US 3746886 A
A triggered neon lamp memory circuit selectively produces control voltages for an electrically controlled rado wave receiver. Each stage comprises a neon lamp, a transistor and a control voltage potentiometer coupled in series between a common source of sustaining potential and a point of reference potential. When the neon lamp of a given stage is triggered, the associated transistor is turned on to effectively couple a fixed voltage to the control voltage potentiometer. When the neon lamp turns off, the transistor turns off to remove the fixed voltage from the control voltage potentiometer while, at the same time, enabling the voltage at one terminal of the neon lamp to remain substantially above the reference potential to thereby reduce the voltage across the neon lamp to a point substantially below the trigger level. In one embodiment, the neon lamp of any one stage is triggered on by temporarily coupling a trigger potential to the neon lamp by manually actuating a touch contact. The triggering of any one lamp lowers the common sustaining potential to thereby extinguish the neon lamp of the previously activated stage. In another embodiment, a shifting circuit, either remotely or locally activated, successively triggers each lamp so that the circuit functions in the nature of a ring counter. In the remote control embodiment, programming means are provided to cause the shifting circuit to selectively prefer preselected ones of the plurality of stages by providing a greater selection period therefor.
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
[ 1 MEMORY CIRCUIT John G. Konopka, Mundelein, 111.
 Assignee: Warwick Electronics Inc., Chicago,
 Filed: Oct. 15, 1971  Appl. No.: 189,637
 U.S. Cl. ..307/223, 325/468, 328/48, 331/57, 334/15  Int. Cl H03k 23/02, H03k 23/18  Field of Search 307/223, 223 B, 238; 331/57; 334/15; 325/335, 469, 470, 468; 328/48, 49
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,503,018 3/1970 Cavanagh 334/15 3,290,515 12/1966 Procter 307/223 R 3,047,817 7/1962 Schneider 307/223 R 2,691,725 10/1954 Gardner 325/469 X 3,345,569 10/1967 Casterline et a1. 307/223 R 3,528,044 9/1970 Manicki 307/320 X 3,596,183 7/1971 Spies 334/15 X 3,602,822 8/1971 Evans et al. 325/470 X Primary Examiner-John Zazworsky AtzorneyHofgren, Wegner, Allen, Stellman & McCord  ABSTRACT A triggered neon lamp memory circuit selectively pro- July 17, 1973 potential and a point of reference potential. When the neon lamp of a given stage is triggered, the associated transistor is turned on to effectively couple a fixed voltage to the control voltage potentiometer. When the neon lamp turns off, the transistor turns off to remove the fixed voltage from the control voltage potentiometer while, at the same time, enabling the voltage at one terminal of the neon lamp to remain substantially above the reference potential to thereby reduce the voltage across the neon lamp to a point substantially below the trigger level, In one embodiment, the neon lamp of any one stage is triggered on by temporarily coupling a trigger potential to the neon lamp by manually actuating a touch Contact. The triggering of any one lamp lowers the common sustaining potential to thereby extinguish the neon lamp of the previously activated stage. In another embodiment, a shifting circuit, either remotely or locally activated, successively triggers each lamp so that the circuit functions in the nature of a ring counter. 1n the remote control embodiment, programming means are provided to cause the shifting circuit to selectively prefer preselected ones of the plurality of stages by providing a greater selection period therefor.
24 Claims, 3 Drawing Figures Patented July 17, 1973 3 Sheets-Sheet 1 Patented July 17, 1973 3 Sheets-Sheet 3 ll'l .CDUIB .2913 mm 491 klilm mwqkm .5620 ozizuomm MEMORY CIRCUIT BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates generally to electronic memory switching circuits and, in particular, to a discrete control voltage developing circuit utilizing a breakdown device such as a neon lamp as a memory and switching element.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PRIOR ART Conventional television receivers commonly are provided with a manually operated tuner having a selection control knob that is manually rotated by the user to select any desired channel. Some television receivers have tuners that are operated by stepping motors. More recently, Varactor tuners, which operate electrically rather than mechanically, have beem employed. Varactors, which are variable capacitance diodes, are employed as filter elements in the tuner. Different control voltages applied to the diodes vary their capacitance and thus control the frequency characteristics of the tuner. The use of all electrical Varactor tuners has, of course, eliminated the problem of mechanical wear, one of the principal factors contributing to tuner maladjustment.
