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Introduction

Introducing the Pulsar Series Lighting controllers.  The Pulsar Series controllers are designed to offer an industrial grade light dimming solution with a heavy emphasis of connectivity to computers using a wide array of interface technologies.  Whether you need to control lights locally or from the other side of the planet, we have a solution available that offers flicker-free operation in an industrial design built to last many years.

The Pulsar Series controllers have many features that make them extremely easy to use.  They are designed for hardwired installation and are designed to operate every hour of every day.

The Pulsar Series controllers wait for a light dimming command.  When a command is received, the lights will fade or brighten according to your instructions.  The microprocessor that powers the Pulsar Series controllers takes advantage of interrupts to handle communications and Zero Cross Detection as well as 3 timer interrupts to handle a number of background operations.  At any given time, there are 6 programming threads that are operating together in perfect synchronization to ensure flicker- free operation.

The Pulsar Series controllers have 5 buffers that work together to handle your light dimming requests.  Buffer number one is used to immediately set the light level to the brightness you desire.  Buffer number two is what we call a migration buffer.  When a brightness level is stored in the migration buffer, the light levels will gradually change (automatically) to match the migration buffer level.  This is particularly useful if you want lights to fade on and off.  Instead of writing all the code to fade the lights on and off, you simply tell the second buffer what level you want the lights to migrate to.  Since the lights will fade automatically, your computer is free to service another task.

Buffers three and four are used to define how fast lights go on and off respectively, so lights can turn on instantly and fade out slowly.  You can use buffer five to set the on and off rate to the same speed (using one command).  This allows lights to fade on and off at the same rate.

You have 255 levels of brightness control at your disposal.  A brightness level of 0 is off and a value of 1 is very dim (and 254 is full brightness).  You can change the AC timing characteristics so that 1 is extremely dim (ideal for LED lighting applications) or so that 1 is an actual useable brightness (for incandescent lighting application).  We have included 3 profiles to help get you started, and you can change our settings to match the types of lights you intend to control.

Just for fun, we added a few lighting effect to help us test out the speed of the microprocessor (requires a controller with 3 or more channels to see the lighting effects).  The Pulsar Series controllers are not designed for stage lighting applications, as DMX controllers are better suited for lighting effects.  And while we are on the subject of DMX…. (We know we are going to get this question a lot)….so here goes…..

No DMX!

First, it should be stated that we are huge fans of DMX!  DMX is a wonderfully mature standard and is the best choice for many lighting effect applications.  However, the Pulsar Series light dimmers are not compatible with DMX software or hardware.  It is not likely that we will ever make any devices compatible with DMX technologies, as we have a very different goal in mind.  We believe DMX to be a wonderful standard, and there are many manufacturers to choose from who offer mature DMX light dimming solutions.  So if you need DMX compatibility, the Pulsar Series controllers should not be considered.  If you need a wide range of connectivity options, or if you need control of your lights from anywhere in the world, we hope you will consider the Pulsar Series controllers.

Compatibility

Pulsar Series controllers are available for AC or DC lighting applications.  This guide covers both AC and DC versions as the firmware is very similar for both versions (even the lighting effects are essentially the same).  The biggest difference between AC and DC versions are the frequency of pulse width modulation.  The frequency will affect the speed of some operations, as does the number of channels of the controller.  A certain level of experimentation will be necessary if you are migrating your software from one version to another.  The command set is the same for both versions.  AC versions have a few additional settings that affect AC timing characteristics.

The DC Pulsar Series controllers operate at 245Hz with 8-Bit duty cycle from 0 to 254 brightness levels.  The frequency of 245Hz was chosen very carefully.  We needed to keep the frequency as low as possible to reduce heat and maximize efficiency, but we needed to keep the frequency fast enough that the human eye could not perceive any flickering effect, even on extremely bright DC LED Lighting.  We chose 245Hz as the operating frequency because it offers a nice balance of low-heat and zero perceptible flicker.

The AC Pulsar Series controllers ONLY function at 120VAC at 60Hz.  These devices are NOT compatible with 254VAC or 50Hz operating frequencies at this time.  Pulsar Series controller have been tested with LED and incandescent lighting technologies. Pulsar Series controllers may damage CCFL (energy saver pigtail bulbs) and Fluorescent lighting technologies if these kinds of lights are dimmed.  The Pulsar Series controllers have not been tested with Mercury vapor lighting technologies but is not recommended for dimming applications (though it is compatible with on/off operations).  As a general rule, if it has a filament, it is compatible.  If it has a transformer, it may be turned on or off, but it should never be dimmed.  The Pulsar Series light dimmers should NEVER be used with any form of motor or inductive load as they were not designed to handle the surges and spikes generated by these kinds of AC loads.  AC motors may damage the Pulsar Series controllers.

Connectivity Options

The Pulsar Series controllers offer many connectivity solutions making them ideal for a wide variety of computer control applications.  Pulsar Series light dimmers operate as an embedded series device that operates at standard baud rates of 9600, 19.2K, 38.4K, 57.6K, 115.2K, and 230.4K Baud.  The baud rate is programmable, with a factory default baud rate of 115.2K Baud.  A USB interface is advised if you wish to change the operating baud rate of the Pulsar microprocessor.  Since Pulsar microprocessor communications is serial based, so many interface technologies (such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi) may be used with the Pulsar Series controllers.  The following communication technologies are currently supported by the Pulsar Series controllers: 

Do not attempt to install any communications module in the Pulsar controller while live!

USB

USB is an ideal choice for applications that may require a limited number of light dimmers.  USB is extremely easy to work with since it mounts as a COM port on your computer.  USB has the advantage of working at the maximum supported baud rate of 23.4K Baud.  Though not particularly required, a USB interface is advised if you wish to change the microprocessor settings of the Pulsar light dimmer as the USB interface may be sued to recover the controller if incorrect settings are chosen.

Bluetooth

We offer Bluetooth communications because of its popularity with mobile devices.  If you want to control a few light dimmers with your smartphone (and you are savvy at writing such an application), then Bluetooth is the ideal choice.  iPhone, iPad, and iPod developers should be warned, Apple iOS devices encrypt the Bluetooth protocol deliberately, so our Bluetooth interface is compatible with every computer ever made, including Android, PCs (and every version of Windows that supports Bluetooth), and Linux (and all variants thereof that support Bluetooth, but it will NEVER work with Apple iOS devices.   (Yes, we get this question all the time….)

Wi-Fi

Much of our development work was done with embedded Wi-Fi.  Put simply, we adore this technology and we think you will too.  Configuration requires careful attention to our instructions, but once configured…wow.  It’s simply amazing and holds so much promise for future development work.  We are working to make configuration easier, but for now, plan on reading our manual BEFORE purchasing….the configuration process is not for everyone.

Ethernet TCP/IP or Web-i

Web-i is a tiny embedded web server that allows you to access your Pulsar controller from anywhere in the world.  This is the ideal choice for iPhone, iPad, and iPod users as well as anyone who wants to set their light levels from anywhere in the world using an Android or a computer.  The embedded web pages are surprisingly fast for its size and computing power, and it includes FTP support so you can customize the web pages built into the controller.  Web-i MUST be plugged into a router, not an Ethernet switch for proper operations.

Note:  While using an Ethernet module with your Pulsar device, always disconnect the power supply before installing or removing the Ethernet communications module.  Attempting installation of the Ethernet communications module while the controller is live is known to damage the Ethernet module and void the warranty.  Do not attempt to install any communications module in the Pulsar controller while live!

802.15.4 Point to Point Wireless

This is one of our favorite wireless technologies.  It is easy to setup and use and very reliable.  You need an 802.15.4 modem that plugs into your USB port, or you need a Web-i BeagleBone to talk any number of 802.15.4 Wireless light dimmers with up to 1 mile range! (And it really goes a mile, we tested it!)

