JDIY22 : A/C Desk Controller


Since I finished my A/C Controller boards, I wanted to use them in a project and thought that creating custom controls for my desk would be a solid option. This project breaks up into 2 parts, the top controller that consists of the physical controls for each A/C output, and main controller which hosts 2 A/C Controller boards and microcontroller that acts as the "brains".

Top Controller
The top controller hosts 3 2-position switches to handle the on/off operation for the high current draw devices, and a 3-position swich along with a potentiometer to control the lighting outputs. The 3-position switch is used to select a channel (1-3) and the potentiometer is used to determind the intensity range (0V - 120V) for the select channel.

Top Controller (unfinished)
Main Controller
The first A/C Controller board is for higher power requirements and uses on/off controls. It’s meant for testing equipment such as an oscilloscope and variable power supply. I left one open for miscellaneous equipment when needed. The on/off operation toggles between 0V (off) to 120V (on) via a 2-position switch on the top controller. Each channel is controlled by a BTA24 w/ black heat sink and 2 fans turn on anytime channels 1-3 are on to keep the TRAICs from getting hot.

The second board is primarily for lighting such as lamps and mood lighting. I plan on using xmas string lights for these outputs when I can pick them up cheap around xmas. Since these are designed for lower power consumption lighting, I am using the BTA16 w/ silver heat sinks. I don’t suspect that a heat sink is actually needed but used them just to keep everything nice and cool on those channels.

I'm using a SpinStamp to facilitate as "the brains" and control everything. This is a Propeller in a 24-pin package, which worked out great for this project becuase space, as you can see is limited. I had one in my stock and have always been partial to it, so I wanted to give it a good permanent home. That is the board in the bottom right hand corner. There is a 4-pin programming port at the bottom, which I can carefully fit jumper wires on to do any additional program change, however I do not see that happening in the near future as the program now fits all my needs.

Main Controller



A main controller installs under my desk. Being able to easily plug and unplug my test equipment was a top priority. I got some A/C outlets from one of my sources Tayda Electronics in Colorado and cut holes for the outlets to slide into. Looking back, I would have made the box slightly bigger with special compartments for cabling, but that will be for version 2. I also have an idea to keep the outlet wiring organized better; braid the wires together similar to a cable. However, I will need different wire to do that. The solid wire I’m using doesn’t braid by hand, but works great for wiring in a 3D space because it keeps its shape.

While building the top controller, I saw a opportunity to create a shelf for my Wacom pad. I had to unpack my Wacom pad anytime I wanted to use it and that was a bit of a hassle. I just added a small shelf that was big enough on top of the top controller instead of making it a simple box. Now I can leave it plugged into my computer. I want to create more Resistors comics and drawings in my post and I think this will help.

Difficulty: !!
I am fulfilled to use my A/C Controller boards in a way that helps me build while saving power. Especially since my scope likes to suck up a lot of power when it’s not being used because of supported Wake-on-LAN functions. I would be happier if those functions were able to be turned off much like a computer, but as it sits now, it just uses extra power when it’s not on.