Various circuits have been developed for selectively applying different control voltages to Varactor tuners. In one known circuit, a neon lamp is utilized as the switching and memory element. A neon lamp is one of several breakdown devices, which, when in a high impedance state, switch to a low impedance state in response to the voltage thereacross assuming a trigger level, and which, when in a low impedance state, switch to a high impedance state in response to the voltage thereacross decreasing below a sustaining level which is less than the trigger level. In this previous known circuit, the neon lamp is coupled from a source of sustaining potential to ground through a resistor. When the neon lamp assumes its low impedance state, a voltage at the junction between the lamp and the resistor actuates a transistor which, in response thereto, couples a control voltage developing potentiometer with a source of power.
In prior known circuits, the sustaining voltage across a triggered or activated lamp plus the voltage drop across the series resistor is very close to the trigger potential of the extinguished lamps of the other stages. Since the stages are connected in parallel, this vgltage appears substantially entirely across the extinguished lamps of the other stages because of the high impedance of the extinguished lamps relative to the series resistor. Due to the fact that the trigger potential of neon lamps varies from lamp to lamp, this voltage across the extinguished lamps can cause intolerable, inadvertent firing of nonselected stages.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention is concerned with an improved memory circuit for producing control voltages for Varactor tuners and the like.
A plurality of stages, one stage for each control voltage to be reproduced, are connected in parallel from a reference potential, such as ground, through a common resistor to a source of operating voltage. Each stage comprises a neon lamp or other suitable breakdown device connected in series between the common resistor and ground reference potential.
A regulated voltage source is coupled to the transistor of each stage, such that, when its associated neon lamp is triggered, the transistor will turn on to effectively couple a regulated voltage across the tuning voltage potentiometer, thereby developing the desired tuning voltage at its wiper contact. When this invention is used to control a Varactor tuner of a television receiver, for example, each of the control voltage potentiometers are set to produce a separate and distinct tuning voltage corresponding to the various channels of the receiver.
When the neon lamp is extinguished, the series transistor is cut off to remove the voltage from the tuning voltage potentiometer, and also alters the potential at the junction between the neon lamp and the transistor to decrease the voltage across the lamp sufficiently below the trigger potential to prevent inadvertent triggering thereof.
In one embodiment of the invention, the various channels are selected by physically touching a pair of contacts associated with the desired switching stage to complete a circuit, through the skin resistance of the operators finger, between a source of negative trigger potential and a junction of the neon lamp of the selected stage. The actuation of any one stage by triggering its neon lamp, causes the voltage at the common junction of the lamp to decrease to a level insufficient to maintain conduction in the neon lamp of the previously activated stage. Conduction continues in the newly triggered lamp by reason of the fact that the negative trigger potential at a junction thereof is substantially below the potential at the corresponding junction of the remaining lamp.
In another embodiment, means are provided so that the various channels may be also remotely selected. A separate oscillator circuit, upon remote actuation, periodically lowers the voltage at the common junction of the neon lamps below the requisite level necessary to maintain the previously triggered neon lamp in its low impedance state. A capacitor coupled between successive stages transmits a trigger or shift pulse from the stage turned off to the next successive stage which turns on in response thereto. When that stage turns off, in response to the sustaining potential again being lowered by the oscillator circuit, the next stage is turned on. This sequential activation process continues in a ring counter fashion until the desired channel has been selected by either remotely or locally disabling the oscillator to terminate further shifting. A further circuit is provided to inhibit the trigger pulse when a manual selection is made, so that the stage immediately preceding it, is not turned on thereby.
In yet another embodiment, a further circuit is also provided to increase the frequency of the oscillator until any one of a plurality of preselected stages is triggered, at which time the frequency of the oscillator is decreased. This causes the memory circuit to rapidly step through the memory stages corresponding to channels not used in a given broadcast area, and to dwell or pause for a longer selection period at the preselected stages corresponding to desired channels at which television programs are available.
Thus, a principal feature of the invention is the provision of a switching device connected with a neon lamp to selectively lower the voltage across the neon lamp substantially below the trigger level to prevent inadvertent triggering.
