iAqua Lite: A DIY Full Spectrum Cross-fading Ecoxotic E-Series Light Controller
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Old 12-23-2014, 12:25 AM   #1
AnotherHobby
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iAqua Lite: A DIY Full Spectrum Cross-fading Ecoxotic E-Series Light Controller


Here is the quick pitch, and why anybody can make one of these:

No soldering. No code. No drilling. No Cutting. No case fabrication. $50 in parts.

Just order parts, plug them in as outlined below, and upload some free code over USB. When you are done, it's actually an attractive looking device that doesn't look hacked together. Here is the completed controller:



So yes, this is another DIY Arduino controller project, but I started this one with a very simple driving motive: make it insanely easy to build.

A lot of people shy away from these projects because they get very technical. Lots of soldering, case fabrication, diagrams, and code editing. This project has zero of any of that. If you can play legos and use a computer, you can do this. The most technical part in the entire project is reading the pin numbers on some parts. That's it. Everything just plugs together with minimal effort, using parts bought online, and there is no code editing at all. Just plug in the USB cable, and upload. All configuration is done in the menus on the device, even setting the clock.

Quick and dirty software feature list:
  • 100% LCD and button menu configuration (literally ZERO code editing, just upload the sketch via USB)
  • Easy to use and navigate LCD menu system
  • Home Screen with Date / Time / Current Mode / Remaining Time
  • Optional Power On / Off via IR for the light (can be disabled to run 24x7 or use external power)
  • 6 Programmable Full Spectrum Cross Fade Schedules
  • Set Date / Time in menu (no need to use code to program the clock chip)
  • Globe friendly: 12 or 24 hour time display setting in menu
  • Globe friendly: MM/DD/YYYY or DD/MM/YYYY date display setting in menu
  • Set Screen Brightness in menu
  • All settings instantly saved to EEPROM, meaning it saves your settings when powered off or rebooted.

What does it actually do?

Essentially it uses the M1, M2, Daylight, and Moon memory buttons as starting and ending points for cross fading. You get to schedule 6 of these fades to start end end when you want, as well as power on/off. Essentially, you get to control moon > dawn > sunrise > mid day sun > sun set > dusk > moon. Power off would typically happen after the transition to moon is done, and power on would be before the transition to dawn starts. Here is a simple graphic that might illustrate better (although without the power on/off time suggested):



Parts and Cost!

Depending on how fast you want your parts, this controller will cost as cheap as $50 (including shipping), or maybe as much as $10 more if you want the parts fast.

The parts used in this project were specifically selected because they allow the elimination all wiring and soldering, and they fit together correctly in an exclosure that doesn't need to be modified. You can get most of the parts from the US, which will show up quick. The parts from China will take about 3 weeks normally. No matter what, the clock chip has to come from China. I cannot find a reasonably priced US source, so no matter what you will have to wait anyway, so I’d just get the cheapest parts. You will need one of each of the following (prices may change, evilBay actions my disappear later):

Arduino Mega 2560 (required due to the amount of memory used by the menu system)
- Cheap US Source: evilBay item 201197139954 for $13.85 shipped
- Cheap China Source: evilBay item 321462769303 for $11.17 shipped

ZiGo Clear Enclosure for Arduino Mega & Ethernet shield
- You will definitely want to pay the $4 for expedited shipping. You choose this when viewing your shopping cart. I did not choose this and it took almost a month and a half to get. I’m guessing the $4 gets you the item in half the time, and that’s well worth it.
- The ZiGo case was selected because it's clear, attractive, cheap, pre-cut and pre-drilled, and everything fits. They will also take custom orders (which you will want to do to have it not engraved). I don’t absolutely love the case, but it does work pretty well, and I cannot find another case that fits all of the components correctly and requires zero modification. The only downside is that for final assembly, it should be glued together (except the top!). I really wish it held together on it's own, but it doesn't really do that. A rubber band would hold it together as well. There aren't any other case options I could find that worked out of the box, but if you don’t mind drilling a few holes or fabricating mounting, there are plenty of options. One example is
this box on Amazon for $10 in the small size this box on Amazon for $10 in the small size
.
- IMPORTANT: When you check out with paypal, put instructions to NOT engrave the ZiGo logo on the case. Tell them you want a completely clear top.
- Buy it here for $17.99 shipped.

A standard USB power adapter and A-B cable, or a 9v Power Adapter with a standard 2.1mm plug
- There are many sources for these. A USB cable and USB power adapter are cheap and work great. You probably have one on hand.
- Should not cost more than $5.
Here is one for $5 on amazon Here is one for $5 on amazon
.

