My Dimmable T5HO Hood - Page 3 - The Planted Tank Forum

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post #31 of 70 (permalink) Old 11-08-2011, 07:58 AM Thread Starter
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I noticed one of the Ebay auctions I mentioned earlier for a 1x 24W:

"LUTRON ECO-T524 T5 24W ELEC. DIMMING BALLAST +ENCLOSURE"

Is for a single quantity only, but in the description it says that there's more available. $16.88 Buy it Now, and the seller is also taking best offers. So if you don't mind having two ballasts, one for each bulb, chances are you can contact that seller directly and he'll probably deal with you on the side, or start a new auction for quantity two. That would set you up immediately rather than having to wait and watch, and still at a decent price.

A microcontroller would be optional. For interfacing purposes, a "control voltage" type ballast would be easier, since you just control it with PWM through a level shifter or optocoupler. The ballast will have an internal RC filter with a fairly long time constant, typically about one second, that will convert even low frequency PWM to a steady DC.

"Three wire" is a little tougher. For that you'd need to create a microprocessor controlled AC dimmer. I've got a PIC24 on my desk right now which I've been playing with. Eventually I'd like to integrate one into my hood, along with Zigbee RF control or similar.

Now if you instead go with building your ballast from scratch, you will need either a microcontroller or a specialized IC.

The specialized ICs may be hard to get, things of that nature tend not be available to anyone but serious OEMs. But I haven't looked into it directly.

Microprocessor-based reference designs are also an option. But make sure you fairly evaluate your existing skills, and the time needed to learn new ones. You don't want to blow your capstone deadline! Perhaps you could adapt a reference design like this one:

http://www.microchip.com/stellent/id...pnote=en011968

This is for a programmed-start, 1x 32W T8 dimming ballast. Given that I have successfully driven T5HO with a T8 dimming ballast, it would probably also work with 1x 24W T5HO. The most critical change would be proper end-of-life detection for safety, which was lacking in my instant-start T8 ballast experiment.

As long as you have a microprocessor controlling either a consumer ballast, or at the heart of a custom ballast, adding a room light sensor is trivial and inexpensive.

Just some ideas that may help you get started.
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post #32 of 70 (permalink) Old 11-08-2011, 12:42 PM
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Thanks man! maybe we should PM about this if you don't want me to hijack your thread, I think all the technical jargon is driving people away from your real piece of artwork here lol.
There has to be a design for a 1x24W dimming ballast or even a 2x24W out there, but I was looking at the schematic that you had a link to and was surprised that I recognized every part of the schematic, minus the ICs, I haven't dealt with those particular ones yet, even though I doubt I ever would be taught.
I'm going to ask my professor today if he knows how to make a ballast and see what I can get from him, the guy has a Ph.D. for god's sake and he seems to be a genius by the way he talks, so I'm sure he knows his stuff. I'll keep you updated with what I come by, and let you know my progress as I go along, seeing as how I know you are interested in this idea. At least it seems like it. I may even be able to market this after the fact, maybe even start making custom light fixtures for people. I can use the money, lol.
Also I notified the selling of those 1x24W lutron ballasts you mentioned and asked if I coiuld make a deal with him about buying 2. We shall see how that goes.
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post #33 of 70 (permalink) Old 11-08-2011, 05:32 PM Thread Starter
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You can PM me with electronics questions if you'd prefer not to geek the thread out further.

But do post in thread about any updates with that Ebay seller. That may be useful to others, especially if he has a large number of those ballasts available.
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post #34 of 70 (permalink) Old 11-08-2011, 06:25 PM
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He or she has two left and its a 5% discount if I buy both plus combined shipping. So I think I'll buy them and make one for the time being and build my own from scratch for my capstone.

Also I was wondering how you wired the leds. I'm guessing their own switch. Pm me about that one.

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post #35 of 70 (permalink) Old 11-08-2011, 06:27 PM
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If there isn't a strong objection, I'm good with the thread geeking out. I'll probably do this some day in the future and would rather see the common questions somewhere.

Always curious.
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post #36 of 70 (permalink) Old 11-08-2011, 08:48 PM Thread Starter
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He or she has two left and its a 5% discount if I buy both plus combined shipping. So I think I'll buy them and make one for the time being and build my own from scratch for my capstone.
Perfect! Glad that worked out.

