In driving a single LED from a 9V battery, for example, you put an appropriate resistor in series with the LED, and the current is reduced. Vary the resistor, and the light intensity from the LED changes. The other way is to vary the apparent intensity is to use pulse width modulation (PWM) with the same sort of circuit, but turning the LED on and off rapidly. This all makes sense to me, and I've done this many times, for single LEDs.
I need to drive a bunch of LED panels, that are usually built up from 100+ LEDs in series/parallel. The way you can drive these is with LED drivers, like the Meanwell LPF-60D or ELG-240 series. They accept 1-10V, PWM, or variable resistor inputs to control their intensity. The good thing about these drivers is that they provide true variable current, rather than PWM chopping of the signal. I need true variable current to vary the intensity, for this particular application.
However, I've got to drive a lot (30+) panels (24 VDC, current could be up as high as 10 Amps, hence the different Meanwell drivers) at specific intensity levels via computer, and am wondering what might be a cost-effective way to do this.
These panels don't need to be varying quickly; I just need to be able to set the intensity at variable levels for various tests for a few seconds. No flashing or blinking required.
DMX controlled LED controllers are relatively ubiquitous, and they use PWM outputs (i.e., from Amazon - 32 Channel 96A RGBW DMX 512 LED Decoder Controller DMX Dimmer DC5-24V). One way is to use the DMX decoder is to drive the Meanwell units with PWM. This seems like it will work.
This may be a stretch, but I'm wondering if it is possible to modify DMX output, so the output looks like a variable current. In order to drive higher currents (limit is 3 A on the one above), I'd use a different DMX box, or multiple DMX boxes.
Is this possible, or is the DMX to Meanwell architecture the way to go? One way to drive the Meanwell units directly is with 1-10 V from some D/A board, but generating 1-10V from an analog output system seems wrong (you'd be going from digital to analog to digital).
The other advantage of the DMX system is that you don't need AC power, just DC. I didn't know if DC-DC LED controllers existed in that voltage/current range that do the same thing (without PWMing the outputs to the LEDs); the Meanwell site only shows lower current ones (only up to an amp or so).
Each individual panel will be calibrated by a solar cell/photocell so that an intensity levels can be known for each driver/LED panel pair.