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I suppose this could be a nice effect on the front of a house in the winter months.
It's a water-resistant ripple projector that runs on a 5V supply, and has radio remote control to select the colour and speed.
Fairly textbook design, and produces a nice effect.
I guess the original design was possibly based on a non-aluminium core PCB, as the ability of the etched antenna to receive a signal will be severely restricted by the aluminium core of the PCB acting as a shield.
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A common water ripple, projector type device that i bought in this instance from cpc in the uk, but it's very common. It seems to be a standard thing around the world. It comes with a five volt uh powers, actually, five volt usb power supply. Yes, technically speaking, it could be, but this is a generic sort of christmas lighting type power supply and, and it puts out the 5 volts up to 1.2 amps 6 watts.

And if i plug it in, we instantly discover that i've already lost the remote control. It literally i put this on the gadget mountain and the remote control media is slid and crowdsurfed all the way to the bottom. Goodness knows where it is. It looks like one of these.

If i remember correctly, but this one doesn't work, let's try it. No nothing happening right, but anyway, so i'll show you the effect this gives and then we can take it to bits. So i shall switch to that now. This is the effect it projects, it's not bad.

It's a passable ripple effect, although you can see the placement of the leds affects this of appearance. I may experiment with that, but it's not that effect. I can tell already that behind this multiple set of bugs eye lens, there is a glass ripple. Well, plastic ripple disc, that is rotating slowly in front of it.

It's a good effect, okay time for the tear down and begin the teardown. I shall unplug it and we'll start taking the screws out, there's quite a lot of them. They've sealed this well! Well, i say: they've seen it well, i've not tried it outside, so i don't know if it fills up with water instantly in the first night. I would hope it doesn't.

A lot of this stuff from cpc is actually okay. It's uh cpc is part of uh. The element 14 group farnell - is it uh, digikey yeah, not sure, not sure how many companies are part of it, but they're big. They went from being kind of like industrial supplies to just everything, quite an interesting company.

They occasionally get the shady product in from time to time, but it's not bad. There is our little ripple disc right. I can see more screws, i'm going to have to take a little ripple disc out. I shall take them to ripple discount a ticket is plastic.

I shall give it a tooth test: it's plastic, nice enough in its own right. Oh, it's got a single uh led in here. That means the chips are all going to be sort of off angle. Right.

Tell you what let's undo these screws! You can't see a thing in here because it's dark, neither can i everything's black. Oh i've just unscrewed the motor. I don't think that's what i was supposed to do. Let's try these two screws.

Instead of these will be the power cable, the power cable is, i don't want to be the motor. Oh, the whole lot stuck into the bracket uh. I shall take that bracket out. Oh, this is turning out massive i've also pinged screws everywhere.

So it's debatable where this will be going back together afterwards, look quite like it! It does strike me that it needs a little bit of hackery. Oh, you know what there's an antenna. It's radio, remote control that'll, be why it wasn't responding very well to infrared okay. What do we have now? There is the power coming on through this connector there's the motor through that connector.

Here's what so, i shall zoom down in this. Actually, you know what i may just uh cut to the chase and take some pictures of this. So we can see what it looks like right. Tell you what i shall do that one moment please, let's explore, i have inverted the image of the circuit board.

It just makes it easier to see because it is very, very black, so we have the incoming supply coming onto this uh connector here, and it goes straight to this electrolytic capacitor. It then goes through this schottky diode over to this capacitor, and i thought they would maybe be filtering it out a little bit with that diode to provide a local supply for things like the rf circuitry and the microcontroller. But in reality everything is powered from this capacitor here at that slightly reduced voltage. They may have done it just to drop the voltage to take the strain off these resistors there's also a little tiny decoupling capacitor over that one.

There's the motor connector, the motor has a diode across it and also a capacitor across it for filtering and clamping of the back emf spike. It also has its own little mosfet. There is a 3.3 volt voltage regulator here and that feeds the rf circuitry. With its crystal, and that also feeds the microcontroller, the led is switched by four mosfets, there's actually red green, blue and white and for matching one ohm resistors, and that is about it.

