Programming the TC420
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
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
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.
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
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.
This button opens the New Package box. This is the first thing that you will need to do.
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
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.
This button lets you open your saved packages.
This button saves the current package you're working on.
This button uploads the open package to the TC420.
This button synchronises the time on the TC420 with the time on your computer.
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.
This button lets you create a new mode. Once created, double click on the mode's name to rename it.
This button deletes the currently selected mode.
This button lets you import a previously exported mode into the current package.
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.
These buttons allow you to re-order the modes.
This button opens up the lighting edit dialogue in the selected mode. We will cover this in the next
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
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.
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.
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
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.
To make it easier to understand, I have used the values from the following example.
I am using CH1 as Channel A, with the intermediate being worked out as the highlighted value at
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:
- The first thing to do is save your package by clicking the
- Connect the TC420 to your computer with a USB cable.
- 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.
- Once the TC420 is recognised by the computer, click the
button to synchronise the time.
- Click the button to upload your package to
- Disconnect the USB from the TC420.
- 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.