Another feature of the invention is the provision of a neon lamp memory in which selective triggering of one lamp lowers the common sustaining potential to thereby turn off any previously activated lamps.
Still a further feature of the invention is the provision of a channel shifting circuit which provides successive switching from one memory stage to another upon single actuation of either a remote control or a local channel change switch until the selected channel is reached and the switch is deactivated.
Yet, another feature of the invention is the provision of a programming circuit which enables an operator to preselect desired stages of the memory whereby a shifting circuit will rapidly step through the stages not preselected and dwell for a relatively longer selection period at the preselected desired stages to allow selection thereof.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS These and further features and advantages of the invention will be made more apparent in the following specification taken in conjunction with the following drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a circuit diagram of one embodiment of the invention in which only manual means for selection are provided;
FIG. 2 is a schematic circuit diagram ofa second embodiment of the invention in which the circuit has been altered to enable remote selection in addition to manual selection; and
FIG. 3 is a schematic circuit diagram, partially in block form, of the circuit of FIG. 2 with the addition of a programming circuit.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS In FIG. 1, a circuit diagram of a first embodiment of the memory circuit of this invention is shown. The invention will be described for use in a multiple channel selector for a Varactor tuner, but it should be appreciated that the circuit could be used in any application where it is desired to selectively generate preselected voltages. For purposes of illustration and simplification, the memory circuit is shown in FIG. 1 as comprising only two stages, but of course, any number of similar stages could be added for each voltage level or channel to be selected. Since each of the stages is more or less identical, corresponding elements in each stage have geen given the same reference numeral followed by a subscript a, b, etc., respectively corresponding to the stages A, B, etc., in which it is located.
While the operation of the memory circuit will be described as utilizing a neon lamp, any other similar voltage breakdown device could be used to achieve similar results. Neon lamps are preferred because the light energy generated therefrom can be utilized for giving an indication of the channel which has been activated. The term voltage breakdown device" is defined, and intended to cover, any device which assumes one impedance state in response to the voltage thereacross exceeding a trigger level and assumes another impedance state in response to the voltage thereacross decreasing below a sustaining level.
Neon lamps suitable for use in this circuit may have a trigger voltage or trigger level of approximately 1 volts and a sustaining voltage or sustaining level of approximately 75 volts. Each'of the stages of the memory circuit is connected in parallel from a first voltage source V, through a common series resistor to a second source of potential V the voltage difference V,,V,, of which may be approximately 200 volts. A second voltage source V may be at a negative 100 volts with respect to the second source of potential or ground reference potential V When power is first applied, the voltage across all of the neon lamps, as lamps 22a and 22b of FIG. 1 will increase toward the trigger level. However, due to unavoidable inherent variations in the exact trigger level of the lamps, or due to purposeful selection, one of the neon lamps will have a lower trigger level than all of the rest, and that lamp will be the first to turn on and assume a low impedance state. When this lamp turns on, it couples a voltage at terminal 24, which is substantially below the requisite trigger potential of the other lamps, thereby preventing the remaining lamps from becoming activated. The resistance value of resistor 20, coupled between the first voltage source V and terminal 24, relative to the total resistance of an activate stage, is chosen to limit the current therethrough to a value for optimizing lamp life and light output.
Assuming lamp 22a of Stage A has a lower trigger level than that of lamp 22b of Stage B, lamp 22a will be the first to turn on, thereby disabling activation of Stage B. When lamp 22a turns on, a sufficient amount of base current to turn on a series transistor 26a is coupled through lamp 22a, diode 28a and base bias resistor 30a. The base of transistor 26a is directly coupled to a regulated source of voltage V and when transistor 26a turns on, the collector 26a is clamped to regulated supply voltage V,., by the diode action of its basecollector junction. The collector, in turn, is coupled to ground reference potential V through a potentiometer resistor 32a which provides a suitable means for developing a control voltage. The control voltage is taken off a wiper contact 34a of potentiometer 32a and coupled through an isolation diode 36a to the final out put V,,. The output V,,, of course, is dependent upon the setting of wiper contact 34a of tuning potentiometer 32a. Diode 36a is provided to isolate the tuning voltage output V, from the tuning voltage potentiometer 32a when it is not energized.