Things worthy of note for the rf guys they'll like this. I have a reverse engineered this. A circuit diagram down noted all the pin numbers, so you can try and deduce what chip this is, but this little coiled antenna that sits above the circuit board is just in parallel with another antenna which zigzag zigzags backwards forward along the circuit board. I wonder if they found that the effectiveness of that antenna was somewhat compromised by the big slab of aluminium that composes most of the pcb.

So basically speaking, there's a complex thing with high frequency. Well, it's going to attenuate it. Fortunately, it's not putting a signal out. It's just purely receiving it, but this uh antenna on the circuit board is basically just capacitively coupled to the zero volt rail effectively via capacitive coupling again to back from the aluminium back to the general mass of the circuit board.

Very strange. But anyway, i shall go straight to the circuit board. Oh there's also a pins here plus and minus fdc, plus a minus a powering microcontroller data, clock and freaking reset. I guess for the serial programming here is the schematic.

I should zoom down a tiny little bit onto this, so here's the incoming supply 5 volts ish, there's the smoothing capacitor at 470, microfarad 470 micro farad at 16 volt. So is this one. This is also 470 mg fired at 16 volt. That then feeds the leds.

The motor and all the other stuff, but also feeds the 3.3 volt regulator, which goes to rf circuitry. I've noted all the pin numbers down here. It's notable for one positive connection: to pin three two negative connections to fins: one and six: eight pin chip at four and seven each for capacitor to the zero volt rail eight has the crystal to the zero vote. Rail uh pin two is going through a parallel lc network to the antenna and there's also another lc network to the zero volt rail um.

This link from i didn't know which pin that was that would have been quite useful if i had noted, which pin that was uh, the data is coming out of, pin five hold on. I shall add that to the drawing just for completeness, uh where's, the matching pen for that pin five, the microcontroller receives the data from pin five decodes it and then controls the dimming and stuff of the leds. It's got four a09t mosfets each with a one, ohm resistor and the led red, green, blue and white, but it also has another mosfet called an ar hv, which is switching the motor and using positive modulation to control its speed, and it has the back emf. Diode and also the capacitor for filtering across it, and that is it not a super - duper complicated circuit fairly logical, nothing, really radical.

This little decoupling capacitor is in the vicinity of the microcontroller um yeah, that's it so it's an interesting effect. It is very typical of these type of things they're. The nicest things about this are the motor with this little pattern: disc, lots of grease everywhere or grease. If you live in a country which says grease, and then this uh insect eye type lens very interesting, i'm going to shine a light through this, oh yeah, lots of lots of light patterns.

I do think it'd be quite interesting, putting an led on either side of this, so that one pattern is going up and others going down. But i wonder if separating them too much is going to splash splat them too far apart in this, although if they were both the same color, it would compensate for that. But it's interesting, it's a very interesting and logically designed light, so that is it. The uh water ripple, projector light that runs off that little classic christmas light style power supply, but putting out five volts.

Quite neat, not bad at all.

14 thoughts on “Outdoor xmas ripple projector teardown with schematic”
  1. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars desanges says:

    I have a bit of a nostalgic comment: I really loved the way you used to do the reverse engineering in your older videos – the improvised random thoughts and hesitation when you would look at the circuitboard and flip it back and forth many times while trying to make sense of it. The act of you thinking about it in real time was just magical and I could watch it for hours. Since a while now, your videos are much more organised – you take the circuitboard out and then decide to cut straight to the chase and show the impeccably colour-coded photos right away. I miss that magic…

  2. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars 73 Maverick says:

    The build quality of this board seems to be very well built. I was expecting snot, shoddy soldering, but that's not the case in this unit. I would like one to shine down on the white snow . Might be a kewl effect.

