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Technical



Setup Status
Power Distribution
Computer Control
Buffer Boards
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Ok, so the lights look great, but how does it all work? Well, you've come to the right section. Under the "technical" links, you can discover how we design, build and operate the display and can check out all the attached pics. Of course, if you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

As you already know, the lights are controlled by computer. In order for this work, many circuits had to be constructed, which allows the computer to control high voltages. The system we have created is unique and has been designed to be portable, watertight, safe, and easy to use. Most who use computers to control their lights, use Solid State Relays. These relays are controlled by low voltage, sent by the computer, which switch high voltages that feed the xmas lights. Solid state relays vary in size depending on their current rating and are quite large (2"x2") for current ratings of about 20 to 50 amps. This means we would need 144 2"x2" solid state relays, because we are switching 152 channels (as of 2002) out of the computer. Not only are they big, they're expensive at about $25.00CND a piece, though they can usually be bought from surplus supply stores at quite a discount. If we bought new relays, the cost would be almost $4000.00.

The cost and size of the relays was a large concern, which is why we ended up designing and building our own solid state relays. Once built, our relays cost around $5.00 each, but the main advantage was that we could save a significant amount of space, meaning we could mount our home made solid state relays directly in outlet boxes. This is an advantage, because rather than feeding an extension cord to EVERY set of lights, we could send (1) extension cord and (1) data cable to a switching box that could be located anywhere in the yard. This means that there is a lot less cable running from the house and also makes the system portable. Our system can be moved to any location (incase we move) without any modifications. The only requirement at another location would be the availability of many dedicated GFCI outlets.

Disclaimer:
The content of this site is provided for information purposes only and is not necessarily accurate, endorsed or recommended. Any attempt to reproduce circuits and/or the following of electrical practices described in this site shall be done at the users own risk.

 

 

IWD Canada