Configurable Wall-Mount Touch Screen Switch
A configurable wall mount light switch for use in controlling multiple light fixtures. In one embodiment, the switch includes a touch screen display, a transceiver and a programmable microcontroller. The microcontroller may be programmed to display a plurality of interface elements on the touch screen display for selection by a user to control one or more light fixtures. Typically, the switch is dimensioned to be received by a single gang electrical box.
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/341,576 filed on Apr. 1, 2010, which is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.TECHNICAL FIELD
The present invention relates generally to the field of lighting control systems typically used in buildings. More particularly, the present invention relates to configurable light switches for controlling lighting within and/or around a building.BACKGROUND
Centralized lighting control systems have traditionally been controlled by a head-end controller. This controller is typically configured with a central processor that manages all of the devices on the communication signal lines. Because of this arrangement, a limited number of communication lines are able to be connected to the control system, thus limiting the number of input and output devices able to be controlled. Coordination and control of the entire system is accomplished in the head end controller. Additionally, modifications to the control scheme need to be downloaded from a separate desktop or laptop computer. This computer is connected to the head end controller either directly or through an interface module as, for example, depicted in
The traditional head end based control systems have several limitations. For example, head end control based systems, due to their architecture, have a limited number of inputs (e.g., switches) and outputs (e.g., relays). Although large scale control systems exist that are capable of handling a large number of inputs and outputs, those systems are best suited for that purpose—large scale control. They are typically relatively expensive and practically useable only for large scale control systems/applications. The head end control based systems are also typically very expensive and, although capable of controlling a relatively small input/output count system, they are generally cost “ineffective” for both small and large scale applications.
Head end control based systems do not effectively interface with the individual programming the system. Since the “programming” computer is not an integral part of the lighting control system, it requires the user (programmer) to develop the program and download it to the head-end controller. At first glance, this may appear to be a benefit since the computer is not “required” for the system to function. But after further analysis it quickly becomes evident that it is not a benefit, but rather a hindrance. With the traditional head end based system, a computer is still required for download of the program; it is simply not used for direct interaction or control of the system. The user can program, monitor and even manipulate the system, but this is done through downloads and uploads from the head end controller that controls the system.
Head end based systems exist that do not require a computer for programming. In this type of setup all of the information is typically stored and programmed directly on a keypad on the head end controller. These types of systems are worse yet, as they do not have the means to store the program on a separate device (i.e., computer's hard drive). If the head end controller fails, the program is lost and must be “rebuilt” in a new head end controller, which is a costly and time consuming process.
As depicted in
In head end control based systems, a paper directory card must be maintained and amended at the relay or dimming panels as the controlling loads are added and/or changed. This directory is used to describe what area or lighting circuit is controlled by a given relay or dimmer. Many times this paper card is lost, not maintained and/or contains incorrect entries. When an addition or modification is required, the installer must, therefore, trace out all of the unknown circuits and map out the wiring prior to the modification or addition. Additionally, when a relay or dimmer has failed or is not operating as intended, it can be difficult to rectify the problem without an accurate record of the circuitry. As a consequence, modifications and troubleshooting can be relatively time consuming and costly.
To conserve energy, modern facilities lighting control systems have incorporated occupancy sensors and ambient light level sensors. Occupancy sensors are used to detect motion in a given area. When motion is detected, a digital “on” signal is sent back to the head end controller to turn on a relay or dimmer. The occupancy sensor also starts an internal timer and, when the time cycle is completed, sends a digital “off” signal back to the same head end controller. The timer is continually reset by the motion sensor, thus maintaining the lights on as long as motion is detected. The deficiency with this type of control system is that all of the control settings are at the sensor. Should a different delay/cycle time be desired, it must physically be set at the sensing device/sensor. These devices are typically mounted to the ceiling of the controlled area and, in larger systems, there can be hundreds or thousands of them throughout the facility. Making a change to the delay/cycle time (a task frequently required to “calibrate” the system) can, therefore, take a substantial amount of time and be fairly costly.
The other component used in energy conservation of a lighting control system, the ambient light sensor, is typically a separate device with manual control of the set points. The user “picks” an event to occur (on or off of a lighting relay or level of a dimmer) based on the light level in the area. This can be cumbersome as the sensors are not self calibrating to the area of control and require the installer to manually set, and often reset them, until the desired set point is attained. Like the occupancy sensor, all levels of control and setpoints are at the device. Any adjustments and/or setting of the time delay, sensitivity to light, and set points in connection with both time and light must be made manually at the device. Similarly, adjusting, maintaining and repairing these devices can be relatively time consuming and costly.SUMMARY
According to one aspect, the present invention provides a configurable wall mount switch for use in controlling multiple light fixtures. The switch typically includes a touch screen display, a transceiver, and a programmable microcontroller. The microcontroller generates a user interface on the touch screen display with a plurality of interface elements associated with one or more lighting fixtures. When a user selects an interface element, the microcontroller sends a message via the transceiver for controlling at least one lighting fixture associated with the selected interface element. The particular arrangement of interface elements displayed by the microcontroller is based on one or more messages received via the transceiver. These components are housed in a mounting box that is dimensioned to be received by a single gang electrical box.
In some exemplary embodiments, the microcontroller may be programmed via the transceiver to reconfigure the user interface. For example, the microcontroller may be programmed to change a textual component associated with an interface element in response to one or more messages received via the transceiver. By way of another example, the microcontroller could be programmed to increase or decrease a number of interface elements on the user interface in response to one or more messages received via the transceiver.
Embodiments are contemplated in which the interface elements may be buttons that are associated with one or more light fixtures. It will often be desirable to reconfigure the arrangement of buttons on the touch screen display and with which the light fixtures are associated. For example, the microcontroller could be programmed to increase or decrease the number of buttons. In some embodiments, it may also be possible for the microcontroller to be programmed to change one or more descriptions associated with the one or more buttons responsive to one or more messages received via the transceiver.
According to some embodiments, the switch may include a wall cover plate that is connectable with the mounting box. For example, the wall cover plate may include an opening through which a user accesses the touch screen display. Embodiments are contemplated in which the touch screen display extends into the opening in the wall cover plate. Typically, the wall cover plate is dimensioned for a single gang electrical box.
In some embodiments, the switch may include a voltage monitor electrically connected with the microcontroller. For example, the microcontroller may be configured to send a message with the amount of voltage sensed by the voltage monitor via the transceiver. In some cases, the microcontroller may send the voltage data responsive to a request message received via the transceiver. Alternatively, the microcontroller could display the voltage data on the touch screen display responsive to selection of an interface element.
In some embodiments, the microcontroller includes memory to store address data responsive to a message including address data received via the transceiver. In some cases, the microcontroller could display the address data on the touch screen display responsive to selection of an interface element.
According to a further aspect, the present invention provides a configurable wall mount light switch with a touch screen display, memory, a transceiver, and a microcontroller. The microcontroller can generate a user interface on the touch screen display with a plurality of interface elements associated with one or more lighting fixtures. The microcontroller may be programmed with machine-readable instructions that cause the microcontroller to perform certain steps. For example, the microcontroller may display instructions on the touch screen display directing a user to select a portion of the touch screen display to initiate setup. In response to the user selecting the touch screen display, the microcontroller could transmit a message requesting an address assignment via the transceiver. In response to receiving a message with an address assignment via the transceiver, the microcontroller could be programmed to store the address assignment on the memory. In some exemplary embodiments, the microcontroller may display the address assignment on the touch screen display responsive to selection of an interface element. Embodiments are also contemplated in which the light switch could be dimensioned to be received by a single gang electrical box.
Still further aspects of the present invention are provided by a method of assigning an address to a light switch having a touch screen display. One step of the method involves displaying instructions on the touch screen display directing a user to select a portion of the touch screen display to initiate setup. If the user selects the touch screen display, communication is initiated with a remote server by sending a message requesting an address. Upon receipt of a message from the remote server that includes an address assignment, the address assignment is stored in memory.