When the touch contacts 38b of the Stage B are now touched, memory Stage B will be activated and mem ory Stage A, in response thereto, will be deactivated. Specifically, when the touch contacts 38b are touched, a circuit is completed from negative supply voltage V through a current limiting supply resistor 40, common terminal 42, touch contacts 38b and series resistor 44b, to a second junction 46b of neon lamp 22b. Junction 46b is also coupled to a third source of potential V which may suitably be ground potential, through a capacitor 50b. When this circuit is completed, capacitor 50b discharges toward negative supply voltage V, through the circuit until the voltage across junctions 24b and 46b of neon lamp 22b exceeds the trigger level thereof. Neon lamp 22b then assumes a low impedance or high conduction state to provide base drive current for a switching transistor 26b which has its transconductive inputs in series therewith through an isolation diode 28b.
When either lamp 22a or 22b turns on, it remains on so long as the voltage thereacross exceeds the sustaining level, even though the touch contact is subsequently opened. In effect, the neon lamp may be considered as a memory element in that it remembers that it was triggered. Diode 28b isolates the regulated supply voltage V to maximize the rate of decrease of the potential at junction 46b.
When neon lamp 22b and transistor 26b turn on due to closure of touch contacts 38b, the common sustaining potential on bus 24 is pulled down to the voltage at junction 46b, minus the sustaining voltage of neon lamp 22b. This decreases the potential across neon lamp 22a sufficiently so that the total voltage across neon lamp 220 is below the sustaining level, causing neon lamp 220 to assume a high impedance state. When this occurs, base drive is removed from transistor 26a which turns off in response thereto, thereby removing regulated voltage source V from potentiometer 32a.
A principal advantage resulting from the switching transistor in series with the neon lamp is that when the transistor, or any other suitable switching device, turns off, a high impedance is developed between the second junction of the lamp and the second source of potential V thus allowing a voltage approximately equal to the regulated source voltage V to be developed at the second junction. This, of course, limits the voltage across the lamp to a value substantially below the requisite trigger level.
When, for example, neon lamp 22a and its series switching transistor 26a turn off, capacitor 500 is charged toward the sustaining potential atjunction 24a by leakage current from neon lamp 22a, to lower the voltage drop across the lamp. Diodes 28a and 28b, respectively clamp junctions 46a and 46b to regulated supply voltage V through bias resistors 30a and 30b so that the voltages thereat cannot increase above regulated voltage source V If transistor 26a, for example, were eliminated from the circuit and replaced by a short circuit, the impedance between junction 46a and the second source of potential V would be so small in comparison with the high impedance of neon lamp 22a, when in its high impedance state, that capacitor 500 would be unable to build up a charge from leakage current therethrough. Under these circumstances, the neon lamp, when in its off-state, would have a voltage thereacross dangerously close to the trigger level, and due to tolerances in trigger levels from lamp to lamp, a very unstable situation would exist. However, with transistor 26a in series with lamp 22a, the potential at junction 46a is maintained at a high level such that the total voltage across neon lamp 220 is safely below the trigger level. Thus, a more reliable circuit results from the addition of a switching device in series with the neon lamp.
When touch contacts 38a are touched, with lamp 22a in a high impedance state and lamp 22b in a low impedance state, capacitor 500 discharges toward the negative trigger potential at junction 42 until the voltage across neon lamp 22a again exceeds the trigger level and turns on in response thereto. Neon lamp 22b is then turned off in identical fashion as described with regard to the turning off of lamp 22a. Also, transistor 26b will turn off to remove the regulated voltage source V from potentiometer 32b while maintaining the voltage at junction 46b to avoid inadvertent triggering of lamp 22b.
Referring now to FIG. 2, a second embodiment of the memory circuit is shown which is adapted to enable remote selection or sequential selection in addition to manual or direct selection. Elements in the circuit of FIG. 2 which correspond to elements in FIG. 1 have been given the same designation. Unlike FIG. 1, the capacitors previously coupled from the second junctions of the lamps to ground reference potential, capacitors 50a and 50b, are not coupled to ground in the circuit of FIG. 2, but rather are coupled back to the collector of the series switching transistor of the preceding stage. For example, capacitor 50b of Stage B is coupled from junction 46b of neon lamp 22b to the collector of transistor 26a of Stage A.
