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Old 07-09-2014   #21
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Default Re: Help with a motorized background system

Steve, Zemlin posted in another thread the solution to your problem. He found a junction box that might fit the bill.

B4 & After - Wires

Thought you might enjoy a laugh.
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Old 07-09-2014   #22
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Default Re: Help with a motorized background system

Thanks Duck! I just blew coffee out my nose. That's pretty much the way I see electrical connections. You caught me by surprise because I had previously asked Zemlin a question about this project. I appreciate the laugh.
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Old 07-09-2014   #23
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What ever you do, just don't cut the blue wire, or is the red?
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Old 07-09-2014   #24
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Funny! The wires that come out of the motor are color coded Ground, Neutral, Direction1 and Direction two (Green, White, Red and Black). Those colored wires go into plugs with numbered pins. So this part sounds really, really easy.

Those plugs go into 8 individual outlets, numbered 1-8 for easy identification on the junction box. Inside that box each of the wires is connected to a 37 pin round cable outlet and each of those pins is numbered 1-37 (Though only 25 are in use) for easy identification. BUT - - Inside the junction box, the wires are all white leading from the 8 plugs to the multi pin round jack. That's where the wheels come off my cart.
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Old 07-10-2014   #25
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Default Re: Help with a motorized background system

Though the inside wires are all white are they, at least, traceable? Use multi colored markers to code all the wires to make things easier.

I noticed that Somfy is using low voltage CAT5 lines and connectors for their current product line. That indicates they use low voltage motors or the switches are isolated to a low voltage system. That's something to consider as you approach this project.
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Old 07-10-2014   #26
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Default Re: Help with a motorized background system

Duck,
Somfy has two major options, the 24 volt DC motors and the 120 volt AC. They are readily identified by the wires exiting the motor. In speaking with Somfy on the phone we were able to verify the motors I have are 120 VAC. I suppose it's because of the potentially heavier weight of rolled canvas that Denny also uses the 120VAC motors in their system.
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Old 07-10-2014   #27
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Default Re: Help with a motorized background system

Both AC and DC motors are capable of high torque. Torque is measured in inch/pounds. High voltages do not necessary
provide more torque.

Probably the easiest way to create a switch-box is to bypass all of the connectors and go with point to point wiring using a few simple terminal strips and the terminals on each switch.

The first step, however, is to test the theory out. You attach the neutral wire to one side of one of the AC motors then apply the other AC lead to one of the directional wires. At that point the motor should run. Then repeat the operation with the other directional wire on the motor and it should run in reverse. Be careful to avoid shorting the AC leads out or connecting them to the wrong wires- motor damage may occur.

Once you have verified the that the motors are operating properly you can obtain the switches and wire them in.

In point to point wiring, an ordinary soldering iron or soldering gun can be used along with standard resin core soldering wire. When using the multi-pin connectors, soldering becomes more difficult and a precision soldering device needs to be used. Insulation can also be a problem for the uninitiated.

As I mentioned before, each motor will require a SINGLE POLE- DOUBLE THROW - CENTER POSITION OFF TOGGLE SWITCH. Ones with a momentary contact feature are more convenient to use because when yo release the switch the motor will stop running, otherwise toy have to toggle it manually. Toggle switches are easy to mount in an aluminum box- you just drill a hole to accommodate the neck of the switch and the mounting hardware that is supplied. Terminal strips can be mounted with small machine screws and nuts. The strips just make for a neater job.

Rocker switches can also be used but there are more difficult to mount. You would need a rectangular chassis punch to make clean openings in the box to accommodate the switches. The rocker switches would probably more expensive.

When purchasing hook up wire and switches, make sure that tey are rated for the voltage and amperage as required by the motors.

Ed

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Old 07-10-2014   #28
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More! This is what the switch looks like. The best source is a company called TTI.

The neck of the switch is called the bushing- this determines the size of the hole that must be drilled in the box. The type is SPDT ON-OFF-ON .
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Old 07-10-2014   #29
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Default Re: Help with a motorized background system

Thanks Ed I was about to post a question about the wiring and you touched on a couple of points already. I'll attempt to convert to words here what I am thinking:

The line from the wall receptacle has three wires: Hot, Neutral, Ground.
The motors have 4 wires 2-Hot (one for each direction), Neutral, Ground.

A switch interrupts the continuity of current on the Hot wire. In the case of a SPDT switch, it breaks the continuity of two hot wires (here one for each direction).

The incoming hot wire needs to be split so power can be provided to both of the hot directional wires of the motors. A "Y" (perhaps made with a wire nut connection) would create two Hot legs (don't get cute). Each leg get attached to the supply side of a bus strip with 8 demand side terminals. All the Red (hot, direction 1) wires attach to one bus, all the Black (hot, direction 2) leads attach to the other. A second bus similarly installed connects to the Neutral incoming wire on the supply side, and all the neutral motor wires connect to it. The ground wire from the incoming AC is grounded to the chassis of the case along with the ground leads from the motor wires (this is consistent with the junction box where the chassis is ground). I believe this arrangement of connections now powers the switchbox as a whole.

