Skip to Main Content
Custom Product Design Available. Learn More

Frequently Asked Questions

Problem:

What is the difference between lights with connectors and 12/24 volt lights? How are lights with the iCS and iSU wired?

Solution:

Ai standard lights come with a 7 pin locking connector, and are wired for use with all Ai power supplies and electronics. 12 & 24v lights come with flying leads: positive (brown), negative (blue), and ground. Older Ai lights use positive (white), negative (black), and ground. iCS lights come with 4-wire flying leads: positive (brown), negative (blue), gate + (white), and gate – (black). Pulsar configured lights come with a 14 pin connector.

Problem:

Does Ai sell ultraviolet (UV) lights?

Solution:

Yes we do, but we limit it because of lifetime issues and safety concerns. The lifetimes of many UV LEDs in our standard lights (5mm) can be as short as 500hrs. Because of this we advise the customer to only use these lights in strobed applications. There are also health concerns because UV can be damaging to the human eye if looked into at a close range. See our UV/IR Safety Information link for more information.

Problem:

What is the advantage of strobing LEDs?

Solution:

In machine vision, strobing is defined as flashing a light, typically coordinated with camera exposure. The timing, frequency, and duration of the strobe flash is determined by either the internal light strobe controller, or externally by a trigger event generated by a camera or part-in-place / proximity signal. LEDs lend themselves well for this activity as they are solid-state devices, rather than thermionic sources, and thus have little ramp up and down latency, and depending on duty cycle, generate little or no heat. Strobing is most often used to freeze motion in situations where continuous inspection is not necessary, typically singulated or indexed objects on a conveyor line, an approach limited primarily by the speed of the object. The inverse relationship between object speed and camera exposure time means that light intensity, during the camera exposure period, must increase proportionally for faster moving objects, or the vision system will not have adequate illumination and contrast levels to perform the inspection. One solution is to overdrive the LED light – in other words, push extra current through the LEDs during this shortened exposure period to boost the intensity recorded by the camera. Hence, turbo-charging LEDs, or generating more light over a shorter period of time, may be advantageous. Strobing also extends the real-time life of an LED light. For example, a red or IR LED light operated at a 10% duty cycle (as defined by time on / total time x 100%) will have a life of 10 x 100,000 hr. or 1,000,000 hours real-time. Because of the short on-time, little or no heat is generated, further lengthening the life of the light. Finally, overdriving strobe lights effectively overwhelms ambient light contribution, and the short exposure times may also assist in creating sharper edges, particularly if a monochrome LED light is used.

Problem:

Is there a graph showing the spectral curves for the LEDs used in Ai’s lights?

Solution:

For larger image click below.
Graphic:
Spectral Curve of LEDs

Problem:

How can I drive “xyz” light, either from a competitor or something I’ve made myself?

Solution:

Consulting your sales representative for more information is your best plan of action. Pulsar 320 contains SignaTech, which requires its lights use the SignaTech identifier custom-programmed by Ai in production.  To learn more about SignaTech, visit our News & Events page to read our blog post.

Problem:

I am writing my own software, is it possible to control the Pulsar 320 using custom software?

Solution:

Yes, a software development kit is available and software examples in C++, VB, and LabView are available. Pulsar 320 Control Software
Graphical User Interface
Download Software > 
Software Development Kit
Download Software > 
Pulsar 320 Loader Manufacturing Utility
Download Software > 
National Instruments LabView VI for Pulsar 320 SDK
Download Software > 
.NET Framework 3.5 Microsoft Windows .NET Framework  (only required to install Pulsar320 GUI on older machines or specialty machines with embedded Windows operating systems that do not have access to an internet connection.)
Download Software >

Problem:

What is the Pulsar 320 and why do I need it?

Solution:

The Pulsar 320 is a high-performance strobe controller.  This machine vision controller performs extremely well when applications require high current pulses from 1usec to 10msec; the Pulsar 320 provides the highest power pulses available.

Problem:

What is the pin-out for the M12 Connector?

Solution:

The M12 is available on 24v, ICS and ISU lights. Ai lights are built with male M12 plug standard. For the M12 Connector pin-out diagram (pdf) click below.