With the various stages interconnected in this manner, the deactivation of one stage will automatically cause activation of the next succeeding stage. For example, Stage B will be activated in response to the deactivation of Stage A, and Stage C will be activated in response to the deactivation of Stage B. The final stage, Stage D, is interconnected with Channel A through capacitor 50a so that deactivation of Channel D will cause activation of Channel A.
The touch contacts may be retained in the circuit to allow manual selection, so that an operator may still switch from Channel A to Channel D without passing through Channels B and C in the process. When such a manual selection means is provided and a channel is manually selected, a shift pulse inhibit circuit generally designated by reference numeral 56 is operative to inhibit the shifting pulses so that when, for example, Channel A is turned off by manual activation of Channel D, the shift pulse of Channel A will be prevented from activating Channel B.
In the remote or sequential mode of operation, the shifting circuit 54 is activated by the closure of a singlethrow, single pole switch 58 to periodically lower the source of sustaining potential at junction 24 below the requisite level to maintain the neon lamp in a low impedance stage. A neon lamp 60 of shifting circuit 54 coupled to common terminal 24 is selected to have a trigger level less than that of the other neon lamps 22a-22b so that, upon coupling of the second junction of neon lamp 60 to ground reference potential, neon lamp 60 assumes a low impedance state notwithstand ing the fact that one of the other neon lamps 22a-22b is also in a low impedance state. The triggering of neon lamp 60 results in the lowering of the common source of sustaining potential at terminal 24 to a point below which the voltage across all of the other neon lamps is below the sustaining level. This is basically the same type of action that was previously discussed with regard to the turning off of one of the lamps in the circuit of FIG. 1.
The deactivation of one channel or stage automatically activates the next succeeding stage. For example, if lamp 22a is in a low impedance state, the closure of switch 58 results in a deactivation of State A. Transistor 26a turns off in response to neon lamp 220 turning off. When transistor 26a turns off, a negative going shift pulse, which may be considered to be a temporary source of trigger potential, is coupled through capacitor 50b to the second junction 46b of neon lamp 22b. After a certain period of time, depending upon the time constant of the charging circuit of a capacitor 62 of shifting circuit 54, neon lamp 60 switches off to allow the source of sustaining potential at junction 24 to return to its previous high potential stage. The time constant of the charging circuit of capacitor 50b relative to that of capacitor 62 is such that when the sources of sustaining potential recovers to its normal state, the
voltage across neon lamp 22b is greater than the trigger level and lamp 22b turns on.
Switch 58 of shifting circuit 54 could, of course, be directly connected between the source of sustaining potential and ground and would function to create, upon closure, the required negative going shift pulse. However, this would require a separate actuation of the switch 58 each time it was desired to shift from one channel to the next successive channel.
The parallel circuit of capacitor 62 and a resistor 64, coupled between switch 58 and ground, forms a relaxation oscillator which oscillates in response to the closure of switch 58. During remote operation, capacitor 62 begins to charge upon the closure of switch 58. If switch 58 remains closed, neon lamp 60 will switch to a high impedance state when the voltage across capacitor 62 reaches a sufficient value to decrease the total voltage across the neon lamp 60 below its sustaining level. When neon lamp 60 turns off, capacitor 62 discharges through resistor 64 until the voltage thereacross decreases to a level sufficient to increase the total voltage across neon lamp 60 above its trigger level. When the voltage across neon lamp 60 again exceeds trigger level, neon lamp 60 again turns on and remains on until capacitor 62 again discharges to the requisite voltage necessary to reduce the total voltage across the lamp below its sustaining level. Neon lamp 60 alternately switches on and off in this fashion until switch 58 is opened.
A capacitor 66 coupled between neon lamp 60 and ground is used to compensate for intermittent contact of switch 58. Should switch 58 open momentarily, neon lamp 60 would turn off if capacitor 66 were not persent. Capacitor 66 temporarily provides an alternate current path so that the current may continue to flow through neon lamp during these momentary switch openings.
