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Bench testing dimmers and keypads


maxspivak

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I mentioned in another post that I bench test all my dimmers, and someone asked me how I did it. I figure others may be interested in this as well.

Here's what I did to create a bench test setup for dimmers and keypads. You can make it a bit fancier, actually, but this works.

1) I took a 3-prong computer cable, cut off the computer side plug and stripped the three wires: black, white and green. Don't plug into elect. outlet yet.

2) Take any old plugin lamp, like a side table lamp or a desk lamp. Make sure the lamp's switch is in the 'on' position.

3) Use wire nuts or wires with alligator clips to connect together wires in the electrical cord, dimmer and lamp plug. The lamp will be controlled by the dimmer which gets power from the electrical cord. Follow the first wiring diagram on the C4 dimmer manual.

4) Once you've got everything wired, and there are no small children running around, connect the electrical cable into an outlet. The dimmer will blink and initialize itself. Manually test the dimmer now. Learn the dimmer into Composer at this point and test zigbee operation.

A variation of this setup allows testing keypads, both regular and lcd. You won't need the lamp, just wire the electrical cable to the keypad.

Some folks also burn-in at this point, leave it plugged in for some time.

Cheers,

Max

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Great idea. We do this too but like you say, this could be more elegant. You could build a wood box and use an electrical junction box inside to properly add a plug and three clip down points on the front for your switch (maybe something like this http://www.winchesterelectronics.com/products/power/powersnapnpa.pdf ). Then mount a $3 light on top for feedback.

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I mentioned in another post that I bench test all my dimmers, and someone asked me how I did it. I figure others may be interested in this as well.

Max,

What I'm interested in is what % fallout are you having? We're expecting that most of our C4 jobs will have at least 20-30 dimmers/switches and I'm trying to decide if we should bench test as well. You mentioned that some folks are doing a burn-in as well.........do you know what the failure rate has been?

Thanks

George

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DrDSL,

As a DIY, I have very low volume. :) Out of ~15 dimmers, I had 3 DOA and one fail after 2 months. The DOA ones were part of the batch that had dimmers flashed with keypad firmware, a C4 acknowledged boo-boo.

Everything else has been clean, so far. But, since I set it up, it's way easy to bench test.

AllWiredUp,

Totally agree about a more elegant solution. If I had higher volume, I'd do that. Love those Snap wire connectors you found -- good stuff.

M

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I have also bench tested projects that are installed in locations not close to me. I pretty much used the same concept with the exception that I used the old fashion Christmas lights. Cut each bulb close to next, give you a long wire to run into j-box, wire nutted short end off.

Glued j-boxes down to an old piece of lexan with 1 light bulb in front. Daisy chained romex to each box for power. On last box installed a regular switch, then a pig tail to plug into wall. Set dimmers in boxes, turn mounting screw few times to hold in place. Hook wires up via shielded aligator clips.

you can test and update all dimmers this way. With a switch to turn everything off to make changes.

Glad I did, found two dead this way.

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We have made the testing of everything that ships from C4 before install a standard procedure. It has proven to save a lot of time onsite.

We have an angled wood board with 12 single gang box holes cut out. In the back we wired press down speaker terminals so the dimmers or keypads can be quickly connected and tested. We have a master switch for main power. It takes 5 minutes to wire in 12 devices and we always do a firmware update and let it sit until every device has been updated. When the guys get onsite, there are less surprises and no wait time while dimmers, keypads, or controllers get updated as this was already done. We can also make sure the devices function. So far this has saved us plenty of time and we have a small box slowly getting full for returns............

Nothing worse than installing 20 dimmers, having to update them, and come to find out 3 are bad and need to be changed and then re-updated, etc..... Since we have an electrician install the dimmers for us, re-re's get expensive.......

Jamman

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Same here with bench testing.

We've had only about 3% of dimmers/switches/keypads be/go bad in 6 months of installs. We've had 50% return rate on 10.5% touch panels, and lately (past 2 months) our handheld remote returns have jumped to about 70% making it about 50% return rate over 6 months. We've had to return about 25% of our media controllers and about 20% of our home theater controllers. ...and we spent tons of time with tech support troubleshooting each device before returning.

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Jamman, that's a pretty good idea. Do you have any pictures?

I got my first product in July and the only way I could think to test everything was clip the end off the power cord for a computer, wirenut it to the dimmer, keypad, or switch and test everything. The biggest problem that I had at that time was having the devices on the right channel. Since then I have had a couple of switches just die all of the sudden and one remote that identified just fine and from that point on it would only say Control4 Remote or something like that on the screen. Overall I've had pretty good luck with everything.

Blake

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