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Also I was wondering how you wired the leds. I'm guessing their own switch. Pm me about that one.
That question is definitely relevant to my fixture, so I'm answering here. Only "ballast from scratch" questions are probably beyond the scope of what anyone besides yourself will tackle. Even then, some people might even like to know general ballast theory of operation, if just for curiosity's sake.

Originally, I planned to attach a 120VAC SPDT relay to the X10 module that controls AC power to the ballast. This would switch the 12V supply, which is always on, between either the LEDs or the fan.

I thought I had one in my parts bin, but it turns out I didn't. So as a temporary solution, I wired both LEDs and fan to run continuously. Since I've reduced fan RPM, it can't be heard over the cumulative noise of the three tanks I have on that wall, unless you're right next to it. And it turns out that running the LEDs during sunrise/sundown ramps adds a nice transition between colors at the lowest light levels, becoming unnoticeable the rest of the time.

Also, the fan and LEDs don't consume much power. Upon later shopping around for a relay, I checked specs and found that they'd actually consume more power than I'd save.

So I never added the relay. Both LEDs and fan remain permanently on.

Both should last a long time regardless. The LEDs are underdriven by 25%, at 15ma of their 20ma rating. And a failed fan can easily be relubricated with common motor oil. I've done that to dozens of fans with nearly 100% success. It's not just economical or environmentally friendly, the new lube typically lasts much longer than the original factory lube. Between work and home I have a lot of equipment and fans to maintain, and this lightens the load.

When I eventually add microprocessor control, since an MCU consumes a trivial amount of power for additional functions, I'll add PWM control for the LEDs; and for the fan based on internal temperature.
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post #37 of 70 (permalink) Old 11-08-2011, 08:49 PM Thread Starter
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If there isn't a strong objection, I'm good with the thread geeking out. I'll probably do this some day in the future and would rather see the common questions somewhere.
Noted. No objections to side topics as long as they're DIY related and educational. Does your interest extend to building ballasts from scratch, or just DIY fixtures?
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post #38 of 70 (permalink) Old 11-08-2011, 09:01 PM
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Both (see signature). On the subject of signatures, I too am growing SOS.

Always curious.
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post #39 of 70 (permalink) Old 11-08-2011, 09:02 PM
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Will the MCU replace your X10 modules? I have no idea what X10 modules are lol. so a link or something would help. I like the ideas you're coming up with.

I'm pretty sure you know a hell of a lot more about the inner workings of electronics than I do.

I talked to my professor today about my capstone idea and he loved it, but he had no idea how ballasts actually work, so that was a little upsetting.
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post #40 of 70 (permalink) Old 11-08-2011, 10:58 PM Thread Starter
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Alrighty, no PMs then. Let's geek out freely.

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Will the MCU replace your X10 modules? I have no idea what X10 modules are lol. so a link or something would help. I like the ideas you're coming up with.
X10 is the oldest home automation system. It primarily uses signals sent over the AC wiring in a house, so no additional wiring is necessary. You plug a "module" into the wall, and plug something into the module. The module acts as a switch that can be controlled by a remote plugged in elsewhere; in my case, that's my computer. It handles all scheduling for six aquariums and a few other household items like lamps, totaling two dozen modules. I also have wireless remotes in each room. The computer receives those signals, translates, and relays them to the modules.

In addition to room lamps, I can push a button on a remote to "feed fish", which turns all tank lights on, and all filters/aerators off, for ten minutes; returning to the normal schedule when complete. If I want to drift off to sleep while watching my tanks, there's a "sleep" button on the remote by my nightstand, which keeps the lights on for the next thirty minutes regardless of schedule.

More details on X10 at Wikipedia. I don't recommend the official X10 website as a source of information, it will hurt your eyes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X10_(industry_standard)

X10 is 30-something years old. Compared to modern alternatives, it's quite inexpensive, but also limited. Modules can receive, but can't communicate back. If there's a lot of noise on the power lines, commands may be dropped. That happens occasionally for me on certain tanks, and I've acceptably worked around it by automatically sending commands repeatedly when there's a change of state, and at regular intervals afterwards. Still, it would be better if modules can immediately acknowledge when they receive a command. Newer systems other than X10 can do this, but they're expensive; and even they don't allow you to connect remote sensors, or other unusual things which I would be inclined to do.

