REN64

The REN64 controller accepts RENARD input and drives 64 channels via external SSRs.

The sales and support thread for the REN64 can be found (TBA)




Features

  • Low voltage AC input (7V AC) (via screw terminals)
  • 16 x RJ45 outputs for external SSRs
  • multiple firmware options: RENARD or DMX protocols
  • firmware can be configured for PWM or non PWM operation
  • Single PCB
  • Supplied as a bare board (from wjohn) or as a kit from WLC Store Link
  • Upgradeable firmware

Overview


Renard is the name of a computer-controlled, PIC-based dimmer scheme, and also refers to dimming controllers that people have built based on this scheme. The designs all use mid-range PIC micro-controllers, are generally modular in units of eight channels (dimmable circuits), and use medium-speed, daisy-chainable, one-direction serial communications for input. Renard controllers do not have stand-alone show sequencing capabilities, and rely on a separate computer (usually a PC) to send it real-time sequences of dimmer commands.

This design was originally described by Phil Short. Since then various people have designed and built controllers based on this hardware, and there are likely to be coop buys of one or more of these designs. Renard is strictly a DIY, hobbyist effort at this time, with no commercial products available (either software or hardware). You will need to assemble the controller.

The Renard 64 is a PIC microcontroller based Christmas light controller designed to be used with external Solid State Relays or SSRs. For some reason, many people view the Renard 64 as an "advanced" board. I could not disagree more. This is a very basic, easy to assemble board. And, with the channel LEDs, gives you instant feedback on what should be going on with your lights. T

Now, why build a Renard 64XC controller vs. all the other Renard Designs? Well, the Renard 64XC control system is a "star" type system. This means, that the main controller stays in a central location while the SSRs are on the tips of the "spokes". The real savings in this layout is in the power cables. Most of the channel power cables are very short. This system is very good for widely spaced display items with small groups of channels in one area like mini-trees.



Another advantage of the REN64 over other controllers is the option to use AC or DC SSRs at the same time, on the same controller. While some controllers can have AC or DC, the REN64, can have separate SSRs configured for AC 120V, DC 12 V and DC 24; all on the same controller - FLEXIBILITY.

Firmware Versions

There are several different versions of the Renard Firmware available.

The first ('regular' or Non-PWM) version sends out a 30 uS low-going pulse (about 36 uS in areas with 50 Hz AC power), which is intended just to turn on the SSR at the right point in the AC cycle. This pulse is only long enough to activate the SSR, which then stays on by itself until the end of the AC cycle. The advantage of this version is that it draws the least amount of power from the +5V supply. The disadvantage of this version is that the current draw of AC-powered LED lights may be too low during certain parts of the AC power cycle to allow the opto/triac to stay on by itself. The current draw of each SSR output is about 6 mA, or 48 mA for 8 channels. However, the duty cycle of each SSR input is about 1:256, so the average current draw is about .18 mA (much less than the PIC itself).

The next (PWM) version of the firmware sends out a variable width low-going pulse synchronized to the AC power cycle. The pulse starts at the same time as it would in the 'regular' version of the firmware, but lasts until the end of the AC cycle instead of turning off right away. The advantage of this version is that it can be used for dimming direct-drive LEDs (those without any SSRs involved), and will be better at dimming low-current lights with SSRs (including LED lights intended for AC operation). The disadvantage of this version is that it draws a lot more current from the +5V supply in the worst case. The current draw of each SSR output is still 6 mA (or 12 mA if there are status LEDs in parallel with the SSR), for a total of 48 mA (96 mA). The worst case duty cycle is now 100%, so the full 48 mA (or 96 mA) has to be accounted for.

The last (DC) version of the firmware is very similar to the PWM firmware, also sending out a variable-width pulse. However, this pulse is not synchronized to the AC power line, so there is no need to connect a zero-crossing signal to the controller.

Bill of Materials


Note: This BOM does not include a transformer, power cords or
connectors for the primary side of the transformer.

Code:
PCB
1  TBA                   Renard 64-Port PCB

Resistors

2  299-750-RC            750 Resistor, 1/8 W, Axial                  R1,R2
1  660-MF1/4DCT52R1200F  120 Resistor, 1/4 W, Axial                  R3
3  299-27K-RC            27K Resistor, 1/8 W, Axial (RS485 pull)     R5,R8,R14
2  299-1K-RC             1K Resistor, 1/8 W, Axial (RS485 series)    R4,R7
1  299-330-RC            330 Resistor, 1/8 W, Axial (for power LED)  R19
 