LinkSprite 16X2 LCD Keypad Shield for Arduino Version A
- Make sure you get version A. This screen was selected for specific physical properties that allow it to fit in the case. The only other screen that I could find that fits is the more expensive ADA fruit version that needs to be soldered.
- Cheapest is to buy direct from LinkSprite for $14.58 shipped.

A very specific DS1302 RTC board (to keep time)
- This exact RTC board was selected because it will fit in the case and it can run on ANY pins you choose. You can use other RTC chips, but you will either have to solder, or it won’t fit in the case. There are several varieties of DS1302 boards, some with slightly different pin layouts, and some with bigger batteries. It has to be the same exact one pictured in this post.
- Good news is that it’s cheap.
- Bad news is that it’s only available from China, check out evilBay item 371208561894 for $3.67
- This site claims faster shipping for only $1.88, but I’ve never ordered from there.
- It must look EXACTLY like the pictures below:



A very specific IR LED breakout board
- This exact IR LED board was selected for size. It’s the only one that will fit in the case. It must look exactly like the pictures below.
- Cheap from China for $2.75 shipped, evilBay item 390893458380
- If you want it fast,
here it is on Amazon Prime for $6.08 shipped here it is on Amazon Prime for $6.08 shipped
.
- Here is a picture:



Physical Assembly

Screw the Arduino Mega to the bottom part of the case with the screws, nuts, and plastic bushings that are included with the ZiGo case:



Next you will plug the LCD and the IR LED into the Mega. The LCD plugs in so the buttons under the display are on the power jack side of the Mega, as seen below. The left edge of the display board (oriented such that the buttons are considered down) should line up perfectly with the edge of the Mega. Before you plug the IR LED in, you need to bend the legs of the LED itself so that it’s pointed out to the right, but not too far so it still fits in the case (as seen in the pic). I used a small needle nosed pliers to bend mine. The important thing is that the entire LED is below the top edge of the board, and it doesn’t stick out very far or it’ll hit the case. Plug the IR LED board into the Mega so that the “S” pin goes into pin 46 on the Mega and the "-" pin goes into pin 42 on the Mega, with the middle pin going into 44 on the Mega.



Next thing is to plug the DS1302 RTC into the Mega so that the pins span across 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, and 37 (with 35 and 37 being the VCC pins and 27 being the RST pin). The battery will face away from the Mega. You will also need to bend the pins so that the RTC sits at and angle to allow it to fit in the case. I found this easiest to accomplish by plugging it in first, and then bending it. It was also easier with the LCD shield removed, and then put back in to check fitment. The first pic shows how much I bent the pins for a perfect fit, and the second pic shows it in place.





At this point, all electronics are assembled. I'd hold off on putting the case together until you are done configuring the controller, as it is easier to do so without the case. So the next step is to find your USB cable, and upload the software from your computer!

Software Installation

Download the Arduino IDE for free, and install it on your computer: http://arduino.cc/en/main/software

After you have done that, download and unzip the iAqua Lite package (don't unzip the files in it though): iAqua_Lite.zip

Launch the Arduino program that you installed, and go to the menu: Sketch > Import Library > Add Library. Navigate to the package that you unzipped, and go into the "Additional Required Libraries" folder, and add each one of the libraries. When you are done with adding all of those, you need to move the iAquaLite folder from the downloaded package into your Arduino projects folder. You'll find it in your documents folder (My Documents on Windows, Documents on Mac).

NOTE: If you already have the IRremote library, you need to either replace it with the one in this project, or edit yours to use pin 46 on the Mega. To edit your existing library, find the IRremoteInt.h file in the IRremote library, and find the lines pertaining to the timers for an Arduino Mega. Comment out whatever timer/pin is set, and uncomment this line: #define IR_USE_TIMER5 // tx = pin 46.

Once you've done that, quit and relaunch the Arduino program and go to the File > Sketchbook menu and choose iAquaLite. Plug the Arduino into your computer via USB. In the Arduino program go to the menu Tools > Board and make sure Arduino Mega 2560 is selected. In your sketch window, click upload.

iAquaLite Configuration

To keep this post from becoming insanely long, I have put the configuration into a PDF file for download. You can get it here: iAqua_Lite_User_Guide.pdf

Closing Notes

The final case assembly is not tight, and won't hold together on it's own. I have not glued mine yet, but I think that's the way to go. A rubber band would work, and I'm sure there are other possibilities. If anybody comes up with something, post it.

I hereby release all of the software and information contained here for public use and modification, so long as it is not for profit. If it's for profit, contact me. Otherwise, have fun with it.

On a final side note, the hardware is not specific to the Ecoxotic light and could be used to control any IR controllable device. The only part of the software that is absolutely unique to the Ecoxotic is the IR codes. You could conceivably use the same hardware and software to control other IR controllable light or devices with a little modification (such as the Current Satellite Plus).