ZigBee Mesh Wireless Networking

ZigBee Mesh networking is pretty slow, but extremely powerful and very reliable when you follow all the rules.  We highly recommend you purchase a ZigBee Development Kit from www.Digi.com before attempting to use this communication technology…this one is for the advanced user.  But it has the distinction of offering a low-cost Mesh networking protocol…which means wireless data hops around the wireless network until it reaches the destination device…very cool!  Very powerful, very long range, cut NOT for the timid.

900HP/S3B Long Range Wireless Mesh

Our favorite wireless technology that goes a long way…over 2 miles! The 900HP series offer excellent self-healing mesh networking characteristics, making it easy to control our Pulsar series in the most difficult environments.

Getting Started

Before getting started using your Pulsar Series light dimmer, you need to fully understand the interface technology you have chosen.  By now, you need to have read the documentation available on our website for the interface you have chosen.

This manual will focus on the USB interface because of its speed and its ability to recover a controller with incorrect settings.  If you have another interface technology other than USB, then don’t worry, much of this manual applies no matter which interface you have chosen.  

USB Interface

Make sure you know the COM port of your USB interface.  The default baud rate for the Pulsar Series controllers is 115.2K Baud.

Installing Pulsar Series Controller

Before we begin communicating to the Pulsar Series controller, please review the following requirements.

  • A qualified electrician is required to properly connect the Pulsar Series light dimmers.
  • The Pulsar Series controllers operate at 120VAC at 60Hz ONLY and are not compatible with any other electrical system.  Powering this device above 250VAC will damage the electrics of the light dimmer.
  • The Pulsar Series controllers are designed to be mounted vertically on a wall.  They should never be installed horizontally as they will not properly ventilate, leading to a shorter life span.
  • The Pulsar Series controllers should always be installed in an accessible location such as a mechanical room; never bury the controller inside a wall or other location where they cannot be maintained.
  • Make sure no foreign objects come within 24 inches of the front of the Pulsar controller in all directions.
  • The Pulsar Series controllers should never be used in a location that contains flammable liquids or gasses.  Never install the pulsar Series controller near any flammable object or substance of any nature.
  • The Pulsar Series controllers may require multiple 120VAC lines from your breaker box.  Most Pulsar Series controllers have One or Two circuits, meaning they require One or Two Power lines connected to separate breakers.  Never attempt to connect multiple circuits using a single wire, as this may over-load the circuit when used at maximum capacity.
  • Pulsar controllers with two power connections will not power-up unless the top (primary) supply is connected.  The second power connection serves as a power feed for the lower channels, and will not supply power to the Pulsar logic circuits.  Either connect the top or both power connections, do not attempt to connect only the lower power connections.
  • The Pulsar Series controllers are fuse protected and enclosed in metal to reduce the potential for electrical fires.
  • Never install Pulsar Series controllers outside, in attics, or in excessively humid or hot locations.  The Pulsar Series controllers are designed to be mounted in a temperature controlled location ranging from 32F to 110F with 80% Humidity or less.  Never exceed these environmental conditions or the device may be damaged.
  • Always use electrical wire in accordance with local building codes which should include an earth ground.  Never use an ungrounded power supply.
  • Care should be taken to avoid electrical connections that come in contact with the heat sink.
  • Never connect motors, ceiling fans, or any other device other than incandescent light bulbs to Pulsar series controllers.  Pulsar controllers are designed exclusively for resistive loads.  Inductive loads (anything with a magnetic field that generates motion) will damage Pulsar series controllers.

Hardware Locations

DANGER:  DISCONNECT POWER BEFORE OPENING ENCLOSURE

2-Channel

The photo above shows the layout of a basic components inside a standard AC Light dimmer.  Most Pulsar series controllers are configured in a similar way.

Power Input: Pulsar controllers accept 120VAC at 60Hz ONLY, and may not be used at other voltages or frequencies without damage.  Power inputs were designed to accept 12/2 wiring connected with a maximum 20 Amp circuit breaker.  There are three connections on the power input that should be wired directly to your breaker box:

Hot: Connect to the AC Hot Wire (Black)

Ground: Connect to the AC Ground (Bare Copper Wire)

Neutral: Connect to the AC Neutral Wire (White)

Secure Electrical Wires by tightening the screws shown on the clamps.

Fuse: Please examine the fuse in your Pulsar controller carefully.  Replace with like fuse only.

Busy/Ready LEDs:  Normally, the Ready LED is lit.  During communications, the Busy LED is illuminated.

Wall Mounting Holes: Pulsar controllers should be mounted vertically to properly ventilate.

Theory of Operation

Pulsar series controllers convert 120VAC to about 17VAC, which is used to power the white zero cross detection circuit.  The power is also rectified and regulated to 3.3VDC to supply power the communication module and CPU.  The zero cross detection circuit generates 60 pulses per second (60Hz), which is used to trigger a interrupt in the Pulsar CPU.  This interrupt begins a counter.  While the counter is incrementing, it is comparing the count to the user-selected brightness level.  If the count is below the selected brightness level, the Triac, located under the heat-sink is activated.  When the counter reaches the dimming value, the AC waveform is turned off.  Setting a dimming value of 128 effectively allows the counter to turn on the Triac 50% of the time, causing the AC light to illuminate at 50% brightness.  This counting operation is extremely fast, as the CPU must count from 0 to 255 sixty times per second.  For this reason, a high-speed dsPIC digital signal processor is used, programmed with our custom firmware.

The on-board Program/Run jumper is used to configure the Pulsar controller.  Most of the time, this jumper is set to the Run position for daily use.  If you need to recover settings from the Pulsar controller, or the controller becomes unresponsive, power-up the controller with this jumper in the PGM position.  This will allow the controller to boot up with safe values, which can be changed using our Base Station Software (ncd.io/start).

Pulsar Variations

Pulsar series controllers are available in many variations, including controllers with small and large heat sinks.  We offer versions of this controller up to 12 channels and 2 input circuits.  Please see our web site for a complete list of available variations.

Dual Circuit Versions

Some Pulsar series controller have 2 power inputs, one for primary power, one for secondary power.  The primary power input is always located near the transformer, and always above the secondary power input.  The primary input supplies power to all the logic circuits as well as the upper group of dimmer output channels.  Pulsar controllers with dual circuits can be operated from the primary power supply alone, but the lower channels will not function.  The secondary power supply does not power the logic circuits, as it only provides power to the lower output channels.  The Primary and Secondary power supplies should not be connected together, as this will exceed the load rating of the wiring going to the controller.  Controllers with primary and secondary power supply inputs were designed to connect to two circuits on your breaker box using a minimum 20A breaker for each circuit.

Life Cycle

Pulsar series controllers were designed to operate continuously, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week and should be left on at all times.  The design life of the Pulsar series controllers is unknown, but a life expectancy of 20 years should be achievable based on design practices.  It may be necessary to replace a fuse from time to time, depending on usage.  Customer feedback would be greatly appreciated, as we have had very few service requests for this product.

Base Station Software

Learning Process:

The learning process is as easy as we can possibly make it.

  1. Explore our Base Stations Software and test the device using our GUI.  This is a quick way to make sure the device is functioning properly.
  2. Use COMM Operator to learn how to send and receive bytes of data

Initial Use

Now that you have your Pulsar Series controller installed, and you have familiarized yourself with the communication interface, it is time to use our software to talk to the Pulsar Series controller for the first time.

Our software will help you understand the command set used to set the brightness of lights.  To begin running our software, please download our Base Station Software, which will test communications with the Pulsar light dimmer and provide you with a complete interface for setting the brightness of lights as well as device configuration settings.