Problem:

What is the difference between Stock, Build-to-Order (BTO), Semi-Custom, and Custom products?

Solution:

Our lighting products are classified into the following groups: Stock products are built with an off-the-shelf configuration, and are compatible with Ai’s SignaTech power sources and electronics. The following categories are built to a customer’s unique specifications and cannot be accepted for return. See RMAs below for more details. Build-to-Order (BTO) are standard products built with a custom configurations that fall along standardized guidelines. Customization options can include standoff, field of view, spectral characteristics and compatibility with user supplied power. BTOs may be configured for use with Ai SignaTech power sources. Semi-Custom products are Stock products built with custom configurations that fall outside of the published BTO guidelines. Customization options can include standoff, field of view, spectral characteristics and compatibility with user supplied power. Semi-Custom products may be configured for use with Ai SignaTech power sources, dependent upon specifications. Custom products are fully custom designed and built, or Stock products with modified mechanical and/or optical and/or electrical components.

Return Merchandise Authorization (RMAs):

Stock Products may be returned within 30 days of receipt of the order. Products must be in resalable condition, in function and appearance, with shipping charges prepaid. A restocking fee of 30% will be applied to all items accepted for return to stock. If you need to make a return, please call our Customer Service Department at 802.767.3830 x273 for a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) number. Clearly mark the outside of the package with the RMA number. NO RETURNS CAN BE ACCEPTED FOR STANDARD VARIATION, CUSTOM VARIATION, OR CUSTOM PRODUCTS. There are currently over 100,000 unique configurations of the Ai product line. Therefore, we cannot restock a light built to your specifications. We would be glad to help you order your light if you are unsure of the correct part number or your exact requirements.

Problem:

How do I get help with a lighting application?

Solution:

Ai has a number of levels of support to help you with an application. Our Applications Lab is here to assist with any Technical Support you may have.  Or, if you have a specific sample product you need to find a machine vision lighting solution for and would like assistance, you can send it into our Applications Lab by using our Sample Evaluation Program.  Click here to learn more about our Sample Evaluation Program. Should you know which lights would work for your application, but would like to test them first, you can work with our Applications Lab to participate in the Loaner Evaluation Program.  You can test a demo light in your machine vision inspection application for 30 days; click here to learn more about our Loaner Evaluation Program.

Problem:

Are there instructions for installing the reticles in the SL191?

Solution:

It’s important to understand the steps in installing and replacing the SL191 Structured Pattern Generator Reticles; click below for detailed Reticle installation instructions.

Problem:

What is the ICS 3 and why do I need it?

Solution:

The ICS 3 is a constant current (CC) source that limits the necessary current to drive the light safely. Without a CC source like an ICS 3 the light would vary in brightness and could be damaged by unregulated currents. The ICS 3 is the best choice for systems that require more light than an ICS 2, and for situations that require freezing motion and reducing blur (strobe operation).

Problem:

Can I Pulse Width Modulate (PWM) dim the light output? What is the maximum frequency of the gate wire?

Solution:

Unfortunately, users are unable to Pulse Width Modulate (PWM) dim with the ICS 3. However, the Ai ICS 2 is able to PWM dim the light output, so this would be a better choice for your application.

Problem:

Can I extend the cable between the light and the driver myself?

Solution:

We do not recommend that you modify or adjust cable lengths after you’ve received a product with in-line control. Modifying the cable length after purchase will void your warranty.  Should you require a custom cable length, please request this before finalizing your order. With our Build-to-Order system, we provide our customers with the option to extend or reduce cable length during the purchasing process.

Problem:

How much current is needed for external inputs (trigger, analog, etc.)?

Solution:

For the ICS 3, 5mA is adequate current for external inputs.

Problem:

Does the ICS 3 allow for dimming functions?

Solution:

To dim the ICS 3, use pulsed mode. An external 0-10V signal applied to the analog-dimming lead will dim the output. Alternatively, a fixed resistive voltage divider tied to 24V or a potentiometer can provide a manual adjustment. Ai also offers the DCS-MP as an external dimming controller. Please see the DCS-MP data sheet for more information.

Problem:

What is the ICS 2 and what can it be used for?

