Build: F-16

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Falcon Pixlenet/Falcon F-16 Pixelnet Controller Assembly Manual (V1.01) Written by Glen Forman (gforman)



You have made a wise decision to build the Falcon F-16 Pixelnet Controller . We believe you will be very pleased with what this hardware can do for you.

The options for the F16 are the connectors for the lights, the deluxe kit has plug-in connectors for the lights, the standard kit has screw terminals. There is also an option on the pixelnet output you can choose to have passive or active pixelnet.

Before we start assembly of the F16 we want to do two things. First we need to take inventory and make sure we have all the components that should have come with your order(s). Please use static precautions in the handling of sensitive parts. If you are not familiar in them please research on the Internet prior to handling them. You can damage your parts with improper handling!

Take your time building the F16 so it will give you many seasons of trouble free operation. Take care inspecting the solder joints and making sure ALL parts and chips are in the proper orientation as per the silk screen on the PCB.

Preparing To Build


We assume you found everything in your order and are ready to start.

The PC Board you received should already have the surface mount chip installed on it (blue circle). All of the components you will be installing are through-hole so no surface mount work will be required.Note that the 2 Diodes (red circles) D-17 and D-19 are no longer required

The next thing we want is to make sure you are up to speed on soldering and electrostatic protection of the components in your kit. If you are not an experienced printed circuit builder I recommend you visit the site:

And check out their extremely good video on soldering correctly. Even if you are an expert it is a good video to watch.

Another issue you must be aware of is that some electronic components can be damaged easily by electrostatic charges that can build up in you or your equipment. We have all been shocked by walking on carpet and grabbing a door knob before. This is electrostatic charge in action. It takes much less than this to hurt some of our parts. If you are unfamiliar with procedures to protect from this please use the internet to research it before opening your parts up. You can damage your parts with improper handling!

You will need a few tools that do not come with your kit to build the Falcon 16. You will need a good soldering iron. We can not stress enough that a good soldering iron makes a big difference in these projects. The little 15w cheap irons are more apt to hurt your parts by taking too long to get the parts up to soldering temperature than a good iron which can bring it up to temp very fast. Remember it is more how long you keep the part hot than it is how hot you get it within reasonable soldering temperatures. A good soldering iron can be had for very reasonable amounts of money. You can purchase one for $30 to $60 dollars. Most anything that is called a soldering station where there is a temperature control separate from the iron itself will more than likely be fine but make sure it is rated for more than 15 watts.

You will need solder, so get some. We recommend .032 size (0.8mm or 0.7mm) as the larger sizes tend to cause you to put too much solder on. How much? Go ahead and get a 1 lb spool as it’s cheaper in large volume and you will go through it faster than you think. Make sure you are getting rosin core for electronics, they make some solder for plumbing that has acid as the core this is a bad mistake to make.

You will need some work area to work with good lighting. Do not attempt to solder circuit boards in poorly lighted areas. If you wear reading glasses go get them you will want them we promise you. We recommend a set of helping hands like this: Radio Shack or HarborFreight or

Install the 0.1 uF Ceramic Capacitors


Install seventeen (17) 0.1uf capacitors in their proper location on the board. There is no wrong direction for these.

Solder all these capacitors and trim the leads.

Install the Resistors and diode


Install two (2) Carbon Film Resistors - Through Hole 120 ohms at R1 & R2 (brown red brown)

Install two (2) Carbon Film Resistors - Through Hole 4.7K ohms at R3 & R4 (yellow violet red)

Install one (1) Diode at D12, make sure that the line on the diode matches the line on the board silkscreen

Solder all these resistors and trim the leads.

Install LEDs


Note: the longer lead is positive (+) side.

Install sixteen (16) Standard LEDs - Through Hole Green 1.6-4.0 mcd 12V at D1 thru D16

Install one (1) Standard LEDs - Through Hole Red 180mcd 640nm at D18

Install one (1) Standard LEDs - Through Hole Blue 2000mcd 470nm at D20 (Note: Blue LED is clear)

Install the DIP and SIP Sockets


NOTE: DIP Socket orientation - middle notch goes to the right as noted on board silkscreen.

After inserting sockets, solder 1 corner pin in each socket inserted. Reheat that pin and push down on socket to make sure socket is flat with board. Then solder opposite corner pin pushing down as well. This method makes sure your sockets are flush with the board. Finish rest of socket pins. Lead trimming is not required on these sockets.

