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  Topic Review (Newest First)
02-11-2014 06:40 PM
SaltspringTropicals Really great looking fixture! I just wanted to pick your brain regarding the x10 equipment. The wiring in of the on/off module looks pretty straightforward, it's the dimmer module I am not in the clear about. I'm seeing on the x10 website that they have an inline dimmable receiver module:
Would this module work as well as the lamp dimmer module you used? I'm not really clear on the specific wiring of the dimmer to the ballast, is it just a matter of connecting the blue signal wire on the dimmer to the orange control wire on the ballast, with a load resistor/night light connected in parallel on this wire? And then connecting the black from the dimmer to my (switched) hot line, white from the dimmer to neutral?
If that module wouldnt work, could you tell me which model of dimmer module you used for your original setup?

Thank you
02-07-2013 04:18 AM
DarkCobra Yes, 3.5" is room enough.

But if you join the top and sides as I did, you lose another 0.75", so only 2.75" remains. A recessed splash guard shaves off a little more space. Not mounting the ballast directly on the wood so the back of the case can get airflow, a little more space if the ballast doesn't fit between the reflectors. And so on. If you plan out everything carefully, you can probably make it work.

Being the first time I did this, I didn't entirely trust my plan. I also thought I might add a third bulb and another ballast in the future, if I wanted to experiment with high intensity bursts; though that never happened. And should something happen like the ballast fails or reflectors corrode, the replacements might be larger. So I just opted for the 1x6, and no worries about space at all.
02-07-2013 03:25 AM
Aquaticus Thanks! I love the way it looks, but I was wondering if 1x4s would be too thin? 3.5" inches should fit the bulb, reflector, and ballast fine, I would think. Thoughts?
02-07-2013 03:15 AM
Originally Posted by Aquaticus View Post
What is the distance between your bulbs?
Velcro adjustable, currently at about 6".

Originally Posted by Aquaticus View Post
Also, did you use 1x6 stock? Why?
I think it was 1x6 for the sides, and 1x10 for the top.

I wanted the exterior to be as clean, seamless, and simple as possible, with the only exception being the finish. No exposed plywood edges, or veneers to cover them up. No visible hardware or fasteners except on the top. Rounded edges. And I have limited skills and tools. Solid wood seemed the easiest choice. It's a bit heavy, but suspended by the spring tensioners, it's almost weightless above the tank.

You can use anything you want. This isn't meant to be a woodworking tutorial, those details really only serve as an example to show that even a mostly clueless person can make something nice.
02-07-2013 02:52 AM
DarkCobra Super easy to connect and dim these Lutron ECO-series ballasts, like the one I used and the one you PM'ed me about on Ebay. You use only the set of three terminals, colored white-orange-black on the left side.

Connect white to the neutral line of the AC plug. Connect black to the hot line of the AC plug. You can install a DPDT switch between the AC plug and these two terminals, if you want the fixture to have its own on/off switch; but as most people will be running off a timer, it isn't necessary.

Connect a standard wall dimmer between hot and the orange terminal. Connect a suitable resistor (as described in the original post), or even one of those little plug-in incandescent nightlights, between orange and neutral. Apart from wiring up the bulb sockets (make sure you get unbridged sockets), for which there's a handy diagram right on the ballast, you're done.

Note that turning off the dimmer won't completely turn off the ballast, only bring it down to 10%. You have to cut the power to the black terminal for complete turn off.
02-07-2013 02:48 AM
Aquaticus What is the distance between your bulbs?

Also, did you use 1x6 stock? Why?

02-07-2013 02:31 AM
Aquaticus So these ballasts are really cheap on eBay now, but I am struggling with how to control the dimmer. I like the idea of X10, but it's just another thing to get into. My soldering iron hasn't seen much action since college, but it would be cool to have a microcomputer controller that you could set and walk away from, since once you set the program, you probably aren't going to be making changes very often. I'm sort of surprised that someone hasn't done it already, but I haven't been able to find anything yet.

The ballasts are cheap enough (at least the two 39w ones), that I'll probably order a couple just to have around. I can always run it as a normal ballast until I find some time to figure out a way to get the dimmer function that I want, be it X10 or another solution.
11-19-2011 06:08 PM
DarkCobra Interesting. More complex than I expected.

