LEDs & Power
Programming
About & Help

Programming the TC420

Installation

Before you can program the the controller, you need to install the software for the TC420; this is called PLed and is supplied on a mini CD with the TC420. Once installed, PLed will open and be ready to use.

NOTE: With some versions of the PLed software, I was unable to access all 5 channels. I have found a version which works fine with all channels, which you can download here. I recommend first installing the version that came with your TC420 and only installing this version if yours does not have support for all 5 channels.

About PLed

PLed is quite a simple program to use, once you get the hang of it. the interface is divided into three main sections, allowing you total control over your lighting with alternative configurations and different set-ups.

Packages

TC420 PLED packages menu

Packages are groups of modes. You will most likely have a single package for each TC420 that you have, so I find it useful to label the TC420 and give the package the same name as the label. There really isn't a lot to do with packages, as they're really just a container for the important bits, but here are the features you need to know about.

TC420 PLED packages menu - new

This button opens the New Package box. This is the first thing that you will need to do.

TC420 PLED new package dialog box

This is a pretty standard windows new file box, the only things you need to take note of is:
a) If you want to change the location that the files are saved (PackagePath), there is no new folder option in the change location dialogue box, so you will need to create the folders before hand.
b) By default, only 4 channels are selected, so change this to 5 (see highlight in the picture). Even change this if you don't think you'll be using all 5 channels to begin with.

TC420 PLED packages menu - open

This button lets you open your saved packages.

TC420 PLED packages menu - save

This button saves the current package you're working on.

TC420 PLED packages menu - download

This button uploads the open package to the TC420.

TC420 PLED packages menu - sync clock

This button synchronises the time on the TC420 with the time on your computer.

Mode List

TC420 PLED mode list menu

The mode list allows you to create different lighting schemes that are easily switched directly on the TC420. For example, you may have a normal setting which has the lights at full brightness, then an acclimation setting which has the main lights off, or at 25% brightness. You can have up to 50 modes. Again, there is not a lot to modes, they are just a useful tool for having multiple lighting modes on a single controller that are easily changeable.

TC420 PLED mode list menu -new

This button lets you create a new mode. Once created, double click on the mode's name to rename it.

TC420 PLED mode list menu - delete

This button deletes the currently selected mode.

TC420 PLED mode list menu - import

This button lets you import a previously exported mode into the current package.

TC420 PLED mode list menu - export

This button exports the selected mode so that you can import it into another package. You do not need to export the mode to save it.

TC420 PLED mode list menu - move

These buttons allow you to re-order the modes.

TC420 PLED mode list menu - edit

This button opens up the lighting edit dialogue in the selected mode. We will cover this in the next section.

Step Editor

TC420 PLED step edit box

The step editor is the tool for actually setting the light values for each channel. To open the step editor, select the mode that you want to edit, then click on the TC420 PLED mode list menu - edit edit mode button or double click in the steps pane. If you already have steps, you can double click on the step that you want to edit.

This is the "step editor" dialogue box, for editing the lighting values. If this is the first step in a new mode, most of the options will be greyed out until you click the Add button, to add the first step. Clicking the Add button more will add extra steps, but it's better to click it once you have set what you want in the current step. Once you have a step, you can edit the values.

  • The first thing to set is the time you want this step to happen. The time is in the 24hour clock format with the first box being the hours and the second being the minutes.
  • The next step is to set the light level for each channel. The channels are labelled CH1 at the top to CH5 at the bottom. To set the value, you can either click and drag the slider or type the level directly in to the box; 0 is off and 100 is full brightness.
  • The final step is to set if you want the light to fade or to instantly change. The default is fade, but to get the the light to change instantly, click the Fade button; it will change to say Jump. To change back to fading, just click the Jump button.

After this, you can use the Add button to add another step to the mode or use the Prev and Next buttons to navigate through the steps you have already created. Keep adding or changing the steps until you have completed the mode, which could look something like this.

TC420 PLED completed mode

NOTE: I have discovered a bug with the controller that seems to effect modes that are transitioning over midnight, in that they don't fade smoothly over midnight. The best fix I have found to minimise the problem is to add steps at 23:59 and 0:00 and manually add the fade levels to these times using my tool below.

One change to rule them all

There is one problem with the PLed Step Editor, which is that every step effects all channels. What I mean by this is that if you want Channel 1 to be at 0% at 9:00 and 100% at 10:00, that's fine. But, as soon as you want to have Channel 2's brightness to be 0% at 9:30 and 100% at 10:30, things get more complicated. This is because all channels get effected at each step.

TC420 PLED steps time

It's a shame that there isn't a magic Fade option, where PLed will know that you want to continue fading between these times and calculates the level for you; that would be a very handy feature. What you have to do instead is calculate it yourself. You need to calculate what the light level will be at the intermediary point. In this example, it's pretty easy as we're starting at 0%, ending at 100%, and are fading over an hour. The intermediary points are exactly half way through the hour, so the lighting level is going to be 50%. See the highlighted values in the image.

To be honest, this is such a pain in the arse that I've written a tool to calculate these intermediary values. The tool can be found directly in the page contents for ease of access, or just see the section below.

Step Editor Intermediary Time Tool

To use this time tool, enter the start time, end time, and values for the channel with the gap in boxes for Channel A, then enter the intermediary time in the box for Channel B. Click the Calculate button and the value will appear.

Channel A Start Time point   Channel A Start Value
Channel B Time point   Channel A Mid Value
Channel A End Time point   Channel A End Value

To make it easier to understand, I have used the values from the following example.

TC420 PLED steps time

I am using CH1 as Channel A, with the intermediate being worked out as the highlighted value at 9:30.
If you have more than one gap that you need to calculate the values for, enter the start and end times and values in Channel A, then enter each intermediary time into Channel B and calculate them one at a time.

Uploading to the TC420

The final step is to upload your package to the TC420. This is a simple step-by-step procedure:

  1. The first thing to do is save your package by clicking the TC420 PLED package menu - save button.
  2. Connect the TC420 to your computer with a USB cable.
  3. If the TC420 is not recognised, disconnect the USB cable, switch off the power transformer connected to the TC420 controller and try plugging in the USB cable again. If your TC420 can be connected to the transformer and USB at the same time, you will be able to use the demo functions, if not you won't.
  4. Once the TC420 is recognised by the computer, click the TC420 PLED package menu - sync clock button to synchronise the time.
  5. Click the TC420 PLED package menu - download button to upload your package to the TC420.
  6. Disconnect the USB from the TC420.
  7. If you switched off the power transformer, switch it on and your lighting scheme will run.

Your lighting package should now be running on your TC420. To change the mode, you can enter the menu and use the buttons to increment through them. The modes will be in the same order as they are in the package in the PLed software.

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