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Semitone Crystal Digital Dimmer Firmware Version 0.3.3

Brief User Guide, Revision 1 (2004-12-01) Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2004 Mark Hämmerling <> Project website, firmware updates:

Features of this firmware release

- 256 dimming steps

- internal linearisation

- fade speed from 6.6ms (theoretically) until 436s for full-stroke

- 10 brightness and fade speed preset memories

- power-up settings memory

- RC5 encoded IR remote control support

- remote control customisation setup procedure

- external standby push-button support

- UART Protocol R1 support


This firmware offers adjustment of 255 different shades of brightness, in addition to the off-state. Whenever you switch from one brightness to another (called "target brightness"), e.g. by loading a preset or by switching the standby mode, the brightness is being faded to the target brightness with a certain fade delay, which is also adjustable in 256 steps. The fade delay can be adjusted from 10 milliseconds until over 7 minutes for a full fading from maximum brightness to off-state, or vice versa.

There are two modes, which can be toggled: the standby mode and the so-called reference mode. Whenever the standby mode is active, the dimmer fades down to the off- state, using the current fade delay. However, the previously set target brightness is being restored when the standby mode is turned off. The state of the standby mode is indicated by the red LED. It lights up whenever the standby mode is active, when the end of a range is reached or when presets are being loaded or stored. The second mode, called reference mode, is only relevant when loading or storing presets. It will be discussed in the corresponding section. The state of the reference mode is indicated by the yellow LED. The green LED indicates the reception of an IR command. This indicator will react to any RC5 signal, even signals which are addressed to other devices or have no function assigned in the dimmer. It may also react to several other IR signals.

The Semitone Crystal hardware offers three user interfaces: The IR remote control receiver, the push-button connector, and the UART interface for connection to a microcomputer, PDA or Personal Computer. This firmware release supports all three of them. The firmware supports all common RC5 compatible infrared remote controls, as used by Philips (and several other manufacturers) for TV, VCR and other end-user devices. If you do not have such a remote control, it is recommended that you use a pre-programmed or programmable universal remote control.

Manual brightness adjustment

To adjust the brightness in 1/256 steps, use the appropriate buttons assigned during IR setup. By default, these are the CH+/CH- (channel up/down) buttons of the VCR remote control. You can keep the buttons pressed to repeat the adjustment.

Manual fade delay adjustment

To adjust the fade delay, proceed as for brightness adjustment. By default, the buttons are the VOL+/VOL- (volume up/down) buttons of the VCR remote control. You can keep the buttons pressed as well.

Range overflow indication

During adjustment of the brightness or fade delay, whenever the range (0 until 255) is tried to be exceeded, the red LED flashes. This is meant to be a feedback that no more adjustment is possible in the actual direction.

Standby mode

To toggle the standby mode, press the appropriate button assigned during IR setup. By default, this is the POWER button of the VCR remote control. Alternatively, you may use the standby push-button if connected to the Semitone Crystal Digital Dimmer. The standby mode forces the dimmer to fade to off-state. This mode is always overriding any fade operation. The current settings, however, are still present in the memory and are being restored as soon as the standby mode is left again.

Reference mode

To toggle the reference mode, press the appropriate button assigned during IR setup for a short time (less than one second). By default, this is the the DISPLAY button of the VCR remote control.

Loading and storing of presets

This firmware offers you to store ten presets of each brightness and fade delay to ten buttons of the remote controls.

Storing a preset

Note: Storing a preset is not possible during standby mode. When in reference mode, the current fade delay is also stored in the presets. When not in reference mode, the previously stored fade delay is left untouched. To store the current brightness (and fade delay), press and hold the corresponding button assigned during IR setup for approximately one second until the red LED flashes. By default, these are the buttons 0 until 9 of the VCR remote control.

Loading a preset

Any loaded brightness will be set up by fading. This way, you can smootly change from one preset to another. When in reference mode, the stored fade delay in the preset memory is loaded together with the stored brightness. The fading will then happen with the loaded fade delay. When not in reference mode, only the stored brightness is being loaded. To load the stored brightness (and fade delay) and fade to it as the target brightness, press the corresponding button assigned during IR setup for a short time (less than one second). The loaded brightness will be loaded as the target brightness and the red LED will flash for a very short moment. When loading a preset, the standby mode always becomes deactivated if active.

RC5 remote control button setup

To learn the RC5 codes of the remote control(s) you are going to use with the Semitone Crystal Digital Dimmer you have to do a remote control setup. To start the setup procedure, press and hold the PP (personal preference) button of any RC5 capable RC5 remote control for about one second, until the green LED's state becomes inverted, i.e. the LED lights up and goes off with every IR pulse. Using the IR setup, you are able to customize the dimmer to your favourite remote control. You can assign all functions to your favourite buttons. Please note that it's possible to even use different RC5 system codes, e.g. you may mix your TV and VCR remote for different functions. During the setup procedure, the green LED's state stays inverted and the yellow and red LED indicate the step of the setup procedure. Follow this table to complete the IR setup from the beginning to the end:




Press the button you want to assign to this function




Load (S)*/store (L)* preset #0




Load (S)*/store (L)* preset #1




Load (S)*/store (L)* preset #2




Load (S)*/store (L)* preset #3




Load (S)*/store (L)* preset #4




Load (S)*/store (L)* preset #5




Load (S)*/store (L)* preset #6




Load (S)*/store (L)* preset #7




Load (S)*/store (L)* preset #8




Load (S)*/store (L)* preset #9




Brightness up (1/256 step)




Brightness down (1/256 step)




Fade delay up (1/256 step)




Fade delay down (1/256 step)




Toggle standby mode




Toggle reference mode (S)*/Store power-on presets (L)*

*(S)/(L): The corresponding function applies when the button is pressed short (S) or long (L) during normal operation.

The IR setup procedure can be cancelled at every time by pressing the PP button during IR setup. Already programmed buttons will remain stored then. To disable an unwanted function of the list above (e.g. one or more of the load/store preset functions) just press a button you have already assigned to another function earlier during the setup. When the IR setup is complete or being cancelled, the dimmer returns to normal operation. The green LED's state is off when no IR signal is received and the red and yellow LED reflect the standby and reference state again.

Storing of power-on presets

The current brightness, fade delay, standby, and reference mode can be stored as power- up values. To accomplish this, press the appropriate button assigned during IR setup for approximately one second until the red LED flashes. By default, this is the the DISPLAY button of the VCR remote control. The current settings are then loaded whenever the Semitone Crystal dimmer is being reconnected to the mains or after a power fail.

UART interface

This firmware version fully supports the Semitone Digital Dimmer UART protocol R1. Please check the documentation releases for information about interconnection and have a look at the website for latest software supporting this protocol.