Base Station Software

Download, Install, and Run the latest version of Base Station Software at: ncd.io/start.  Base Station software is capable of direct communications via all supported communication technologies.  Base Station will also discover Ethernet and WiFi controllers on the network when choosing a network connectivity option.

When running Base Station software, you will be prompted to choose either COM or Network communication options.  When choosing COM Operation, make sure you choose the correct COM port.  When choosing Network operation, a list of discovered devices will appear, choose a discovered controller to proceed with network communications.  The default port is 2101.  If you are unsure about the COM port or IP address, please review quick start guides for each interface technology.

When Base Station Software runs on your Windows computer, the software will identify the type of controller and will build a list of command sets that are compatible with your controller.  There are 6 basic parts to the main Base software.

  1. Device Configuration:  This button allows you to modify important device settings to help move communication speed, functionality, and timing parameters of the device.  Device Configuration is rarely used by the user.
  2. Identification and Documentation:  This button displays Read-Only information stored in the controller.  It can help you identify the type of device that is connected and what its capabilities are.  This portion of the software also builds a library of documents that will be helpful in using the controller it has identified.
  3. COMM Operator: COMM Operator is a tool for testing and learning how to communicate with all Network and COM based devices.  This manual may include command codes you can send to the device using COMM Operator.  COMM Operator should be thought of as a terminal to send and receive bytes of data.  COMM Operator was used extensively in the development of this device and should be referenced throughout the learning process.  COMM Operator is a commercial product and is NOT Free.  The 30-Day Evaluation version is provided and users may purchase a license for this software if they would like to continue use beyond 30 days.
  4. Display Command Set:  When working with Base software, many windows will display the actual command codes used to trigger a particular function.  This option allows you to choose Decimal and Hex formats.  This manual is shown in both Hex an Decimal format.  Decimal is typically used in COMM Operator and is our preferred format, but Hex works great too.
  5. Run Mode:  Run mode is used for daily operations and is the default mode of operation.  To prevent accidental writes to non-volatile memory, the device must be placed in Configuration Mode to change EEPROM memory.  Click this button anytime you need to change modes.  Note that a jumper on the controller will force this device into Configuration mode.  If a device is powered up in Configuration Mode and you are using a Web-i interface, the Web-i will boot in DHCP mode as a safeguard in case the device becomes inaccessible with a static IP address.
  6. Command Sets:  Each Device contains a set of commands that are identified by the Base Station software.  Choose the command set you would like to explore in this box.  Click one time on the command set you would like to explore.

Navigating the GUI

To help introduce you to our Light Dimming series devices, our GUI will help you learn how the buffer functions work.  Buffers are used to control all lighting operations.  Some buffers immediately set the brightness level while other buffers allow for gradual dimming.  There are 3 buffers dedicated to controlling how fast lights turn on and how fast they turn off.

The complexity of this interface will depend on your controller model.  Here, we are showing a 32-Channel model, but many controllers are much smaller.  The window that appears may look different, but it will contain the same basic content.

  1. Control the levels in each buffer.  Since you are working with 5 buffers built into the light dimmer, there are 5 buffer radio buttons (1a).  The sliders will adjust the parameters of each of the 5 buffers.  Make sure you choose the buffer you want to control, then move the slider to change the buffer values.
  2. You can store and load the default values of each buffer.  When power is first applied, each buffer can be preloaded with your settings.
  3. Fast FX is used to experiment with some basic lighting effects.  This part is just for fun.
  4. Device Parameters allows you control carious settings based on your controller model.  These parameters are stored in Non-Volatile EEPROM and are generally not used every day.
  5. After storing parameters, it is sometimes helpful to reboot the light dimmer so you can see the power-up status of the device.
  6. Communications Details.  The portion of the interface is visible when the MORE option is chosen in section 7 of the diagram.
  7. MORE or LESS.  MORE option expands the window to include section 6 of diagram.  LESS option shrinks window to exclude section 6.

Understanding Buffers

The Pulsar Series DC Speed Controllers have 5 Buffers that control the PWM output levels for each channel.  You may Read or Write data to these buffers to control many aspects of how each channel functions.

Buffer 1:  Instant Changes

Writing data to Buffer 1 changes the PWM Output levels directly.  Users may instantly change the state of any or all PWN outputs with Buffer 1.  When writing data to buffer 1, the output level changes as soon as the command is received, bypassing all channel effects.  The values of Buffers 2, 3, 4, and 5 are irrelevant when writing to Buffer 1, as Buffer 1 is the Actual output Level, not the desired level.

Buffer 2:  Effect Changes

Writing data to Buffer 2 changes the PWM Output levels progressively.  Buffer 2 should be thought of as the level.  This is the desired new light level, not the actual output level.  This is used for fading effects as changes are not instant, they are progressive.  Depending on the settings of Buffers 3, 4, and 5, it may take anywhere from a second to a few minutes for the light level to change to the new settings of Buffer 2.  Buffer 1 will over-ride these settings if you need the output level to change instantly.

Buffer 3:  Setting the On Speed

Writing data to Buffer 3 will control how fast lights will turn on when you write data to Buffer 2.  Setting this level to a low value will make light level changes extremely fast, and you may not see too many fading effects with low values.  Writing higher values into Buffer 3 will slow down the time it takes for a light to fade on.  It is possible to change the On and Off speed to the same level by writing data to Buffer 5 (which effectively writes data to Buffers 3 and 4 at the same time.)

Buffer 4:  Setting the Off Speed

Writing data to Buffer 4 will control how fast lights will turn off when you write data to Buffer 2.  Setting this level to a low value will make light level changes extremely fast, and you may not see too many fading effects with low values.  Writing higher values into Buffer 3 will slow down the time it takes for a light to fade off.  It is possible to change the On speed and Off speed independently of each other by using Buffers 3 and 4 respectively, or you may set the On and Off speed to the same level by writing data to Buffer 5 (which effectively writes data to Buffers 3 and 4 at the same time).

Buffer 5:  Setting the Fade Rate

Buffer 5 is not really a unique buffer.  Instead, it makes sure the On and Off times are the same for any or all channels.  This means lights will fade on at the same rate they fade off.  Buffer 5 is just a shortcut for writing the same data to Buffers 3 and 4 at the same time.

Command Set

The Pulsar Series controllers use a standard set of commands that are compatible with all devices in this series.  Here, we will outline the complete command set so you can see how the bytes you send to the controller affect the lights.

Sending and Receiving Bytes of Data

The interface technology you have chosen and the programming language you are using will greatly affect how you go through the process of sending the commands shown in this guide.  Many interface technologies will appear to your computer as a COM port, so serial based commands n your favorite programming language will allow a quick and easy way of controlling the Pulsar Series controllers.  Other interface technologies operate over a network.  In this case, you may be able to use a Virtual COM port, or you may open a TCP/IP Socket (Port 2101 by default) and send/receive data using a network socket.

Regardless of the interface technology you have chosen, our Base Station Software is compatible with ALL interface technologies, so you may send command using our GUI without any programming.  The screen shots shown in this guide are from our Base Station Software.  Our software is subject to change, so the pictures shown are for representation purposes only.

The next level down is to send and receive bytes of data yourself.  If you are not quite ready to take the plunge at writing your own code, you can feed the commands shown in this guide directly into COMM Operator, which is included with your Base Station Software.  Simply run Base Station, choose your communication options, then click the “COMM Operator” button. 

We STRONGLY suggest using COMM Operator as this is the development tool we used to build our Base Station software and our custom Pulsar Microprocessor.  COMM Operator can send data to a COM Port or to a TCP/IP Socket.  You may directly send/receive the commands shown in this manual.  A stand-alone demo version of COMM Operator is also available for download from: http://serialporttool.com/download.htm

Our COMM Operator Quick Start Guide will show you how to open a COM port or TCP/IP Socket.  Please see the Documentation Section of our web site.

