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Lava lamp

NoneOfTheAbove

Oct 18, 2022
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Hello.

I have purchased a Lava lamp with led lights, which change colors. Unfortunately, I did not like that the colors changed so fast (about 2 secs per color) and would like to change that, and have them change much slower. I am a beginner at this, so I have no idea how it's done, but I opened up the lamp to look at the circuit board and now I am stuck and don't know how I can do it.

Is there anyone here that can help? :)
 

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hexreader

Apr 21, 2011
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It looks to me as though the only way to change speed or pattern would be to replace the 8-pin microcontroller.

It requires:

1) Knowing the pin-out of the 8-pin chip (just requires a clear photograph of the other side of the board for forum members to work out)

2) Having, or buying a spare microprocessor that is compatible with the pin-out found

3) Having suitable programming hardware, such as picKIT 4 if it is a PIC or AVR

4) Having enough programming knowledge to write new code

5) Having suitable compiler, IDE, drivers etc on PC

6) Having sufficient de-soldering skills and tools to remove the old 8-pin chip without damage and fit new chip


Whilst I reckon just maybe, you might find a kind soul to provide a replacement ready-programmed chip, you would still need to solve problems 1 and 6 by yourself
 

NoneOfTheAbove

Oct 18, 2022
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It looks to me as though the only way to change speed or pattern would be to replace the 8-pin microcontroller.

It requires:

1) Knowing the pin-out of the 8-pin chip (just requires a clear photograph of the other side of the board for forum members to work out)

2) Having, or buying a spare microprocessor that is compatible with the pin-out found

3) Having suitable programming hardware, such as picKIT 4 if it is a PIC or AVR

4) Having enough programming knowledge to write new code

5) Having suitable compiler, IDE, drivers etc on PC

6) Having sufficient de-soldering skills and tools to remove the old 8-pin chip without damage and fit new chip


Whilst I reckon just maybe, you might find a kind soul to provide a replacement ready-programmed chip, you would still need to solve problems 1 and 6 by yourself

Thank you for your reply.
This all sounds really complicated.. I imagined in my head that I just had to find the right chip and maybe replace it. 1 and 6 are no problem for me, but the rest.. boi.
 

hexreader

Apr 21, 2011
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If you lived in UK I might be tempted to do 2 to 5 for you and post you a chip.

My guess is that you are not in UK, so you are out of luck

Maybe post a picture of the other side of the board in case. No schematic required

Also tell us all of the numbers and letters written on top of the chip - what else goes with 262A?
 

hexreader

Apr 21, 2011
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Forgot about another requirement:

7) Owner needs to accept any and all risks - you would be wise to remove old chip in one piece, very neatly. This will allow restoration of the old chip should a new one have issues. If the risk of breaking the lava lamp is unacceptable, then leave the lamp alone. There are no guarantees
 

NoneOfTheAbove

Oct 18, 2022
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If you lived in UK I might be tempted to do 2 to 5 for you and post you a chip.

My guess is that you are not in UK, so you are out of luck

Maybe post a picture of the other side of the board in case. No schematic required

Also tell us all of the numbers and letters written on top of the chip - what else goes with 262A?
I do not live in UK no unfortunately.. I live in Sweden though.
 

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NoneOfTheAbove

Oct 18, 2022
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Forgot about another requirement:

7) Owner needs to accept any and all risks - you would be wise to remove old chip in one piece, very neatly. This will allow restoration of the old chip should a new one have issues. If the risk of breaking the lava lamp is unacceptable, then leave the lamp alone. There are no guarantees
"Q3", "Q1" etc.. and SN20210914. Which I assume is the date or production or something?
 

NoneOfTheAbove

Oct 18, 2022
7
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If you lived in UK I might be tempted to do 2 to 5 for you and post you a chip.

My guess is that you are not in UK, so you are out of luck

Maybe post a picture of the other side of the board in case. No schematic required

Also tell us all of the numbers and letters written on top of the chip - what else goes with 262A?
Ahh too bad I'm not in the UK then. That would be really cool of you to do in that case :/
 

hexreader

Apr 21, 2011
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I am not confident that I can identify any pin-compatible chip.

Possibly a PIC12 could be bodged to do the job, but I am not happy guessing

Time for me to give in, I think

Don't want to give bad advice.
 

NoneOfTheAbove

Oct 18, 2022
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I am not confident that I can identify any pin-compatible chip.

Possibly a PIC12 could be bodged to do the job, but I am not happy guessing

Time for me to give in, I think

Don't want to give bad advice.
Okay, thank you for trying at least!
 

hevans1944

Hop - AC8NS
Jun 21, 2012
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Is there anyone here that can help?
There are a lot of members here who can help, but some more information would be nice. I did a Google search for "lava lamp with color-changing leds" and the results were a lot of inexpensive lava lamps. So it may not be economically sane to try to reverse-engineer your LED controller.