Additional features and advantages of the invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon consideration of the following detailed description of the illustrated embodiment exemplifying the best mode of carrying out the invention as presently perceived. It is intended that all such additional features and advantages be included within this description and be within the scope of the invention.
The above mentioned and other features of this invention, and the manner of attaining them, will become more apparent and the invention itself will be better understood by reference to the following description of embodiments of the invention taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:
Corresponding reference characters indicate corresponding parts throughout the several views. Although the exemplification set out herein illustrates embodiments of the invention, in several forms, the embodiments disclosed below are not intended to be exhaustive or to be construed as limiting the scope of the invention to the precise forms disclosed.DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
While the concepts of the present disclosure are susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific exemplary embodiments thereof have been shown by way of example in the drawings and will herein be described in detail. It should be understood, however, that there is no intent to limit the concepts of the present disclosure to the particular forms disclosed, but on the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the disclosure.
A centralized building lighting control system constructed in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention is shown and generally depicted in the drawings with the numeral 10. One embodiment of the lighting control system 10 is generally shown and depicted in
As more fully discussed herein below, the lighting control server 12 is responsible for various user interface functions including but not limited to inputting set points and delay settings, tying input requests to output commands, inputting switch button labels and relay descriptions, and setting up time-clock functions. In this regard, the primary server 12 and the secondary server 26 may include keyboards 25 and monitors 27 as diagrammatically depicted in
The lighting control system input devices 20, 21 are devices that directly monitor the environment of a zone. The input devices may include smart switches 20 and occupancy/ambient light sensors 21. In the embodiment shown in
As best seen in the embodiment shown in
In the example shown, switches 20 are mounted in a backbox 52 with a mounting yoke 48 and spacer 50, and can be installed in common rough in boxes, such as a single gang box, (not shown) in a building wall and using a wall cover plate 46 as shown in
The switches 20 have several unique functions. After programming by the server 12, microcontroller 32 is responsible for maintaining the button configuration 30 and button descriptions for the switch 20; and monitoring of “button presses” by a user; and, finally, for communicating any changes in status (e.g., button pressing) to its controlling master interface 14. It is important to note, that since the smart switches 20 each have their own microcontroller 32 and touch screen LCD display 28, they are able to communicate with a master interface 14 and display pertinent information relating to its operation to the user. As described in greater detail herein below, the smart switches 20, as well as all other components in the control system 10, are capable of monitoring and reporting their current state and/or voltage level at that component for thereby mapping/determining the component's connection order and where a booster power supply may be needed. The component's current state is reported to the user both locally on the LCD display 28 and at the lighting control server 12.Input Devices—Occupancy/Ambient Light Devices
The occupancy/ambient light sensor input devices 21 monitor the environment in a particular zone within or around a building for light level and motion. As best seen in the embodiment shown in
The occupancy sensor 56 monitors motion in a given zone/area. The ambient light sensor 58 monitors the ambient light level in the zone/area. In one embodiment, the ambient light sensor 58 has three levels of sensitivity. Depending on the level of light in the monitored area, the sensor 58 will automatically adjust its sensitivity to best represent the light level. By way of example, if the light sensor 58 is placed in an area with a high level of natural ambient light (i.e., the area has a lot of windows and sky lights), it will automatically reduce its sensitivity setting to maximize the full scale of light level for that area. As more fully discussed herein below, light sensor 58 is calibrated via a self calibration procedure such that, as the level of artificial lighting changes in the monitored area (i.e., as the control system 10 changes the light level from low to medium by turning on additional relays/lights in a given area) so will the sensor 58 modify its representation of the ambient light in that area.
Each occupancy/ambient light sensor microcontroller 54 is responsible for monitoring the light sensor 58 and accurately determining the ambient light level for the zone whereat it is located, and for monitoring the occupancy sensor 56 and determining whether motion has been sensed in that same area. Additionally, the microcontroller 54 forwards this status information to its controlling input occupancy/ambient light interface 16.
Because the occupancy/ambient light sensor input devices 21 control their own functions yet communicate with the lighting control server 12, the “on-time,” also known as the “time delay,” after motion is recognized is easily adjustable. More specifically, device 21 starts a timer after motion is sensed in the area. After a specified amount of time has passed (e.g., 30 minutes) and after not receiving any other motion indications within that specified amount of time, device 21, in combination with the input interface 16 and master interface 14, sends a command to the control server 12 to turn the lights off in the controlled area. Additionally, the “on-time” or “time delay” can be sent to the device 21 microcontroller 54 via the communication network, namely, through secondary link 60, input interface 16, primary link 42, master interface 14 and ethernet link 62, and then stored by microcontroller 54. As can be appreciated, the user can thereby easily set and change, as may be needed or desired, the “on-time” or “delay time” of the input device 21 directly from the central lighting control server 12.
Like the smart switches 20, the occupancy/ambient light device 21 is capable of communicating its current state, and the voltage level at that component, back to the lighting control server 12 and to its controlling input occupancy/ambient light interface 16. The device's 21 current state and voltage level is reported to the user both at the input interface LCD 64 of the input interface 16 which is typically located generally nearby the device 21, as well as at the lighting control server 12.
It is noted that in the embodiment shown the occupancy/ambient light devices 21 do not typically each have their own touch screen LCD display as this would greatly increase their cost and physical size. Additionally, the occupancy/ambient light devices 21, are typically located and mounted up high on a wall or on the ceiling and, therefore, a touch screen and/or a LCD display mounted directly thereon would not be practically useable and would unnecessarily add to the cost. Instead, occupancy/ambient light devices 21 are connected via a multi-drop secondary communication link 60 to a controlling input interface 16 having a LCD 64 and whereat relevant information in connection with the devices 21 is displayed. In this example embodiment, a total of sixteen devices 21 are allowed to be connected to each interface 16 and all information in connection with all sixteen devices 21 is displayed on the controlling interface 16. In this manner, the user/installer is provided with a manner of getting local/nearby setup and status information of each device 21 while the system cost is minimized.
It is noted also that because the occupancy/ambient light devices 21 contain an ambient light sensor 58 that is, as described herein above, capable of self adjusting its sensitivity setting, it is possible to fairly easily identify the device 21 and the input interface 16 and, thus, on the control system 10. That is, pointing a flashlight or otherwise providing another light source at the device sensor 58 will cause a spike in the light intensity reading of the device sensor 58. As further described herein below, using this phenomenon/procedure, the spike can be observed at the controlling input interface 16 LCD 64 for setting up and identifying the input device 21 on the multi-drop secondary link 60.Input Occupancy/Ambient Light Interfaces
The input occupancy/ambient light interface 16 are used to collect, display locally, and pass on to the controlling master interface 14 the status of the occupancy/ambient light devices 21 in one or several zones. A block diagram of a typical input occupancy/ambient light interface 16 is shown in
Typically, an input interface 16 will be installed and reside locally/nearby the area where the occupancy/ambient light devices 21 it interfaces with, are installed. The physical geographic location of the interface 16 is not a requirement due to electrical constraints (i.e. cable length or data transmission rate) but, rather, it is a practical issue when setting up the connected sensors/devices 21 which it controls. The occupancy/ambient light devices 21, as noted above, are typically “daisy-chained” from device to device with a maximum of sixteen sensors/devices 21 per input interface 16 in the example shown. Each device 21 is “assigned” a unique address from the server 12 via the controlling master interface 14 and input interface 16. If a particular zone or area requires several sensors/devices 21 to adequately cover the square footage or shape thereof, that grouping information is passed on to and “grouped” at the lighting control server 12. This allows the sensors/devices 21 in a large or oddly shaped room to act and/or be treated as one common sensor/device 21.