Once you have validated how these functions work, you may use our NCD Component Library to talk to the Pulsar Series controllers using Microsoft Visual Studio.  Our NCD Component Library Quick Start Guide will help get you started.

The Pulsar Series controller is compatible with any language that supports TCP/IP Sockets of COM Ports.  All you need to know is how to send and receive bytes of data.  This means it is possible to use the Pulsar Series controllers with Windows and Linux PCs as well as Android and Apple iOS Operating systems.

The following commands will control the Pulsar series controllers, simply send bytes of data to the controller over a COM port or via TCP/IP to activate the functions listed below.

Buffer 1:  Setting the Brightness Levels Instantly

This command will direct the Pulsar Series controllers to immediately set the brightness level of one or all channels to the brightness level you require.  This command has two parameters for Brightness and Channel number.  A Brightness value of 0 if off.  The Channel number will depend on your particular controller as some controllers have less than 32 channels available.  This command sends byte value 85 back to the user when the operation has been completed.

Send Bytes: Byte 1, Byte 2, Byte 3, Byte 4

Function: Command, Channel, Brightness, Buffer 1 (Optional)

Decimal Values: 253, 0-32, 0-254, 0 or 1

Hex Values: 0xFD, 0x00 – 0x20, 0x00 – 0xFE, 0x00 or 0x01

Receive Byte:

Decimal: 85

Hex: 0x55

COMM Operator Examples:

253 0 0 1 Turn Off All Channels Immediately (The First 0 in this command directs the command to all channels)

253 0 128 1 Set All Channels to Half Brightness (The 1 in this command Directs the Command to Buffer 1.  You may also use 0.)

253 2 254 1 Set Channel 2 to Full Brightness

253 2 254 Shortcut:  You may always omit the last number if you want to talk to Buffer 1.  Only 3 bytes are required for buffer 1.

Buffer 2:  Automatic Light Dimming:  Setting the Migration Level

This command will direct the Pulsar Series controllers to automatically migrate the brightness level of one or all channels to the brightness level you require.  The level may change very slowly or very quickly depending on the settings of buffers 3, 4, or 5.  Use this command in conjunction with Buffer commands 3, 4, or 5 to achieve many nice light fade operations.  This command has two parameters for Brightness and Channel number.  A Brightness value of 0 if off, any value other than 0 will direct the controller to begin migrating the brightness to the level you have selected.  The Channel number will depend on your particular controller as some controllers have less than 32 channels available.  This command sends byte value 85 back to the user when the operation has been completed.

Send Bytes: Byte 1, Byte 2, Byte 3, Byte 4

Function: Command, Channel, Brightness, Buffer 2

Decimal Values: 253, 0-32, 0-254, 2

Hex Values: 0xFD, 0x00 – 0x20, 0x00 – 0xFE, 0x02

Receive Byte:

Decimal: 85

Hex: 0x55

COMM Operator Examples:

253 0 0 1 Turn Off All Channels Immediately (The First 0 in this command directs the command to all channels)

253 0 128 1 Set All Channels to Half Brightness (The 1 in this command Directs the Command to Buffer 1.  You may also use 0.)

253 2 254 1 Set Channel 2 to Full Brightness

253 2 254 Shortcut:  You may always omit the last number if you want to talk to Buffer 1.  Only 3 bytes are required for buffer 1.

Buffer 3:  Setting the On Speed

This command will direct the Pulsar Series controllers to adjust the speed in which the selected channel will turn a light on.  Every channel may have a unique On speed.  For instance, you may want some lights to come on very quickly while other lights slowly turn on.  Since this command only sets the On speed, it does not appear to have any effect on the light until you send a command to turn a light on.  At that time, you will see how this command affects the operation of the light.  The Channel number will depend on your particular controller as some controllers have less than 32 channels available.  This command sends byte value 85 back to the user when the operation has been completed.

Send Bytes: Byte 1, Byte 2, Byte 3, Byte 4

Function: Command Channel On speed Buffer 3

Decimal Values: 253, 0-32, 0-254, 3

Hex Values: 0xFD, 0x00 – 0x20, 0x00 – 0xFE, 0x03

Receive Byte:

Decimal: 85

Hex: 0x55

COMM Operator Examples:

253 0 0 3 Set All Channels to Turn On Very Fast

253 1 128 3 Set Channel 1 to Turn On at Mid Speed

253 1 254 3 Set Channel 1 to Turn On Very Slow

Buffer 4:  Setting the Off Speed

This command will direct the Pulsar Series controllers to adjust the speed in which the selected channel will turn a light off.  Every channel may have a unique Off speed.  For instance, you may want some lights to come off very quickly while other lights slowly turn off.  Since this command only sets the Off speed, it does not appear to have any effect on the light until you send a command to turn a light off.  At that time, you will see how this command affects the operation of the light.  The Channel number will depend on you particular controller as some controllers have less than 32 channels available.  This command send byte values 85 back to the user when the operation has been completed.

Send Bytes: Byte 1, Byte 2, Byte 3, Byte 4

Function: Command Channel Off Speed Buffer 4

Decimal Values: 253, 0-32, 0-254, 4

Hex Values: 0xFD, 0x00 – 0x20, 0x00 – 0xFE, 0x04

Receive Byte:

Decimal: 85

Hex: 0x55

COMM Operator Examples:

253 0 0 4 Set All Channels to Turn Off Very Fast

253 1 128 4 Set Channel 1 to Turn Off at Mid Speed

253 1 254 4 Set Channel 1 to Turn Off Very Slow

Buffer 5:  Setting the Fade Rate

This command will direct the Pulsar Series controllers to adjust the speed in which the selected channel will turn a light on or off.  Every channel may have a unique On and Off speed.  This command sets the On and Off speed to the same value so a light will turn on or off at the same rate.  This is not really a unique buffer, this command stores the On and Off speed values at the same time.  This command does not appear to have any effect on the light until you send a command to change the light level. At that time, you will see how this command affects the operation of the light.  The Channel number will depend on your particular controller as some controllers have less than 32 channels available.  This command sends byte value 85 back to the user when the operation has been completed.

Send Bytes: Byte 1, Byte 2, Byte 3, Byte 4

Function: Command Channel Fade speed Buffer 5

Decimal Values: 253, 0-32, 0-254, 5

Hex Values: 0xFD, 0x00 – 0x20, 0x00 – 0xFE, 0x05

Receive Byte:

Decimal: 85

Hex: 0x55

COMM Operator Examples:

253 0 0 5 Set All Channels to Turn On or Off Very Fast

253 1 128 5 Set Channel 1 to Turn On or Off at Mid Speed

253 1 254 5 Set Channel 1 to Turn On or Off Very Slow

Command Set Summary

Buffer Interaction: Using Buffers to Meet you Light Dimming Needs

You can see how to use various commands work together to accomplish various goals.  Have your COMM Operator software ready and start sending the commands shown here.  Simply copy the left column command codes into COMM Operator and click the Send button.  Some commands will not appear to do anything, as they are changing the settings in the controller.  The controller wills respond with an 85 after each command is received to let you know that it made it to the controller and it is ready for your next command.  Follow the commands in order so you can see the interactions work together.

