While these instructions are detailed - I cannot take responsibility for any harm or damages that may come to someone trying to follow them! Please seek professional help if you are not familiar with wiring 120VAC circuits.
As noted in the main page on computer Christmas lights, the digital output of the controller is 0 and +5vdc. In order to turn on 120vac lights, some sort of power control is needed. My choice for simple on/off function is a solid state relay (SSR). This is a single package containing a low amp triac and the needed circuitry to turn the triac on with anything from a low dc voltage. The units I have are manufactured by "electromedia" and are rated at 3amp AC and will turn on with a dc voltage range of +3v to +32v. I purchased 50 units for $75 from eBay.
Digital outputs on the controller are in groups of 8 - so building an enclosure with 8 SSRs and 8 controlled receptacles seemed to make sense. From Lowe's I purchased a blue plastic switch/receptacle box designed to handle 4 switches or duplex receptacles. This box is deep enough to hold the SSRs in the bottom without interfering with the receptacles. I also purchased a 9' extension cord rated at 15A and two dual receptacle face plates. A schematic of my octal SSR box is here.
I mounted the eight SSRs on to a piece of Vector Prefboard (106P106-1) that was 2"x5.25". This prefboard has a copper pad per hole making soldering of components easy. A six foot eight conductor (plus braided shield) wire was stripped on on end and one of each of the conductors was attached to the dc+ of the SSR. The shield was attached to the dc- of the first SSR, and another wire tied this to the rest of the SSRs dc-. A hole was drilled into each end of the plastic box (3/8" for the power cord and 3/16" for the control cable). after cutting off the receptacle end cut of the power cable, the cut end was feed through the end of the blue box. A few inches of the outer insulation was cut off, and then most of the insulation of the black wire (hot)was removed. The exposed portion of the black wire was tinned and then soldered to one side of each SSR. A length of #18 gauge wire was the soldered to the other side of each SSR. This wire will go to each receptacle. The control cable was feed through its hole and the prefboard with the SSRs was dropped into the bottom of the blue box. I marked on each cable where it passed through the box. I then put a wire tie about 1/2" further out to take up any strain placed by pulling on the cable.
On a standard receptacle there is a jumper located between the screws on each side. The purpose is to tie the top and the bottom of each receptacle together. Since we want a SSR to control one half of a receptacle, we must isolate the hot side of each receptacle. This is done by using a pair of pliers to break the jumper from the brass colored side of the receptacle - leave the silver colored jumper in place.
I connected the white wire of the power cable (neutral) to the one of the silver screws on the receptacle closest to the power cables entry point. Another white wire then is attached to the other silver screw. In the same way, the green ground from the power cable is attached - along with another ground wire - to the ground screw of the same receptacle. The black wires from the last two SSRs are connected (one to each of the brass screws on the receptacle. The next receptacle is put in place, with the next two SSRs black wires going to the brass screws, and the white and ground wires from the previous receptacle also being attached. Note that again, another wire is added to the ground so that it may feed to the next receptacle. Another white wire is added as well. This process is repeated for the next two receptacles. The only difference is that no additional white or ground wire be added to the last receptacle.
The receptacles are screwed in place. Next the covers must be measured and cut (I use a band saw) so they will both fit.
I placed a male DB9 on the end of the control cable to mate to the female DB9s on the controller.
Plugging everything in, including a few strings of lights, I fired up Vixen and ran the test program. Everything worked as it should - a good feeling!
One SSR box done, 7 to go.
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