ChristmasCave Control Hardware Technologies

Select one of the following:

NOTE:  All of these involve the use of a computer.


Digital I/O boards:

These are placed inside a computer in an expansion or bus slot (ISA, PCI, etc). There are usually places on the board to plug in a cable or cables that go to external devices. Each of the wires in the cable(s) can control 1 channel (or circuit).  However extra circuitry is required in order for the signal produced by the board on each of the wires (0 or 5 volts DC) to control a larger AC voltage (110VAC or 240VAC depending on where you live).  Each of these boards can control a various number of channels (or circuits).  Configurations usually are 24, 48, 96, and 192 channels per board.


Parallel control boxes:

These connect to a computer's parallel port.  Each of these boxes controls 8 channels (or circuits).


Serially-Controlled Control Boxes (SCCB's):

These connect to a computer's serial port and "listen" for their address.  When they "hear" their address they do what they are told to do and then go back to listening again.  Each of these boxes controls 8 channels (or circuits).


X10 / Firecracker:

X10 modules plug directly into the electrical line.  Each channel (electrical circuit) you wish to control gets one of these modules.  They are placed between the power source and the lights.  Each module has switches on it so one can select which address they want the module (i.e. channel) to have.


Device Pros Cons
Digital I/O board very fast response times board has to be inside a computer

many extension cords needed to get each channel's power to location of display

external circuitry required

Parallel control box very fast response times

can be up to 50 feet away from computer

limited number of channels available due to number of parallel ports that can be placed in a standard computer (3 ports for a total of 24 channels)

long parallel cables are more susceptible to noise and interference

Serially-Controlled Control Box (SCCB) fast response times

can have many devices on each serial port

control boxes can be placed right next to the display, eliminating long extension cords

possible slow response times depending on how many changes one sends out the serial port at one time
X10 / Firecracker modules can be placed right next to the display, eliminating long extension cords

signals run right over the power lines so no data cables are necessary.

currently the only technology of those listed that can do dimming

very slow response times

limited number of channels available (although the number isn't that low).

signals can go from house to house via the power lines (can be an asset depending on how you want to use the technology)

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