The sensors/devices 21, with the help of their controlling input interface 16, individually or collectively control a zone or area within or outside the controlled facility. A zone may be an office, a hallway, a conference room, a lobby, a parking lot or any other area that would be considered an area within or outside a building. Each zone may contain multiple levels of lighting, but should typically operate as a unit. For example, a conference room may contain separate control levels for each of a can light circuit, a chandelier circuit, and a general fluorescent lighting circuit, but the general ambient light level for the entire conference room and or motion within the conference room should typically be represented as one area/zone. Any motion within that room or zone will trigger an event that is taken care of pursuant to the desired programmed response at the server 12. That is, the motion within the room or zone is not broken up into the back part or front part of the room/zone. The sensors/devices 21, input interfaces 16, master interfaces 14 and lighting control server 12 all work together to control the lighting in a given area/zone. If a sensor/device 21 recognizes movement in a given area, that sensor/device 21 will forward that event to its controlling input interface 16. The input interface then forwards that event on to the lighting control server 12 through the applicable master interface 14. The lighting control server 12 then looks up in its database what to do when that event is triggered. It also checks all other sensors/devices 21 that are “grouped” with this sensor/device 21 to check their status. In some embodiments, the following actions and results are performed based on the quantity of sensors/devices 21 in a given area or zone:
If a zone contains just one occupancy/ambient light devices 21, then that sensor/device 21 has total control of the area when active. The light level is, therefore, controlled based on the light level as determined by that sole sensor/device 21. Additionally, any motion in the room will initiate an “on” command back to the lighting control server 12. After the prescribed “delay time” without any motion, the sensor/device will initiate an “off” command which is sent back to the lighting control server 12.
If a zone contains several occupancy/ambient light devices 21 that are grouped together, then the control scheme/process implemented by the control system 10 is as follows. The ambient light level in the particular area/zone all of the “grouped” sensors are polled and averaged. The continuous polling is done by the input interface 16 and sent to the server 12. The averaging is done by the lighting control server 12. The server 12 maintains a list of devices that are “grouped” together. Before a change to the light level (based on a change to the ambient light level) is initiated by the lighting control server, the server 12 first averages the light level from all grouped devices 21 in the applicable area/zone and then, based on the averaged ambient light level and pre-programmed desired result, proceeds to change the light in the area/zone to the desired level. Likewise, when a motion event is encountered by one of the sensors/devices 21, that information is passed on to the input interface 16. The input interface 16 then forwards that information through its master interface 14 to the lighting control server 14, and starts an internal timer on the input interface 16. If that same sensor/device 21 does not receive any additional motion events before the timer times out then an “off” event is passed on to the lighting control server. However, before the “off” event is passed on from the lighting control server 12 to the appropriate output relay/dimmer interface 18 and associated relays or dimmers, the lighting control server 12 first verifies that no other sensors/devices 21 of the same group are recognizing motion. If any of the other sensors/devices 21 are recognizing motion than the “off” command is delayed until all grouped sensors/devices 21 do not see motion in their field of view. More simply stated an ON event is triggered by an OR condition of any sensor/device 21 that is part of the zone's group. An OFF event is triggered by an AND condition of all sensors/devices 21 in that same group. The following formulas are used in one embodiment to represent the lighting control scheme for a zone/area with multiple sensors/devices which are grouped together.
LIGHT LEVEL=(SENSOR A light level)+(SENSOR B light level)+ . . . (SENSOR N light level)/(Total Number of Sensors in the zone's group)
ON EVENT=(SENSOR A has motion) OR (SENSOR B has motion) OR . . . (SENSOR N has motion)
OFF EVENT=(SENSOR A has no motion) AND (SENSOR B has no motion) AND . . . (SENSOR N has no motion)
It is further noted that, because the “grouping” and conditioning control of the sensors/devices 21 is performed at the central lighting control server 12, sensors/devices 21 which are controlled by multiple input interfaces 16 can also be “grouped” together. Accordingly, the installer need not know or otherwise keep track of how the system is going to be setup (or grouped) when installing/wiring the system. Additionally, the lighting control server 12 has the ability to “verify” the status of a given zone/area before it triggers an event. For example, if the lighting control server 12 were to miss an OFF event from one of the occupancy/ambient light devices 21, then the “state” of that zone would be incorrectly represented at the server 12. Advantageously, however, since the lighting control server 12 can communicate with each input interface 16, the server 12 can verify the state of each of the grouped sensors/devices 21 prior to initiating an ON or OFF command.
Also, since the input interfaces 16 include a local LCD display 64, the “status” of each sensor/device 21 can be identified and viewed locally/nearby, as the sensors/devices 21 see it, of the applicable room/zone. Additionally, the input interfaces 16 simplify the wiring/installation of the up to sixteen sensors/devices 21 within a room or across several rooms since the devices 21 can be wired in any order without regard to location or cable drop point.Output Relay/Dimmer Devices
Where the input devices 20, 21 monitor the environment of a zone; the output devices 22 control the environment of a zone.
Devices 22 which function as lighting control relays, like other devices 22, each contain a local microcontroller and is connected directly to an output interface 18. Like other devices 22, it communicates directly with the output interfaces 18 via a communication link 60 which may be imprinted directly onto the output interface 18 circuit board. Additionally, the devices/relays 22 are able to determine the location whereat they are plugged into the output interface 18. The devices/relays 22 are able to use this information and communicate it to the server through the output interface 18 and master interface 14 (i.e. whether it is a single or double pole relay and where it is located in the control system/communication network). The devices/relays 22 are capable of being configured as either a single pole device (for 120V and 277V loads) or a double pole device for (208V or 480V loads). For example, a double pole configuration is provided by plugging in a second relay module into the first. The microcontroller 70 of the controlling module/device 22 acknowledges the additional pole (module/device) and automatically forwards this information onto the output interface 18 whereby this information is then passed on through the master interface 14 to the lighting control server 12. The microcontroller 70 controls the ON and OFF status of the device/relay 22. In this regard, the device/relay 22 utilizes a combination of a mechanical relay and an electronic control to turn on and off the circuit to the load. Essentially, the device/relay 22 is a microcontroller based controller wherein the microcontroller determines and communicates its associated relay's location, the type of relay it is to the server 12, and wherein it efficiently controls the connected load. The microcontroller 70 thereof may also be capable of detecting and communication error information back to the server 12 through it controlling output interface 18 and master interface 14.
Devices 22 which function as incandescent lighting dimmers, like the on/off relays discussed herein above, each have a local microcontroller 70. In the embodiment shown, the devices/dimmers 22 have the same physical dimension as the lighting control devices/relays 22. Additionally, in this embodiment, they have the same pin connections for connecting and communicating via a RS-485 multi-drop secondary communication link 60 to the output interface 18. Thus, they are interchangeable with the devices/relays 22 and are able to communicate the same/similar information back and forth with the relay interfaces 18. The devices/dimmers 22, however, are capable of reducing the power output to the load (light). They do this by first receiving a command of “light level” from the output interface 18 in lieu of an on/off command. They then use the “light level” information to adjust the power output to the load via a dimming circuit. Like the lighting control device/relay 22, the incandescent lighting devices/dimmers 22 communicate the same or similar information back and forth to the server 12 through the output interface 18 and master interface 14 (e.g., location, type and status, etc.).