Solution:

The ICS is a constant current (CC) source that limits the necessary current to drive the light safely. Without a CC source like an ICS 2 the light would vary in brightness and could be damaged by unregulated currents. The ICS 2 drives LED illuminators at much higher efficiencies and accurate current regulation when compared to traditional “24V” systems. It is the best choice for most lighting applications that require constant (CW) illumination.

Problem:

Can I PWM (Pulse Width Modulate) dim the light output? What is the maximum frequency of the gate wire?

Solution:

Yes, typical PWM can be from 100 – 10,000Hz.

Problem:

Can I extend the cable between the light and the driver myself?

Solution:

We do not recommend that you modify or adjust cable lengths after you’ve received a product with in-line control. Modifying the cable length after purchase will void your warranty.  Should you require a custom cable length, please request this before finalizing your order. With our Build-to-Order system, we provide our customers with the option to extend or reduce cable length during the purchasing process.

Problem:

How much current is needed for external inputs (trigger, analog, etc.)?

Solution:

For the ICS 2, 5mA is adequate current for external inputs.

Problem:

Does the ICS 2 allow for dimming functions?

Solution:

To dim the ICS 3, use pulsed mode. An external 0-10V signal applied to the analog-dimming lead will dim the output. Alternatively, a fixed resistive voltage divider tied to 24V or a potentiometer can provide a manual adjustment. Ai also offers the DCS-MP as an external dimming controller. Please see the DCS-MP data sheet for more information.

Problem:

ICS (1.0) light fails to light when power is turned on.

Solution:

(This applies to the ICS that has the green power light and manual potentiometer.) There are two possible reasons a light will not come on when power is applied to the ICS:
  1. The black (gate -) and white (gate +) wires are crossed. Make sure these two wires are not touching.
  2. Some power supplies have a strong voltage spike or transient signal at start-up from a cold start. Once all the internal capacitors of the power supply are fully charged, the light can be toggled off-on without problems.
Two possible tests:
  1. Toggle the power relatively quickly (over a few seconds) on-off-on after the power supply has run for a few minutes, and see if the lights come on.
  2. Toggle the power off-on after the power supply has been turned off for several minutes (possibly even hours in some cases).
This problem was corrected for lights built after 1/1/2010.

Problem:

My Surface Mount Backlight (SMBL) seems hot to the touch. Is this a problem?

Solution:

Ai recommends the proper mounting of our SMBLs in such a way as to facilitate heat sinking, which will help ensure long life and stable operation. Due to the potential of high surface temperatures, care must be exercised when installing or adjusting the product while energized. Various methods for effective heat transfer can be used, including: ensuring that the entire backside of the light is in contact with a heat sinking thermal mass, using external fans placed in the proximity of the light to ensure air flow over the backside of the light and operating light at reduced input voltage when applicable. For additional information on thermal mounting techniques, contact Ai.

Problem:

Should I be concerned if I use long extension cables with strobe controllers?

Solution:

Over very long extension cables (50’) the S4000/S6000 strobe controllers can lose “sight” of the SignaTech resistors in the light. The result will be that the light system will operate sporadically. To correct this simply request an adapter from Ai for the light you are using and place it in line between the strobe controller and the extension cable.

Problem:

Can I get my order sooner for a 2 week lead-time light?

Solution:

Advanced illumination can expedite your order for a 2 week lead-time light for a fee for each unit. The ability to expedite is based upon the product ordered and the factory load at the time of order placement. Please call and speak a customer service representative to get an estimated delivery.

Problem:

Does Ai offer evaluation lights?

Solution:

Ai provides evaluation lights at no charge, based on availability. While every effort will be made to provide the required light for testing, not all custom variations are available. We will work with you to make sure that you receive products appropriate for in-house testing. If a product is in our inventory but not currently in stock, we will notify you as soon as it becomes available.
  1. 30 Day Trial: The standard evaluation period is 30 days. If additional time is needed, please call our Customer Service department. You will be billed for an evaluation light only if a product is not returned in a timely manner.
  2. Ordering: A Purchase Order is required to obtain evaluation products. Please clearly mark the PO “For Evaluation Purposes” to avoid being invoiced. Include the full part number as well as the contact and address where the light(s) should be sent.
  3. Shipping: Evaluation products are shipped at no charge via UPS Ground. For faster shipping, or a different carrier, the Customer must provide an account number.
  4. Returning Evaluation Equipment: To return lights when testing is completed, simply ship them back to Ai’s factory. Please include some form of identification, such as a copy of the original PO or Ai Acknowledgement, in the package to avoid being billed for evaluation equipment. No RMA is required for returning evaluation lights.
  5. Purchasing Evaluation Equipment: In most cases we will recommend that the customer order a new light, but continue using the evaluation light until the new product arrives.