The touch contact circuitry is retained in the circuit of FIG. 2 to allow for manual or nonremote selection of the various channels. In manual operation, it is necessary to inhibit the shift pulse to prevent it from turning on the stage adjacent the stage that was on prior to manual selection. This inhibiting action is provided by the shift pulse inhibit circuit 56, capacitors 68a68d and diodes 7011-70d. Capacitors 68b, 68c, 68d and 680 are respectively coupled from the collectors of transistors 26a-26d to a common input 72 of the shift pulse inhibit circuit 56. When a neon lamp turns on in response to a manual selection thereof, a positive pulse is coupled from the corresponding capacitor to the shift pulse inhibit circuit 56 which in response thereto clamps a voltage to each of the shift pulse coupling capacitors SIM-50d to remove a negative going shift pulse therefrom.
When a neon lamp turns on, a positive pulse is coupled to the corresponding shift pulse inhibit capacitor to the shift pulse inhibit circuit 56, which, in response thereto, clamps a voltage to each of the shift pulse coupling capacitors to remove the negative going shift pulse therefrom. For example, assume neon lamp 22a is on and it is desired to turn on neon lamp 22c. The operator upon touching touch contact 380 will turn on lamp 22c, as previously explained. Upon lamp 220 turning on, a positive pulse is coupled across resistor 74 of shift pulse inhibit circuit 56 through capacitors 50c and 680. When neon lamp 22c turns on, the source of sustaining potential at terminal 24 rapidly decreases to turn off neon lamp 22a. Without a shift pulse inhibit circuit, a negative going shift pulse would be coupled through capacitor 50b to turn on neon lamp 2212 when neon lamp 22a and transistor 26a turn off.
The shift pulse inhibit circuit 56 prevents this from happening. In response to the positive pulse coupled across resistor 74, a transistor 76 turns on to discharge a capacitor 78 through a collector resistor 80 of transistor 76. After a short time delay determined by the RC time constant of capacitor 78 and resistor 80, a transistor 82 coupled through a resistor 84 turns on to shortout resistor 86 coupled in parallel therewith to provide a low impedance path from regulated supply voltage V,., to the anodes of each of the diodes a-70d. Capacitors 50b and 68b are charged through diode 70b and the relative time constants are such that the positive going inhibit pulse overrides the negative going shift pulse to prohibit turn on of neon lamp 22b. That is, although the shift pulse does occur, it can have no effect until the bus 24 recovers. The capacitors are charged before the recovery of the bus. Thus, the negative shift pulse does not appear at junction 46!; at the time required to trigger on neon lamp 22b.
The time delay established by capacitor 78 and resistor is provided so that neon lamp 22c will be completely ionized before its junction is coupled to regulated supply voltage V,., through transistor 82. This prevents neon lamp 220 from being turned off by the shift pulse inhibit circuit action. Base feed resistor 84 of transistor 82 is provided to delay the turnoff time of transistor 82 to insure that the shift pulse is completely inhibited.
Turning now to FIG. 3, a circuit diagram of a programming circuit for the sequential selection circuit of FIG. 2 is shown. The purpose of this programming circuit is to facilitate selection of only desired stages of the memory circuit. It is contemplated that where the memory circuit is used to control a Varactor tuner in a television receiver, a separate memory stage will be provided for selecting each of the 12 basic VHF channels, and one or more UI-IF channels. The programs in any particular area in which the receiver is situated are usually transmitted on less than all of the channels. Since it will never be desired to select these channels for viewing, the programming circuit provides a means for rapidly stepping through the undesired channels, and only pausing upon activation of a preselected desired channel in order to allow selection thereof by termination of the stepping process.For example, in an area where programs are available on channels 2, 5, and 7, but not available on intermediate channels 3, 4 and 6, the programming circuit, upon actuation of the shifting circuit, would cause the shifting circuit to rapidly step through channels 3 and 4, pause at channel 5, rapidly step through channel 6, and again pause at channel 7, thereby facilitating selection of only channels 2, 5 and 7. Switches are provided so that the programming circuit may readily be adapted to the particular broadcast area in which the receiver is situated.
Referring specifically to FIG. 3, the basic circuit of FIG. 2 is shown with Stage B through State N, the last stage of the memory circuit, and the shift pulse inhibit circuit 56 shown in block form. This circuit operates as already discussed above with regard to FIG. 2. The programming circuit generally designated by reference .numeral 80 includes two basic circuits, a plurality of program switches 82a82n, respectively associated with Stages A-N to preselect the desired ones of these stages, and a switching transistor 84 for altering the selection period of each of the stages in accordance with the established program.
