Learning Electronics

Learning Electronics

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Dimmer Control Voltage Polarity Changer

Some older Strand dimmer units used a zero to -10V control signal, and the standard analogue control voltage is zero to +10V. This project allows the easy conversion from one standard to another. This is a very simple project, but may turn out to be a lifesaver for small theatre groups and the like. It has come to my attention that there are still a great many old Strand dimmers very much in use. The problem is that they are just too reliable, and won't go away ... but, they use a zero to -10V control signal, so are incompatible with the dimmer unit in these project pages, and with any new commercial analogue control console.

In addition, there are no doubt quite a few old lighting consoles that use this standard, which means that they can't drive modern dimmer packs. As it turns out, a simple opamp inverter will convert either standard to the other. This is shown in Figure 1.

Dimmer Control Voltage Polarity Changer circuit diagramFigure 1 - Dimmer Control Signal Inverter

There is really nothing to it. Use as many circuits as needed, and a simple power supply (such as that in Project 05) will drive as many of these inverters as are likely to be required in any lighting setup. The above circuit has two channels, and may be simply repeated as many times as you need to get the required number of channels. The 100 ohm resistors on each output are there to prevent the opamps from oscillating when supplying a capacitive load (such as a coax cable).

With an input of zero volts, the output will also be at zero volts. As the input increases (or decreases in the case of the -10V control) the output will change by exactly the same value, but in the opposite direction. Wiring is not critical, the 1458 opamps specified are very cheap (but more than capable of doing the job), and they can be built very simply on Veroboard or similar. Supplies should be bypassed to common (ground) with 10uF electrolytic caps.
source: http://sound.westhost.com/project90.htm