Devices 22 which function as LED/fluorescent lighting dimmers are also similar to the 2-pole lighting control devices/relays 22 described herein above. They use the same second module as the 2nd pole of the 2-pole lighting control device/relay 22. However, the second pole is used to turn on/off the required switched circuit to the dimming ballast. The dimmed output from the dimmer module is used to provide the dimmed circuit to the dimming ballast of the LED or fluorescent light fixture. When the second pole module is plugged into the dimmer it automatically recognizes this configuration and now represents itself as an LED/fluorescent lighting dimmer in lieu of an incandescent lighting dimmer to the relay interface. All other functions of this dimmer are the same or similar as the incandescent lighting device/dimmer 22 described herein above.Output Relay/Dimmer Interfaces
Output relay/dimmer interfaces 18 are generally the output equivalent to the input interfaces 16. The output interfaces 18 are used to control the above described devices 22 (e.g., relays and dimmers). Like the input interfaces 16, the output interfaces 18 communicate with the master interfaces 14. The output interfaces 18 control (turn on, off or dim as appropriate) the output devices 12 which are connected to them. The output interfaces 18 receive commands via a primary communication link 42 from the master interface 14 as to what devices 22 (e.g., relays or dimmers) are to be controlled and to what level (i.e., on, off or dimmer level). Additionally, the output interfaces 18 forward information from each of the connected devices 22 (e.g., relays and/or dimmers) back to the master interface 14. This information can include the characteristics of the devices 22 connected at each of its ports/connections, and the current status of each such device 22 (i.e., if it is on, off or to what level it is dimmed at).
A block diagram of a typical output relay/dimmer interface 18 is shown in
It is noted that the LCD 72 may also serve as a local circuit directory for the user during installation and/or for maintenance purposes. This directory could include a cross reference between the connected devices/relays 22 and a description of the controlled load (e.g., “Conference Room Can Lights”). This directory can be of significant assistance and can significantly decrease time and costs when troubleshooting malfunctions and making future modifications. Since all of this information is collected at the lighting control server 12 in this embodiment, it can easily be forwarded on to the local LCD display 72 of the output interface 18. All additions and/or changes of the devices 12 are handled automatically at the server 12 and each of the descriptions of the loads for which a connected device 12 (relay or dimmer) is connected is then displayed by default on the LCD display 72. Should the user want to see different information (e.g., status info) at the local LCD display 72, they could merely press one of the local menu sequence buttons on the touch screen 74.Master Interfaces
In some embodiments, master interfaces 14 may be used to collect the status changes in any zone, via a primary communication link 42, from the input occupancy/ambient interfaces 16 and smart switches 20, and to command changes to the output interfaces 18, also via the primary communication link 42. For example, each of the interfaces, whether input or output, could be connected in a daisy-chain fashion to the primary communication cable/link 42. This communication cable/link 42 acts as a power cable and provides power to each of the connected components 16, 18 and 20. As more fully described herein below, by sharing a common power supply cable, the voltage level at each component could be monitored for mapping/determining the components connection order and where a booster power supply may be needed.
Like the secondary communication link wiring 60 between the input interfaces 16 and the input devices 21 (e.g., Ambient/Occupancy Sensors), the primary communication link wiring 42 between the master interface 14 and the input interfaces 16, the smart switches 20 and the output interfaces 18 can be connected without regard to order and type.
The master interfaces 14 allow the control system to be modular. Master interfaces 14 are used to collect and distribute information back and forth from the interfaces 14, 18 and smart switches 20 to the lighting control server 12. The master interfaces 14 perform several key functions in the control system 10. One function that may be performed by the master interfaces is acting as interpreters between the building's ethernet (data) network and the communication network of input and output interfaces 14, 16 and smart switches 20. Another function of the master interfaces 14 could be acting as collection managers. For example, when several commands are received from several of the input or output interfaces 16, 18 or smart switches 20 (e.g., button being pushed), the master interface 14 could collect that information and packet it in an efficient manner to be sent to the lighting control server 12. Additionally, master interfaces 14 may maintain a local data table of all of the connected components 14, 16, 18, 20 and 21 for determining system health and status. Like the input and output interfaces 16 and 18, it too may have a local LCD display 88 and touch screen 90 for local feedback to the user during installation and troubleshooting.
By using master interfaces 14 and thereby providing communications between the control network and the ethernet network, the control system 10 can virtually include an unlimited number of input and output components 14, 16, 18, 20 and 21. Since the number of master interfaces 14 is only limited by the limits of the ethernet network, through the use of local microcontrollers for collection and efficient packaging of communicated information, an almost unlimited number of input and output points can be realized. This structure allows for an efficient and cost effective solution for both small scale and large scale applications.Lighting Control Server
The lighting control server 12 generally serves two functions. First, the lighting control server 12 may act as a database server—a function that a computer does very well. When a master interface 14 (via ethernet communication) sends an event change or group of event changes, from one of the zones which it is controlling, to the lighting control server 12, the server 12 looks up in a database (that resides on the lighting control server 12) what to do with that event. The server 12 then queries its database for the output event or events that is/are to be performed when the applicable input event is encountered. The server 12 then organizes a string of commands to be sent to the master interface(s) 14 that control the applicable output interface(s) 18 that control the output event (relay turning on or off, etc.).
A second function of the lighting control server 12 is to act as a direct and integral interface of the lighting control system 10 and the user programmer. The key point here is that the server 12 it is an integral part of the lighting control system; therefore, it acts as a simple and seamless interface with the lighting control system 10. The function of programming the system is handled by a software user interface that typically resides on the server 12. This interface can access the database (that also resides on the server 12) directly. This greatly simplifies the programming of the control system 10. No uploads and downloads are required between the lighting control system 10 and the programming computer/server 12 as they are typically the same device accessing the same database directly. The commands to and from the master interfaces 14 are generally administered by a “Service” running on the lighting control server 12. This service runs independent and continuously on that server 12 as long as it is powered up. As a result of this arrangement, and since the server 12 acts as a node on the building's ethernet network 62, an additional secondary/backup server 26 can be added and coordinated with the primary lighting control server 24 (this would provide a level of redundancy in the system should that be a concern).
Embodiments are contemplated in which the server 12 could be accessed from any other computer (with the proper security privileges) on the building's ethernet network 62 via common remote interfaces available (such as Microsoft's Remote Desktop or a client application). This allows the server 12 to physically reside anywhere in the building and to be accessed at any physical location in the building with a computer and proper security privileges. For example, this would allow the lighting control server to reside in the IT department's main distribution frame (“MDF”). In such a scenario, a computer in the maintenance department could be granted privileges to access the server 12 for programming changes or a computer in the area to be controlled could be used for adjustments to the lighting level in a particular area. The flexibility of the lighting control server 12 being a node on the building's Ethernet network 62 allows all of the above described functionality and various other options for user interface as will become evident to one skilled in the art.
The above described basic six components 12, 14, 16, 18, 20 and 21 are programmed and work together as further described herein below so as to provide control to a centralized building lighting control system 10. The overall or central control scheme is first herein after described, namely, how the components 12, 14, 16, 18, 20 and 21 talk to each other (e.g., communicate); how they update their firmware; and, finally, the significance of the local LCD touch screen displays have in the system makeup.System Control Schema—Communication
In general, control system 10 has three levels of communication with the master interface 14 being the center thereof. In one embodiment, the master interface 14 has two processors 82, 84 that are connected directly to one another with a dedicated serial communication link 86. The ethernet processor 82 could be dedicated to communications with the ethernet network 62 to the lighting control server 12. For example, as data becomes available (either incoming from the ethernet network 62 or outgoing from the master processor 84), the data could be loaded in one of two circular buffers. Data coming in could be loaded in one of the buffers; data going out could be loaded in the other buffer. In the embodiment shown in
After a connection has been established, data to and from the ethernet network 62 is managed using the ethernet processor 82 circular buffers described in the embodiment herein above. Typically, the LCD display 88 on each master interface 14 is programmed to and is able to present the automatically connected IP address should the user need to troubleshoot connection issues. The procedure listed above allows the master interface and lighting control server to connect automatically in a DHCP environment. If a static IP scheme is employed at the facility where the lighting control system is installed, the installer can simply set the IP address of each master interface 14 and the lighting control server 12 via the LCD touchscreens and the graphical user interface, respectively.