  3. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Les says:

    Something a little off topic here. I have a light button with 24 multi coloured lights from a fairground ride this was made for 110v hiw can I convert it to 240v on a normal 3 pin plug any ideas please thanks

  4. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars John Thomas says:

    I don’t necessarily understand most of what you are saying in your videos (I’m nought but a simple welder) but I do find them fascinating, all the same. They’re a great way to relax!

  5. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars MrPafleouf says:

    i love this kind of effect ! but this one is a bit tight for me, i prefer when the pattern is more sparse, so it looks like real water reflections.
    I was really surprised when my kid got a "Pabobo" whale plush that projects similar ripple effect, it is spon on ! the leds are not powerful but the lens is really well done

  6. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars mrleemur says:

    Hi Clive, i have a device i was wondering if you’d like to teardown?? Went to a gig last night, and everyone got a wristband with LEDs that in certain parts of the gig flashed in time with the music, or various other strobes.

  7. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars David S says:

    My first thought at the title was that this would be a lamp that had a poorly filtered rectifier, thus a light that flickered with undesirable ripple.. 🙂

  8. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Steven Anderson says:

    Thanks Big Clive, This is a lot of fun, I wonder if there could be a a project of an interesting mix between the artificial fire log set up and moving water effect, not quite sure how I'd construct it, but it might be fun, might make a good water wall, or doorway. But then in case thanks for picking something unusual to tear into.

  9. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Martin Winfield says:

    Thanks quite an illuminating experience. I have found CPC and Farnell stock the same products. But although CPC are still high priced they are cheaper than Farnell.

  10. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars DrHarryT says:

    Paralleling the 4 mosfets drive [Gates] via a single signal from the MCU??? All 4 operate with simultaneous intensity deviation, if it even brightens and dims. They could have controlled each LED individually and created the ability to change colors. Stupid engineering leaving bread and butter on the table.

  11. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars jlucasound says:

    How Do You Know All This Shit?!! (Rhetoric). You are amazing, young man!
    Thank You. One Day I Will Get It. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
    Clive and Everyone. I ALWAYS look forward to "** with schematic".

  12. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Craig Bourne says:

    Started using CPC over 30 year's ago never had a problem with them. still using some of the tool's i got back then. and they was cheap, thought for that price i would give them ago…..

  13. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Evan A says:

    The OCD? in me says I don't like that pattern it's not ex. 10101010 a pattern I can see.
    The other side really likes it and the thought that went behind it; simple and does not have an obvious repeating pattern.

    Cool !

  14. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars CraigDCrocodile says:

    I visited Mystic Marine Life Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut once and they had the Bob Ballard under the ocean display there. To get into it, you walked through a 20 or 40 foot container that had once been retrofitted to be a watertight lab on the deck of one of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Vessels. There were impressive computer desks and gadgets the whole length. Eventually, you wound up in a subdued lit round room maybe 8 feet in diameter, which had an infinity mirror in the both the ceiling and the floor. It represented a place in the ocean, I think around 500 meters down, which was a major "sound channel" in the ocean, where the sounds of ocean creatures such as whales were amplified so they became really loud in that chamber. And of course, those sounds were piped in. It was a pretty amazing prop though, I must say.

    The last room I came to had alot of hi-tech gear like thin LCD computer screens that were see-through which could intermittently become opaque or transparent in a second, depending on what was displayed (I mean, this was 20 years ago. good technology for then). And samples of sea-life such as sightless crabs (I believe) and deep sea "smokers" that were sealed in Lucite. But the one thing that impressed me the most were the lighting Gobos, two moving across each other in front of the lamps to create a ripple effect far better than any I've seen so far on the LED ones. The whole room literally felt like you were living in Bikini Bottom, or something. 🙂

    I thought once that it would be nice to build a lamp that moved back and forth and had a lens filled with blue colored water (or a viscous liquid) that might make the same ripple effect, but I wasn't sure that just oscillating from side to side would achieve it. Maybe some sort of vibration platform?… anyway, love these type of lights. The effect can be so peaceful. 🙂 So thanks for tearing this thing apart, Clive. Really interesting to see what's inside. All the best, Buddy!

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