16 Dimmable Lights Controller

How I control 16 lights with my computer and dim each one individually at 255 levels.

Welcome to my Google Page.

This is a very simple webpage just to show you how you too can build a computer-controlled lights controller. The design is by a friend of mine, Christian Nöding. I do not take any credit for the schematics, these are all by him and can be found on his website (www.pcdimmer.de German and English).

First of all, this is not at all an easy project if you are just starting with electronics. This isn't simply a couple of relays attached to your parallel port. This controller allows you to dim up to 128 individual lamps (up to 1000watts each!) in 255 dimmable steps. Each board you make contains 8 outputs, so you will need to build 16 of these circuit boards if you want 128 lamps to control, and this is not cheap.

I have opted to build two of these boards, giving me 16 outputs for 16 lamps. I went to the shop and bought 16 colored 40watt lamps, which allows me to create quite a light show!

Christian  Nöding has also created free software to control your lamps with. He made it mainly for theaters, musicals, stage lights, etc., because it allows you to program "scenes". Then when you click a scene, all lamps fade to the state you want them in.

Each circuit board (1 for every 8 lamps) contains an Atmel AtTiny2313 microcontroller, so you will need to have a programmer to program it. Please visit www.pcdimmer.de for all the information you need including schematics.

Important: The design is for places that have 230V @ 50hz. Now I am afraid that the USA does not have this. I am sure the circuit and software can be modified, but do not ask me as I am not an expert.

I only have this site here to show people what it looks like. I built the entire thing inside an old computer case.

This is what it looks like. 16 outlets on top, status LEDs at front, power cable at the front and a connector plug at the front as well. Apologies for the slightly blurry image.


The top containing all the outlets. All 16 lamps have been plugged in at this moment.


The front. A single power cable on the left, power switch next to it. Ugly rectangular board contianing 20 status LEDs (first row is the first board, second row is second board. First yellow LED indicated board power, second yellow LED flashes when it receives a message from the computer, and 8 red LEDs indicate the status of the lamps. Each red LED corresponds to an outlet at the top.)


The inside view. Unfortunately, the boards had to be mounted upside down because it was easier to screw them to the wood that way. This means the components are on the other side and cannot be seen. I don't like this at all, I love to look at all the components, but there was no other way. All the orange wires go to the status LEDs (two wires per LED). The white cables lead to the outlets on the other side.


The 16 colored lamps (Each lamp is 40 watts).


I only had a 1.5meter serial cable, so I turned a long network cable into a long serial cable (Only two pins are needed, so you could use 2-wire cable instead of 8-wires)


And finally, a low quality movie showing the working of my lights controller.


If you have any questions, do not hesistate to contact me at sebs89 a_T gmAi|_ d0t C0M (Change that into a normal email address)