Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Control Your Chilipepper with the 110 Volt Wall Outlet

Activating Your Chilipepper with the wall outlet.

We frequently get emails and phone calls from customers who want to use the wall outlet to control their Chilipepper pumps. The Chilipepper ships with a 6 foot two-wire control cable and a push button to connect to it.

In normal operation the control wire is connected to one or more buttons wired in parallel, or to a UM506 X10 remote receiver for remote operation. It can also be wired to both. Turning the power to the Chilipepper on and off with the wall outlet has no affect on and won’t start the Chilipepper.

However, there is a way to control the Chilipepper with the 110 volt power. When the Chilipepper starts up the software program in the microcontroller chip initializes and then begins immediately to run the program. The program first looks for a “button press”, and when it sees it begins looking for a “button release”. Only when it sees that the button has been released does it begin pumping water.

By placing a 200 uf capacitor across the control wires the Chilipepper will turn on when the power is turned on. What happens is when the software in the controller chip looks for a “button press” it sees what it thinks is a contacts closed situation when it’s really the capacitor acting like a short circuit. The capacitor charges up to 5 volts through a pull up resistor in the button circuit. Once the capacitor reaches about 2 volts the input to the microcontroller no longer looks like a short circuit and the software detects a button release condition, and starts the Chilipepper.

You can still connect buttons and a remote receiver to it and they will work fine as long as the power is on to the Chilipepper. If your power goes out in a storm when it comes back on your Chilipepper will cycle.

Customers that want to use a light switch to control the Chilipepper will have to leave the switch in the on position… the Chilipepper needs 110 volts to run. They will simply need to switch it off and then back on when they want to use it again.

You need to find a 200 uf capacitor with a 12 volt or higher voltage rating. Since it will most likely be an electrolytic capacitor and thus polarized, you will need to connect it to the Chilipepper with the correct polarity. The capacitors are typically marked with the polarity showing a minus or plus sign or both next to the leads.

You will need a volt meter to determine which wires are + and – coming from the Chilipepper. Connect the voltmeter to the two wires. If the reading is + 5 volts then the red lead from the voltmeter is connected to the + wire. If the reading is -5 volts then the black lead is connected to the + wire.
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