A PFC IC, like the TDA4862 or similar, was expected.

The 2842 isn't the bandpass filter you linked. It's almost certainly a current-mode PWM controller. This is a common chip in various power supplies. A bit surprising to see it as the heart of this ballast, instead of a more specialized IC.

The IR2111 is a half-bridge driver, which would be needed to interface a 2842 to the output MOSFETs.

And finally, eight op-amps in the 2x LM224's. The remaining unidentified chips may just play minor roles.

Thanks for the info. I was curious.
11-19-2011 04:05 PM
Salmon McCloud Okay this is what I got... pictures taken by camera on my phone lol

These are the Lutron ECO-T524-120-1

ballasts side by side.

ballast opened up

The only ICs I could read were the 4862 and the IR2111

The others on the vertical board in the middle were hard to read without moving the capacitors. I was able to read one. the 2842 IC.

and the LM224 (2 of these)

The other 2 have a 239 and EZ DL 633, but I can't find anything on these.

And thats all I have so far.
11-19-2011 01:48 AM
Salmon McCloud I'm having trouble with my internet so no progress on the pics. Sorry, tomorrow I'm going to a friends place, I will take my laptop over there. Also. I'm going to take the ballast under a magnifying glass see if I can get some numbers on the ICs

Sent from my ADR6300 using Tapatalk
11-18-2011 02:41 PM
jccaclimber ^Sounds like a good excuse to walk out into the country with a light meter on a clear night. I don't know where I saw them, but there are standards for brightness at night published out there somewhere. I'd occasionally see them at my last job.
11-18-2011 12:20 PM
Originally Posted by Salmon McCloud View Post
I will post my pictures of my ballasts when I get home, when i can plug my laptop in.
I had a question about how many LEDs to add. I want to have 3 strips, one on back, middle, and front, but I don't know how many I want for brightness. Its going on a 20 Long, dimensions are 30 in by 12 inch, and I don't know how big I'll make the light.
Any progress with the pics?

No clue on the amount of LEDs for a moonlight. There are ways to figure out light intensity at the substrate for a given amount of LEDs. But I've never actually seen a recommendation for what intensity constitutes a decent moonlight.
11-17-2011 01:50 AM
Salmon McCloud I will post my pictures of my ballasts when I get home, when i can plug my laptop in.
I had a question about how many LEDs to add. I want to have 3 strips, one on back, middle, and front, but I don't know how many I want for brightness. Its going on a 20 Long, dimensions are 30 in by 12 inch, and I don't know how big I'll make the light.
11-14-2011 04:00 AM
Originally Posted by accordztech View Post
sorry for threadjacking =)
No problem, very cool of you to offer workspace.

Originally Posted by Salmon McCloud View Post
So does the x10 dial back the voltage that goes to the dimmer or does it lower the frequency?
Technically, it does neither. The frequency remains the same. And at >=50% power, the peak AC voltage still reaches 170V (yes, that's typical peak for 120VAC).

The X10 module acts identically to a standard AC wall dimmer. These work by using a TRIAC to let through only part of each AC sinewave. By doing so, it changes the average power. Try looking up "phase angle control dimming" for some examples with pictures (or even videos) of the output waveform.

Remember though, a dimming ballast is always powered by full, undimmed AC. It's only the control signal that's altered, and the ballast draws essentially no power from that input. That's why the parallel load is needed, a TRIAC will shut off and let nothing through if the load drops beneath a critical current (typically about 10ma).
11-13-2011 10:12 PM
Salmon McCloud
Originally Posted by DarkCobra View Post

Sorry for the poor quality, my camera fights me on this one. Included the 10G high light on the left as both fixed point exposure reference for the camera, and as a brightness reference for you.

I did a slow dim from 100% down to 10%, manually via X10 remote. Followed by off. Then back on at 10%, and up to 100% again (faster, and a bit unevenly).
I like it man, looks great!

So does the x10 dial back the voltage that goes to the dimmer or does it lower the frequency?
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