Controller Frequently Asked Questions / FAQ
Illegal pre-emption device / MERT
Who? / Why?
Real life intersection
Multiple bulbs per output
COLD Temperature issues
PED walk/don't walk mode
Changing Caution-Mode / Flash Mode
Using 12-volt inverters
Driving Relays instead of bulbs
(Email me HERE if your
this one of those units that
will let me change the light from RED to GREEN when I am approaching an
A>No, this is not one of those units.
Who would want one of these?
This is a
controller for people who own an old traffic signal and want it to
operate like a real signal would for visual effect. Some
then hang them in their garage, pool room, backyard,
etc. Some creative people have used them
Halloween and Christmas displays to trigger lights and small motors /
Can this board be used for actual traffic-flow control of a REAL
intersection in place of an industrial controller?
The SYNC series of boards are meant for
"visual effect" use only, and are not for directing "real" traffic.
I have a standard three light signal, but may want to add a pedestrian
walk/don't walk signal at a later time. Can I use a
5-output (SYNC-5) but only wire up the 3 outputs for the
the walk/don't walk outputs unused?
can. Just wire up the outputs you need. Leaving
open does not harm the board.
Do these controllers work with LED type signal lights?
YES! As long as the LED light is designed to accept 110 - 120
VAC, it will work fine.
Can I use the low-wattage screw-in fluorescent bulbs?
A> The board will light them fine.
have indicated that "some" compact fluorescent bulbs have a shorter
life-span when turn on and off frequently.
Can I run two bulbs per output for a
four sided traffic light?
A> Yes, you can run multiple bulbs per output, as long as the
wattage of the bulbs do not exceed 150 watts per output. A
wattage for traffic light bulbs is between 35 and 40 watts, so two of
these bulbs would be well below the wattage limit.
I have a
light hanging outside
year round. Would the electronics hold up to weather, such as cold
enclosure for the board should be water proof. If rain / moisture seeps
into the enclosure and onto the board, damage will result. The
components are guaranteed to 0 deg. F. Technical Specs say
-30 C to +105C. Condensation will complicate things. A shroud
fiberglass insulation around the board would help in lower
temperatures, as the triacs generate a small amount of heat that helps
keep the board warm. A coat of conformal
will help protect the board as well. Protect the time-set push button
with masking tape when using conformal coating.
Side note about COLD
TEMPERATURES and light bulbs with filaments
If the environment is VERY COLD, this can cause an
high surge current when a bulb is turned on from a cold start, as the
filament resistance is very low until it heats up. This process happens
in a fraction of a second. The higher the wattage of the bulb, the more
pronounced the effect. If the temperature is low enough, the
filament may not be able to heat fast enough, causing an excessive
current draw. This can result in blowing the
and possibly damage the triac that switches power to
bulb. The typical symptom of a damaged triac is that the bulb
stays on continuously.
There are two possible solutions in
#1> Resistors can be added from the NEUTRAL wire to each
output (R,Y,G) to allow just enough current to flow through each light
to keep the filament warm, but
low enough so no light is visible. This is also known as
or "pre-heating the light" (common in theatrical lighting). Something
in the range of 2K to 4K at approx. 10 watts (one for each
bulb/output) should work, although you may have to experiment
to find the ideal value for your setup.
#2> Another solution would be to put a resistor between
each output and it's associated bulb (3 total, wired like a
to "soften / cushion" such a surge. Three 10-ohm 25 watt
should work fine. Resistors are available at a local electronic store
or you can find them on-line as well. . Resistors can get HOT,
so take precautions in mounting them to avoid heat related
I have an application for your board,
but I need it to operate a little differently. Can it be
for other applications?
A> Yes... to a certain degree. The wattage and voltage
cannot be changed. However, the control-IC can be altered
to do many things.
Does the 5-OUTPUT
SYNC-5 Walk / Don't walk outputs flash like a "real"
signal? How does it operate?
A>Yes. There are 4 "steps" to the
cycle. Each step can be from 1/2 sec to 25 minutes:
Step 1> Signal is GREEN, Green WALK in ON (solid)
Step 2> Signal is (still) GREEN, Green Walk turns off and RED
Step 3> Signal turns YELLOW and (at the same time) RED
Step 4> Signal turns RED (RED DON'T-WALK is still solid ON)
do you change the caution mode
"mode"... i.e. flashing red, flashing yellow, etc.?
A>When caution-mode is initiated (by connecting the caution-mode
input terminals together) pressing the time-set push button "STEPS"
through the flashing modes. The current selected mode is always stored
in non-volatile memory, so it remembers the mode when power is removed.
I use a 12VDC Inverter to power
the board from a 12 volt DC source?
A> Only inverters with a sine-wave output
exceeds the quality of standard 120 VAC residential power will work.
DO NOT USE Inverters labeled "modified sine
wave". These will destroy your controller.
I use a dimmer switch to control power to the board to dim the lights?
A>No. A dimmer changes the AC power in a way that will
the traffic controller board. Use lower wattage bulbs to reduce the
intensity as well as extend your controllers life.
I need to control/switch more wattage than the outputs are rated for,
can the outputs drive relay coils instead of bulbs to allow the relays
to switch a larger load?
A> Yes! Just make sure the relay coil voltage is
the contact rating of the relay meets or exceeds your lamp
wattage/amperage switching requirements. If you are not
with relays, you must consult with a qualified electrician to
avoid damaging the controller.
Example of 15 Amp (resistive load), 120VAC coil relay and
Relay: TYCO part# K10P-11A15-120 (Digikey part#PB321-ND)
Socket: TYCO part# 27E895 (Digikey part#PB332-ND)
Free counters provided by Andale.