Ai-Chen and I did a bit of rewiring on the Secret Tree circuit board. One of the problems we had last week was that all of the ground wires for the LEDs on the trees were connected to two PCB terminals. I didn’t purchase enough terminal at RadioShack so that every pair could have a ground of its own. This not only made things messy, but it also made the connections suspect.
The other major discovery I made which explained much of the circuit’s random (unintended) behavior was that the two AD5206 chips interfered with one another. I plugged a single LED into each of the twelve outputs (across the two chips) and found that a simple test program didn’t operate properly when both chips were running. As soon as I disconnected the three data lines (CLK, SDI, and CS) from the second chip, the first chip would work properly. I wondered if there might be some sort of “floating” condition when the two chips were used together. Since CLK and SDI were shared, I hypothesized that CS was likely the culprate. To test this, I added 10K pull-down resistors on the chip selects of both chips. It worked! The test program dimmed the lights in the proper sequence rather than skipping around randomly on the third and fourth outputs.