253 0 0 1 Buffer 1 Turn Off All Channels Immediately (The First 0 in this command directs the command to all channels)
253 0 254 3 Buffer 3 Set All Channels to Turn On Very Slow
253 0 254 2 Buffer 2 Tell Controller to Turn On All Channels (Using Buffer 2)
253 0 128 4 Buffer 4 Set All Channels to Turn Off Faster than they Turn On
253 0 0 2 Buffer 2 Set All Channels to Turn Off
253 0 20 5 Buffer 5 Set All Channels to Turn On or Off at the Same Fast Rate
253 0 254 2 Buffer 2 Tell Controller to Turn On All Channels (Using Buffer 2)
253 0 0 2 Buffer 2 Set All Channels to Turn Off
Now Let’s Set Each Channel to Have its Own Speed Parameters (This example is for 6 Channels)
253 1 10 5 Buffer 5 Set Light # 1 to Turn On or Off Fast
253 2 50 5 Buffer 5 Set Light # 2 to Turn On or Off A Little Slower
253 3 100 5 Buffer 5 Set Light # 3 to Turn On or Off A even Slower
253 4 10 3 Buffer 3 Set Light # 4 to Turn On FAST
253 4 254 4 Buffer 4 Set Light # 4 to Turn Off Slow
253 5 254 3 Buffer 3 Set Light #5 to Turn On Slow
253 5 10 4 Buffer 4 Set light #5 to Turn Off Fast
253 6 200 3 Buffer 3 Set Light #6 to Turn On Slow
253 6 100 4 Buffer 4 Set Light #6 to Turn Off Fast
253 0 254 2 Buffer 2 Tell Controller to Turn On All Channels Using Buffer 2 which uses settings above. If you were to use Buffer 1, you would Bypass above settings
253 0 0 2 Buffer 2 Tell Controller to Turn Off All Channels Using Buffer 2 which uses settings above. If you were to use Buffer 1, you would Bypass above settings

The Samples above show you how to setup the light to go on or off at any speed you want.  There are many commands that are supported to help you store these settings.  It is also possible to ask the controller for its current settings.  The coming sections will show you how to manage these settings so you don’t have to program them into a controller.  Since settings are loaded when the controller powers up, it is possible to have the controller fade the lights on when power is first applied.  For safety reasons, we do ship the controller in this configuration, so all lights will be off when you first power up the controller.

Rebooting the Controller

The Pulsar Series controllers will require a reboot after saving data if you would like changes to be applied.  A reboot process is very similar to a power-up of the device.  The biggest difference being, a reboot procedure only reads user parameters and begins running the main program firmware.  A power-cycle event executes more lines of code to set-up interrupts and CPU configuration, followed by user parameters.  A reboot command does not generate a reply, however, the controller always sends one or two bytes of data during power up that can be used to help us diagnose potential problems.  After a reboot operation, it is a good idea to clear your serial receive buffer.

Send Bytes: Byte 1, Byte 2, Byte 3, Byte 4

Function: Command, Reboot, Reboot, Reboot,

Decimal Values: 254, 33, 140, 99

Hex Values: 0xFE, 0x21, 0x8C, 0x63

Receive Byte:

No Response by this command, but controller may send 1 or 2 bytes of diagnostic data.

Flush Serial Receive Buffer Recommended after a Reboot Procedure

COMM Operator Examples:

254 33 140 99 Reboot Command

Configuration Mode

Configuration mode is NOT for daily use.  Always keep the jumper is RUN mode when you can.  However, in some conditions, you may want to have the controller in Configuration Mode.  There are two ways to put the Pulsar Series controller into configuration mode.  Inside the controller, there is a small jumper Labeled PGM/RUN.  Setting the jumper to PGM puts the controller in Configuration Mode (for Programming PGM).

Send Bytes: Byte 1, Byte 2, Byte 3, Byte 4, Byte 5

Function: Command, 2-4 Device Configuration Mode Command, Seconds

Decimal Values: 254, 33, 140, 86, 0-255

Hex Values: 0xFE, 0x21, 0x8C, 0x56, 0x00 – 0xFF

Receive Byte:

Decimal: 85

Hex: 0x55

COMM Operator Examples:

254 33 140 86 255 Put the device in configuration mode for 255 Seconds

254 33 140 86 0 Cancel Configuration Mode

NOTE for Web-i Users

Powering up the device in Configuration mode flags our Web-i firmware to enter DHCP mode.  This is a failsafe in case a static IP address renders the device inaccessible.

There is also a software mechanism for putting the device in Configuration mode for up to 255 Seconds.  After the configuration mode timer has expired, the controller will automatically return to RUN mode.  You can also force the controller back into run mode by setting the Seconds value to 0, causing the timer to expire.

Reading Device Mode

It is sometimes helpful to ask the controller what mode it is in.  In Run Mode, the Pulsar Series controller will let you safely execute settings while Configuration Mode is used for changing memory parameters.  The controller should be set to Run mode for daily operation and put into Configuration mode when you need to change important settings.  This prevents accidental writes to critical memory locations in the event of a software error.  You can ask the controller which mode it is in by sending only two bytes to the controller.

Send Bytes: Byte 1, Byte 2

Function: Command Mode Request

Decimal Values: 254, 33

Hex Values: 0xFE, 0x21

Receive Byte in Run Mode:

Decimal: 85

Hex: 0x55

Receive Byte in Configuration Mode:

Decimal: 86

Hex: 0x56

Loading and Saving Parameters

The Pulsar Series controllers are equipped with Non-Volatile EEPROM Memory that allows you to make permanent changes to the way the controller functions.  You may make changes at any time, provided the controller is in configuration mode.  Configuration mode allows changes to controller memory.  You may read controller memory in Run mode or Configuration mode, but only configuration mode can be used for storing changes.

The Controller MUST be rebooted (using a software command) or power cycled for changes to take effect.  Only two commands are needed for loading and saving all parameters to the Pulsar Series controllers.  To use these commands effectively, you will also need to know which memory location you want to load data from or save data into.  Each memory location has a different function in the controller.  For instance, there is a memory location that stores the On Speed of Channel 1.  Another memory location stores the Off speed of Channel 1.  Put simply, there are memory locations for every channel and every buffer (Except Buffer 5 which is a combination of Buffer 3 and 4).

It’s probably a good idea to let our software load and save data to the controller when you can, at least during the learning process.  Some memory locations are very dangerous to change as they may result in loss of communications or loss of functionality requiring the controller to be returned for service.  Here we will discuss the safe memory locations that you may modify without any risk of problems.  However, it is very important that you avoid experimentation with memory addresses that are not discussed in this manual.

Loading Data

First we will start with how to load data from the controller’s memory.  Loading is a simple operation whereby you send a command to request data stored in the controller.  The controller will respond with the byte of data you request.

Send Bytes: Byte 1, Byte 2, Byte 3, Byte 4

Function: Command Load EEPROM Address From Extended Memory

Decimal Values: 254, 53, 0-255, 1

Hex Values 0xFE, 0x35, 0x00 – 0xFF, 0x01

Receive Byte:

Decimal: 0-255

Hex: 0x00 – 0xFF

COMM Operator Examples:

254 53 0 1 Load Address Location 0, Controller Returns a Value from 0 to 255

254 53 128 1 Load Address Location 128, Controller Returns a Value from 0 to 255

254 53 255 1 Load Address Location 255, Controller Returns a Value 0 to 255

Saving Data

The following command is used to save data into the Pulsar Series controller.  Changes will not take effect until the controller is rebooted using a software command or power cycled (physically disconnecting power from the device and powering it back up again).  This command requires two parameters:  Address and Data.  Address is the memory location you want to modify; Data is the information you want to store in memory.  After a parameter is stored in the controller, the controller will respond with an 85 (0x55 Hex) to let you know the command has been processed.  Data is ONLY stored in configuration mode.  The controller will ignore your command (and will not respond) if the controller is in RUN mode.

