, and others have the common as - and the RGB as +.

Controllers can vary the same way. Mix the two types, and it won't work. Not saying that's the problem, but possible.

This controller says common anode. That means + voltage on the common wire, and the negative connection to the RGB wires.

Disconnect all of the leds and try connecting a multimeter to the output of the controller. If you set to one color at a time, you should see positive voltage when hooked up to the + terminal and the - to blue (or red or green). You can then verify all 3 channels work, which wire is which, and verify your LEDs are wired properly. It should also rule out an issue with your wiring past the controller.
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Re: HELP! RGB LED ribbon controller advice

Postby StevenTheGreat » Mon Aug 20, 2012 11:57 pm

When plugged into a 12v battery, the strands turn Blue, and don't do anything else. The remote controller effects nothing.
When the 12v input is provided from a wall plug (120v to 12v convertor) it does nothing at all. No lights come on.


Captain, I have one of those too. It's not the one that's malfunctioning, but I did discover that the remote doesn't work well, if at all, in daylight. I had a couple moments of frustration until I discovered that if I held the remote up to the IR sensor and cupped my hand around it, all worked fine. Could that be the issue with yours?

DustHand, Would reversing the polarity to the controller cause it to fry? The wiring from the lights to the controller came already connected to a harness that only plugs in to the controller one way. I don't have any reason to suspect the wiring between the lights and controller is problematic because after the first controller blew, the strip worked, albeit for a short time, with the second controller.
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Re: HELP! RGB LED ribbon controller advice

Postby captain mcguiver » Tue Aug 21, 2012 1:19 am

StevenTheGreat wrote:
Captain, I have one of those too. It's not the one that's malfunctioning, but I did discover that the remote doesn't work well, if at all, in daylight. I had a couple moments of frustration until I discovered that if I held the remote up to the IR sensor and cupped my hand around it, all worked fine. Could that be the issue with yours?
.


I tried the hand cupping technique and it didn't work. Maybe I'll try again. All I know is the first driver would "blink" the entire strip once powered, after that the remote worked fine.

Neither of my two new replacement controllers (24 and 44 key remotes) work like that old one, other than the blue only of a 12volt battery power source.
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