OTOH, this IS a hobby site, so cost may not be your first concern. One solution would be to design and populate a brand new circuit board that does what you want: slow down the color rotation. I would add to such a PCB the capability to control (with a potentiometer or push-button switches) the rate at which the colors change and perhaps a control to adjust the intensity of the colors. All that would be required is a small Microchip PIC processor and "some software" plus the PIC programming tools available at the Microchip website. The cost of the PIC microprocessor is "down in the noise" when it comes to budget. The biggest cost is the time required to design and build the replacement LED controller.

Depending on your skill-set and relevant experience, it could take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to create a working prototype. You might be able to finish this before the holiday season begins if you intend the lava lamp project to be a gift. Members of this forum can help, but you would be responsible for all the "grunt work" of purchasing components and making a circuit board. It doesn't have to be a manufactured printed circuit board, although those are very inexpensive. You would have to learn PCB layout techniques and possibly download PCB design software, such as the free KIcad program, to have a printed circuit board (PCB) manufactured.

I don't recommend it, but you could reverse engineer your existing LED controller, removing all the components and visually tracing out the circuits those components are connected to. If that allows you to identify the microprocessor, and if it is a common microprocessor that the hobbyist can "play" with, then it might be possible to simply replace the microprocessor with a new one that you have programmed. This is a LOT of work with no guarantee of success. Which is why I would recommend that you make it a project here on maker.pro to develop a new LED driver that does what you want it to do.
 

NoneOfTheAbove

Oct 18, 2022
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There are a lot of members here who can help, but some more information would be nice. I did a Google search for "lava lamp with color-changing leds" and the results were a lot of inexpensive lava lamps. So it may not be economically sane to try to reverse-engineer your LED controller.

OTOH, this IS a hobby site, so cost may not be your first concern. One solution would be to design and populate a brand new circuit board that does what you want: slow down the color rotation. I would add to such a PCB the capability to control (with a potentiometer or push-button switches) the rate at which the colors change and perhaps a control to adjust the intensity of the colors. All that would be required is a small Microchip PIC processor and "some software" plus the PIC programming tools available at the Microchip website. The cost of the PIC microprocessor is "down in the noise" when it comes to budget. The biggest cost is the time required to design and build the replacement LED controller.

Depending on your skill-set and relevant experience, it could take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to create a working prototype. You might be able to finish this before the holiday season begins if you intend the lava lamp project to be a gift. Members of this forum can help, but you would be responsible for all the "grunt work" of purchasing components and making a circuit board. It doesn't have to be a manufactured printed circuit board, although those are very inexpensive. You would have to learn PCB layout techniques and possibly download PCB design software, such as the free KIcad program, to have a printed circuit board (PCB) manufactured.

I don't recommend it, but you could reverse engineer your existing LED controller, removing all the components and visually tracing out the circuits those components are connected to. If that allows you to identify the microprocessor, and if it is a common microprocessor that the hobbyist can "play" with, then it might be possible to simply replace the microprocessor with a new one that you have programmed. This is a LOT of work with no guarantee of success. Which is why I would recommend that you make it a project here on maker.pro to develop a new LED driver that does what you want it to do.
Hello, thank you for taking your time to respond.
I am currently trying to contact the company to ask about which microcontroller it is, so that I can buy it and program it the way I want to and simply replace it. I found a contact that could help me with this, but I need to find out the model of the microcontroller.
 

hevans1944

Hop - AC8NS
Jun 21, 2012
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I need to find out the model of the microcontroller.
That may not be possible. There is some intellectual property (IP) involved in knowing which microcontroller was used, and that is why a lot of Asian vendors scrape off or otherwise obliterate any identification that would allow someone else to easily "clone" their product. That's not to say that American manufacturers, as well as others, don't do the same thing to try to slow down the rampant theft of IP. If a product (not your lava lamp LED controller) has a very high value that makes it profitable for a manufacturer to steal the design (because it costs them NOTHING to develop), some will go to the extreme of de-capping and reverse-engineering unmarked semiconductor components. This doesn't help anyone "read" the software "burned in" to a microcontroller, but it does slow them down. Of course for your application, it matters not what the original programming was because you are going to re-write the functionality.

Some folks here are quite good at figuring out what microcontroller was used if they have a schematic identifying the pinouts and what those pins are connected to. This can be a very time consuming task, creating an accurate schematic, without removing ALL the components first and then tracing out the circuit traces. If you are trying to do this analysis on a multi-layer PCB... well, good luck with that.

It may be necessary to measure the values of temporarily removed (assuming you are going to reuse) resistors and capacitors to gain understanding of what the circuit does and how it does it. In the case of your LED driver, it obviously has one transistor per LED somehow driven by the microcontroller. If you can make a schematic showing how those transistors connect to pins on the microcontroller, a perusal of microcontroller datasheets can lead to identification of the microprocessor. I didn't say it would be easy, but given enough incentive, it can be, and has been, done before.
 

Harald Kapp

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Is there any inscription visible atop the supposed microcontroller (black 8-pin chip)?
 

73's de Edd

Aug 21, 2015
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