Next step is switching and where I begin to lose focus. Concentrating only on one motor direction here. A connection from one (specific) post of the switch needs to be made with one (specific) directional motor wire (we'll say direction Red for illustration). This connection would be a red wire from the bus to the "IN" side of the switch. The "OUT" side would be run to the appropriate pin in the cable connector. The neutrals would run directly to the corresponding pin on the cable connection, not going through the switch at all.

Am I close yet?
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Old 07-13-2014   #30
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OK! Sorry for the delay- I had a 16 hour monster wedding gig yesterday and I am still in the recuperation stage what with my age! My younger assistants are in worse shape than me!

So here goes:

In a simple switching arrangement on one leg of the AC circuit needs to be interrupted by the switch- the hot leg is the one that must go through the switch and the neutral leg goes directly to the appliance whether it is a light bulb or an electrical motor. Perhaps with very large motors such as those in big factory machinery or motors with AC starting capacitors, more sophisticated switching devices are needed such as those incorporating relays or solid state circuitry. The motors in your background system do not require such mechanisms.

Unlike DC voltage AC voltage as it comes for the electrical outlet does not entail positive and negative polarity (per se) but it is important to know which leads coming from the outlet is the hot lead, the neutral lead and the ground lead. All appliances manufactured today for use in North America have polarized plugs with a large blade and a somewhat smaller blade. The smaller blade is the hot lead and the larger one is the neutral one.

To start off with you should test the outlet for proper wiring especially if you suspect some DYI work was done that make have resulted in improper polarization. Any electrical tester will do. Insert the red probe of the tester in the smaller slot of the outlet and touch the black probe to the center screw of the outlet plate- the tester should light up or register the voltage. If the screw is painted- remove it and apply the lead to the threaded hole. Next- repeat the same operation with the red probe in the larger slot- no voltage should register and no light should appear. If it does- the outlet is wired in reverse and should be repaired or you must find another outlet that is working properly for the purposes of this test. Voltage should be present between the smaller slot and the ground part of the socket as well- if it does not, that means the outlet is not properly grounded.

The reason for this test is to make sure the wiring in you switch box is conforming to code with the use of properly polarized and grounded plugs.

Once you know exactly what is coming through your AC line cord- the rest is easy.

Fist: connect the neutral leg to the neutral pole of each motor. Then connect the hot lead to the center pole of each the SPDT switch. Then connect the directional leads to each side of the switches for up and down performance. The center position and pole of the switches are the OFF positions- a momentary contact switch will enable automatic return to the off position when you let go of the toggle. Set up the orientation so that the roll up position is facing upward and the roll down position is facing downward. That may sound too rudimentary but is worth mentioning as per my one personal experience! I always though dyslexia was a right side/left side issue!

If you decide to use the multi-pin connector you will need to be very careful as to tracing the wires and observing the color codes. Here, an inexpensive multi tester will be useful. You can set the meter for OHMS and use it as a continuity tester to double check on the wiring configuration.

The layout in you control box is important. You will need to work out a position for each switch and perhaps use wiring terminal strips for neat and safe wiring, taking in to consideration the shortest distances between the various terminals. You can create a main terminal for each major pole; the neutral, each of the hot the hot leads, and the ground. The ground wire coming in from the outlet should be firmly connected to the ground leads from the motors and firmly attached to the box using a circular wiring lug, a star washer and a machine screw and nut.

Any wires entering the box such as the AC line should be properly strain relieved and insulated by a rubber grommet or special plastic strain relief grommet. Make sure that all the switch and wire gauges conform to the voltage and amperage ratings of the motors.

My suggestion is to solder all of the connections to the wiring strips after making good mechanical connections. You can solder wires directly to the switches’ terminals or use spade lugs where the switches’ terminals can accommodate those- how’s your soldering technique? Avoid cold joint soldering, tack soldering or overheating the switches without a heat sink in place- such as a “hemostat” which should be part of every electrical or electronic wiring tool kit.

I usually install a fuse holder with the appropriate amperage of fuse in the hot leg circuits as well.

Don’t hesitate to let me know if any of this needs further clarification.

Some good investments for any photographer who does some DYI projects in electrical work or who works in certain hazardous conditions are a decent multi meter, an electrician’s voltage tester such as an AMPROBE and a cheap little plug in device that verifies the integrity of outlets and extension cords. In my industrial and even portrait location work, I have found outlets that a poorly wired to the extent that they could expose my equipment and persons operating this equipment as well as clients to extreme danger. In one factory, I found an outlet harboring 240 volts that was wired to a standard 117 Volt outlet configuration! How crazy is that? You would be surprised what some folks will do when the need a quick fix and don’t have the time or the patience to do it right! Even finding a dead outlet in advance prevents wasting time in determining if your equipment is on the fritz or not!

Ed


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