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Publication numberUS3803452 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateApr 9, 1974
Filing dateJan 20, 1972
Priority dateJan 20, 1972
Publication numberUS 3803452 A, US 3803452A, US-A-3803452, US3803452 A, US3803452A
InventorsS Goldschmied
Original AssigneeS Goldschmied
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Lamp control circuit
US 3803452 A
Abstract  available in
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent 1191 Goldschmied [54] LAMP CONTROL CIRCUIT [76] Inventor: Sandor Farkas Goldschmied, 1200 N. