Connect with us

12v LED Strobe Controller

Discussion in 'LEDs and Optoelectronics' started by highstandardz, Dec 2, 2012.

Scroll to continue with content
  1. highstandardz

    highstandardz

    9
    0
    Dec 2, 2012
    Hello Everyone,
    I am installing some strobe led lights on my truck for a plowing/emergency use. I have one controller now but wanting to make the leds to two different functions using one controller in my custom console. I have knowledge of: soldering, basic circuits, leds, and patients, lol. I want to build an "LED strobe controller that can handle a nice amount of led lights and have the ability to control two different patterns at the same time. Ex: wig-wag on one side and three alternating flash on the other. I also want to be able to control speed (mainly on the three alternating flash). I have search the net for some info but couldn't find much except single phase controllers lol. Any help would be great because I love to learn and build my own electronic circuits.
     
  2. KrisBlueNZ

    KrisBlueNZ Sadly passed away in 2015

    8,393
    1,271
    Nov 28, 2011
    Welcome to the electronics point forums!

    You need to provide more information.

    Can you draw a picture of how your LEDs will be arranged, and scan it and post it here.

    And write a description of how you want them to flash in each display mode. Look at it from the point of view of time periods. For example, in the first time period, you want only xxxx LEDs ON. Then in the second time period, you want only yyyy LEDs ON, then in the third time period, you want only zzzz LEDs ON, then it cycles back to the first time period. Something like that.

    Is there an LED panel on each side of the truck? Are there any more panels or LEDs you want to drive?

    How do you want them controlled? You said you want to be able to have different patterns on each side. Do you just want a switch for each side, to choose the pattern displayed on that side?

    What information do you have on the controller that you already have?

    Can you give us the part numbers for your LEDs, or at least the forward voltage specification for them, and tell us what current you want to run them at.

    Can you tell us how it will be powered. Presumably from an automotive battery supply. What voltage?

    Please provide ANY other info you can that relates to this project.

    I will be happy to advise you, and probably design a circuit for you, but I need a lot more information before I can even start. Please try to answer EACH of those questions thoroughly.
     
  3. highstandardz

    highstandardz

    9
    0
    Dec 2, 2012
    Thank you for the reply and request of information. Here is the information I know right now.

    The complete total of leds at this point is unknown. I have a truck sun visor that will hold 20 3xled pods, my reverse led bulbs (18 leds ea.), white led high beams (18 leds ea.), and so far four led big rig marker lights with about 18 leds in each one. Of course I want more lol. I want the grille/bumper lights (big rig markers) to wig-wag along with four sets of 3x led amber on the solar visor. Then I want the rest to alternate strobe three flashes on two different outputs.

    I am looking for something like:
    1 power on/off or if it gets 12v from a switch its on and going, 2 different flash patterns at the same time (wig-wag, strobe 3 times side A/strobe 3 times side B), variable speed for wig-wag and strobe flash separate if possible. The system is 12v. The led pods are set for 12v I just need to hook power and ground and they're on. As long as I have a great circuitry person help me with the circuit and parts, I can put them together lol.

    Basically, I want to take the two controllers I have and make them one with a better user control like variable speed. The controllers are a basic three mode setup from ebay. http://www.ebay.com/itm/54-LED-Whit...Parts_Accessories&vxp=mtr&hash=item3f19cf2ad2
     
  4. KrisBlueNZ

    KrisBlueNZ Sadly passed away in 2015

    8,393
    1,271
    Nov 28, 2011
    OK. I'd say you should probably replace the existing controller with a single one that can generate the patterns you want.

    So the LEDs are already mounted and wired into these pods, and each pod just needs 12VDC across it to light the LEDs, right? In that case, we can treat these pods as "black boxes". It would be useful to know how much current each pod draws. Are there any markings on the pods?

    Do you have a multimeter? What test equipment do you have?

    Are the LED pods wired individually to the controller? Is there a twin wire to each pod? Is the controller a separate box?

    The way I see this working is for the controller to have several outputs, which you wire the LED pods to. All of the LED pods that are wired to a single output are controlled together, and will always be ON together, and OFF together.

    The different patterns will all be created by the controller generating different ON/OFF patterns on its outputs.

    The controller will operate internally by stepping through a specific number of steps. For each step, the controller will activate a specific output, or outputs. As the controller steps through the steps, the pattern of activations on the output will cycle through the steps of the pattern.

    Each pattern may have a different number of steps. The speed at which it switches from one step to the next would be adjustable, and the mapping between steps and outputs will be selectable (with a switch). All of these features can be done with simple logic circuits.