Problem:

Can I Pulse Width Modulate (PWM) dim the light output? What is the maximum frequency of the gate wire?

Solution:

Unfortunately, the EuroBrite™ family is not PWM-compatible.

Problem:

How much current is needed for external inputs (trigger, analog, etc.)?

Solution:

For EuroBrite™, 5mA is adequate current for external inputs.

Problem:

What is Adaptive Overdrive?

Solution:

Adaptive overdrive provides a maximal output pulse in strobe mode, regardless of the exposure period – ensuring you’re getting the most out of your lighting setup.  The EuroBrite™ family provides up to 5X overdrive when used in pulsed mode for up to 5msec.

Problem:

Do EuroBrite™ lights have built-in dimming function?

Solution:

Use pulsed mode. An external 0-10V signal applied to the analog-dimming lead will dim the output. Alternatively a fixed resistive voltage divider tied to 24V or a potentiometer can provide a manual adjustment. Ai also offers the DCS-MP as an external dimming controller. Please see the DCS-MP data sheet for more information.

Problem:

What are the DCS-100E or DCS-103E and why do I need them?

Solution:

DCS100E/103-E are flexible multi-channel or multi-output controllers. Use the DCS-100E if you want to control a single or multi-channel light with an economical controller in either continuous or strobe. Use a DCS-103E if you expect to control multiple lights in one system.

Problem:

How can I drive “xyz” light, either from a competitor or something I’ve made myself?

Solution:

Consulting your sales representative for more information is your best plan of action. The DCS-100E & DCS-103E contains SignaTech, which requires its lights use the SignaTech identifier custom-programmed by Ai in production.

Problem:

I am writing my own software, is it possible to control the DCS-100E & DCS-103E using custom software?

Solution:

Yes, a software development kit is available which includes examples in C#.

DCS-100 Control Software

Graphical User Interface
Download Software > 
Software Development Kit
Download Software >

Problem:

Does Ai offer the option of high flex cables for robotic applications?

Solution:

Yes, we do offer an option for a high flex cable. If you’re interested in pricing or part number information, please reach out to Customer Service and our team would be happy to assist you.

Problem:

Why use a band pass filter in a machine vision application?

Solution:

A band pass filter can be helpful in reducing the effects of ambient lighting. Ai offers two types of red filters for this purpose, 660nm and 635nm, which the peak response of our standard red LED lights and our red high brightness lights, respectively. Using these lights and filters together can reduce the effects of overhead fluorescent lighting by up to 35X and often negate the need for a shroud.

Problem:

Does Advanced illumination offer a warranty on its products?

Solution:

For products purchased July 2019 and later, the Ai Warranty is extended from two (2) years to five (5) years after each product’s original date of purchase.  We stand behind the quality of the products we engineer, and we believe that by extending the Ai Warranty, we are displaying our commitment to our customers and our confidence in each product’s continued performance. Every Advanced illumination, Inc. (Ai) product is thoroughly inspected and tested before leaving the factory. Products are warranted to be free of defects in workmanship and materials for a period of FIVE YEARS from the original date of purchase. Should a defect develop during this period, please contact Ai for a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA), and return the complete product – including the serial number/product identification label – freight prepaid, to one of Ai’s distributors or to the Ai factory. Ai will inspect the unit, and if a defect is found will, at our option, repair or replace the product without charge. Ai disclaims liability for any implied warranties, including implied warranties or “merchantability” and “fitness for a specific purpose.” For products under warranty that have been discontinued, Ai will make every effort to replace with equivalent parts; however, for circumstances that do not allow for equivalent replacement, Ai will reserve the right to replace these products with an updated version.  Please see our Ai Standard Terms & Conditions for complete information. Ai cannot be held responsible for the unauthorized or inappropriate use of our products. NO LIABILITY FOR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES. In no event shall Advanced illumination, Inc. be liable for consequential, special, incidental or indirect damages of any kind arising from the sale or use of products.