The next level of communications is between the master interfaces 14 and the smart switches 20, the input interfaces 16 and the output interfaces 18 and is accomplished in one embodiment with an RS-485, multi-drop, secondary link 60. The master interface 14 may be programmed to take the lead in this communication connection. For example, in order for the components 16, 18 and 20 to communicate with each other, the master interface 14 could first assign an address to each as more fully described herein below in the Auto-Addressing section. In such embodiment, this address is automatically cross-linked with an ID that is established at the lighting control server. The cross-linked ID is what is displayed and used for setup and installation of the system. After the interfaces 16, 18 and switches 20 are assigned an address, they are programmed to and capable of communicating with the master interface 14. Typically, the master interface 14 initiates all communication at this level. That is, the master interface 14 polls each interface 16, 18 and switches, one after another, until it reaches the last connected address. It then returns to the first address under its command and starts the process over. In between each such polling cycle of the interfaces 16, 18 and smart switches 20, the master interface processor 82 reads its incoming ethernet circular buffer and writes to its outgoing ethernet circular buffer as appropriate.
Typically, the lowest level of communication is the secondary RS-485, multi drop communication link 60. As described herein above, unlike the master interfaces 14, the input and output interfaces 16, 18 often contain just one processor. Each of these processors typically has two serial ports, one to talk to each of the primary and secondary RS-485 links 42, 60.
Depending on the circumstances, the control system 10 could include an updating method for allowing firmware/software features to be added and “bugs” worked out of the firmware for one or more components 12, 14, 16, 18 and 20 in the system. The updating method/scheme could be provided because the control system 10, as described herein above, is modular. Additionally, because the control system 10 is expandable, and because of the likelihood of expansion is probable, the updating method for firmware upgrade (or downgrade) is seamless and automatic.
The following illustrates the system firmware updating method according to one embodiment: In this example, a lighting control system 20 is initially installed having one master interface 14, three output interfaces 18, and twenty relay devices 22. Thereafter, it is desired to add four more relay devices 18. The firmware installed (at the factory) on the four new relay devices 22 is a newer revision/version than the firmware on the prior installed output interface 18. It is desired to maintain and continue to use the firmware on the prior installed output interface 18.
In the above example the new relay devices 22 and output interfaces 18 may not communicate all commands correctly because of the different levels/versions of firmware installed on each. In this regard, the updating method includes a “trickle down” firmware modification method/scheme. In this regard,
If a completely new version of firmware is desired for the entire control system 10, the new firmware could be downloaded through the ethernet connection to the master interface 14 via a menu selection of the graphical user interface program residing on the lighting control server 12. Once the boot-loader of the master interface 14 finishes updating its firmware and storing the subsequent firmware images, the lower lever/order components will automatically propagate the new revisions throughout the system using the method described above.Significance of Local Touch Screen Lcd Displays
Another unique feature of this invention is the way that it conveys information on a local level to the user. One or more interfaces, such as a master interface 14, input interface 16, an output interface 18 or smart switch 20, as described herein above, could have its own LCD touch screen display. The LCD displays are used for many functions, such as communicating to the user/installer interface/switch status, communication status, connection status and, in the case of the output interface 18, the circuit (switch-leg) descriptions. Switches 20, as described herein above, also display button configurations and button labels (descriptions).
When descriptions of the connected loads (switch-legs) are entered/provided at the lighting control server 12, that information could be passed on to the corresponding output interface 18 so that it can be displayed on its LCD display 72. Any changes made to the descriptions in the lighting control server 12 may be automatically updated to the applicable output interface 18.
The significance of the local LCD displays is also evident with the smart switches 20. With the LCD display 28 on the switch 20, the user is able to coordinate buttons 30 configurations as desired such as through interactive menus on the lighting control server 12. The switch 20 could automatically upload configuration information and descriptions for each of its buttons 30 after a description is entered or updates are made. This eliminates the need for engraved or worse yet unmarked face plates describing each button.Auto Addressing
Embodiments in which the control system 10 has the ability to self address each of the components 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21 and 22 is advantageous. This is made possible because, as described herein above, each component typically includes a microcontroller. Generally the microcontroller contains a limited amount of non-volatile memory (e.g., EERPOM memory) whereat an auto addressing program is able to store status information for coordinating and maintaining an address for itself and the rest of the system components. That is, in some embodiments, a primary function of each of the microcontrollers 32, 54, 66, 70, 76, 82 and 84 is to coordinate and maintain an address protocol for the control system 10.
As described herein above, the lighting control server 12 resides over the master interfaces 14; the master interfaces reside over the multi-function smart switches 20, the output interfaces 18 and input interfaces 16; the output interfaces reside over the relays and dimmers devices 22; and, the input interfaces 16 reside over the occupancy/ambient light sensor devices 21. This example topology allows for the higher order device (e.g., master interfaces 14) to communicate directly with the lower order devices (e.g., input/output interfaces 16, 18), and also allows the higher order components to address and maintain a table of connected components/devices for the lower order devices. Although the method of addressing may differ slightly for the type of component/device (input components/devices vs. output components/devices) the overall method/scheme is similar.
As described herein above, in some embodiments, all of the communications between the various components/devices (except with the server 12) utilize a multi-drop RS-485 communication schema. Separate RS-485 communication links are typically established for each “level” of the system (e.g., the master interface 14 to input interface 16 communication is separate from the input interface 16 to occupancy/ambient light sensor input devices 21 communication). An exemplary flow diagram describing the method of the self-addressing protocol is shown in
It is noted that the local LCD displays 68, 72 and 28 (located in some embodiments on each of the input or output interfaces 16, 18 and switches 20) typically perforin at least two functions during the self-addressing and setup process (e.g., a bar graph). First, it steps the user through the process as the new component/device is addressed. That is, each step is displayed on the applicable LCD so the user is aware of what is transpiring. For example, when a new smart switch 20 is first connected via the primary link 42 with a master interface 14, the switch LCD 28 displays a message indicating that the switch “Has not been setup/addressed” and presents/displays a “setup button” 30 for the user/installer to press to begin setup/addressing process. Once the user/installer presses the setup button 30, the switch LCD 28 displays the progression of the setup/addressing process (e.g., a bar graph). After the switch has obtained its address, it is programmed to and checks with the master interface 14 for firmware compatibility/equality. If the firmware on the switch 20 and master interface 14 do not match, then a request and subsequent transfer of firmware is performed between the two components as described herein above. As also described herein above, this is possible because the firmware for the switch 20 resides in memory as an image on the master interface 14. The firmware coordination/updating process may take several seconds and the LCD display 28 again displays/presents the progression status of the firmware coordination/update (e.g., bar graph).
A second function of the local LCD displays 68, 72 and 28 during setup/addressing is to allow the user/installer to identify the component/device for “linking.” Linking is typically performed, as more fully described herein below, at the server 12 to allow the real/physical component/device to function the same as the virtual component/device that is programmed and visible on the monitor at the lighting control server. For assisting in performing the linking sequence/process, the component/device ID (cross-referenced from the device's address) may be displayed on the local LCD displays 68, 72 and 28 for easy viewing by the user/installer.
It is noted that, if a component/device fails and need replacing, the new component/device can be installed using the same ID, and likewise, address as the old component/device. The component/device could include a physical “setup button” or one could be programmed and displayed on its LCD (or on its controlling interface 16, 18 LCD) via its respective touch screen controller 38, 68, 74, 90 as, for example, described herein above in connection with the smart switches 20. For example, when a replacement input/output interface 16, 18 is connected to the primary link 42, the master interface propositions the new/replacement input/output interface 16, 18 and initializes the set procedure and, when the setup button is pressed on or in connection with the newly added component/device, the installer is also prompted if the new/replacement interface 16, 18 should be installed using the same ID and corresponding address as the old component/device. Accordingly, the installer can elect to use the same ID/address of the old missing component/device or request a new ID/address. If the existing but unused ID/address is selected, all previously programmed and linked interactions with the old component/device from the server 12 will now apply to the new/replacement component/device.