    In the real world, it would all be done by a microcontroller, which would have the patterns programmed into it. This would make the circuitry a lot simpler, but obviously requires you to program a microcontroller. Do you have any programming experience? If not, it's probably best to do it with logic circuitry such as the CMOS 4000 series, which is what I will use if I design a circuit.

    I don't know what a "wig-wag" is, and "strobe three flashes on two different outputs" is not a clear enough description to tell me what you want. You need to describe exactly how you want the controller outputs to behave on each step of the sequence. Each step will have the SAME DURATION. For example:

    Sequence step . . 1 . . 2 . . 3 . . 4
    Output 1 . . . . . . .off . on . on . off
    Output 2 . . . . . . .on . on . off . off
    Output 3 . . . . . . .off . off . off . on

    That's probably not a useful sequence, but it shows the way you need to think when you're defining each seqence for the controller.

    Also you need to think about whether any sequence needs any special features, such as a short flash on the LEDs (rather than the LEDs being ON for the full length of the step) or brightness fade-up or fade-down, or anything other than a simple ON/OFF control based on the step number.

    The word "strobe" to me implies short flashes, rather than LEDs being ON for the whole duration of the step. If that's true, you need to say so.

    Also, can you point me to a YouTube video showing a display like the one you want?

    You also need to define how your controller will be controlled. Imagine the control panel for it. What switches would it have? Would it have a potentiometer to control the speed? Only one, or more than one?

    Does it need signals from the vehicle? You mentioned reversing lights. Will these be driven by a vehicle signal? Will this be independent of the other control, with no need for interaction, or will the reversing signal need to come into the controller and be combined with other control signals to control those LED pods?

    I'm not happy with the level of detail in your descriptions. This is a common problem with requests on these forums, so you're not alone! But a lack of detail in the specification usually causes a lot of unnecessary wasted time, and since we're all volunteers, we want to minimise that as much as possible.

    I would like you to go through this post, and my previous post, point by point, and respond to each paragraph, and each question, as best you can. Even if your response is just "I understand" or "That sounds OK".
     
  5. highstandardz

    highstandardz

    9
    0
    Dec 2, 2012
    Different experiences are different views lol. Sorry for the miscommunication.

    A 'wig-wag" is lights flashing back and forth one time between each other.
    A normal strobe (just as emergency use) flashes fast three times then the other three time.

    I have a Fluke 87III multimeter that I love to use. The pods are 3 leds diodes that 3 pods were wired to one plug from the original controller but have resistors in each pod for 12 volts. I will check the voltage and current tomorrow if needed.

    The controller (as I disassembled it) has the total of six output wires (three per side) to control the leds in its own three different patterns. The connectors out of it are soldered to the same spot per side. It is like the pods are all set to 12v.

    If I have to run two controller and use one main switch. I could tape the mode button down and leave the power button on, then have one 12v switch to turn both boxes on and hide the boxes within the console.
     
  6. KrisBlueNZ

    KrisBlueNZ Sadly passed away in 2015

    8,393
    1,271
    Nov 28, 2011
    Yeah LOL. But the miscommunication isn't over yet :)
    That's still FAR too vague for me.
    You need to define what you want in terms of the steps of a sequence, as I showed you.

    I'm sorry if you find it difficult, but you really WILL have to read my responses carefully, step-by-step, and try to respond to each question and paragraph. I am not kidding about this. I have wasted a LOT of time designing circuits for people who have not clearly specified their requirements, and I'm forced to make a lot of assumptions which often turn out to be wrong.
    Yeah, I had a Fluke 27 and it was great. You're lucky to have one.
    Oh don't worry, it IS needed!

    OK I understood the last part :)
    Three per side - what do you mean?

    Can you take a photo of several pods (front and back), AND the inside of the controller, and upload them here. I'm not kidding about this.

    Again this is far too vague. I will try to guess at what you want, then describe it back to you, when I get some more time to work on this project.

    Of course, if you think I'm asking too much, you can try to get someone else here to help you. There are many kind, knowledgeable and helpful people here, and I won't be offended at all. But really, you have to be MUCH clearer with your descriptions.

    Photos, diagrams, and video clips are a good way to convey a lot of information quickly and easily.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012
  7. BobK

    BobK

    7,682
    1,688
    Jan 5, 2010
    "Wig Wag" and "three times fast" are not precise terms. What Kris is asking for is what we call a timing diagram in electonics. This shows, on a graph, the behaviour of each signal of interest. You do not have to get that formal, I will try to interpret what I think you are saying, and then perhaps you can correct it.

