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Using Ardiuno to power LED strip from Amazon, link included

post #1 of 12
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http://www.amazon.com/LEDwholesalers-Controller-2034RGB-3315-3215/dp/B0040FJ27S/ref=cm_cmu_pg_t

Ok so I want to order this LED kit and use an Ardiuno to power this using an external battery instead of using the power cord. I wanna hook these LEDs to a table and make it portable and the Ardiuno will already be mounted to control other things. This kit does have a IR sensor with a remote and I'd like to keep that on there to control the colors. If you do look at the pics, the other end of t he LED strip has 4 stripped wires exposed. I am assuming these could be connected to the Ardiuno. I was just looking to see if anyone around had any ideas or past experience with this LED kit or any other. Thanks guys
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post #2 of 12
I took my engineering internship at a company that designed LED signs, does that count?

You can not hook the LED's directly to the Ardiuno, then hook a battery to a Ardiuno. The Ardiuno can not drive that much current. The LED's will draw more power than the Ardiuno can handle.

The LED's will have to be driven by a power transistor or MOSFET that can handle the power requirements. (controlled via Ardiuno)

You have two options:

1.) Do a little bit of reverse engineering on the little box that controls the LED's. That box has the correct circuitry to drive the LED's. Reverse engineering the existing circuitry will be challenging without reference schematics. If you do not have a in-depth electronics background, I will ask you to not try this.

2.) Buy a constant current source LED driver to act as the "middle man" between the Ardiuno and the LED's. At least if you buy a LED driver (as opposed to reverse engineering the existing circuitry) you have detailed reference schematics and good documentation. Linear Technologies sells some constant current source LED driver demo boards.

EDIT: Here is a good example of a LED driver -->http://www.instructables.com/community/Universal-High-Power-LED-Driver-Kit-amp-PCB/ In the place where the PIC chip would go, just run wires instead to the inputs/outputs of the arduino.


I see a second problem. Understanding and being able to interact with the protocol used by the remote. You have two options:

.1) Reverse engineering the remote and the circuitry. If your not experienced in embedded design this will be a nightmare.

2.) Do not use the remote that comes with the LED's. Get a electronics kit to make your own remote to be used with the Arduino. That way your be writing your own communication protocol from scratch, which is a lot easier than trying to reverse engineer the existing remote without schematics or source code.
Edited by crimsontears809739 - 2/14/13 at 9:42am
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post #3 of 12
If you still want to go through with this, I have a lot more advise i can give you. I can help by putting up some schematics, wiring diagrams, ect to help you get started.

But first let me know if your still serious about this, before I put an hour or so of my life into helping you to layout a detailed plan.
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post #4 of 12
*poke*

Hello? Thoughts? Opinions?
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post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hey bro, thanks for the detailed help. I didnt check this post all weekend and the kit will arrive today. Let me play with it over night or tomorrow night and I will def let you know. I'm hoping that I can still use the remote, instead of wiring it all myself. I have had 3 circuit classes but still not really worth all that time. Thanks again
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post #6 of 12
Why not have the Arduino hooked up to some type of switch that could turn on an external 12v power source that is connected to the LEDs?
post #7 of 12
This should actually be pretty simple. Out of the 4 wires two are going to be power (- and +). I doubt very seriously there is any sort of voltage regulation going on in the that little controller box. So you should be able to get a barrel jack that will match the power supply that came it and wire it to the positive and negative cables. Since they are unterminated the material that came with it should tell you what is what.

The next part is more tricky for controlling the colors. I would say look at some of the simple LED controller designs from Adafruit and Sparkfun. You just hook up the control wires to the arduino and start playing with code. If you can figure out what IC is in the LED strip (if there even in one) then we could probably speed that process up for you.

My last idea for you if you want to keep the remote functional. Is to grab a IR LED receiver or even strip the on the current controller out. Connect it to the Arduino and make it "listen" for a command from the IR receiver. You'll basically point the remote at the reciever and record the signal that comes from the remote. Once your store that signal you can wrap some statements that will make the arduino change colors, flash, dim...really whatever you want.

If you were provided any datasheets from the company about the light strip it will make life much easier. Post them up and I'm sure any of us could point you in the right direction. A close up of the LED strip might help as well.
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post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigDickChoppas View Post

Why not have the Arduino hooked up to some type of switch that could turn on an external 12v power source that is connected to the LEDs?

That is what the LED driver is for. It is a high-speed switch. The LED's are not just "on" and "off". Colors and brightness are controlled by PWM. You have one PWM channel for each of the primary colors. Changing the frequency of the PWM changes the intensity of the LED. This is how you make different colors. (For a explination of PWM, see here --> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulse-width_modulation ). PWM is driven a very high speed (like atleast 120 Hz). Therefore, a mechanical switch will not work at such high speeds. You need a MOSFET or power transistor as a switch. That's basically what I was trying to explain to everyone in my first post. *facepalm*
doh.gif

The LED driver/controller i linked you to was the first link that came up so you could visualize what i was talking about. If we can figure out the voltage and current that the LED strip uses, I can take some time and come up with links to LED controllers that would work specifically for your application. We are going to need a 3 channel LED controller, or to purchase 3 different LED controller....one for each of the primary colors red, green, and blue.

