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Electrical question

Chicken lights

Forum Pony Express Driver
Premium Member
I had to get new beacons for the truck, the old ones died. How two beacons decide to pack it in at the same time is another question but I digress. The new beacons have three wires, power, ground, and a “pattern change” wire. The instructions say the third “pattern change” wire goes to a switch then to ground. Seems straight forward.

However I’m used to switches controlling power, not ground. I don’t think I understand how a switched ground can accomplish anything.

I get that in a power circuit with a power and a ground, you could put the switch on either leg to control turning a light on or off, for instance. You can use smaller wiring and switches on the ground side because of less load, conversely most power circuits use a relay to keep the load low on the switch. I do get some of the basics.

So, how does a switch going to ground trigger a light to change how it flashes? The light must be programmable to remember what pattern to keep using
 

CalgaryPT

Ultra Member
Vendor
Premium Member
I think you may be overthinking it using standard electrical knowledge...which is 100% correct. Lots of controller circuits pull a pin to low (ground) to start a program, such as one that may cycle numerous pattern flashes in the IC. It seems counterintuitive, but really is exactly the same as changing the pattern by cycling to high (positive). It just depends on the manufacturer and the way the controller was programmed. With an Arduino, for example, you could force a program to cycle by bringing a pin either high or low. Personally, I always initiate action on high pins because I am old school. But I read once that there are some mission critical schools of thought that cycle on low. Not sure why, but I once saw a vid with a navy engineer who said to always assume your control wire will get severed and you may need to draw from low (ground) somewhere else in the system during an emergency (maybe like a hole blown in your battleship?) This manufacturer of beacons (who I've used) draws on high, but it's a programming thing—not electrical per se. Your knowledge is correct I think from a power perspective. It's just the way it was programmed that makes no sense to most of us.
https://www.grote.com/file-attachments/76983-76993-IM-WIRING.pdf

Perhaps @Brent H knows more; he seems to be the Yoda of heavy duty and failsafe stuff because of his time on ships :) , which is pretty cool BTW.
 

YYCHM

(Craig)
Premium Member
@CalgaryPT beat me to it, and explained it better I might add.

Pulsing the power to the flasher logic circuit probable causes it to cycle through it's different patterns. How many patterns does it support?

Craig
 

YotaBota

Mike
Premium Member
Think about your Christmas tree lights, each time you push the button the pattern changes. There is a chip inside the controller that holds the program for the light patterns, each time you push the button there is a ground applied to the chip and that tells it to go to the next pattern.
 

Chicken lights

Forum Pony Express Driver
Premium Member
Think about your Christmas tree lights, each time you push the button the pattern changes. There is a chip inside the controller that holds the program for the light patterns, each time you push the button there is a ground applied to the chip and that tells it to go to the next pattern.
So I won’t be “shorting” anything by triggering the ground, it’s a way to interrupt the chip?
 

Chicken lights

Forum Pony Express Driver
Premium Member
I think you may be overthinking it using standard electrical knowledge...which is 100% correct. Lots of controller circuits pull a pin to low (ground) to start a program, such as one that may cycle numerous pattern flashes in the IC. It seems counterintuitive, but really is exactly the same as changing the pattern by cycling to high (positive). It just depends on the manufacturer and the way the controller was programmed. With an Arduino, for example, you could force a program to cycle by bringing a pin either high or low. Personally, I always initiate action on high pins because I am old school. But I read once that there are some mission critical schools of thought that cycle on low. Not sure why, but I once saw a vid with a navy engineer who said to always assume your control wire will get severed and you may need to draw from low (ground) somewhere else in the system during an emergency (maybe like a hole blown in your battleship?) This manufacturer of beacons (who I've used) draws on high, but it's a programming thing—not electrical per se. Your knowledge is correct I think from a power perspective. It's just the way it was programmed that makes no sense to most of us.
https://www.grote.com/file-attachments/76983-76993-IM-WIRING.pdf

Perhaps @Brent H knows more; he seems to be the Yoda of heavy duty and failsafe stuff because of his time on ships :) , which is pretty cool BTW.
So it’s kind of a signal wire, for lack of a better term?

It had three pauses to trigger certain patterns, 3 seconds hold went to pattern A, 6 seconds went to pattern B, 9 went to pattern C. Otherwise one flick to ground moved it one pattern at a time

That’s pretty sophisticated to build all that into one little beacon, if you ask me
 

YotaBota

Mike
Premium Member
Before I commit an answer to the shorting question, what is the make and model of the lights?, I'll have a look at the book.
 

Brent H

Ultra Member
Should be good to go Dave! A slight “touch to ground” can be used as a reset (like some of things like modems etc) or to change function.

if you are wired correctly the pattern change switch will move your logic to the next selection
 

Brent H

Ultra Member
We used to “reset” our crane boards by zapping (reverse power) 15 volts across them. Pucker factor huge ( about a million dollar crane) until you saw it work a few times.
 

YotaBota

Mike
Premium Member
No idea what all the patterns are for but there is a bunch of them. Signal wire is a good term for it, so hook it up as per the instructions and have fun finding the pattern you need.
 

Chicken lights

Forum Pony Express Driver
Premium Member
Should be good to go Dave! A slight “touch to ground” can be used as a reset (like some of things like modems etc) or to change function.

if you are wired correctly the pattern change switch will move your logic to the next selection
Oh I figured if they were telling me to wire it a specific way, it was fine!

I just didn’t understand switching to a ground

Now should I wire up two switches and run two different patterns at the same time to be annoying? :D
 

Chicken lights

Forum Pony Express Driver
Premium Member
No idea what all the patterns are for but there is a bunch of them. Signal wire is a good term for it, so hook it up as per the instructions and have fun finding the pattern you need.
I have no idea if there is a “right” pattern, I liked the one that said to alternate between all 26 patterns
 

YotaBota

Mike
Premium Member
I'm trying to picture you crossing the border with the lights in that mode, they'll probably call out the swat team:D
 

Chicken lights

Forum Pony Express Driver
Premium Member
The border is one place I check my sense of humour at the Canadian side and find it again somewhere in the USA. Those guys have NO sense of humour
 

YYCHM

(Craig)
Premium Member
Those guys have NO sense of humour

Oh, I don't know about that. In 2014 the wife and I were passing through the Sweet Grass border crossing on our way to Rapid City. The US guy asked what the purpose of our visit was, we replied to go see your Mount Rushmore. "WHAT he said... don't you guys read the paper.... that place is closed, been closed for a year now". The wife and I looked at each other in puzzled disbelief, then he says "Ha Ha just kidding" and asked if we had any fruit to declare which he promptly confiscated.
 
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CalgaryPT

Ultra Member
Vendor
Premium Member
Ha ha. I haven't been to the USA in 25 years. Don't even have a passport. But I'm thinking...given I am in a high risk group for this crazy Covid19 virus...if I survive this thing I might do a loop from Calgary to Pasco WA, then to Seattle. Both have Shakey's Pizza locations there. I have fond childhood memories of this place. I know no one else probably remembers it—but they had the best chicken and "MoJo Potatoes" in the world. It would be a bucket list thing for sure.

And BTW, the best route back goes straight past Bellingham, WA and the giant Grizzly Tools warehouse there. I can't help it if the road leads me inside, right? An F250 with some weight in its empty bed drives much more smoothly too. So really...I am just be safer by buying a mill or something heavy, correct?
 
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