Send Bytes: Byte 1, Byte 2, Byte 3, Byte 4, Byte 5

Function: Command Load EEPROM Address Data Into Extended Memory

Decimal Values: 254, 54, 0-255, 0-255, 1

Hex Values: 0xFE, 0x36, 0x00 – 0xFF, 0x00 – 0xFF, 0x01

Receive Byte:

Decimal: 85

Hex: 0x55

COMM Operator Examples:

254 54 0 66 1 Save Data Value of 66 into Address Location 0

254 54 128 79 1 Save Data Value of 79 into Address Location 128

254 54 255 192 1 Save Data Value of 192 into Address Location 255

Memory Map:  Buffers 1 and 2

The Pulsar Series controllers have many memory locations that can be read from or stored to (in configuration mode).  These memory locations allow you to store important setting so the controller always uses these settings when power is first applied to the controller.  All versions of the Pulsar Series firmware support 32 channels, though your controller may only have a few channels available.  This allows us to grow the firmware into other controller version while maintain compatibility with the command set across all versions.  It is very important to use only the memory locations that are listed on the following table.  Other unlisted memory locations may have unpredictable results.  Some unlisted memory locations contain important operating parameters that may cause damage requiring the device to be serviced.

Buffer 1:  Stores the Immediate Power-Up Status of the lights.  When power is first applied, Buffer 1 is loaded and lights go to this brightness.

Buffer 2:  Stores the Migration Power-Up Status.  After Buffer 1 is loaded and lights go to this level, they begin migrating to the values stored in Buffer 2.  Buffer 2 has final say over what the light levels will be after power-up.  Lights will migrate to the brightness level in Buffer 2 according to the speeds set in Buffers 3 and 4.

Address Parameter Address Parameter
Location Function Range Location Function Range
16 Buffer 1 Channel 1 Power-up Settings 0-254 64 Buffer 2 Channel 1 Power-Up Migration 0-254
17 Buffer 1 Channel 2 Power-up Settings 0-254 65 Buffer 2 Channel 2 Power-Up Migration 0-254
18 Buffer 1 Channel 3 Power-up Settings 0-254 66 Buffer 2 Channel 3 Power-Up Migration 0-254
19 Buffer 1 Channel 4 Power-up Settings 0-254 67 Buffer 2 Channel 4 Power-Up Migration 0-254
20 Buffer 1 Channel 5 Power-up Settings 0-254 68 Buffer 2 Channel 5 Power-up Migration 0-254
21 Buffer 1 Channel 6 Power-up Settings 0-254 69 Buffer 2 Channel 6 Power-up Migration 0-254
22 Buffer 1 Channel 7 Power-up Settings 0-254 70 Buffer 2 Channel 7 Power-up Migration 0-254
23 Buffer 1 Channel 8 Power-up Settings 0-254 71 Buffer 2 Channel 8 Power-up Migration 0-254
24 Buffer 1 Channel 9 Power-up Settings 0-254 72 Buffer 2 Channel 9 Power-up Migration 0-254
25 Buffer 1 Channel 10 Power-up Settings 0-254 73 Buffer 2 Channel 10 Power-up Migration 0-254
26 Buffer 1 Channel 11 Power-up Settings 0-254 74 Buffer 2 Channel 11 Power-up Migration 0-254
27 Buffer 1 Channel 12 Power-up Settings 0-254 75 Buffer 2 Channel 12 Power-up Migration 0-254
28 Buffer 1 Channel 13 Power-up Settings 0-254 76 Buffer 2 Channel 13 Power-up Migration 0-254
29 Buffer 1 Channel 14 Power-up Settings 0-254 77 Buffer 2 Channel 14 Power-up Migration 0-254
30 Buffer 1 Channel 15 Power-up Settings 0-254 78 Buffer 2 Channel 15 Power-up Migration 0-254
31 Buffer 1 Channel 16 Power-up Settings 0-254 79 Buffer 2 Channel 16 Power-up Migration 0-254
32 Buffer 1 Channel 17 Power-up Settings 0-254 80 Buffer 2 Channel 17 Power-up Migration 0-254
33 Buffer 1 Channel 18 Power-up Settings 0-254 81 Buffer 2 Channel 18 Power-up Migration 0-254
34 Buffer 1 Channel 19 Power-up Settings 0-254 82 Buffer 2 Channel 19 Power-up Migration 0-254
35 Buffer 1 Channel 20 Power-up Settings 0-254 83 Buffer 2 Channel 20 Power-up Migration 0-254
36 Buffer 1 Channel 21 Power-up Settings 0-254 84 Buffer 2 Channel 21 Power-up Migration 0-254
37 Buffer 1 Channel 22 Power-up Settings 0-254 85 Buffer 2 Channel 22 Power-up Migration 0-254
38 Buffer 1 Channel 23 Power-up Settings 0-254 86 Buffer 2 Channel 23 Power-up Migration 0-254
39 Buffer 1 Channel 24 Power-up Settings 0-254 87 Buffer 2 Channel 24 Power-up Migration 0-254
40 Buffer 1 Channel 25 Power-up Settings 0-254 88 Buffer 2 Channel 25 Power-up Migration 0-254
41 Buffer 1 Channel 26 Power-up Settings 0-254 89 Buffer 2 Channel 26 Power-up Migration 0-254
42 Buffer 1 Channel 27 Power-up Settings 0-254 90 Buffer 2 Channel 27 Power-up Migration 0-254
43 Buffer 1 Channel 28 Power-up Settings 0-254 91 Buffer 2 Channel 28 Power-up Migration 0-254
44 Buffer 1 Channel 29 Power-up Settings 0-254 92 Buffer 2 Channel 29 Power-up Migration 0-254
45 Buffer 1 Channel 30 Power-up Settings 0-254 93 Buffer 2 Channel 30 Power-up Migration 0-254
46 Buffer 1 Channel 31 Power-up Settings 0-254 94 Buffer 2 Channel 31 Power-up Migration 0-254
47 Buffer 1 Channel 32 Power-up Settings 0-254 95 Buffer 2 Channel 32 Power-up Migration 0-254

The memory locations shown on the next table contain the Power-up Default values for Buffers 3 and 4.

Buffer 3:  Controls how fast each light will turn on.

Buffer 4:  Controls how fast each light will turn off.

Buffer 5:  Is not really a buffer so it is not shown.  Working with Buffer 5 is like working with Buffers 3 and 4 at the same time.  When you set a value in Buffer 5, it simply sets Buffers 3 and 4 to the same value using a single convenient command.

Since the On and Off speed are loaded at power-up, and it is possible to set a migration value at startup, it is possible to set the Pulsar Series controllers so lights gradually fad on or off as soon as power is first applied.  This makes for a very nice startup effect.  For safety reasons, we have set all buffer values to 0 for all channels.  This ensures the controller processes every command quickly and that all lights are off when power is first applied.  One of the output channels may flash for a fraction of a second on power-up, this cannot be prevented.