Each program switch 82 has one side coupled to the collector of the series switching transistor 26 of the corresponding stage through a resistor 86, and has the other side directly coupled to the base of transistor 84. As previously explained, the stepping rate of the neon memory is determined by the discharge time of capacitor 62 which, in turn, is determined by the effective resistance in parallel therewith. When transistor 84 is in a high impedance state, the effective resistance in parallel with capacitor 62 is the value of resistor 64, and the discharge time of capacitor 62 is relatively long. When transistor 84 is in a low impedance state, resistor 86 is coupled in parallel with resistor 64 to substantially reduce the effective resistance in parallel with capacitor 62, and, thus, the discharge time of capacitor 62 is substantially decreased to increase stepping rate.
The desired channels are preselected by placing their programming switch in an open position. When a program switch is in an open position, the activation of the corresponding stages, of course, has no effect upon transistor 84. Transistor 84 thus remains in its normally high impedance state, to enable selection of these stages for a relatively long selection period.
Stages which are not preselected, such as illustrated for Stage A, have their program switches in a closed position. When a stage not selected is activated and its series switching transistor is turned on, a positive pulse is coupled from the collector of the series switching transistor through the base resistor 86 and the closed programming switch 82 to the base of transistor 84, which turns on in response thereto to couple resistor 86 in parallel with capacitor 62. Capacitor 62 rapidly discharges through resistor 86 to raise the voltage across neon lamp 60 above its trigger level. This rapidly turns off the undesired activated stage. The deactivation of this stage, as previously explained, causes activation of the next succeeding stage, which turns on the response thereto. This next successive stage is immediately deactivated, or is allowed to remain activated for a relatively longer selection period, depending upon whether its programming switch is in a closed or open position, respectively.
I claim: 1. In a memory circuit having a plurality of individually selectable stages for generating a plurality of different DC output voltages, each stage comprising a variable impedance and a voltage breakdown device triggerable from a low to a high state of conduction when a voltage thereacross exceeds a trigger potential, the improvement in each stage for preventing inadvertent triggering of the voltage breakdown device, comprising:
switching means having a pair of electrodes with a first state and a second state of conduction therebetween under control of a control electrode;
first circuit means for connecting said pair of electrodes between said voltage breakdown device and said variable impedance; and
second circuit means coupled to said control electrode and responsive to said breakdown device assuming its high conduction state for switching said switching means to its first state to continuously apply a fixed voltage across the variable impedance in order to gen-erate one of said DC output voltages, said second circuit means being further responsive to said breakdown device assuming its low conduction state for switching the switching means to its second state to remove the fixed voltage from the variable impedance and to maintain the voltage across the breakdown device substantially below the trigger potential.
2. The memory circuit of claim 1 wherein said circuit means couples said switching means in series with said breakdown device.
3. The memory circuit of claim 1 wherein said first and second states of the switching means respectively comprise high and low conduction states.
4. In a memory circuit having a plurality of individually selectable, parallel connected stages, each stage comprising a series connection of a voltage developing impedance and a voltage breakdown device having first and second junctions and triggerable from a low to a high state of conduction when a voltage thereacross exceeds a trigger potential, the improvement in each stage for preventing inad-vertent triggering of the voltage breakdown device, comprising:
switching means having a first state and a second state of conduction and connected with said voltage breakdown device and said voltage developing impedance; a source of sustaining potential coupled to one of the junctions of said breakdown device; and circuit means responsive to said breakdown device assuming its high conduction state for switching said switching means to its first state to apply a fixed voltage across the voltage developing impedance, said circuit means being further responsive to said breakdown device assuming its low conduction state for switching the switching means to its second state to remove the fixed voltage from the voltage developing impedance and to raise the potential at the other junction of the breakdown device toward the sustaining potential in response to said switching means switching to said low conduction state in order to maintain the voltage across the breakdown device substantially below the trigger potential.
5. The memory circuit of claim 4 including means for altering the sustaining potential toward the potential at the other junction to lower the voltage across said breakdown device below the sustaining level, whereby said breakdown device, if in the high conduction state, will switch to the low conduction state in response thereto.