It is also noted that, in one embodiment, if a component/device becomes unavailable or otherwise is no longer available or is missing on the network, the lighting control server 12 could be programmed to display indicia that the component/device is unavailable (e.g., the virtual previously linked icon of that component/device may have a red “X” through it). Accordingly, the user viewing the server 12 monitor will know that that previously linked component/device is no longer being recognized and can take corrective measures as needed. All other previously programmed functions of the control system 10 will generally still be available, but that component/device will not be active since it is “missing.”
If the user deletes a component/device at the lighting control server 12 (a device does not need to be missing to be deleted), then a command from the server 12 is sent to the applicable controlling interfaces 14, 16, 18 to remove that component/device from their respective tables. If the component/device is still available (if it is still physically connected to the control system network) the component/device will again regain the 65 address ID and will be become ready for a “new installation” setup button press.
As previously mentioned, the setup and addressing protocol and method/scheme between the master interfaces 14 and their connected input/output interfaces 16, 18 could be the same as that described above between the master interface 14 and the smart switches 20. In connection with the setup and addressing procedure between the input interfaces 16 and the ambient/occupancy sensor devices 21, it is noted that the ambient/occupancy sensor devices 21 do not typically contain a local LCD. However, devices 21 include a light sensor 58 which, in conjunction with a flashlight or other similar light source, can be used to assign an address thereto. In one example procedure for setting up an ambient/occupancy sensor device 21, the installer/user could first select the input point on the controlling input interface 16 by pressing a soft key/“setup button” on the local touch-screen display 66, 68 representing the input device 21 to be setup. It is noted that, in one embodiment, up to sixteen devices 21 can be connected to one input interface 16, and the status of all sixteen devices 21 is displayed on their controlling interface LCD screen 66. The displayed status includes an indication showing if the device 21 is setup and the address thereof or, if it is not yet set up, an available “connection point/button.” To set up and address a device 21, the installer may select a desired connection point and press the “connection point/button” on the touch-screen display 66, 68. The interface 16 then causes all of the devices 21 that are physically connected (wired) to it but are not yet addressed or setup to flash an LED light which is physically located on the devices 21. The installer can, thus, physically see the devices 21 which are not yet addressed or setup. By then pointing a common flashlight or other light at the device light sensor 58 which is to be connected to that “connection point,” the device 21 is programmed to and will recognize the spike in its light level and request that connection point address from its input interface 16. All devices 21 under that interface 16 will then stop blinking their LED's until another setup request is given by pressing another available “connection point/button” at the input interface 16.
Once a device 16 has received its address, it is programmed to go through the procedure described herein above to coordinate and/or update or obtain the compatible version of firmware. Should the user/installer want to see the address of a device 21 at a later date, the input interface 16 can be placed in a “check address mode,” for example, by pressing a soft button of the controlling interface LCD 66, 68 whereby, by pointing a flashlight at a device light sensor 58, both the device LED will be caused to blink and the input connection point of the input interface 16 will display indication thereof.
The setup and addressing protocol and method/scheme between the output interfaces 18 and the output devices 22 is substantially the same as between the master interface 14 to input/output interface 16, 18 in regards to the deletion or loss of a device 22. The creation/assignment of a device 22 address is also similar, except that the output relay/dimmer device 22 is physically plugged into a specific port/pin socket 78 on the output interface 18. Thus, the address which is assigned to the device 22 is the port/pin socket 78 to which it is attached. In one embodiment, there are a maximum of eight available addresses (0-7) per output interface 18. In this embodiment, the addresses are assigned by the device 22 being plugged into an output interface pin socket 78 and a fixed code on the connection pins/wires between the device 22 and the output interface 18. The pins/wires use a binary code to represent the pin socket 78 location of the device 22.
It is noted that in this embodiment the highest level of communication is between the master interface 14 and the lighting control server 12. In some embodiments, this communication is via standard ethernet protocols and standard network switches 92; thus, no special auto-addressing procedures would be required. For example, this communication may be setup using standard TCP/IP protocols. The lighting control server 12 may assign each master interface 12 and ID so the user is able to distinguish it when “linking” components of the system, but this ID is typically independent from its IP address that is assigned by the network's router. It is also noted that the example “missing device” and device deletion methods described above could be used with the master interfaces 14. For example, database tables on the server 12 could be updated and modified for the master interfaces 14 like any other device in the system.
The example procedures mentioned herein above for “setup” and addressing are used to identify the components/device on the control system network. In an embodiment, each component/device 14, 16, 18, 20, 21 and 22 is identified by a nomenclature which uses the address of its higher level/controlling components. Because a master interface 14 is the highest order component in the control system 10 requiring addressing, when it is added to the control system, it obtains its cross-referenced ID from the lighting control server 12. When the lighting control server 12 recognizes a new master interface, it assigns it an ID, such as “M” plus the next available number (i.e., M1, M2, M3, etc.). The master interface 14 is responsible for assigning the ID of its lower lever connected components/devices. For example, their ID may be composed of both the master interface's ID plus an identifier representing their type plus the next available number. For example, an output (Relay) interface 18 could have an address ID like M1 RI3. In this case, “M1” represents the ID of its controlling master interface, the “RI” (relay interface) identifies the type of output interface 18 it is, and the “3” represents the address number of the output interface 18. In one embodiment, it is noted that up to sixty components/devices are possible on a primary communication link 42. The following table illustrates several examples of the addressing nomenclature of control system components:
The above examples describe an address ID of each component used at the server 12 to “represent” that component in the control system. When programming a new component/device at the server 12, a “virtual” component/device is established. For example, if a new switch 20 is to be added to the control system, the user would create a new virtual switch using the graphical interface program on the server 12. The configuration of the switch would be selected (e.g., 2 button, 3 button, etc.). Then a description would be provided for each button 30 (this description will appear on the physical switch LCD 28 buttons 30). After the virtual switch is established, it can be “dropped” into a group of virtual devices 22 that it is to control. This group of devices can be one or more of a collection of switches, relays, time-clocks, dimmers, etc. that are to work together in controlling or lighting the inside or outside the building/facility. This “dropping” of each component into each group of devices could be done, for example, by a standard drag and drop procedure common to many software applications (similar to moving a file between folders on a hard drive). Accordingly, the items that are grouped can be coordinated to control the components of that group.
For example, if a zone (or group) has three light levels controlled by three relays 22, two five button switches 20, and a time-clock (the “time clock” can be “virtual” in the sense that it is programmed to operate the relays based on the server clock), the user/installer can assign the operation of various relay devices 22 to various buttons 30 of the two switches 20. Additionally, the user can assign the relay devices to be overridden by the virtual time clock which has been established and is part of that group. Since all of the components in that group represent a small sub-system of the larger control system 10, the user can easily create complex/desired control schemes for that group. By combining this feature with the ability for each component/device to communicate with one another, complicated control schemes are simply a matter of dragging and dropping between components.
By way of another example, assume that the user/installer wants to have the lights go to an AUTO mode every morning at 7:30 AM (in the AUTO mode, the lights should turn on only when an occupant is in the room); the level of lighting is to be determined by the ambient light sensor 58 of the ambient/occupancy device 21; and, the user/occupant should have the ability to go to a fixed level (i.e. low level) when a “LOW LEVEL” button 30 is pressed on the local smart switch 20. This is all simply coordinated/programmed by first creating a group; creating a time clock with the “7:30 AM turn all lights off for the grouped lights and put the group into AUTO mode” (enabling the motion sensor(s) and the ambient light detector(s) of the group); creating a Virtual Smart Switch with “OFF”, “LOW LEVEL”, and “AUTO MODE” for the button descriptions; creating a Virtual Dimmer or several Virtual Relays to control the lights in that area; and finally dropping all of the affected devices into the newly created group. All functions and coordination between the grouped devices are now available for the drag and drop operations within that group. In order for the “LOW LEVEL” function to operate when the corresponding button is pressed, the programmer simply drags the relays that are to turn on or off into the appropriate boxes labeled “On” and “Off” after highlighting the “LOW LEVEL” button of the Virtual Switch”. Additionally, the “AUTO MODE” function is dragged into the “Off” box telling the system to turn off the AUTO MODE function (i.e. to stop controlling the lights by reference to ambient light level and motion). Another requirement of the example was to have the lights of the affected group go into an AUTO MODE at 7:30 AM. This could be done by opening up the time-clock that represents that function of the group and dragging the AUTO MODE function into the “On” Box. One note regarding all of the devices of the system—each device can be dragged and dropped into individual or multiple groups. An example of this is with our 7:30 AM time-clock. That same time-clock can be assigned to several groups if desired and can perform different functions in each group should that be desired (i.e., it may tell all interior zones to go to AUTO MODE and tell all exterior lights to turn off).
