Planted Tank Enthusiast
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Vancouver, WA, USA
Do I need a controller?
Nope. Strictly a "for fun" type gadget.What do controllers do?
Controllers tell the driver what to do with the emitters. There are two kinds of controllers: manual and automated. What types of controllers are available?
A manual controller is a potentiometer that controls the dimming circuit of a dimmable driver. It regulates the current output to the driver, and controls emitter output that way. It is the least complicated and least expensive of the controllers available, as it only requires a 10v dimmable driver and a potentiometer wired to the correct circuit. For some drivers, the potentiometer will need to be independently powered - be sure of which kind you have before you attempt to make it work.
Automated controllers are electronic devices programmed to independently control the time, duration, and intensity of light from the emitters. They can be programmed to do an infinite number of effects and operations, some can be modified with relays and programmed to run other devices like CO2 and cooling fans. The limit is your imagination - and your coding skill. Or the number of friends you have who enjoy coding.
One could go with a pre-built controller, or a DIY controller, but there are many variations of each of these. The key to which particular controller you get starts with which type of driver you have: PWM or "x-10v". The difference between these dimming methods is the PWM is a digital method of modulation, and the "x-10v" method involves analog manipulation of the current.How do I program my controller?
Arduino (automated control)10v
Typhon (automated control) Available through BoostLED
O2Surplus' DIY Arduino controller
Potentiometer (manual control) available at any electronics store, and many emitter vendors.
DIM4 (pre-programmed automated control) available through LED Groupbuy.com
The answer to this will be different for each controller, but sink has provided us with a code he built for his Arduino controller to make smooth, linear dimming possible with particular drivers.
Last edited by theblondskeleton; 07-17-2012 at 05:36 AM.
Reason: Added info