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Arduino controlled 32 channel mains light dimmer

Controlling mains light with microcontroller is fairly easy. A simple mechanical relay can do the job. For more advanced approach, there can be Solid State Relays (SSR) used. But what about controlling 32-lamps. Jaanus decided to build programmable 32-channel light dimmer that could be controlled from computer. He used Arduino which controls an array of solid state arrays to switch lights. SSR’s already have zero crossing detectors and optical isolation. So they are safe to be controlled directly with microcontrollers. Light dimmer accepts simple commands from USB virtual serial port, where each channel can be turned on or off. So it can be programmed to do some fancy patterns or simply can be integrated in home automation. Project details are available on GitHub. Continue reading

Arduino controlled aquarium light

This one is a totally different project from my perspective. It is a home build lighting solution for your aquarium. Apart from being made at home, it’s cheaper alternative to the costly lighting solution available.  The lighting is with the help of simple RGB leds, which are controlled using some real time clocks from Maxim. The clocks uses SPI to send and receive signals.  All the system is controlled using an Arduino and all the system is powered by a laptop power source. A good thing about it is that the complete software is complete configurable using software. With the help of it, you can change the led’s fading time and also the PWM speed. In short everything is configurable using the software. It also includes user input sanity checking and if the input makes no sense it will print a help page which will list all the possible commands.  The code is working without and flaw since the beginning of the project. A must try if you have an aquarium at home. Continue reading

Automatic light controller looks at sunset time

If you use standard automatic light controller then you know that it is mechanical clock based switch or electronic with ambient light detector. Mechanical one require regular time adjusting since sunset time variates during year. Second one would be OK – it senses darkness with LDR and then turns on the lights. But things happen, LDR may get covered with objects or simply dark clouds my trigger the lights. Anyway there is another solution – smart clock that keeps track of sunset times. Paulo decided to build lighting timer using sunset and sunrise time calculating algorithm. So lights are turned on time no matter what season is currently on. Additionally Arduino based devices is equipped with 7 segment display, couple push buttons for setting time, battery backed RTC. Lights are turned on by using mechanical relay. Continue reading

Day Night Switch using an Arduino

Electric lights are installed to supplement the amount of light in a location if the naturally present light from the sun or the moon is insufficient. In simple terms we need to turn on the light when its dark. It would be too much hassle to turn on lights when it’s dark and turn them off if sufficient light is available, however tedious this is still the most efficient way of using energy – turning things off when not needed. To alleviate the problem of turning thing on and off Garrett Fogerlie built this solar day night controller using a light panel driver and of course the ever famous arduino. Garrett used a light dependent resistor (LDR) to detect the intensity of light by feeding the potential in the resistor-LDR voltage divider to the arduino’s ADC. The firmware will then decide whether to turn on or off the lights – neat huh? Most day night switches are built without a microcontroller but they need calibration, the use of an arduino in this project greatly simplifies construction while also reducing trial… Continue reading