The developing of “virtual devices” and “grouping” of those devices allows the programmer to “pre-setup” the system as a whole prior to having the physical components/devices installed or setup on the system. The method to “link” the physical component/device to the virtual device uses the same procedure as that described above. It is noted that when a physical component/device is setup on the system, the lighting control server generates a unique ID for it that could be displayed on the server until it is linked on the server 12. That ID may also be available at any time on the local component LCD display by, for example, pressing and holding a spot anywhere on the touch-screen for several seconds. The user can use the displayed IDs of unlinked devices on the server and “link” them to a desired virtual device. This could be done by dragging the virtual device on top of the unassigned physical device ID by way of example. Only like types of components/devices are shown for linking when performing this procedure. This eliminates, for example, the possibility of linking a virtual switch to a physical input interface 16. When the virtual device is linked to the physical device, the virtual device is no longer listed in the list of “Available Unlinked Virtual Devices” and it now shares the space of the device ID. For example, the result may be a “colored” icon at the device ID along with the device ID and the descriptions and aspects of the virtual device. Through the use of “right click” menus, the process, becomes faster and more efficient for the programmer.Self Calibration
Energy conservation is a motivating factor for incorporating a lighting control system in a facility. It is desirable to provide lighting only when needed and then, preferably, only at an intensity sufficient for the intended use. It is also desirable to use natural/ambient light when available, and thereby decrease the artificial light being provided from light fixtures and, hence, the power consumption.
In this regard, a deficiency with existing lighting control systems is their ability to accurately represent the steady state light conditions of a room or area. Some existing lighting control systems use ambient light sensors in an attempt to conserve energy. However, the ambient light sensors, as they are used in existing lighting control systems, are unable to correctly/accurately represent the light level in the room or area as they do not perform a “profile” for the controlled area/room. Moreover, the setup procedure for the light sensors is tedious and often inaccurate.
An existing method of using light sensors is depicted in
The present light control system 10 overcomes the disadvantages of the existing systems by, in one embodiment, developing a light profile, through the use of its input occupancy/ambient light interface 16, for the light level in the area which the sensors are representing. This light profile is then used as the basis for the desired control scheme. In this regard, a dynamic profile is generated using the steady-state light level as the reference point for control. The steady-state light level is the actual ambient light level in a particular area with no influence by artificial lighting. The steady-state light level will change as the amount of natural (ambient) light changes, but that is insignificant when determining a profile for the controlled area. An example to aid in defining the ambient light for an area is: in an area with an exterior window, the ambient light level would be the lighting level in the room without influence from the light fixtures in that room. To profile the room, each level of lighting must be introduced into the equation and its resultant change in light level stored as a reference point for each added level of light (i.e., a relay is turned on, the light level is read by the ambient light sensor in that area, and the change in light level is stored with the relay information in a database resident on the lighting control server. An example of this profiling process is described below with reference to
The microcontrollers on both the ambient light sensors 58, the input interface 16, the output interfaces and the relays/dimmers are coordinated to work together with the lighting control server 12 to develop the profile. Since all of the previously noted components are controlled and “grouped” together by the lighting control server an area/room profile is a matter of initiating the sequence by the user (block 100). This initiation can start at either the lighting control server or one of the input interfaces. The method for initiating the room profile may be slightly different when originating from either the lighting control server or one of the input interfaces, but the result is the same. In order to initiate a room profile event from one of the input interfaces the user determines which group (area) is to be profiled. The user may select from a list of groups stored at input interfaces. The group information may be automatically sent from the lighting control server to each input interface when a new group is established at the lighting control server. In some cases, an ambient light sensor may be required for profiling purposes. This requirement is determined and maintained automatically by the lighting control server.
In the exemplary profiling process shown, the user scrolls through each group description for which an area/room can be profiled either at the input interface or the lighting control server. When an area/group is selected, a soft button labeled “Profile Area/Room,” for example, is presented for the user to press (block 102). Upon pressing this button, the lighting control server sends an OFF command to each relay/dimmer included in the group to be profiled (block 104). Then the lighting control server requests from the ambient/occupancy sensor(s) (through the various communication links) in the group to be profiled a light level reading (block 106). This is the steady-state light level for the area. If there are multiple sensors in the area/group then the average of those readings is stored (block 108). This information is stored in a database residing on the lighting control server with the appropriate group. In the example profiling process shown, a determination is made as to whether this is the first iteration for the sequence (block 110). If it is, the lighting control server issues a command to one of the relays or dimmers in the group to turn ON (again through the various communication links) (block 112). Again the ambient/occupancy sensors are polled by the lighting control server for their new light level with the added level of artificial light for the area. The difference between the original “no artificial” light reading and the new “first level of light” reading is stored in a database residing on the lighting control server with the respective relay/dimmer (block 114). This process is continued until the lighting control server has measured and stored the added influence of light for each relay or dimmer in the group being profiled (blocks 116 and 118). After all of the available levels of artificial light (relays/dimmers) are recorded, the process may be repeated multiple times (e.g., for a total of five times) in the exemplary process shown (block 118).
From the results, in this embodiment, the highest and lowest readings are thrown out and the remaining sets of samples are averaged and recorded in the database (block 122) residing on the lighting control server (block 120). Performing this sequence multiple (e.g., five) times and eliminating the samples as stated above eliminates the influence of temporary environmental changes during the profiling process (e.g., a cloud passing over). After the profiling process is complete a message is displayed at the point of initiation (either the lighting control server or the input interface) stating that the profile process is complete (block 124). This process provides the lighting control server at least two vital pieces of information. First, the lighting control server now knows what influence each relay/dimmer has in regards to the added amount of artificial light for that particular relay/dimmer. Second, the lighting control server now knows the collective total amount of artificial light all of the relays/dimmers provide to an area/room/group. This is the first step in accurately and automatically controlling the light level in an area with respect to the amount of ambient light available at any given time.
The next step involves polling the room/area/group periodically for the actual maximum ambient light levels. For example, this may occur in response to a command generated by a field device (e.g., motion sensor, light switch, etc.) to turn on lights in a room (or group) (block 200). Based on the command, the server may look up in its database which group is associated with the command (block 202). With the previously obtained profile information, the lighting control server can now poll the room/area/group for its current light level (block 204). The lighting control server now has available, based on profiling through the lookup in its database, what added amount of light will be present when a respective relay or dimmer is turned on. Additionally, the lighting control server can poll each ambient/occupancy sensor for the current light reading in a particular room/area/group. When the response of the current light level is sent back from the sensor to the lighting control server, that information may be arranged (block 206). This information may be combined with the lookup in its database to determine what the “current” steady-state light level is. More specifically, the lighting control server takes the current light level reading from the ambient/occupancy sensor and subtracts off the previously recorded step light level(s) for each relay or dimmer that is currently ON (block 208). This provides the lighting control server the “current” steady-state light level for the area/room/group being controlled. This steady-state level is now recorded at a periodic rate (e.g., every ten minutes) for the controlled group. A maximum steady-state light level may be determined for each group and stored in a database (block 210). The steady-state maximums are stored for a specified amount of time (e.g., 30 days) and that information is used to determine an average maximum steady-state light level for a given area/room/group: To “jump start” the control of the system a factory supplied default may be preloaded into the database for use until a substantial amount of data is collected (e.g., one month). To control the lighting automatically with regards to the ambient light a simple inversely proportional formula may be implemented. For example, the following formula could be used:
DSP=Desired Light Level Set Point
CURSSLL=Current Steady-State Light Level
MAXSSLL=Previously Recorded Maximum Steady-State Light Level
MAXAAL=Previously Determined Maximum Available Artificial Light
The MAXssLL as used in the formula above is constantly being updated and changed as the days pass and the data is updated. This allows for an automatic response to changing environmental conditions (e.g., season changing). Once the desired setpoint (DSP) is determined, the lighting control server can now lookup in its database to determine the best fit to obtain this light level (block 212). Moreover, the lighting control server reviews each possible combination of relay(s)/dimmer(s) and their respective added amount of artificial light to determine what combination will get as close as possible to the desired setpoint (DSP) and sends a command based on that criteria (block 214). If the “lights on” command changes to “lights off,” the process ends (block 216). Otherwise, this process periodically repeats (block 218). This example algorithm inversely scales the amount of artificial light in proportion to the maximum ambient light for a given period of time (e.g., one month). Although the concept is complex, through the utilization of the distributed control of the system the application of the algorithm is simple—for example, a press of the “profile group” button.