6. The memory circuit of claim 1 including means for generating a trigger signal, and means for temporarily coupling the trigger signal to the breakdown device to switch to the high conduction state.
7. The memory circuit of claim 6 wherein said temporary coupling means comprises a switch.
8. The memory circuit of claim 6 wherein said tem porary coupling means comprises a capacitor.
9. The memory circuit of claim 6 wherein said generating means comprises a second breakdown device.
10. The memory circuit of claim 6 including a second breakdown device switchable from a second to a first state, said temporary coupling means coupling said source of trigger potential to said first breakdown device in response to said second breakdown device switching to its first state.
11. A selector circuit for a plural stage memory having at least first, second and third stages, comprising:
individual selector means including first selection means for activating selected ones of said stages;
sequential selector means for sequentially activating said stages including coupling means coupled between adjacent stages for activating each stage in response to deactivation of the stage precedent thereto; and
inhibit means responsive to activation of any stage by said individual selector means for preventing said coupling means from activating said stages. 12. The selector circuit of claim 11 wherein said sequential selector means includes means for deactivating any previously activated stage to initiate sequential activation of the next stage by said coupling means.
13. The selection circuit of claim 11 wherein said individual selector means includes deactivation means responsive to activation of a selected one of said stages for deactivating any other previously activated stage.
14. The selector circuit of claim 13 wherein said sequential selector means includes means for deactivating any previously activated stage to initiate sequential activation of the next stage by said coupling means.
15. The selector circuit of claim 11 wherein said sequential selector means activates successive stages for selection only duringcorresponding successive selection periods, program means for facilitating selection of only desired stages including means for preselecting said desired stages, and means for establishing a longer selection period for the preselected stages than for the stages not preselected.
16. The program means of claim 15 in which said establishing means includes means responsive to activation of a stage not preselected for establishing a first rate of activation; and
means responsive to activation of a preselected stage for establishing a second rate of activation slower than said first rate. I
17. The program means of claim 15 in which said preselecting means includes for each stage a program switch having two states, each stage being preselected when its program switch is in one of said stages and not preselected when its program switch is in the other of said states.
18. The program means of claim 17 in which each program switch is commonly coupled with said establishing means.
19. in a circuit for selecting individual stages of a plural stage memory in which successive stages are enabled for selection only during corresponding successive selection periods, program means for facilitating selection of only desired stages, comprising:
means for preselecting said desired stages; and
means for establishing a longer selection period for the preselected stages than for the stages not preselected, including an oscillator and means for altering the frequency of the oscillator in accordance with the stages which are preselected.
20. The program means of claim 19 in which said frequency altering means includes a semiconductor switch responsive to activation of a preselected stage for controlling the oscillator to oscillate at a first frequency and responsive to activation of a stage not preselected for controlling the oscillator to oscillate at a second frequency which is greater than said first frequency.
21. A selector circuit for a plural stage memory having at least first, second, and third stages, comprising:
ring circuit means connecting said stages for sequential activation of each stage in a predetermined order;
sequential selector means for activating said ring circuit means and for deactivating said ring circuit means at any desired stage which is to be selected; and
individual selector means for directly activating said desired stage which is to be selected without sequential activation of each stage in said predetermined order.
22. The selector circuit of claim 21 wherein said ring circuit means includes coupling means for each stage and coupled to an adjacent stage for activating each stage in response to deactivation of the stage precedent thereto, said individual selector means includes trigger means associated with each stage and individually actuable to activate the associated stage, and inhibit means effective during operation of said trigger means for effectively disabling said coupling means.
23. The selector circuit of claim 22 wherein said coupling means generates a first shift pulse of one polarity for activating the next adjacent stage, and said inhibit means is effective to generate a second shift pulse of opposite polarity, said second shift pulse overriding said first shift pulse.
24. The selection circuit of claim 21 wherein each memory stage comprises a voltage breakdown device triggerable from a first to a second conduction state in response to a trigger potential and a variable resistance for generating a DC output voltage thereacross when said device is in one conduction state, said individual selector means includes a manually actuable switch means for each stage, a source of said trigger potential coupled to all of said switch means, and a circuit individually connecting each switch means to the device of the associated stage for triggering thereof when the associated switch means is manually actuated.