Problem:

Does Ai offer an adapter to connect old lights to the Pulsar 320?

Solution:

Depending on the number of channels a light has, available adapters will vary. A basic adapter (ADC2-C5) can be used in select light heads that utilize one single channel. A custom adapter cable may be needed for additional lights. Please contact us for your specific application.

Troubleshooting

Light is flickering or the brightness varies unpredictably.

  1. Evaluate if any potential EMI producing equipment is in the vicinity (high voltage welding equipment, etc.).
  2. Do not route output power to the light in the same wire-chase as the trigger lines if possible. High current pulses can cause noise to couple into the trigger.
  3. Use shielded trigger cables.

When strobing, the images are dark or inconsistent in brightness

  1. Try using longer pulse-widths. 100usec or higher is recommended for best performance.

The software is blank and shows no controls for the DCS.

  1. Power down the controller and restart the software GUI.
  2. Custom extension cables could be causing the light to not be read by the controller. Only use approved extension cables and lengths from Ai.
  3. Press and hold the reset button for 5 seconds, then toggle power on the controller.

I cant connect to my controller or it is not visible in the software drop-down menu.

  1. Press and hold the reset button for 5 seconds, then toggle power to the controller. The controller will revert back to default using DHCP or using Default IP address listed in the manual.
  2. Reconfigure IP settings based on if you’re using DHCP or a fixed IP address.

The light appears to be barely lit when idle in strobe.

  1. Normal operation—this is to ensure the controller is charged and ready for the next trigger.

Light is flickering or the brightness varies unpredictably.

  1. Evaluate if any potential EMI producing equipment is in the vicinity (high voltage welding equipment, etc.).
  2. Do not route output power to the light in the same wire-chase as the trigger lines if possible. High current pulses can cause noise to couple into the trigger.
  3. Use shielded trigger cables.

When strobing, the images are dark or inconsistent in brightness.

  1. Reduce the trigger frequency, shorten the pulsewidth, or reduce the current until the maximum frequency is no longer exceeded.

I can’t get the trigger to work

  1. Follow the recommended trigger wiring diagrams in the manual. Try checking or un-checking the “differential triggers” option in the S320 software.  Contact our Customer Service for assistance.

The software doesn’t allow me to adjust any settings (all grayed–out).

  1. Verify the light is connected and that the components inside the “C5” connector are all tightened down completely.
  2. Avoid extending the cable yourself. If you’ve added an extension cable it must be under 2m long, else contact the factory for assistance.
  3. If you’re not using an AI branded “C5” light, the output needs a SignaTech identifier, so it will not work unless one was provided to you from the factory.

I am getting an error-code which is not listed in the manual.

  1. Contact our Customer Service for assistance.

Light starts blinking after period of operation.

  1. Move light to cool air or mount to a heatsink. Case temperature should be less than 150°F.
  2. Use the Adaptive Power feature to train the output at higher temperature to prevent overheating.
  3. If strobe is being used, consider shortening the pulsewidth to reduce power consumption.

Light is flickering or the brightness varies unpredictably.

  1. Evaluate if any potential EMI producing equipment is in the vicinity (high voltage welding equipment, etc.).
  2. The analog or gate leads may be picking up noise. If floating, tie the analog dimming lead to 24V and gate lead to ground.

When strobing, the images are dark or inconsistent in brightness.

  1. Make sure to use a minimum of 30usec or longer trigger input. Best performance is between 100usec to 5msec.
  2. Tie the analog to +24V if floating.

Light shuts off after some period of operation or suddenly shuts off when in continuous (CW) mode.

  1. Evaluate if any potential EMI producing equipment is in the vicinity (high voltage welding equipment, etc.).
  2. The analog or gate leads may be picking up noise. If floating, tie the analog dimming lead to 24V and gate lead to ground.
  3. Verify ICS 3 case temperature is not exceeding 150F, move to cooler air or heatsink if possible.

When strobing, the images are dark or inconsistent in brightness.

