View Full Version : [Contest Entry] Landscape Light Control Project

07-27-2007, 09:33 AM
Hello, for over a year i have been working on a project to computer control my Malibu(Landscape) lights. Originally i was to going to use a Basic Stamp, and have 10 independently controlled circuits, but then i found Phidgets. I bought a 0/16/16 board.

Right now i have the lights in my front yard complete. I finished it last year before the ground got frozen. Originally i had 6 or 7 small transformers for the lights, but with this new system i condensed it to 2 600 watt power supplies(80 Amps at 12VAC).

The front yard lights are divided into 8 separate circuits, all of the cables i buried into the ground. The cables that are in the ground go to a relay box on the front of the house. This relay box contains 8 relays, a fuse board, and distributes power to each of the 8 circuits. There are two CAT5e cables that i use to supply power to the relays. The CAT5e cables are run to my office, into the control box where the 0/16/16 board is. The 0/16/16 is connected to a 300Mhz Notebook, and my software is written in VB6.

Right now the back yard installation is under way, i need to buy another 500' spool of wire, and install the lights. I will also need to dig a large hole for all of the cables and to drill a hole into a wall. It may not get done until the flowers die because there are too many flowers and bees in the back yard right now.

The control box has 16 DPDT switches representing each digital output on the 0/16/16. When the switch is switched to the left, a red led for each circuit goes on. The red LED indicates that the computer has control of the that circuit. When the switch is switched to the right, an amber LED turns on, indicating the circuit is manually turned on. When the circuit is turned on by means of the computer or manual override, a green LED will be on indicating that the circuit is on. Each relay box has a switch that is supposed to turn off all of the relays by disconnecting the 12v+ line, but because of a problem with current going the wrong direction on the control box, all of the LED's light up and if one relay is on it stays on.

The software has two on/off settings to turn the lights on at night, and on early in the morning. Sometime in the future i'm going to rewrite the software to add new features. I plan to get a garage opener receiver(we don't have a garage) in each of our cars so if i get home late from somewhere, and its past the time that the lights turn off, i can press the garage opener button and the lights will turn on for 10 minutes.

Another modification to this system, is i'm going to be using an Phidgets RFID, a servo controller, and another IO board to lock and unlock our front door and sliding door. This modification to the doors will require an exit button. I plan to put a photocell outside that will let the computer know when it gets dark.
If it is dark out and someone presses an exit button it will unlock the door, and turn the lights on. This computer controlled door lock could also turn into an alarm system.

The following link is some of my pictures before i fully computer controlled the lights. http://www.bgsmedia.com/projects/malibu/?page_id=3

here is a screen shot of my original program
and a photo of the control box.

In a few days i'll setup a photo gallery that includes all of my pictures. I have many pictures to show everyone.



**Added** On this webpage there is a link to all of the current pictures for this project.

07-27-2007, 09:56 AM
Great Project Brad, thanks for the submission:) Keep us posted with the other pictures.

07-27-2007, 12:46 PM

I just put up all of my pictures on a web gallery. I may be adding more pictures.

click the link below then click on the link on the first post

Please let me know what you think.

Thank you


07-31-2007, 12:25 PM
Hey Brad,

I was looking at the pictures and then saw a bunch of pictures with Johnny 5. Were you involved with building him or anything like that? Is that a replica or the real one?



08-23-2007, 03:59 PM
Hi there! Great project. Would you mind sharing the details on the relays you are using?


08-24-2007, 06:32 AM

Right now i'm using standard Automotive Relays. They are driven by 12vdc which goes through the 0/16/16.

Here are the relays that i mostly use http://www.allelectronics.com/cgi-bin/item/RLY-351/500700/12V_SPDT_30_AMP_AUTOMOTIVE_RELAY_.html

I also use about 2 or 3 relays from radio shack which are over priced. I use allelectronics for most of my electronic projects. If i need something right away i get things from radioshack.

Also just a note about my website, I forgot i took it down, i was testing it trying to merge the website back into my main one. http://www.bgsmedia.com/Projects/malibu/index.php is back up. Please let me know what you think of the pictures.

Also another note about the J5 pictures. They weren't quite supposed to be public. I am trying to get involved with a group of people recreating the Original J5. It's not going to be a replica because the original J5 had a lot of engineering problems, and wasn't very strong. The pictures you did see was of the original J5 from the movie, and was also the one that was sold on ebay. I cant really say anything about the project. Pleas visit http://input-inc.com for details on the project. But please don't email them asking for blueprints, as they are far far far from ready. Also just a note, i've been partially involved with the project so far (for 3 weeks) the three people listed on the website are the people who are to take credit for the entire website i have no official affiliation with them. Terry Andrews Documented the original J5. If anyone wants to read what is officially public about the project you can also visit http://www.johnny-five.com/mb/search.asp and search for "terryandrews"

The cost to build your own J5 is well above $5,000 Most parts have to be custom made because parts used on the original are no longer made.


Have a nice day


08-25-2007, 04:16 PM
Super, thanks for the info!

08-31-2007, 03:12 PM

Your welcome.

If anyone has any questions please feel free to ask.


Have a nice day