I have over the past few years blogged about my kitchen lighting system, starting more than five years ago with Kitchen lighting system - take 2 . Then in 2019 I had started a project to update the lighting system, which culminated in winning a 1st place finish in the project14 Home automation contest (Kitchen Lighting System Phase 2 - Wrap up ), but I never fully finished the project or installed it (future 'Off the Shelf' project?). Fast forward to 2021 and recently I noticed that the initial system had failed. My initial thought was that the 5 Volt wall wart power supply had failed. I dug through my project boxes and found a backup for the power supply (I always tend to buy more than I initially need, leaving me with backups or extras for other future projects) and swapped out the suspected back supply. No joy, the system stayed dark.
This past weekend, with the switch from Daylight saving time, my wife reminded me that the kitchen would be getting dark again and that I should get the under-cabinet lights up and running if I wanted to continue to enjoy tasty homemade meals. It doesn't take much more than the threat of missing a meal to prompt me into action, so I dove in and started figuring out went wrong. Here is a look at the (working) lighting system:
I climbed up to access the Master Controller, located on the top of the cabinets, over the microwave oven. Checking the power connections (PIR and I2C connectors), there was clearly a lack of power. Having previous tested the power supply, I figured that I had a short somewhere in the system, so I removed power and disconnected the PIR sensor and the two I2C cables. After reapplying power, I verified power at all of the outputs, everything looked good. So I reconnected the PIR sensor and checked again, all good. I reconnected the right hand side of the system, and checked again, all good, and the systems was properly handling the PIR outputs and turning on the LEDs when motion was detected. Next I checked the impedance between the power and ground on the cable to the left hand side of the system and saw a very low impedance. Unsure of whether it was a issue with the cable or the light pucks, I disconnected the cable from the first punk on the left hand side and rechecked the cable. The impedance was high, so the cable was good. I then disconnected the cable between the first and second light pucks and reconnected both ends of the cable to the first light puck. Reapplying the power clearly showed that the problem was at the first light puck.
I removed ans disassembled the light puck and looked at the board under the microscope. At first nothing looked bad, but on later inspection the filter capacitor (10uF) on the power supply lines look a little dark and the solder on the +5 Volt side of the capacitor looked black and powdery. I removed the capacitor and recheck the power line impedance, which looked good. I then replaced the capacitor and reassembled and reconnected the light puck into the system. I then powered everything up and all the lights came on as I triggered the PIR sensor.
This is the first shorted ceramic capacitor that I have experienced. Not sure exactly what took it out, but I did install a higher voltage capacitor in case the part was damaged on a surge. I guess another possibility was a bad solder joint that continued to heat up and eventually damaged the capacitor. I will have to keep an eye on this and see if anything else happens. In the meantime, maybe I should get back to work on the improved kitchen lighting system and upgrade the whole system.
But the immediate good news is that there once again is enough light for my wife to safely continue producing tasty homemade meals .
Thanks for reading along!