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Old 09-11-2019, 10:03 AM   #1 (permalink)
Soulless ginger
 
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Wiring help for LED strips

I'm working with a boat here, so technically off road related.

I put in 12v 5050 RGB LED strips on my aluminimum boat under the gunwale to light the deck for night fishing. Used a kit from China via Amazon, and wired with spade connectors directly to power and ground distribution blocks under the console. Lights are operable via the remote for the strip controller. The draw is max 6 amps, and everything works fine. For the most part.

The first morning on the water we took off away from the ramp and as soon as I started to trim up, the lights came on. Each time I bumped the trim up, the lights would change colors.

I'm ASSuming this is due to voltage surge/drop from the trim motor combined with $2 worth of Chinese electrical engineering. My knowledge of 12v wiring puts me square in the "hack but does clean work" category. Is there something I can wire in to steady the voltage and get these things working normally?
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Old 09-11-2019, 03:59 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Bad connections, long runs, corrosion, too small of wiring, can all cause voltage drops. You might just be drawing more than your system can adequately handle. You might do a dedicated run direct from your battery (add a fuse) just for the lighting.
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Old 09-12-2019, 08:33 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Pull out the chinesium RGB strips and get decent single color strips. They'll last longer and work better.
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Old 09-16-2019, 09:46 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ironmangq View Post
Pull out the chinesium RGB strips and get decent single color strips. They'll last longer and work better.
My thought was I don't know what color will be the best or what intensity, so I went with cheap ass RGB dimmable. So far, red dimmed down is the best compromise between being able to see on deck and seeing on the water ahead of the boat.

From what I can tell, the strips are pretty much the same. The differences are in the controllers and the tape that comes on the strips.
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Old 09-16-2019, 02:51 PM   #5 (permalink)
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better strips have better diodes and better waterproof coating. Controllers are easy to swap out later.
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Old 09-20-2019, 05:14 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Can you buy red only strips?

Possibly dimmable red only strips?
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Old 10-10-2019, 10:27 AM   #7 (permalink)
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you could buy a red only strip and wire in a potentiometer to dim the light as you like.
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Old 10-11-2019, 05:01 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by yitzac1990 View Post
you could buy a red only strip and wire in a potentiometer to dim the light as you like.
Do you know for certain that a pot will make LEDs dim?
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Old 10-14-2019, 09:02 AM   #9 (permalink)
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ive done it before, just have to make sure you get the right size pot....i think haha. wouldnt cost much or be too hard to bench test it either
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Old 10-15-2019, 02:42 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The controller that came with them works, it's just very sensitive to small voltage changes across the system and makes it act weird.

Would putting in a relay like on the old 150w KC's help even the voltage out and keep them from turning on when I trim the motor up?
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Old 11-25-2019, 06:58 PM   #11 (permalink)
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If voltage is dropping and causing issue, you need to stop the drop. Put a meter on it and confirm what your working with voltage wise. Depending on why its dropping, there are different solutions.

If the controller is getting the same voltage as whats at the battery, you may need more battery/charging to accomodate the additional load.

If the voltage is not, try heavier gauge wire and/or more direct run to the battery.

You could also try putting in a capacitor to give you extra supply power for those heavy use times like when trim motor is drawing a lot.
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Old 12-13-2019, 01:47 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I suspect this is either a conducted or radiated immunity issue. Simply put the trim motor or trim switch circuit is creating electrical noise that is being conducted through the power wires or radiated through the air (just like a radio signal) and is affecting the receiver for the remote control. Most products from reputable companies undergo testing to ensure they are immune from this type of noise. This is called EMC testing.

I am operating under the assumption that the remote for the lights is wireless. If the remote is not wireless, then radiated immunity can probably be ruled out.

To narrow down what is causing the problem get an auxiliary battery to power the lights from that is completely disconnected from the boat's electrical system. Don't move the lights, just power them with the aux battery. Turn on the lights and hit the trim switch. If the lights still are affected, then the problem is radiated immunity and there is not much you can do except buy better lights.

If the lights are no longer affected the problem is conducted through the power wires from the boat to the lights. There are a couple things you can try. You can try clamp on ferrite beads on each power wire. You've probably seen these at the ends of computer cables are small cylinders right before the plugs. They absorb high frequency noise. You can wrap the wire once or more than once through the core to reduce the conducted noise. More wraps will be more effective. You can also try a "common mode choke". The problem with the choke is you said the lights draw 6 amps. You'd have to find a choke good for at least 6 amps, preferably 8 to 10.

I'd try the ferrite first. You can get the clamp on type, but the toroid type would probably be best. Just wrap the power wires around the ferrite code as many times as possible. When you wrap the wires together one side is the "beginning" and one is the "end". It doesn't matter which side you connect where, just make sure it is the same for both power and ground. For instance connect both beginnings to the boat and both ends to the lights. Basically you are winding your own common mode choke.

Try searching for "FT140-43" on Amazon.

In all cases make sure your ground for the lights is good. This was already stated above. To check if the ground is good you can use a multimeter to measure resistance from the light ground wire directly to the battery ground lug. It should be very low, less than 1 ohm. Touch the meter leads together to get a baseline before taking your measurement.

Vehicle electrical systems are notoriously noisy. it is one of the most difficult environments to design for. There are lots of noise sources from switching high loads like headlamps and electric motors and ignition systems can be a source of noise as well. Buying better quality lights means you are less likely to have problems.
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