Computer controlled multiple light dimmer

light dimmer

[SeBsZ] built this 16 dimmable lights controller based on his friend Christian N?g’s PC_DIMMER project. The PC_DIMMER project supports up to 128 individual lamps with 255 steps each. The controller boards feature an Atmel ATTiny2313 microcontroller that controls 8 lamps. Sebsz built two boards for his project and has status indicators mounted on the side of the box. Everything is driven by Christian’s free software through a serial connection. SeBsZ warns that this is a 230V@50Hz design and you will need to modify it if you intend to use it in the US.

Comments

  1. kevinin says:

    i’ve been looking for something like this for so long … and here it pops up at hackaday :)

  2. pretorious says:

    great for stage effects

  3. Sebsz says:

    I have looked for this for such a long time as well, until I stumbled upon the pcdimmer.de website a couple of months ago. Not many people know about this website, so I was glad I found it. It works great, and yes definitely great for stage effects. Also nice for disco parties :-)

  4. Matt says:

    Um.. It is called DMX.

    User a program like Freestyler DMX
    and a Enttec USB to DMX adapter.

    Then get a 69 doller 4 ch dimmer off ebay.

    You are set.

    Now you can also get moving lights and control them too..

    P.s. The enttec open usb dmx adapter has LINUX drivers.

  5. Matt says:

    Um.. It is called DMX.

    User a program like Freestyler DMX
    and a Enttec USB to DMX adapter.

    Then get a 69 doller 4 ch dimmer off ebay.

    You are set.

    Now you can also get moving lights and control them too..

    P.s. The enttec open usb dmx adapter has LINUX drivers.

  6. What about X10? With X10 you can have PC controlled dimming lights, up to 256 uniquely controlled channels. Nowadays there are both serial port and USB versions of the controllers too, and some nice software out there.

  7. Paragraph says:

    Nice, you could easily make a smaller one, i love the posiblities of this, you could easily tone it down and use it for smaller lamps and make homebrew signs for RSS or real-time CPU montitoring etc.

    If i had the money i would definitly build one.

  8. Alex McCown says:

    ok all you all high go to x10.com they have something 10x better thin this for $20

  9. Arasoi says:

    Missing the point people . This is not about cheap or better it is about making it with your own hands and brain. :)

    To which i say nice project and well done.

  10. mike says:

    X-10, while cheap, is terribly impractical for running anything other than table lamps. Firstly, the steps in some of the dimmers are few and far between, meaning a smooth fade turns into a mess. Also, the protocol doesent like handling data at very high speeds, with most software (i have found) there is no easy way to produce a “chase effect” and the minumum timing is something like 5 seconds between “cues”. I did use IBM’s “Homedirector” software to configure a simple chase but it would cause the machine running it to hang frequently. Lastly, most dimmer modules are not grounded and are rated for a max of 300 watts. (not very much) All in all, this looks like a promising project. While i went the route of #4, I may have to look into this project around X-mas Time. Or if anyone has links to open source X-10 software, i’d be willing to have a look.

  11. pretorious says:

    other than changing the transformer, think this will run on 120V?

  12. alex McCown says:

    i will be refoing to yhis guy
    Posted Mar 28, 2006, 8:39 PM ET by
    you made an intresting point but a simple free mod to these x 10 things can be done with ease it uses a sim ple hbrige for most and relays with the outhers so jest bust in to thows and it will leve this ecperment “sucking C0(ks jest to put food on the table”

  13. SeBsZ says:

    I think you are ALL missing the point here. First of all, you are building this yourself so it will be a LOT LOT cheaper than expensive hardware such as DMX. Fine, if you find something on ebay, go ahead and buy it, that isn’t the point of it. You are talking about a 69 dollar 4-channel dimmer? I don’t even want to know how much a 16-channel dimmer would cost.

    Secondly, all you people talking about X10 here, this isn’t about switching a light in my bedroom on or off, this is about creating huge lightshows that are in REAL TIME. X10 is extremely slow, and sometimes the signals aren’t even received and you have to resend them. This controller is instantaneous, you send a signal and immediately the controller will react and fade beautifully or will do anything you ask it to do.

    I am sad to hear that a lot of you think about this project in this way. If you think X10 is 10X better, yes maybe in your case when all you want to do is control your living room lights and you don’t want cables running to every light. This is different, and a lot of you didn’t get the point.

    #11 pretorious, no. You can change the transformer which will then give you 5V to run the boards on, which is fine. However, the controller uses something called zero-crossing to detect when to fire the optocouplers. In the USA, it is 60hz, in Europe – 50hz. It might work, but you definitely need to get a different firmware made for 50hz. You could ask Christian and he might be able to do it for you. Just go on the forum and ask your question in English, he will answer.

    SeBsZ-

  14. Surya says:

    LOL PCDIMMMER is already dead

  15. DJ-Marcuzz says:

    It looks like an cool project but it is alraidy there (dmx dimmers with dmx mixer of dmx to pc)
    But still cool stuff, mabe i wanna build one my self if i only could :P

  16. shiftclick says:

    …but will it work with ‘The Clapper’?

    seriously though, very good. just add a few light sensor deelies and a pair of white gloves and youve got the whole ‘Jean michel jarre’ thing down!

  17. SeBsZ says:

    “It looks like an cool project but it is alraidy there (dmx dimmers with dmx mixer of dmx to pc)”

    The big advantage to this is COST. This is so much cheaper than professional DMX equipment, and it is easily expandable.

    SeBsZ

  18. DJ-Marcuzz says:

    “”It looks like an cool project but it is alraidy there (dmx dimmers with dmx mixer of dmx to pc)”

    The big advantage to this is COST. This is so much cheaper than professional DMX equipment, and it is easily expandable.”

    Yeah, thats why i wanna build one my self im not so handy, so i probbebly buy my self some dmx equipment for my drive in

  19. SeanTech says:

    The advantages don’t stop at plain cost! Expansibility is another great advantage one of these DIY-systems have. Expansibility in both hardware and software (think protocol: DMX, X10, DIY, etc…) would be cheap and easy as you really know the hardware.

    It’s simple and effective; I like it!

  20. Matt says:

    Hey, As for DMX control from the PC, I can recomend this Free software http://freestylerdmx.be/

  21. lightchief says:

    Hey, I’ve found this post some days before. Thank you very much for your post! The pcdimmer program seems to be a very interesting thing. I’ve tested the new version with some of my scanners and movingheads and it is working great.

    You have more options than with freestyler and christian helped me to setup my hardware.

    Its cool to control the lights with the computer!

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