    You have two sets of lights, call them LL and RL (for left light and right light).

    strobe wig wag
    LR: on 10ms off 490ms
    RR: off 490ms on 10ms

    strobe

    LR: on 10ms off 10 ms on 10ms off 10ms on 10m off 10ms
    RR (same)

    Bob
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012
  8. highstandardz

    highstandardz

    9
    0
    Dec 2, 2012
    Thats a pretty good interpretation. Sorry for the lack of full electronic knowledge. I know a bit, and love to learn. lol. I rewire and design wiring circuits for custom auto use but never had made a controller, if thats not obvious lol.

    I just got home tonight, and I am working on getting the current draws for them, and some pics/vids for the pattern style I want.

    Thank you both for helping me with learning more and being patient with me!
     
  9. highstandardz

    highstandardz

    9
    0
    Dec 2, 2012
    Ok, I am trying to get more details posted. lol

    The 3xLED pods (20 pods plus may add more later)
    12V
    0.60 M Ohms
    0038 mA current

    The semi truck marker lights (4 total)
    12V
    0060 mA current

    Patterns
    Wig-Wag - Variable speed or 10ms time
    Side A: on-off-on-off-on-off....
    Side B: off-on-off-on-off-on.....
    Stobes - Variable speed knob to adjust the three times flash
    Side A: on-on-on-off-off-off-on-on-on-off-off-off......
    Side B: off-off-off-on-on-on-off-off-off-on-on-on......

    Controller plan
    12V input
    Able to have one power switch or button to turn on both output styles at the same time.
    Variable adjustable knob for each output style or at least the strobe pattern

    Here is some pictures and video of the led pods and the patterns.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Strobe Pattern
    [​IMG]
    Wig-Wag Pattern

    Thank you for your input!
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2012
  10. highstandardz

    highstandardz

    9
    0
    Dec 2, 2012
    Here is a quick drawing of the idea of light placement. Sorry its not my best drawing, but I wanted to get it shared quickly with you.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2012
  11. KJ6EAD

    KJ6EAD

    1,114
    159
    Aug 13, 2011
    Whelen Engineering has an online flash application that may help with visualization and description of flash patterns.

    http://www.whelen.com/_AUTOMOTIVE/media/flash_patterns/index.htm

    The alternating (left/right) triple flash is a proven attention getter that's used in the classic "police lights" circuit. Below is one of several variants. I redrew this one with breadboard friendly wire color coding.

    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 3, 2012
  12. highstandardz

    highstandardz

    9
    0
    Dec 2, 2012
    Thats a pretty cool link. I love Whelen lights but just can afford them lol.
     
  13. KrisBlueNZ

    KrisBlueNZ Sadly passed away in 2015

    8,393
    1,271
    Nov 28, 2011
    [​IMG]

    Here's a design for you to look at.

    I've split it up into modules. Starting at the top right corner is the DC input conditioning circuit. You will need one of these to clean up the 12V supply from the vehicle, which can have interference and large surges on it, which can cause misoperation and/or damage.

    The VDD and VSS arrows on the left of this module supply power to the logic ICs (in the modules at the left). Each IC must have a decoupling capacitor, 0.1 uF ceramic, connected between its VDD and VSS pins as close as possible to the IC. These are not shown on the schematic but you DO need them, to prevent glitches and incorrect operation. They are especially important in electically noisy environments, which yours is.

    Below that is a single LED driver. It can drive at least ten LED pods in parallel (you said that each one draws 38 mA). Obviously, all the LED pods that you connect to a single driver will all have the same display, i.e. they will all be ON at the same time, and OFF at the same time. In your application, you will need TWO of these LED pod drivers.

    The main switching device is an N-channel MOSFET. I have listed three alternatives, all of which are very cheap. The first suggestion is definitely the best. MOSFETs need to be handled carefully because they are sensitive to static electricity. Google for guidelines on handling MOSFETs.

    The three modules on the left generate control signals for the LED pod drivers. The first one generates the "strobe" pattern, but I designed it before I saw KJ6EAD's suggestion, which is probably better. The second one generates the same pattern as KJ6EAD's circuit. The third one generates the "wig-wag" pattern.

    Each of these signal generator modules has two outputs, one for "left" and one for "right", which you need to connect to your LED driver modules. I haven't shown any switch selection to let you choose between patterns, because I don't have a clear understanding of what you want to do. I thought I would give you these ideas and let you play around with them, then when you can explain exactly what you want, I can add circuitry to do it.

    The circuitry is based around CMOS CD4000-series ICs. These are an old technology but are still readily available from Digikey or Mouser, and possibly your local electronic parts shop. In the schematic, some ICs (CD4013 and CD4017) are shown as a single block that represents the IC and has the pins in the same order, but other ICs (the CD40106 and the CD4053) are shown as smaller symbols. These ICs contain several identical functions inside them, and in this diagram, I have shown these individual functions as separate elements. It is up to you to allocate these functions within the ICs you have.