Address Parameter Address Parameter
Location Function Range Location Function Range
112 Buffer 3 Channel 1 Power-up On Speed 0-254 160 Buffer 4 Channel 1 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
113 Buffer 3 Channel 2 Power-up On Speed 0-254 161 Buffer 4 Channel 2 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
114 Buffer 3 Channel 3 Power-up On Speed 0-254 162 Buffer 4 Channel 3 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
115 Buffer 3 Channel 4 Power-up On Speed 0-254 163 Buffer 4 Channel 4 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
116 Buffer 3 Channel 5 Power-up On Speed 0-254 164 Buffer 4 Channel 5 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
117 Buffer 3 Channel 6 Power-up On Speed 0-254 165 Buffer 4 Channel 6 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
118 Buffer 3 Channel 7 Power-up On Speed 0-254 166 Buffer 4 Channel 7 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
119 Buffer 3 Channel 8 Power-up On Speed 0-254 167 Buffer 4 Channel 8 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
120 Buffer 3 Channel 9 Power-up On Speed 0-254 168 Buffer 4 Channel 9 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
121 Buffer 3 Channel 10 Power-up On Speed 0-254 169 Buffer 4 Channel 10 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
122 Buffer 3 Channel 11 Power-up On Speed 0-254 170 Buffer 4 Channel 11 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
123 Buffer 3 Channel 12 Power-up On Speed 0-254 171 Buffer 4 Channel 12 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
124 Buffer 3 Channel 13 Power-up On Speed 0-254 172 Buffer 4 Channel 13 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
125 Buffer 3 Channel 14 Power-up On Speed 0-254 173 Buffer 4 Channel 14 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
126 Buffer 3 Channel 15 Power-up On Speed 0-254 174 Buffer 4 Channel 15 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
127 Buffer 3 Channel 16 Power-up On Speed 0-254 175 Buffer 4 Channel 16 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
128 Buffer 3 Channel 17 Power-up On Speed 0-254 176 Buffer 4 Channel 17 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
129 Buffer 3 Channel 18 Power-up On Speed 0-254 177 Buffer 4 Channel 18 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
130 Buffer 3 Channel 19 Power-up On Speed 0-254 178 Buffer 4 Channel 19 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
131 Buffer 3 Channel 20 Power-up On Speed 0-254 179 Buffer 4 Channel 20 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
132 Buffer 3 Channel 21 Power-up On Speed 0-254 180 Buffer 4 Channel 21 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
133 Buffer 3 Channel 22 Power-up On Speed 0-254 181 Buffer 4 Channel 22 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
134 Buffer 3 Channel 23 Power-up On Speed 0-254 182 Buffer 4 Channel 23 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
135 Buffer 3 Channel 24 Power-up On Speed 0-254 183 Buffer 4 Channel 24 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
136 Buffer 3 Channel 25 Power-up On Speed 0-254 184 Buffer 4 Channel 25 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
137 Buffer 3 Channel 26 Power-up On Speed 0-254 185 Buffer 4 Channel 26 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
138 Buffer 3 Channel 27 Power-up On Speed 0-254 186 Buffer 4 Channel 27 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
139 Buffer 3 Channel 28 Power-up On Speed 0-254 187 Buffer 4 Channel 28 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
140 Buffer 3 Channel 29 Power-up On Speed 0-254 188 Buffer 4 Channel 29 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
141 Buffer 3 Channel 30 Power-up On Speed 0-254 189 Buffer 4 Channel 30 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
142 Buffer 3 Channel 31 Power-up On Speed 0-254 190 Buffer 4 Channel 31 Power-up Off Speed 0-254
143 Buffer 3 Channel 32 Power-up On Speed 0-254 191 Buffer 4 Channel 32 Power-up Off Speed 0-254

Other Parameters

There are many other parameters that affect communications, including baud rate and serial timing.  We strongly suggest using our Base Station Software to modify these parameters as rule may be applied according to other chosen parameters; our rules are applied in our software so that we may change the rules as technology progresses.  A memory map is provided that explains other relevant memory locations on our website.  Please visit the following link for a complete memory map of all basic device parameters:  

//ncd.io/proxr-eeprom-memory-map-quick-start-guide/

NOTE:

  • The memory map shown in the above in the above link is stored in standard memory.
  • The Pulsar Series parameters are stored in EXTENDED memory.
  • Accessing standard memory is outlined in the link above.
  • Accessing Extended Memory is outlined in this manual.

Pulsar Series AC Timing Parameters

In addition to the two parameter tables provided, there is still another set of commands just for the AC Pulsar Series controllers.  These parameters affect the AC Timing Characteristics.  These parameters should never be changed outside the use of our software.  The memory locations are not shown in this guide as incorrect settings can render the controller inoperable.  Customers who require a large number of controllers can purchase these controllers with the AC Timing parameters preconfigured to their requirements.  The default AC Timing Characteristics are ideal for most applications.

Power-up Lighting Fade Effects: 

Not that you have seen how the controller is capable of storing many useful parameters, let’s see how these parameters work together to control your lights when power is first applied.  Our favorite effect is to have lights gradually brighten when power is first applied.  So let’s start by sending the necessary commands to store some interesting power-up effects:

To start, we will be working with Buffers 1, 2, and 3.

Address 116 Buffer 1 Channel 1 Power-up Setting:  We will Set this to 0 to Make Sure Lights go Off Immediately

Address 64 Buffer 2 Channel 1 Power-Up Migration:  We will  Set this to 254 Because we Want the Lights to Migrate to Full Brightness

Address 112 Buffer 3 Channel 1 Power-up On Speed 0-254:  We want the Migration Speed to be Slow so we will Set to 254

Now let’s send the commands to do all of these things:

254 33 140 86 255 Put the device in configuration mode for 255 Seconds

254 54 16 0 1 Save Data Value of 0 into Address Location 16 (Make Sure Light is Off on Power-up)

254 54 64 254 1 Save Data Value of 254 into Address Location 64 (Migrate to Level 254)

254 54 112 254 1 Save Data Value of 254 into Address Location 112 (Migrate Slowly)

254 33 140 99 Reboot Command (This will also Exit Configuration Mode)

After the Reboot command, you will see Channel 1 light up slowly.

HINT:

If you want a more gradual fade or even a faster fade, use our Base Station software to change the speed in which all effects are calculated.

  • Click the “Device Parameters” button on the window that displays the channel faders.
  • Set the Slider to a lower value to slow down all faders, set the Slider to a higher value to increase the speed of all faders.
  • This function applies to ALL Faders so choose a setting that will meet your needs for all output channels.
    This option may not be available for all models of controllers.

Reading Buffers

The Pulsar Series controllers allow you to read the current settings stored in each of the 4 main buffers (Buffer 5 is a combination of 3 and 4).  The command set is geared toward all versions of the Pulsar Series Controllers and is designed to operate at extremely high speeds.  The following commands may be used to query the light dimmer to find out what levels each buffer is set to.

These commands will direct the Pulsar Series controllers to immediately return one or more bytes of data indicating the current setting of the selected Buffer.  The number of bytes returned by this command will depend on the number of bytes requested.  If your controller is equipped with 32 channels, you should request 32 bytes of data.  If your controller is equipped with one channel, you should request 1 byte of data.  The first byte returned always indicates the value of Channel 1; the second Byte is for Channel 2, etc.

Send Bytes: Byte 1, Byte 2, Byte 3, Byte 4, Byte 5

Function: Command, Request Buffer [1-4] Status, Buffer Channels [1-32] Requested

Decimal Values: 253, 1, 0, 1-4, 1-32

Hex Values: 0xFD, 0x01, 0x00, 0x01 – 0x04, 0x00 – 0x20

Receive Bytes:

Decimal: 0-255 x Number of Channels Requested

Hex: 0x00 – 0xFF x Number of Channels Requested

COMM Operator Examples

253 1 0 1 32 Ask Controller for current Values in Buffer 1, 32 Bytes will be sent back to the user

253 1 0 1 1 Ask Controller for current Values in Buffer 1, 1 Byte will be sent back to the user

253 1 0 2 32 Ask Controller for current Values in Buffer 2, 32 Bytes will be sent back to the user

253 1 0 2 1 Ask Controller for current Values in Buffer 2, 1 Byte will be sent back to the user

253 1 0 3 32 Ask Controller for current Values in Buffer 3, 32 Bytes will be sent back to the user.

253 1 0 3 1 Ask Controller for current Values in Buffer 3, 1 Byte will be sent back to the user

253 1 0 4 32 Ask Controller for current Values in Buffer 4, 32 Bytes will be sent back to the user

253 1 0 4 1 Ask Controller for current Values in Buffer 4, 1 Byte will be sent back to the user

Lighting Effects

Lighting Effects are a nice way to let your program activate a particular light while other lights automatically dim.  We recommend experimenting will the sliders using our Base Station software to help determine the best parameter values.  Different models will have different timing characteristics depending on the number of channels the controller is designed to process.  These functions are just for fun, but we hope you can find some use for them.

