Sunday, December 08, 2013

Aqua Illumination Director: A closer look at the future of lighting controllers

First, I would like to thank Walter, our customer service supervisor. Being such an awesome guy, he was nice enough to give me his AI Director.


I must admit that my initial feelings of this new AI Director was rather sour during setup. I must also admit that some of the problems were caused my failure to read and follow ALL the directions. Some of these issues included being unable to connect to my Wi-Fi network and not being able to save my customized programming. After repeating the set up process several times, installing “Bonjour for Windows” and trying a different internet browser, I was finally able to get everything up and running properly.


Now that everything is running as it should, I am loving how this controller works. I am able to set up the lights EXACTLY how I want them to operate and the extra features are great to have. Amazingly, you can control up to 10 different aquariums and 30 LED fixtures with just one Director. 

For programming: those that like things as uncomplicated as possible can select the “Easy Setup” under the “Control” tap. This allows you to set the Sunrise and Sunset times as well as the “Ramp Time” which is the duration of the sun rise/set. Just enter the 3 times click “Save” and you are done!



For those that want a little bit more control, clicking on the “Manual Mode” allows you to adjust the maximum intensities of each of the 7 channels. Lunar mode is also easily set by simply clicking on the on/off button and entering the start and end times.



Those wanting advanced controls, like me, are able to chart the intensity of each channel throughout the day. I love the fact that I can set the lights to gradually come on and go off in the morning while I get ready for work, then have a separate main lighting schedule. Being able to manually chart the intensities on the graph also allows me to see the exact amount of light of every channel during each time period: which was hard to determine with the handheld controller.



The preview feature is also great to let you visualize how the tank will look throughout the day.


video


Clicking on the “Effects” tap allows you to access all the advanced features which includes cloud simulation, lightning mode, lunar mode, acclimation mode and regional weather. While cloud simulation and lightning mode are definitely not required for the growth and health of your corals, they are very nice features to have. I definitely did not expect to like the cloud simulation as much I do.  After seeing it in action, I now consider “rolling clouds” as a must-have.


Putting it over the top is the regional weather. This new feature allows you to simulate the weather in many locations though out the world.



Having all these great features allow me to enjoy my Hydra LED lights even more than before. As the Director is a very new product, there are some bugs that are still being worked out. Fortunately, Aqua Illumination has always offered excellent support and firmware updates will continue to fix issues as they arise.

The Android and iOS apps coming in the future will allow you to control your light through your phone or tablet. This is definitely one great option to maximize the functionality and enjoyment of your Aqua Illumination lights. 

And Walter, I hope you will not be changing your mind as I am definitely not giving it back.