Last edited by AnotherHobby; 12-23-2014 at 12:58 AM.. Reason: updated image
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Old 12-23-2014, 12:51 AM   #2
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Looks like another well done project there! Thanks for sharing.

Now to get through Christmas so I can order some parts. Lol
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Old 12-23-2014, 12:53 AM   #3
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Awesomeness. Keep up the fine work!
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Old 12-23-2014, 01:19 AM   #4
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A NOTE OF CAUTION:

You may not get the "exact" parts you buy from some of the Chinese vendors..

I ordered a Serial/USB board for a Typhon and wanted the EXACT one pictured.. Got a completely different albeit "upgrade" board.

Problem was it didn't have the "plug" attached..
Had to buy some to make it work. The "exact' board had the plug pre soldered.

ONLY time this happened but be somewhat aware. I'd send a note w/ purchase "exact board only" if it is critical..

Was it just me or anyone else have a similar experience?
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Old 12-23-2014, 01:28 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkrol View Post
A NOTE OF CAUTION:

You may not get the "exact" parts you buy from some of the Chinese vendors..

I ordered a Serial/USB board for a Typhon and wanted the EXACT one pictured.. Got a completely different albeit "upgrade" board.

Problem was it didn't have the "plug" attached..
Had to buy some to make it work. The "exact' board had the plug pre soldered.

ONLY time this happened but be somewhat aware. I'd send a note w/ purchase "exact board only" if it is critical..

Was it just me or anyone else have a similar experience?
I think it depends on what you are ordering. I mess around a lot with electronics, and I order a lot of this stuff from China (way more than I care to admit). I've never had these little electronic bits and pieces be different than what I was expecting. But you are absolutely in the right to raise caution. I don't think it's the norm, but it does happen for sure. I think that looking at seller feedback scores can be indicative. Luckily the few China parts for this are dirt chip, but unfortunately if you get the wrong one you'd be waiting for 3 weeks to get the right one. I posted the ones I ordered, so those should be solid.
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Old 12-23-2014, 01:43 AM   #6
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This actually looks doable ...Now I really need an ecoxotic e series.

Could this be modified so that instead of a mid day fade it activates a storm event or other dynamic weather setting at a specific time and duration?
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Old 12-23-2014, 02:06 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dmarksvr View Post
Could this be modified so that instead of a mid day fade it activates a storm event or other dynamic weather setting at a specific time and duration?
Anything you can do with the remote control can be programmed and automated. The controller just automates the process of hitting buttons on the remote, and sends that out the IR LED. I do have all of the IR codes in the sketch, even though the program doesn't use all of them. So, there is a lot for people to build on.

It is a challenge trying to figure out how to make stuff configurable, automatable, and usable. For instance, you couldn't ever start a storm in the middle of a transition. There is a lot of stuff like that you have to take into account, but it's certainly doable.

As far as building on the existing code, one nice thing about using the Mega is that we have 256 K of flash memory, of which the current program is only using about 1/8 or so. There is plenty of room to add features.
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Old 12-23-2014, 03:43 AM   #8
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Awesome. I just ordered all the parts. Thanks AnotherHobby!
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Old 12-23-2014, 03:50 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnotherHobby View Post
I think it depends on what you are ordering. I mess around a lot with electronics, and I order a lot of this stuff from China (way more than I care to admit). I've never had these little electronic bits and pieces be different than what I was expecting. But you are absolutely in the right to raise caution. I don't think it's the norm, but it does happen for sure. I think that looking at seller feedback scores can be indicative. Luckily the few China parts for this are dirt chip, but unfortunately if you get the wrong one you'd be waiting for 3 weeks to get the right one. I posted the ones I ordered, so those should be solid.
bought:


Sent:


JUST different enough to be annoying..
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Old 12-23-2014, 01:14 PM   #10
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Can it support 2 e series?


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Old 12-23-2014, 01:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlanLe View Post
Can it support 2 e series?
Yes, as long as they are set up the same. It cannot control them independently... only together.
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Old 12-23-2014, 02:45 PM   #12
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Nice job, how many parts did you have to go through to find out what fits?
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Old 12-23-2014, 08:41 PM   #13
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Awesome, I'm glad you were able to get this all pulled together!

Now I want an e-series even more. *chuckle* Not worth the hassle to build one for my Sat+, since I already have a controller set up, even though it doesn't have the slick menu and cross-fading capabilities this does. I just need to get my iAqua finished and it won't be needed anyway.

But it's all so slick I almost want one anyway, LOL!
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Old 12-23-2014, 10:33 PM   #14
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Now I just need to find where I packed my arduino boards!
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Old 12-24-2014, 03:50 AM   #15
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is there a remote control for the unit?
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