So yes, the MCUs with wireless Zigbee mesh networking are intended to replace part of my X10 system. And allow me to connect anything I please to my home automation system.

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Originally Posted by Salmon McCloud View Post
I talked to my professor today about my capstone idea and he loved it, but he had no idea how ballasts actually work, so that was a little upsetting.
Not surprising. Ballasts are essentially fancy switching power supplies. A simple switching buck/boost converter is easily understood, but a ballast is more similar to a computer power supply. Few people know how to design them, fewer know how to do it well, and probably fewer still know about ballast design in particular. I understand much of the basic principles, but would be in deep water if I had to build one from scratch. While I could probably pull it off with some difficulty, it wouldn't necessarily be very efficient or maximize lamp life. But that may be all that's needed to highly impress a professor.
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post #41 of 70 (permalink) Old 11-08-2011, 11:53 PM
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I like the whole microcontroller idea, although I really don't want to connect a whole bunch of devices to one thing, I'm just going with aquarium stuff.
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post #42 of 70 (permalink) Old 11-10-2011, 03:11 AM
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The ballasts are on their way. Cost me slightly over 50, but this project should be fun. I plan on taking one apart to see exactly how it works I suppose. A little reverse engineering lol. Product was shipped before I even made payment which was tempting not to pay for at all lol, but I would hate to be that guy. Once I build my first light with the ballasts I bought I'll build another fixture straight from scratch. At least that the plan. Any suggestions on leds, colors, power and what not? Also I'm assuming the fan is a matter of opinion as far as brand goes, but what would be more reliable? I've had pc fans burn out before

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post #43 of 70 (permalink) Old 11-10-2011, 04:33 AM Thread Starter
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A little over $50 is a still a good deal on a set of dimming ballasts, IMO.

I never tried to open the Lutron. On the T8 dimming ballasts, I had to drill partially through the sheet metal where the mounting holes were, as the two sheet metal layers were crimped together there. Using a larger drill bit, I broke the connections without significantly altering the hole diameter.

For the moonlights, I used blue 25° T1-3/4 LEDs. Bought 100x of them a while back on Ebay cheaply direct from China to stock my parts box, and still had a bunch left after other projects; so I figured I'd put what I had to use. They're rated at 20ma, and I drive them at 15ma to extend life, since fully plastic casings don't dissipate heat well. Individually, they don't provide much light. I used 8 on my "moonlight ruler", and it's still dim. The fish look like shadowy figures darting in and out of the beams, which is an interesting effect. But it doesn't really provide for effective viewing, so I may add additional LEDs in the future.

If I'd made a separate LED purchase, I might have gone with 1/4W LEDs with a wider angle, to reduce the number of LEDs. Other colors, like a bit of white, could be added too. But don't use UV LEDs. They cause particles in the water to fluoresce, making the beams green; which doesn't look good in my opinion.

As for the fan, I have a collection of them salvaged from old computers. Again I used what I had, and relubed it before installing so I don't have to worry about failures later. The chrome fan guard was also in my salvage collection. Added some rubber washers on either side of the wood to damp vibrations. If I'd ordered a fan separately, a Nexus would have been my top choice. I use these to replace loud fans in my home PCs, and they're quiet and reliable. I'm sure there are other good ones out there too.
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post #44 of 70 (permalink) Old 11-10-2011, 05:50 PM
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How about these LEDs? eb item# 120803062151 or 120783223209

Also I'll most likely get that fan, Quiet is the most important to me really.

I'll see if I can find a chrome fan guard, that looks sweet on your fixture.
I was thinking these as far as reflectors http://www.amazon.com/AquaticLife-Re...0950690&sr=1-2 but I'd rather have something cheaper

I was probably going to go wood for this first one, but the one for class may be the acrylic design with CNC machine. That said, what wood should I use? and as far as waterproofing the wood, what should I use for that?

And where do I get the connections for the bulbs themselves?
Lol lots of questions here.
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post #45 of 70 (permalink) Old 11-10-2011, 07:14 PM
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Also About sockets (if thats what you would call them) would this one work, or do you know one that would be better to use?
http://www.horticulturesource.com/su...-shunted-p410/
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