Computerized Lighting Effects (cheapish)

For a long time i've wanted to have a decent way to automate lights and whatnot for parties, DJ'ing etc. But I never wanted to spend a lot of money. Off the bat I know i could have done this all from scratch using traditional outlets, a project box etc, but i wanted something that looked a little cleaner so i figured i could find a product that met me half-way.

The Hardware! ($99 not bad)

So here is my solution, it is rack mountable, and seems simple enough, lets just throw some relays inline with the momentary buttons and call it a day!

Uh Oh this looks messy and purposefully obfuscated

Ok Seems like im going to have to figure out what is going on first, there is quite a mess of wires, and its looking like the momentary switches have 4 contacts, wtf is up with that?

I decided to take to my whiteboard and map this nonsense out

After a bit of poking around with my multimeter, and following wires carefully (why did they make 90% of them black!) i figured out that both the switch and the momentary button used a double pole, single throw for positive and ground.

Modifying this unit seemed like it was going to be a real hassle, I would need to add a STDP relay for each channel and it didn't seem like there was much room for that so i started re-thinking my strategy. Specifically I wondered how this thing communicated with it's outlet box. There was a db-9 connector, and i didn't see any ADA converters anywhere, could this be as simple as i suspected?

The Link Port!

As it turns out it really was this simple, 8 of the 9 pins just provided an 18v power source, and the last pin was the ground. From here my plan was pretty simple, I'd just have to find a way to make all the buttons and switches single pole, and replicate their serial hookup elsewhere.

Next Stop amazon

First I bought a straight DB9 cable, one end female, and the other male, this would be perfect for jumping in between the controller and outlet relay pack. I also purchased a usb controlled relay board. This would allow me to control the 18v lines wired to the other set of relays.

Time To re-solder

I Removed the ground pole, and switched each switch to a single pole, turns out the reason for this double pole nightmare is the capacitence of the controller line causes all the rocker switches to flash when a relay turns off, no biggie, mild visual annoyance.

More Problems

As it turns out my poor little relay board doesn't fit inside the controller. I was dreaming of a slick looking interface with a usb jack in the back, but it won't happen, so i have to improvise. My plan is to cut my serial cable in half, and copy their idea by soldering my serial cable to each switch's output and then the 9th will provide +18v. So esentially I'm just going to chain inline with the controller, and use it's powersource.

External Hookup

(Here is where i soldered up my serial cable it's the white wire coming out)

I forgot to take pictures of me hooking up each relay to the other end of the serial cable, but it's pretty straight forward. nothing too crazy.

Finished Product

(Here i am installing rasbian on a raspberry pi for the next phase, software)