The sensors 58, via the controlling program/scheme on the server 12, are constantly monitoring the light level in a given area. They are able to “record” locally the maximum and minimum light levels in that area for each change in step. This has a bonus side effect, namely, monitoring of the performance of the light fixtures. This is accomplished by comparing the original change in light level as produced by each step of light to the current change in light level by each step of light. This can only be done during the step-up or step-down process from level to level. If the “change” in light level from step to step is stored and compared, then the steady state light level is automatically averaged out of the equation. Since the system is able to monitor this change and compare that change to what is determined acceptable levels in change over time, the system is able to determine when a fixture may need cleaning or a ballast or lamp may need replacing. Utilizing dimmable fixtures enhances the performance of the system by reducing the error of the desired light level (dimming allows for smaller light level steps).Voltage Level Detection and Device Connection Mapping
In one embodiment, each component 16, 18, 20, 21 and 22 is powered from a common power supply at its master interface 14. This power feed is provided through the cable that connects each of the components/devices for communications.
The voltage drop phenomenon may be used in at least two ways. First, by monitoring the voltage level at each component/device, it is possible to determine the connection order of each of the components/devices. This information is valuable to and may be made available to the installer, such as in a graphical format at the lighting control server monitor. For example, the installer can use this information to aid in troubleshooting issues or to determine where best to add a device on a particular branch. Secondly, it is possible to determine where best to end the branch due to voltage drop or where to add a booster power supply along an existing branch.
The voltage at each component/device may be communicated back to the server 12. The server 12 is able to use this information and produce both the connection diagram along with a graphical representation of the voltage level along the branch. This is possible because the switching voltage regulators are able to convert a wide operating range of voltages to the desired/required output of 3.3VDC. It is noted that there is typically a lowest acceptable input voltage which is typically about 4.5VDC for each voltage regulator to be able to produce the 3.3VDC output. Because the system is able to monitor the voltage along the entire branch, from device to device, it possible to graphically show the user, at the lighting control server, where the voltage has dropped to a level below the 4.5VDC cutoff.
While this invention has been described as having an exemplary design, the present invention may be further modified within the spirit and scope of this disclosure. This application is therefore intended to cover any variations, uses, or adaptations of the invention using its general principles.
1. A configurable wall mount switch for use in controlling multiple light fixtures, the switch comprising:
- a touch screen display;
- a transceiver;
- a programmable microcontroller configured to generate a user interface on the touch screen display with a plurality of interface elements at least a portion of which are associated with one or more lighting fixtures, wherein in response to a user selecting an interface element of the plurality of interface elements, the microcontroller is configured to send a message via the transceiver for controlling at least one lighting fixture associated with the selected interface element;
- a mounting box configured to receive the touch screen display, the transceiver, and the microcontroller;
- wherein the mounting box is dimensioned to be received by a single gang electrical box; and
- wherein the microcontroller is programmed to display a particular arrangement of one or more interface elements on the touch screen display in response to one or more messages received via the transceiver.
2. The switch as recited in claim 1, wherein the microcontroller is programmed to reconfigure the arrangement of the user interface in response to one or more messages received via the transceiver.
3. The switch as recited in claim 1, wherein the microcontroller is programmed to change a textual component associated with an interface element in response to one or more messages received via the transceiver.
4. The switch as recited in claim 1, wherein the microcontroller is programmed to increase or decrease a number of interface elements on the user interface in response to one or more messages received via the transceiver.
5. The switch as recited in claim 1, wherein the user interface comprises a plurality of buttons that are associated with one or more light fixtures.
6. The switch as recited in claim 5, where the microcontroller is programmed to increase or decrease the number of buttons responsive to one or more messages received via the transceiver.
7. The switch as recited in claim 5, wherein the microcontroller is programmed to change one or more descriptions associated with the one or more buttons responsive to one or more messages received via the transceiver.
8. The switch as recited in claim 5, further comprising a wall cover plate connectable with the mounting box, wherein the wall cover plate includes an opening through which a user accesses the touch screen display.
9. The switch as recited in claim 8, wherein the touch screen display extends into the opening in the wall cover plate.
10. The switch as recited in claim 8, wherein the wall cover plate is dimensioned for a single gang electrical box.
11. The switch as recited in claim 1, wherein in response to a selection of an interface element, the microcontroller is configured to send a message via the transceiver concerning a change in state to one or more light fixtures associated with the selected interface element.
12. The switch as recited in claim 1, further comprising a voltage monitor electrically connected with the microcontroller, wherein the microcontroller is configured to send message including a voltage sensed by the voltage monitor via the transceiver.
13. The switch as recited in claim 12, wherein the microcontroller is configured to send the message with the voltage sensed in response to a request message received via the transceiver.
14. The switch as recited in claim 1, further comprising a voltage monitor electrically connected with the microcontroller, wherein the microcontroller is configured to display a voltage sensed by the voltage monitor on the touch screen display responsive to selection of an interface element.
15. The switch as recited in claim 1, further comprising memory in electrical connection with the microcontroller, wherein the microcontroller stores address data in the memory responsive to a message including address data received via the transceiver.
16. The switch as recited in claim 15, wherein the microcontroller is configured to display the address data on the touch screen display responsive to selection of an interface element.
17. A configurable wall mount light switch, the switch comprising:
- a touch screen display;
- a memory;
- a transceiver;
- a microcontroller in electronic connection with the touch screen display, memory and transceiver, wherein the microcontroller is configured to generate a user interface on the touch screen display with a plurality of interface elements at least a portion of which are associated with one or more lighting fixtures; and
- wherein the microcontroller is programmed with machine-readable instructions to:
- display instructions on the touch screen display directing a user to select a portion of the touch screen display to initiate setup;
- responsive to selection of the touch screen display, transmit a message requesting an address assignment via the transceiver;
- receive a message including an address assignment via the transceiver; and store the address assignment on the memory.
18. The switch as recited in claim 17, wherein the microcontroller is configured to display the address assignment on the touch screen display responsive to selection of an interface element.
19. The switch as recited in claim 17, wherein the light switch is dimensioned to be received by a single gang electrical box.
20. A method of assigning an address to a light switch having a touch screen display, the method comprising:
- displaying instructions on the touch screen display directing a user to select a portion of the touch screen display to initiate setup;
- initiating communication with a remote server by sending a message requesting an address responsive to selection of the touch screen display;
- receiving a message from the remote server that includes an address assignment; and
- storing the address assignment.
Filed: Mar 31, 2011
Publication Date: Oct 6, 2011
Inventor: Michael L. Picco (Fort Wayne, IN)
Application Number: 13/076,515
International Classification: G06F 17/00 (20060101);