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Thread: Idea: Inflatables and their spots with 1 channel

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    Toymaker/Delivery Guy Santa Shannon's Avatar
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    Default Idea: Inflatables and their spots with 1 channel

    So, here's my situation:
    • I like to have my inflatables up during the day and into the night, but not all night.
    • And, I like to have spots on them since most are pretty dimmly self-illuminated, but I certainly don't want the spots on during the day or overnight when the inflatables are down.
    • And I'm too cheap to burn two channels of control, one for the inflatables and one for the spots.

    Well, It just dawned on me that if I split the outlet that controls the inflatables and plug a photosensitive stake into it to control the spots, I can set it to the dusk-to-dawn mode and anytime the inflatables are on and the sensor is dark the spots will turn on, and if it's light they won't. I know, pretty simple stuff but I love it when I can find a way to use old stuff to accomplish new tasks. So my inflatables go up every morning about 5am, the spots come on until dawn, the spots come on again at dusk and stay on until the inflatables deflate about 11pm. And yes, I know I am probably pushing the amp limit for that channel, so I will probably get a relay installed before breaking out the big (and plentiful) Christmas inflatables, but it's working fine with the small Halloween ones for now. Of course, the relay would allow me to isolate that whole load to a third circuit, freeing the full 40 amps for the rest of the display.
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    Professional Net Lurker Jack Stevens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Idea: Inflatables and their spots with 1 channel

    Shanta -

    It sounds like you hit one of those head-slapping "DOH!" moments there.

    Taking a note from Don Williams; the main load on that circuit is likely to be inductive due to the inflatable's fan motor. Put a couple of C9's right at that motor, if you can, to suppress the inductive kickback that could potentially kill the channel's triac. Why two? Don says just in case one burns out and you don't notice it in time. The inflatable's lights may be enough but I would still consider adding the light bulb just as a preventative measure.

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    Professional Net Lurker Jack Stevens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Idea: Inflatables and their spots with 1 channel

    @Don Williams -

    Are those snubber lights supposed to go close to the load or close to the controller? I'm thinking the load, but after pondering for a while, I don't really remember which you said.

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    This space for rent. Al in Raleigh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Idea: Inflatables and their spots with 1 channel

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Stevens View Post
    @Don Williams -

    Are those snubber lights supposed to go close to the load or close to the controller? I'm thinking the load, but after pondering for a while, I don't really remember which you said.
    Transient suppression modules (in this case a light bulb) should be inserted into the circuit as close to the transient generator (motor or coil) as possible. The reason is that transients generate a high voltage spike which can be as much as 10-20K volts but has small energy. When the high voltage is placed onto a piece of wire the wire itself has resistance and capacitance. Placing the low resistance light bulb further down the wire increases the overall resistance of the total transient suppressor impedance which has an associated voltage drop. A high voltage spike on a small resistance can still be a fairly high voltage drop that allows the capacitance in the wire with the associated voltage drop to be felt the entire length of the wire. Thus, if you make the transient suppressor as small as possible the lowest voltage is felt over the entire length of wire which ultimately means the voltage makes it to the solid state output device which in this case is the triac. An metal oxide varistor (MOV) of the correct voltage will do the same as a light bulb but is more expensive. The MOV will out live many light bulbs and will have a smaller footprint,and no unwanted light. But matching an MOV to a circuit can be quite tricky since MOVs are rated in DC voltage and the peak voltage of the AC plus voltage source tolerancing comes into play. Furthermore, the energy absorption of an MOV can be a treat all to itself to properly size. So, a light bulb is an excellent alternative.
    Al

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    Havin fun ! kidcole's Avatar
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    Default Re: Idea: Inflatables and their spots with 1 channel

    I think a Solid State Relay is in order. There is too much at stake with blowing controller channels to not have one. We have lots of posts showing how to make one and <i think> Don's presentation is posted somewhere from the last Convention.

    Also, I have replaced all the C7 incandescent bulbs inside my blowups with the C7 LED replacement bulbs. And I also found that the Bright White (also called Cool White) LED replacement bulbs work the best. Although I hate the Cool White look when the bulbs or strings are exposed to direct view. I have found that Cool White has the most impact inside items such as inflatables (and BlowMolds).

    Also keep in mind that if you have more than one Inflatable to control, you can stack all of the SSR "control" plugs on one channel of a controller .. but at the same time each one can be a home run to its own power circuit. Or they can be grouped. I am running two inflatables on one circuit (motor side) without problems. I've never bothered to read the startup current to see how many I could actually power on one power outlet .. but I know 2 of them work nicely together ..