Kylepdalton is likely wrong about the voltage regulation. A strip of LED of that size demands some sort of regulation, if it did not that would be a very poor design. LEDs are VERY sensitive to minor changes in current/voltage, and tend to draw slightly more current as they heat up. For 1-5 LED's I would say hook it up without any regulation. For a huge (and relatively expensive) strip of LED's, you need some type of voltage or current regulation or you could end up ruining the whole strip of LED's. A LED controller/driver will have this regulation build in.

I did some more digging and LED controllers are super easy to find. Even Radio shack sells them. As this point, i feel it would be silly to reverse engineer the existing LED controller given how controllers are to find.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kylepdalton View Post

My last idea for you if you want to keep the remote functional. Is to grab a IR LED receiver or even strip the on the current controller out. Connect it to the Arduino and make it "listen" for a command from the IR receiver. You'll basically point the remote at the reciever and record the signal that comes from the remote. Once your store that signal you can wrap some statements that will make the arduino change colors, flash, dim...really whatever you want.

The best way is to use an oscilloscope or logic analyzer to figure out the remote commands, but those tools costs thousands of dollars. Kylepdalton has a really good idea! Making the Arduino "listen" to record command could easily and cheaply done .

That got me thinking, crackzattic, what electronics tools do you have access too? Are you in a situation where you would have access to a oscilloscope? A variable power supply? Are you proficient at soldering? What is your programming background?
Edited by crimsontears809739 - 2/21/13 at 10:44am
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post #9 of 12
It comes with a regulated power supply. That big power brick is likely putting out the correct voltage but we would need a close up of what the power brick puts out. You can always measure the voltage at the unterminated end and see if that is close to what the power supply puts out. That controller box most likely is just outputting the control signal and not doing any further regulation.

It is also easy enough to connect a arduino on the tail end of the strip and connect the signal wires to it. Use the strip as intended and read the signals with arduino. No real need for an o-scope but it would be fun to play with.

Again without the things in my hand its hard to say exactly what they are but I wouldn't be surprised if you followed this guide (http://learn.adafruit.com/rgb-led-strips/overview) and substitute your included power supply then this would work.

You would still have to write a program with a IR receiver to use the remote though but that's not really hard.
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post #10 of 12
I read Kylepdaltons link. Yeah, that driver with the MOSFET's is the simplest design possible. Much simpler than buying and assembling a fully featured LED driver.

(referring to the link) I would make some changes if you value your Ardunio. That design is a bit reckless. There is a lot of bad practices in that design....

1.) I definitely would not run the +12V and ground for the MOSFETs through the Ardunio. I would connect the power and ground for the MOSFETS directly to the battery. Your LED strip draws 2 amps, and the traces on the PCB of the Ardunio are probably rated for somewhere close to 1/4 an amp. This would could cause the Ardunio's PCB to heat up unnecessarily, and eventually burn up the traces in the Ardunio. Even worst, if the MOSFET's short out they will draw maximum current through your Ardunio, possibly destroying it. It's best to try and keep your high power circuitry as separated from your low power circuitry as much as possible.

2.) I would put optoisolators/optocouplers between the MOSFETs and the Arduino. Tiny teeny voltage spikes can eventually break down the gate of the MOSFET. Eventually, the MOSFET might fail and become a short or an open. When this happens, it will send a surge of power back through your Ardunio which could damage or destroy it. I know this, because I work in a RMA department repairing PCBs and every day I see how failed MOSFETs can easily destroy circuits. They even sell special optoisolators with a very strong drive made specifically for switching MOSFETs!

3.) I would put a fuse between the battery and +12V into the MOSFETS. As mentioned earlier, when MOSFETS fail they can short out. If you short out a battery long enough, it will destroy that battery and if left unattended can eventually lead to the battery exploding or leaking battery acid. You need a method of shutting off the power if the MOSFETs fail. You might even want to put a fuse between the battery and Ardunio, but that might overkill. But, a fuse between the battery and the MOSFET's is a must.

4.) I definitely would put a capacitor (or several capacitors) to smooth ripple between the battery and the MOSFET. A battery is going to have a bit of a hard time providing that much current, and the LED's will be very demanding. You don't ripples in your power supply to the MOSFETS or LED's which will lead to them failing. Or even worst, ripples due to the noise of the MOSFETs switching damaging your Ardunio. Again, we need to make sure the high power circuitry is separated from the low power circuitry as much as possible.
Edited by crimsontears809739 - 2/22/13 at 10:25am
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