    This might seem like an extra complication for you, but it makes it simpler if you want to add extra patterns later. If you're adding a circuit that needs one element from a CD40106, and you know that a CD40106 has six of those little symbols in it, and you have a spare element in a CD40106 in your design, you can allocate that to the new circuit.

    I expect you will want to prototype this on breadboard, with an adapter or small battery as a power supply. In that case, you don't need to make up the DC voltage conditioning circuitry - that's only needed when you're running it in the vehicle.

    If anything is unclear to you, feel free to ask.
     

    Attached Files:

  14. highstandardz

    highstandardz

    9
    0
    Dec 2, 2012
    Wow, you are awesome. That schematic help me learn a bit on the order and process of hows its works together. Thank you. The part on the left under the CD40106B to me looks like the control knob for controlling speed of the light flashing. Is that correct? Variable/adjustable resistor?

    [/QUOTE]The three modules on the left generate control signals for the LED pod drivers. The first one generates the "strobe" pattern, but I designed it before I saw KJ6EAD's suggestion, which is probably better. The second one generates the same pattern as KJ6EAD's circuit. The third one generates the "wig-wag" pattern.[/QUOTE]

    So you would recommend the second style strobe generator for a simpler assembly?

    Thank you again for your help.
     
  15. KrisBlueNZ

    KrisBlueNZ Sadly passed away in 2015

    8,393
    1,271
    Nov 28, 2011
    Right. I've shown it as a trimpot, or "preset potentiometer", which you adjust with a screwdriver. But you can also use a potentiometer with a knob.
    Yes, it's a bit simpler. The differences are:
    1. Circuit #1 flashes the LEDs FOUR times on each side; circuit #2 flashes them THREE times on each side; and
    2. Circuit #1 has a gap between the end of the last flash on one side, and the first flash on the other side; circuit #2 has no gap at that point.
    I don't know which one is a more accurate simulation of the video clip you posted, because the flashes are too fast to count accurately (too close to the frame rate of the video).
     
  16. KJ6EAD

    KJ6EAD

    1,114
    159
    Aug 13, 2011
    Nice work as usual Kris, options for alternating quad flash, alternating triple flash and alternating single flash all on one page.

    I am a little concerned that some of the LED pods may be designed to connect to ground when attached to the vehicle (non-isolated). I know you asked highstandardz about this but I'm not sure he gave a clear answer regarding all of them. Of course you know the implication, but for everyone else's benefit, it means that the low side (sinking) driver circuit would have to be changed to a high side (sourcing) driver. Even on units that have a separate ground wire, it's sometimes internally connected to the metal mounting flange, boss or bezel so it's best to check with an ohmmeter to be sure.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2012
  17. BobK

    BobK

    7,682
    1,688
    Jan 5, 2010
    Yes, nice circuits.

    But I can't help but make my usual comment: A single 8-pin PIC would replace all of the flashing control circuitry and allow for additional patterns, and sequences via programming.

    Bob
     
  18. KrisBlueNZ

    KrisBlueNZ Sadly passed away in 2015

    8,393
    1,271
    Nov 28, 2011
    KJ6EAD, thanks for your suggestion. I'm surprised to hear that the negative connection is sometimes internally connected to the mounting flange on these units. I guess if that's the case, the LED pods will all illuminate constantly, and he will know there's a problem.
    In this case, where his requirements are not clearly defined, I think it may be better to just give him a starting point and let him play around with the circuit, and become familiar with its characteristics and limitations, then revise it as necessary.

    BobK, I agree completely. All of the logic for varying the speed, varying the number of flashes, controlling the precise timing details, supporting different patterns on different sides of his truck, and adding new patterns, could be much more simply implemented in a small micro.

    I've discussed this before in another thread. The reason I've designed with discrete logic is that there's a significant learning curve getting into working with microcontrollers. The OP doesn't have much electronics experience; I think it's better to get something that works initially, without involving firmware development. If he continues to learn about electronics, he will probably move to microcontrollers and will then see the advantages of doing it that way.

    The other alternative would be for me to send him a pre-programmed device, but I'm not willing to go THAT far!
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2012
  19. BobK

    BobK

    7,682
    1,688
    Jan 5, 2010
    Sounds like a business opportunity to me.

    Bob
     
  20. KrisBlueNZ

    KrisBlueNZ Sadly passed away in 2015

    8,393
    1,271
    Nov 28, 2011
    Well, feel free to make him an offer :)
     
Ask a Question
Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?
You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.
Electronics Point Logo
Continue to site
Quote of the day

-