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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

I'm working on a new project and I'm planning to use a lot of pneumatic valves. I have a couple of valves hooked up to 12V relay board. (USB) Most of the time it works. When it doesn't work I get feedback from other electrical equipment which makes the relay lock up and the software (VSA) go beserk. The only way to get the system going again is to restart VSA and unplug the USB cable. You can understand that this is rather tricky when you've got a lot of people waiting for a halloweenshow. I don't have any problems what so ever with DMX. But DMX can be quite expensive.

I'm working on a project with over 50 pneumatic valves and I'm looking for something cheap, yet reliable (those two words normally don't match, but meh we'll see) I've read somewhere on the interwebs that you can use a DMX led dimmer or controller to switch valves/relays. I've seen some "cheap" DMX led controllers around. Would it be possible to use those to switch my pneumatic valves? Will this work, is it feasible.
 

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Did you try using a diode on the relays? Sometimes that will help keep from a "false "trigger of the relay.
 

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A couple of thoughts

My first thought was EMI interfering with the USB interface, which can require an unplug, replug to fix. Inductive load interference from the valves might cause problems too, depending on whether or not your board has protection from that. I also thought about how too much current draw could cause funky behavior. I'm not a hardware guy so I can't really speak to a solution.
 

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A DMX controlled relay/ dimmer pack can be used to directly turn a 125V solenoid on/off. This is probably the cheapest way to go at about 100.00 for the 4 channel dimmer packs. I am curious to see what you have in mind with so many pneumatic valves!
 

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I'll throw this out there as just a brainstorm but what about using a light controller from like Light-O-Rama? They have both 120vac and also low voltage controllers. Just a thought. Im doing a LOR show in my graveyard this year and thought if you can turn on/off lights, certainly it would work a valve relay.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for all your replies.

Adding a diode to the valve fixes the feedback. At least for the valves. I've added capacitors to the 230V relays (what we use here in Europe) to take on the voltage spikes. This does fix it somewhat but the issue still remains. Especially if I switch my smoke machine via relays.


I doubt I'll ever fix it completely. But that doesn't matter. My real question was if I could use a led controller like this:
http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Easy-DMX-LED-controller-dmx-decoder-driver/477125800.html

To directly make my solenoid valves switch. For example put current on the output 1 red to make one valve activate etc etc. Theoretically it would then allow me to switch 27 valves for cheap. I know its a weird idea which probably needs allot more electrical knowledge but it's something I've read somewhere. (which could be dangerous ;-) )

Edit: Been reading something about PWM signals, I guess this is not going to work with solenoid valves.
 

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...I'm working on a new project and I'm planning to use a lot of pneumatic valves. I have a couple of valves hooked up to 12V relay board. (USB) ....
Oh no! I'm using some USB boards for the first time this year and wasn't expecting any issues. Please tell me you aren't using these USB boards http://denkovi.com/
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Russel, I did use similar boards like the ones from the Denkovi website. I didn't buy them there though but they do look very similar.

I've used them to switch 230V AC and 24V DC. Adding capacitors did help to make the board stable but it would still lock up sometimes. Mostly because I wired my smokemachine to the board. I used a couple of diodes for the 24V valves. No problems here. But I did need to add the diodes or the valves would make the relay crash (well the USB part)

In the end I tried adding ferrite beads to the 240V part but that didn't help either.

At the end it did work, most of the time...but sometimes It would lock up.
 

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I wonder if the reason for the trouble is using 230 volts ?And would there be a difference when using 120V? Just a question I had, not up on all the electronic stuff........
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I'm using the Enttec open. But these boards aren't DMX. Since the Enttec Pro has an active chip in it, it could very well be beter at handling spikes and interference.

Not sure if there is any difference in using 230V or 120V.
 

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Are you relay boards plugged directly into the usb cable or is it a usb to serial converter cable? The quick, relatively, solution is to provide some optical isolation between the relays and the computer, this is a cheap diy for RS232 but an expensive one for usb directly.

Bill
 

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Russel, I did use similar boards like the ones from the Denkovi website. At the end it did work, most of the time...but sometimes It would lock up.
I'm changing all (or most) of my Props to work off one Scare (pop up, out, down, lighting/eyes on, and sound on) trigger and one reset trigger. I'm building several of these boxes that give me the option of controlling my triggers by wired switches or USB relays. If the USB relays start to act up I can switch to wired switches. This way I know for sure I can get all my Props to work this year. Everybody in the Forum is probably tired of me complaining about my wireless experience last year.

If you can find 50 fingers, a wired button solution might work for you too : - )

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