Install two (2) IC Sockets 20P DUAL WIPE DIP at LnDrv1 and 2

Install four (4) IC Sockets 14P DUAL WIPE DIP at AND1 thru 4

Install two (2) IC Sockets 8P DUAL WIPE DIP at ST485_1 and 2

Active Pixelnet output option: also Install four (4) IC Sockets 8P DUAL WIPE DIP at Max1 thru 4 (blue circle)

Cut the two (2) IC Socket 16p SIP in half creating four (4) 8 pin SIP

Install four (4) of the 8 pin sips that you just cut at RN 1 thru 4

Install Clock Oscillator Address Switch and 10 uF Ceramic Capacitors


Install One (1) Standard Clock Oscillators 8MHz 3.3V at OSC make sure that the square corner matches the square corner on the board silkscreen


Install one (1) SIP Switch SPST 6POS EXT SLIDE T/H DIP at S1

Install one (1) 10 uF Ceramic Capacitor at C13

Solder and trim the leads.

Install Voltage Regulators & Heat Sink


When installing these regulators start by bending the 3 leads more than 90 degrees (this helps to apply contact pressure to the pads on the pc board), put a dab of heat transfer compound on the back of each part. When soldering use a high setting on your soldering iron, and do not spend a lot of time applying heat on the regulators but make sure you get a good soldering joint.

Install one (1) - 5 volt Regulator - L7805ABV at VR1

with one (1) - Heat Sink

Install one (1) - 3 volt Regulator - LO1117V33C at VR2

Solder and trim the leads.

Install Header Pins


Use the Headers & Wire Housings 36P 1 ROW VERT HDR and seperate into one (1) 2 pin header, one (1) 6 pin header, four (4) 3 pin headers and two (2) 8 pin headers.

Install four (4) 3 pin headers to pixelnet input

Install one (1) 6 pin header to ISCP1

Install one (1) 2 pin header to Test

Install two (2) 8 pin headers to H1 for the Passive Pixelnet Jumpers Hint: use two jumpers to hold the headers in the correct position.

Install Fuse Holders


Install eighteen (18) Fuse Clips AUTO FUSEHOLDER .032 at F1 thru F18

Install Light string connectors


Install sixteen (16) Light connectors at PT1 thru PT16

Install Remaining Capacitors


Install three (3) Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors - Leaded 25volts 100uF at C8, C9 and C10 - Note: Longer Lead is positive (+).

Solder and trim the leads.

Install RJ45 Connectors


Install two (2) Modular Connectors / Ethernet Connectors 8P8C SIDE ENTRY

Install Power Connectors


Install two (2) DC Power Connectors PCB 6.35MM

Install IC Chips


Install four (4) 14 pin Logic Gates Quad 2-Input (SN74HCT08N) at AND1, AND2, AND3 & AND4

Note: The Dot and/or Notch is pin 1 of the IC, pin 1 go towards the right as noted on the board silkscreen

Install more IC Chips


Install two (2) 8 pin RS-422/RS-485 Interface IC Bus Diff at ST485_1 & ST485_2

Install two (2) 20 pin Line Drivers Octal Buffer/Line (SN74HCT541N ) at LnDrv1 & LnDrv2

Note: The Dot and/or Notch is pin 1 of the IC, pin 1 go towards the right as noted on the board silkscreen

Install Resistor Networks


Install four (4) Resistor Networks & Arrays 8PIN 100 Ohms at RN1,RN2, RN3 & RN4

Install Jumpers


Install four (4) Jumpers at the Pixelnet Select the Pixelnet Universes that you want.

-- may insert data from users manual or reference to manual

Install one (1) jumper at the test header on only 1 pin

Install Fuses


Install two (2) 30 amp fuses (green) at F17 & F18

Install sixteen (16) 5 amp fuses (brown) at F1 thru F16

Install Active or Passive Pixelnet output


Active pixelnet output option

Install four (4) Max 490 ICs at Max1 thru Max4

Make sure that all of the Passive Pixelnet Jumpers (H1) are not connected


Passive pixelnet output option

Install eight (8) jumpers on all of the Passive Pixelnet Jumpers (H1)

Congratulations you have finished the assembly of your Falcon F-16!

Programming The Falcon F16

In order to program the Falcon F16 you must use the PICKIT3.

Connect the PICKIT3 to the computer via the USB cable. Plug in the PICKIT3 to to F-16 ICSP1 header, making sure triangle mark on the PICKIT3 is at the TOP of the F16 Header.

Start the PICKIT3 programming application. Select "PIC32MX795F512L" from the "Device:" drop down list. Select "File" from the tool bar and select "Import". Navigate to the location of the downloaded firmware and select the Falcon F16 hex file. Click on the write button and once it completes, you may also press the "verify" button. When it has successfully programmed remove the PICKIT3 from ICSP1.

Congratulations you should now have a functioning Falcon F-16!