Please VOTE. Beyond Comfort Zone!
This is my first time installing a pre-built control board of any type and retrofitting a traffic light in this manner. Also, my first time working with 120 volt ac rather than the safer 12v and lower.
I have seen plenty of instances where people have used micro controller boards like Arduino, but considering the cost and time to follow that path, this seemed like a cheaper and faster option.
My original plan was to try using a combination of Arduino and relays, until I learned of a relatively inexpensive control board made by Galak Electronics. For only $27.49 plus shipping, this seemed to be the best deal on the Net that I was able to find for a board completely assembled and tested. Very quick shipping and great documentation. American Made!
I purchased the Built and Tested version. You can also by the Kit if you want to attempt the soldering of all the components. For only $22.49, that might be a task I try with other items they sell in the future.
Step 1: Supplies
- Traffic Light: I found this one on Craigs List for $40. The older aluminum enclosures are getting hard to find for a reasonable price. This one is a plastic enclosure with LED lights. Not bad for the price. This light came with no power connection. Just the enclosure with lights connected to a connecting block behind the yellow light.
- AC Traffic Light Controller: Part No. VG-305 from Galak Electronics $27.49 plus shipping.
- Zip Ties: Have a bunch of these handy at all times. I used the 4 inch long mini ties.
- Switch Plate Cover: Had this in my electrical junk box. Can probably buy one for a couple bucks.
- AC Power Cord: Cut about 4ft off the male end of an damaged 16 awg extension cord.
- Connection Diagram: Great documentation provided with controller.
Step 2: Tools
Very few tools needed for this project.
- Wire Cutters: Used to cut and strip wire for connections.
- Mini Screw Driver: Used for the small screws at the connection terminals.
- Spade Head Screw Driver: Used to install board.
- Drill Bits: I used 1/8 inch bit for controller board mounting holes, and 13/64 inch bit for mounting plate holes.
- Drill Press: I used a drill press, but you can probably get away with a standard drill for drilling holes into the mounting plate.
Step 3: Where to Mount the Control Board
The main problem I had to solve was where I would mount the control board inside the light. For those who have not seen the inside of a traffic light, there is really nothing to it. Inside and enclosure you will find 2 wires from each light and a connecting block of some sort.
Since the connecting block was no longer needed, I removed it. This was the most logical place to install the board. But, the next problem was that the mounting holes inside the enclosure did not match the size spacing of the control board.
Step 4: Fabricate Mounting Plate
Fabricating a mounting plate from a wall switch plate.
- Mark where holes will be drilled for mounting plate to enclosure
- Mark where holes will be drilled for mounting control board to plate.
I used 13/64 bit for top corner holes. This was size of screws I used from removal of connecting block in previous step. I used 1/8 bit for control board holes. Same size as holes on control board and zip ties I used fit just right.
Drill the holes slow and avoid excessive pressure so not to crack your plate.
Step 5: Mount Control Board to Plate and Enclosure
- Use the 4 zip ties to fasten the control board to your fabricated mounting plate.
- Connect wires from power source and lights to terminals as noted in documentation.
- Use screws from removed connecting block to fasten mounting plate to enclosure.
I needed to follow the above steps sequentially as it would have been difficult to connect wires AFTER fastening the mounting plate to the enclosure.
Step 6: Power It and Program It
Follow the easy to follow documentation for choosing the mode of operation.
There are 9 modes to choose from on this model. Choose your favorite and let it go.
Step 7: Summary
Overall, this was a simple project thanks to great documentation provided by the manufacturer of the control board.
The major challenge was coming up with a mount system for the control board. I did not want it just hanging inside the enclosure due to the danger of using 120 VAC.
My first thoughts were going to use Legos to fabricate a mounting plate, but my son's inventory was not what I needed. After rummaging through my "junk", the switch plate seemed like a good idea that proved worthy.
After installing I did send the manufacturer a message on a design modification suggestion. Would be great if the mode button could be wired on the outside of the enclosure for easier access. If anybody has a suggestion on how to mod this board to wire an external mode button that would be great. Please share.
I usually tinker with low voltage, 12v and under. This was my first attempt to go with the higher 120 vac in a DIY project. When I plugged it in... told my son to step back. Luckily everything worked out great. This will be a great addition to our basement decor.
With this project I went Beyond the Comfort Zone of low voltage. Please vote if you see worthy.