  1. Make sure to use a minimum of 30usec or longer trigger input.

The light or driver may have failed/ has stopped working.

  1. Keep a maximum of 10% duty cycle when strobing above 10Hz to keep operating temperatures low in the light or the ICS 3 driver.

Light shuts off after some period of operation.

  1. ICS 2 case should run at ~135F typical, 150F maximum. Review conditions where ICS driver is mounted and move to cooler air if possible.

Light is flickering or the brightness varies unpredictably.

  1. Evaluate if any potential EMI producing equipment is in the vicinity (high voltage welding equipment, etc.).
  2. The analog or gate leads may be picking up noise. If floating, tie the analog dimming lead to 24V and gate lead to ground.
  3. Verify ICS 2 case temperature is not exceeding 150F, move to cooler air or heatsink if possible.
  • Note: This product has been discontinued.

The light doesn’t strobe.

  1. Is Trigger mode selected? The strobe controller must be set to Trigger mode to enable strobe events. In the Constant and Test modes, external trigger signals are ignored, though Test mode does generate an internal trigger signal.
  2. Is the trigger cable connected securely? This is a common problem. Try reseating the trigger cable.
  3. Is your light registering an ID? If so, is the ID that appears in the upper right corner of the user interface the same as the ID printed on the white tage on the power cord? Older Ai light heads (manufactured before August 2000) may not contain a SignaTech signature and will require an adapter cable.
  4. Are you using a Dell PC or laptop? Try disconnecting your RS-232 cable and cycling power on the controller. Some PCs (especially Dell machines) cannot be left connected to the strobe controller.
  5. Are your trigger signal levels sufficient? A trigger pulse of 2.8 volts (rising) or 0.8 volts (falling) must be active for a minimum of 3 microseconds to be detected by the strobe controller.

When I program a second light on the S6000, the first light stops working correctly.

  1. Reprogram the first output again.

After changing the settings in the Windows interface, a communications error message appears when I hit the “Program” button.

  1. Ensure all connections are secure and the controller is turned on.
  2. Ensure the controller is connected to the communications port selected in the drop down window beneath the Program button.
  3. If you are using a laptop, try unplugging the RS-232 cable from the strobe controller. In many instances the settings have been recognized and after disconnecting the RS-232 cable and cycling power the light will function as programmed. Some laptops and desktops, including many made by Dell, are unable to communicate properly with the strobe controller.
  • Note: This product has been discontinued.

The light doesn’t come on.

  1. Make sure all connections are secure and the unit is plugged in.
  2. Is the wire from the power source securely inserted into the power jack or screwed into the terminal block?
  3. Is the power supply switch on?
  4. Is the light infrared? (Viewed at an angle, it is often possible to see a soft glow from most infrared and near-infrared LEDs unless there is a large amount of ambient light. Never look directly at the light head!)
  5. Have you programmed the controller for trigger mode? (Strobe only) The strobe controller in trigger mode only turns the light on in response to a trigger signal.
  6. Have all the channel(s) and/or output(s) been programmed to zero intensity? (Intensity and strobe controllers only) Use the respective SignaTech software to program all channels to a value higher than zero. Some devices and/or lights may require a value higher than five to generate visible light (excluding IR and UV, which may never become visible. Never look directly into these light heads!)

The unit does not appear to be powered up.

  1. When on, the rocker switch will be in the ‘I’ position.
  2. If you are supplying power via a terminal block, make sure the positive wire (white) is inserted into the positive input and the negative wire (black) is inserted into the negative input.

Only half the LEDs come on when I plug the light in.

  1. How old is the light? Some older Ai light heads (pre August 2000) are wired in a manner that is not wholly compatible with SignaTech. Usually, these lights will illuminate only one half of a complete light head. A specific adapter cable for the light is required.
  2. Is the light ID registering on the screen? (The ID will appear in the upper right corner of the user interface.) If the ID on the screen and on the cable tag match, try programming the channel(s) and/or output(s) to a higher intensity.

The light comes on, but does not appear as bright as it did when attached to a different power supply.

  1. How old is the light? If your light predates SignaTech (pre August 2000), it is not wired with signature elements. To protect older lights, the maximum available current is 50mA per channel (MS) or 60mA per channel (CS).