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Electronics Computer controlled lighting

Discussion in 'Modding' started by scifi3018, 13 Dec 2006.

  1. scifi3018

    scifi3018 Minimodder

    6 Feb 2005
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    So, assuming my search skills dont suck, i havent found any really usefull information here on this topic.

    Some quick background:
    Last night i replaced the nic in my computer (the onboard one crapped out), and while rummaging through my parts tub, i found all the EL wire and CCFL's i bought this summer for a project that never took off (the mobo i desinged it around died).
    I whipped them out, and hooked them up to a test psu and rigged up my desk to maximum pimp-ed-ness.
    The EL controller has a sound controlled setting, as does one of the CCFL inverters.
    The only problem is that no matter what the setting, they both flicker at a different rate (or maybe i suck at getting the sensitivitys right).

    So i got an idea :idea:

    But, being not experienced in this area, i need some help.

    My initial idea was: write a small program to read the sound stream, and do a 'filter' (i think thats what my friend called it). Which would basically send a pulse for every bass note.
    This signal could be output on the serial port (i got no parallel port, and the usb->parallel adapter is in use, though i suppose i COULD get another one...).
    And i could have something to interpert the signal and triger a relay to switch the 12v input power to the el wire box/ccfl box.
    This would ensure that they would trigger at the same time (the warm up times cant be that far apart...???)

    But then my mind got thinking, and stopping short of a completely automized house with centralized core and a warp drive....

    I thought that it would be nifty to have the program on the computer be GUI. The only thing... i know C, not C++, no basic, not java... i have no clue how to make a GUI in C (well, i know X11...), nor how to run C programs in windows (i use unix to program).
    Said GUI could control the CCFL/EL power states..
    IE On, off, sound
    Also, the program could set certain EL/CCFL's to be high, mid, or low activated...
    But then... my mind started ticking again (maybe this is why my boss says i shouldnt think... ;p )
    And i thought how cool it would be to also have the room lights controlled, so ive been looking at X-10 products (LIGHTON also)...
    And of course the insparation there was the Party Room

    Basically, if i can get the lights working, then in the future, i want the ability to expand and take over the world... i mean house...

    So to sum up:
    Q1. what do i program the GUI with
    Q2. How do i go about getting the sound stream into the program
    Q3. how would i write to the serial port
    Q4. what do i do on the other side (whatever is connected to the serial port)
    Q5. any hints/links?
  2. hydro_electric_655

    hydro_electric_655 Dremelly Dude

    13 Jul 2006
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    I heard CCFL startup time is actually rather High.
  3. scifi3018

    scifi3018 Minimodder

    6 Feb 2005
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    Nah, i can sit here and switch them on a off, and its rather instantaneous...

    And the sound function on the ccfl inverters works fine... it just doesnt sync with the EL's sound circuit...
    And its not computer controlled :)

    Another Idea: I have an ATI remote wonder II, and while im doing this, i might as well learn how to write a driver for the remote, and use the remote to controll the lights also!

    Another thought...
    would it be easier to make a 'server' type computer that would run the functions, then have my desktop access it via the lan?
    Or would that be harder...???

    [edit x2]
    Also, an acuall REASON for this, is so that the ccfl/elwire are flickering independant of the volume level...
    If i turn down the music to relax, i have to adjust the sensitivity, and then if i crank it, i have to turn it down...
  4. devenfore

    devenfore LANCandy

    8 Jul 2003
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  5. scoob8000

    scoob8000 Wheres my plasma cutter?

    17 Feb 2002
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    I think the EL wire may have a quicker response time then the CCFL and that could be the issue. They might be turning on at the same time, the EL just turns on quicker..

    A LED light bar might be more on par than a CCFL..
  6. Stuey

    Stuey You will be defenestrated!

    20 Jan 2005
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    Although I don't know the answers to the questions, I really want to see where this is going.

    Hehe, I wonder where you got that remote from. :D
    I hope you're enjoying it and I'm glad about the prospect that it might be used in such a creative way.

    *Goes away to play with EL wire and cathodes*

    El wire lights up instantaneously. My inverter makes a whining sound, however, and that worries me.

    Cathodes light instantaneously but it takes a little bit of time for them to warm up, or at least UV ones. I tried blue ones and they have maximum intensity the moment they're turned on.

    Instead of controlling them separately, how about controlling a molex which splits up and goes to the various light sources. You can always use a separate sound-sensitive sensor to switch the master power on, sending current through to all the light sources simultaneously.

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