Capacitors

1  667-ECA-1CM682        6800 uF, 16V Radial-Lead Elect. Cap         C1
8  80-C322C104K5R        0.1 uF Radial-lead Ceramic Capacitor        C3-C10
1  647-UVR1C470MDD       47 uF, 16V Radial-Lead Elect. Cap           C2

Diodes
4  625-1N5817-E3         Schottky Diode (20V, 1A)                    D1-D4
1  78-1N5229B            4.3v 0.5w Zener                             D5
1  78-1N5239B            9.1v 0.5w Zener                             D6
1  604-WP7104GT          T1 Green LED                                D7

Connectors

2  571-5520251-4         AMP Modular Jacks, Right Angle              J3, J4
16 571-5556416-1         AMP Modular Jacks, Vertical PCB mount       J5-16, J18-21
1  636-182-009-213R531   *Norcomp DE9 Female Rt Angle D-sub Conn     J22
8  575-199314            14 Pin Low Profile IC Socket                U7-U14
1  538-22-03-2021        Molex PCB Header 2-pin                      JP1
1  151-8000              2-Pin Shunt                                 JP1
1  538-39890-0302        2 Position Terminal (replaces Tab1/2)       Tab1/Tab2
2  571-1-390261-2        8 Pin Economy IC Socket                     U4, U5
1  571-1-390261-1        6 Pin Ecomony IC Socket                     U6

ICs

1  511-L4940V5           Regulator, LDO, 5V, 1.5A                    U1
1  532-577102B00         *Heat Sink                                  U1
2  511-ST485BN           RS485 Connectors                            U4,U5
1  782-H11AA1            Optoisolator                                U6
8  579-PIC16F688-I/P     PIC16F688, DIP14, Industrial Temp           U7-14

Oscillator
1 520-TCH1843-X          Oscillator, 18.432 MHz, 5V, 8-DIP           U3

Optional (if per/port LEDs are desired...However, these are also used as the Diagnostic
LEDs as well...STRONGLY SUGGESTED)

64 859-LTL-403G          *LEDs, Rectangular, Green    
8  652-4608X-1LF-680     *Resistor Network, 680 Ohm, 8-Pin, Bussed    R10-13, R20-23
8  299-680-RC            *Resistor, 680 Ohm, 1/8W                     R15-18, R24-27
  • Items marked (*) are optional and up to the user. However, they are strongly encouraged.

BOM For Mouser

This link, Mouser REN64XC BOM , is to a live REN64XC bill of materials already loaded into Mouser's system. You just need to put it in your shopping cart.

AC Power


The board is designed to be powered with a 6.3VAC, 1A transformer, providing both power and a zero-crossing signal at the same time.

In the USA/ 120 VAC locations, one potential transformer for this application is the Xicon 41FD010 transformer (mouser p/n 41FD010), a 120 VAC to 6.3 VAC transformer

In the AUS/ 240 VAC locations, one potential transformer for this application is the Jaycar P/No: M2155L, a 240 VAC to 6.3 VAC transformer

Computer Setup


Data Cable connection - PC to REN64
:The Standard connection for a PC to a RENARD 64 board will be via a Serial port on the PC, to either the RJ IN or RS-232 DB9 connector.​
Code:
 PC DE9 Pin 3 to Renard 64XC JDP1 Pin 3
 PC DE9 Pin 5 to Renard 64XC JDP1 Pin 5
Code:
 PC DE9 Pin 3 to RJ45-pin 4
 PC DE9 Pin 5 to RJ45-pin 5 and pin 1 and/or pin 2
VIXEN Settings
:The Renard 64 board requires the Renard Dimmer [Vixen 1.1.*] or Renard Dimmer (modified) [Vixen 2.*] Plug-In.​
:Renard Dimmer Plug-In Settings:
:::*Protocol Version: 1
::*COM1 (or whichever COM port you are connected to)​
:::*Baud: 57600 (default firmware value, if firmware is changed then this needs to be changed to match the firmware)
::*Parity: None​
:::*Data bits: 8
::*Stop bits: One​
:::*Hold port open during the duration of the sequence execution: Checked

Connection to SSRs


The RENARD64 is designed to work with any compatible SSR design. These include AC and DC variants.

AC SSRs

SSRez. This is a 4 channel SSR designed for AC loads. The board can be configured for AC voltages from 12 to 240 V AC. The current version is 1.3e and designed to fit into a TA-200 enclosure, and includes indicators on the Controller side (LED) and Switching Side (Neon), and fuse protection.​

DC SSRs

DC SSR. This board is 4 channel SSR designed for DC loads. the current version is 1.2 and designed to fit into a TA-200 enclosure, and includes indicators on the Controller side (LED) and fuse protection.​

Connection of the SSR to the RENARD64 is via CAT5 cables.

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