Point to Point Fading Spotlight

These commands require one parameter for choosing which light you would like to highlight:

Send Bytes: Byte 1, Byte 2, Byte 3

Function: Command, Point to Point, Channel

Decimal Values: 253, 100, 0 – 31

Hex Values: 0xFD, 0x64, 0x00 – 0x1F

Receive Byte(s):

Decimal: 85

Hex: 0x55

Soft On Starlight

These commands requires two parameters for choosing which light you would like to highlight and the Dim speed of unselected channels.

Send Bytes: Byte 1, Byte 2, Byte 3, Byte 4:

Function: Command, Soft On Starlight, Channel [0-31], Dim Speed [0-254]

Decimal Values: 253, 101 0 – 31, 0 – 254

Hex Values: 0xFD, 0x65, 0x00 – 0x1F, 0x00 – 0xFE

Receive Byte(s):

Decimal: 85

Hex: 0x55

Fast On Starlight

These commands requires two parameters for choosing which light you would like to highlight and the Dim speed of unselected channels.

Send Bytes: Byte 1, Byte 2, Byte 3, Byte 4

Function: Command, Soft On Starlight, Channel [0-31], Dim Speed [0-254]

Decimal Values: 253, 102, 0 – 31, 0 – 254

Hex Values: 0xFD, 0x66, 0x00 – 0x1F, 0x00 – 0xFE

Receive Byte(s):

Decimal: 85

Hex: 0x55

Fast FX

Just for fun, we included a few simple lighting effects for you to play with.  You need controller with at least 3 channels to see any of these effects.  The more channels your controller has, the more interesting these effects become.  Lighting effects are not designed for any particular application, we included these effects so we could help test the speed of the microprocessor.  Nonetheless, you might find them entertaining and maybe even lightly useful…but this part is all about having a little fun with the light dimmer.

This command requires 4 bytes of data.  The second byte of data indicates which effect you would like to process.  There are 10 integrated effects and a Stop Effects 6

Byte 2 Effect Values

148 Steps All Channels Down One Level (Bytes 3 and 4 are Ignored)

149 Steps All Channels Up One Level (Bytes 3 and 4 are Ignored)

150 Step Lighting Effects (Bytes 3 and 4 are Ignored)

151 Chase Effects

152 Chase Effect 2 (Reverse Pattern)

153 Cylon

154 Two-Step

155 Three-Step

156 Random

157 Dual Cylon

158 Step Light

159 Comet Fallout

160 Trinary

These commands require two parameters:  Effect Speed and Dim Speed.  Effect Speed is a parameter value from 0 to 255 indicating how fast the effect is applied to each channel.  Dim Speed is a parameter value from 0 to 255 indicating how fast lights are dimmed.  We suggest using our Base Station Software to help you find a speed based on your controller model.  Suggested speeds are indicated in our software.

Send Bytes: Byte 1, Byte 2, Byte 3, Byte 4

Function: Command, Effect [148-160], Effect Speed [0-255], Dim Speed [0-255]

Decimal Values: 253, 148 – 160, 0 – 255, 0 – 255

Hex Values: 0xFD, 0x94 – 0xA0, 0x00 – 0xFF, 0x00 – 0xFF

Receive Byte(s):

Decimal: 85

Hex: 0x55

COMM Operator Examples:

253 148 Step Light Levels down 1 Count

253 149 Step Light Levels Up 1 Count

253 150 Stop All Lighting Effects

253 151 115 17 Chase Effect

253 152 115 17 Chase Effect 2

253 153 115 17 Cylon

253 154 115 17 Two Step

253 155 115 17 Three Step

253 156 115 17 Random

253 157 115 17 Dual Cylon

253 158 115 17 Step Light

253 159 115 17 Comet Fallout

253 160 115 17 Trinary

Device Parameters

Some device parameters are loaded by the light dimmer when power is first applied.  These parameters serve as a set of rules for the controller to follow.  These settings affect timing and global operations.  They cannot be changed while in operation, however, you may issue a software reboot or power cycle the controller for changes to take effect.  The timing parameters are limited in software to safe values.  We do not advise users to modify the device parameter memory outside of our software.  Doing so may result in a permanent loss of communications, requiring the device to be returned for service.  Our software will always limit user input to safe values that have been tested.

  1. Some types of lights should never be dimmed.  Choose the channels that should not be dimmed and click the Store button.  This will limit the selected channels to on/off operation ONLY.
  2. Fades per Cycle is a very important parameter you may need to adjust.  This parameter controls how fast light dimming calculations are performed.  Increasing this value will cause lighting effects.  If a lighting effect does not appear to function correctly, resulting in all lights on or extremely slow operation, adjust this parameter to alter the calculation speed.
  3. AC Timing is a very important part of the AC Light dimmers.  Generally speaking, you do not need to modify the AC Zero-Cross Detect or the AC duration counter.  In fact, it’s better to change these parameters under our direction if you are having timing problems with the Pulsar Series AC light dimming controllers.  However, experimenting with these settings can offer some nice flickering effects to a light if you wanted to simulate a candle effect.  AC Interrupt Duration is a great user-adjustable setting that can be valuable if you choose to work with alternative lighting technologies such as low-wattage incandescent or LED Lighting.  We have created several presets (4, 5, 6, and 7).  But you may adjust depending on the wattage of your lights or the technology chosen.  AC Interrupt Timer Duration does something very special to the controller.  It rescales the 0-254 resolution used for brightness control.  A brightness value of 0 always means off and 254 always means full brightness.  But a brightness value of 1 is greatly affected by this setting.  For some lights, a brightness value of 1 will not even turn the filament (or LED) on.  And for other lights, it is visible.  By altering this parameter, it lets you set the minimum brightness.  In other words, when a brightness value of 1 is sent to the controller, how bright will the light actually be.  This important because it greatly affects the brightness scale of 0-254.
  4. This is the standard default setting.  This means that many lights will turn on at a brightness level of 1, but some lights may not light the filament.
  5. This preset offers improved low-end resolution, meaning the lower dimming values will actually turn the filament on.
  6. This present offers very good low-end resolution, meaning you can really soften the filament light levels at the low brightness values.
  7. This preset is ideal for Low-Wattage LED lights, meaning the light will turn on at a low brightness level and offer a scale that is more compatible with LED lighting technologies.

There is no hard-fast rule about these settings; you may experiment with different values until the controller is turned for your application.

HINT: AC Tuning Parameters

It is sometimes helpful to set the Buffer 2 values to low numbers such as 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.  Store these as the power-up default settings.  After changing your AC Tuning Parameters, click the “Store Parameters” button.  The device will reboot and you can instantly see the changes and how it affects your lighting technology.

NOTE:

Some Options Shown Above are Not Available for the DC Light Dimming Controllers.

Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting Guide

Problem: One Channel Pulses when Power is First Applied

Solution: None.  This is a characteristic of the microprocessor.

Problem: No Communications

Solution: Install USB Communication Module with latest USB Drivers and re-run the Base Station Software.  Examine the Device Configuration Settings to determine baud rate and communication timing parameters.

Problem: Cannot See Lighting Effects

Solution: You must have a controller with 3 channels or more for lighting effects to process.  If your controller has 3 or more channels, but the lights do not appear to change, run Base Station software.  Click on the Pulsar Series command set, then Device Parameters.  Decrease the Fades per Cycle value and store the new value.  After the controller reboots, the lightening effects should appear to work.

Problem: I Need Faster or Slower Fade Rates

Solution: Run Base Station software.  Click on the Pulsar Series command set, then Device Parameters.  Adjust the fades per Cycle value and store the new value.  After the controller reboots, retry your fading effects.

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