    If you run your inflatable motors with SSRs and change the bulbs inside to LEDs .. you will be really happy with the look and the control. Later when you have some extra channels you could then split out the two, so you can perform DIMMing and light effects for the inflatable(s) ...
    Thanks,

    Denny Cole
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/Cole...ristmasLights/

    Back to Work <unretired> so I went Static in 2017. Planning xLights when I retire <again>. Maybe 2019 ?

    Falcon - 3 F16V3 & 1 PiCap, Sandevices - 2 E681 & 4 E6804, 288 Channels Lynx Express, 108 Channels DC DMX,
    10' Pixel MegaTree, CoroFlakes w/Pixel Modules, Pixel RBLs, 2 Pixel Matrix 16x25, 10" RGB Ornaments, 7x230 Pixel Icicle Matrix,
    Classic 20' AC Megatree, TIR Destiny RGB Spots, RGB Blowmolds, Wireframes, and Inflatables with External Light Control

  6. #6
    Registered User Don Williams's Avatar
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    Default Re: Idea: Inflatables and their spots with 1 channel

    Hey Guys,

    Try to put the snubber bulb close to your load. Here is some of my experiences . The snow machine and external blower
    I am 25' from the snubber and have had no problems. On the strobes I am hitting a snubber just after the controller. Fans and
    smoke machines, the snubber is located at the load. Large motors which I have use for years I try to locate the snubber
    as close to the load as I can. This year our flying angel is working perfectly and I control it with a 1 HP winch and the snubber is
    next to the winch. If any of you come out to the display this year I will be glad to show the setup. The snubber and relays
    are located with in an enclosure. Al did mention a good point. Always check your bulbs. I replace mind each season, but I still
    check them through out the season. I will be running about 20 snubber circuits this year. A LOT OF MOTORS !

    Have a great lighting season everyone
    Don
    Lake Myra Christmas

  7. #7
    Toymaker/Delivery Guy Santa Shannon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Idea: Inflatables and their spots with 1 channel

    So, you'd recommend SSRs over coil relays (or contactors)? I was going to pick up a high amp contactor at the HVAC supply. Who'd have ever guessed blinky lights could be so complex!?
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    Registered User Don Williams's Avatar
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    Default Re: Idea: Inflatables and their spots with 1 channel

    I have used both with great success. Relays or contactors from HVAC outlets will work but will be pricey.
    I use relays from All Electronics | Electronic and Electro-Mechanical Parts and Supplies at Discount Prices which have a large group of low and high voltage relays.
    Most of the relays will cost you between 1.75 to 4.50 . SSR's are pricey . I notice on their site they
    have a 50 amp SSR for 25.00 .

    Back in the 90's I used all SSR's to control my complete display. ( time has really change) . So I have a good supply
    of 30 amp SSR's . You will find that 10 to 15 amp rated relays will handle almost anything
    in your display. I have used a 30 amp SSR to control my snow machines for years and still
    using the same relay.

    Always keep a few spares of mechanical relays on hand if you go that route. I have had a few
    to go bad but you can not beat the price. Maybe 4 to 6 relays in 10 years. (not Bad and I use
    a lot of relays)

    Now if you use low voltage relays and you do not have a DC board , you can always use a
    AC/DC transformer to power the relay but either case always use a snubber.

    Hope this help

    Don

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    This space for rent. Al in Raleigh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Idea: Inflatables and their spots with 1 channel

    Solid state relays (SSR) have semiconductor outputs very similar to AC controllers. A major difference is that most of them have a frequency tuned suppression filter or an MOV on the output. The suppressor is small and is intended to remove "flyback" as a last resort which means that you should still use transient suppression of some sort near the coil or motor. SSRs are exceptionally great for turning on electrical devices without contact bounce, however, as a rule they don't tolerate high inrush very well. Contact bounce occurs when the moving arm of the relay/contactor pulls in and the inertia of the arm causes it to bounce off opening the circuit for a short time interval. This "contact bounce" is not healthy for inductive devices like motors when opened and closed a great deal because of the additional inrush into the motor. Inrush with motors is unavoidable, but excessive inrush significantly reduces the life expectancy of the motor. This means if you are using a motor or something with inductive properties with lots of interruptions (opens and closes) your best bet is to use an SSR with an additional suppressor near the motor. Most relays are rated in hundreds of thousands of closures until you start adding inductive loads then the life expectancy rolls off exponentially. Most HVAC and other motor applications that use motors use relays/contactors to control the motor, however, the number of contact closures per day is relatively low thus making the relay/contactor last years.
    Al

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