Rako RAK8-MB modular dimmer rack review

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posted on Wednesday, 29th May 2019 by David Slater

Lighting Control  Smart home  Rako  lighting Design 

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Integrators are always looking to keep their margins high and advanced lighting is a key offering. One thing we have always found at DSE is that lighting is a lucrative business. We design and install intelligent lighting and recently had an opportunity to install Rako’s Rak8 modular dimmer rack as part of a commercial shop project.

Rako RAK8-MB modular dimmer rack: Design
The RAK8-MB is an eight-channel rack, with slots for pluggable modules allowing for greater flexibility during both specification and installation. Individual plug in modules are available for trailing edge, leading edge, 0-10V, DSI, DALI and switching loads, as well as curtain, blind and screen control.

When used with the Rako wireless receiver (RX-Link), up to 16 channels can be used per stack; and with a wired system (RAKLink) up to 32 channels per stack are available, you can then add as many stacks as you wish to accommodate any size project. It’s also possible to mix and match RAK4s and RAK8s on the same multi-way stack – the same maximum number of channels per stack applies.

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Rako RAK8-MB modular dimmer rack: Installation
For this install we used a Rak8 with RAKlink and a Rako Bridge. From the fuse board we wired a 10 amp supply to the Rak8 and linked the RAKlink with the live neutral and earth cable; the bridge was wired to RX link via a Cat5 cable and linked to RX link via a RJ11 cable (both of these are supplied in box). We also installed 6 x trailing edge dimmer modules and 2 x Switch relay modules.

As with all Rako products, you program the system using RASOFT Pro software. After opening the software, you’ll need to give your project a name and choose a house number. The project is easy to build via wizards. The first task is to add all the rooms in your project. You add the room name and choose room type (lights, blinds or switched).

Setting the correct room types is important, as the software pages will change depending on the type chosen. Once the room has been added, it will be in the rooms list with a room number assigned to it.

Once a room has been added, the Next screen will take you to Added Channels in the room; a channel equates to a circuit. Next up is adding devices

It is a good idea to add the bridge at this stage as this will need to be programmed first. The RAKlink can be added, but I would suggest integrators leave Adding the WCM keypads at this point as this can increase chances of multiple device conflicts.

Once this file has been complete you are ready to connect to the bridge so that programming can begin. You can connect to bridge via a web page link, once on this page you need to change the house address to be the same that is in your project.

Once complete, the Bridge will appear online. If it doesn’t, open the tab to the right and click on the Bridge icon - it will then appear with a green tick if all is OK.

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The RAKlink is the heart of the system and needs to be identified. This is done by Adding Device and the holding down the button on the RAKlink for more than 5 seconds. Once the RAKlink is set up, the next stage is to assign the lighting circuits to the relevant RAK channel. Pressing the auto discover button on the software will discover any RAK-8s that are connected (we only had one RAK8 installed so this was addressed as 0, if you have more RAK8s installed each box will have to be addressed with the dip switches 0-1-2-3 and so on).

Having addressed the RAK8, it will now be possible to map the RAKlink. Mappings match the rooms and channels created in the software to the physical RAK circuits by assigning them different box and circuit numbers. The screen for this is very simple, as the drop down boxes already have the relevant info loaded.

There’s a nice feature on the RAK8 not included on the RAK4. This is a diagnostics window that allows you to interrogate the motherboards to see what is installed in the RAK8. It will also test for some circuit faults and show the running temperature of the dimmers.

Now that all the brains of the system is programmed it’s time to add the WCMs keypads. We wired these from the RAKlink in, CAT 5 interlinking each keypad, before setting up keypads in software. It’s important to set the DIP switches on the keypad to say how its wired (star, series wired and end of line). To put the keypad into setup mode, press and hold the Up and Down fade buttons. Once in set-up mode, a pop up box will appear on the software. Enter the device name, this will be the label that appears in the device list. Then assign the keypad to a room. Once done, you can then map the WCM buttons. This can be a simple as 1-4 scenes with fade up and down or more complex house operations such as triggering macros.

Just like the wireless systems each room and channel can have different scenes setup (mood lighting, for example). One feature I like with the wired system is the ability to have the last scene pressed still lit on the keypad.

The last thing to do when all your programming is complete is to upload the file to the Bridge. This will allow for the Rako app to have all the information and also more importantly store all data to be able to downloaded back if you find your software file corrupt.

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Rako RAK8-MB modular dimmer rack: Verdict
I have installed many RAK4s, but the RAK8 I believe is a major step forward in hardware. Not only does it double the amount of circuits in the same box, but it allows for more advanced programming and monitoring. The racks are easy to install and lock together to give a good containment solution for your wiring. The wiring knockouts have different knock out sizes allowing good excess for lots of twin and earth cables. The interconnecting of racks is simple, and all load voltage transmissions is done with industrial standard Cat cables.

We rate the RAK8 a solid well build product, backed up by some of the best telephone technical support in the industry. Highly recommended.

David Slater

David Slater started his writing career with SVI writing a popular column, he has also guested on publications like Home Cinema Choice and
Living North

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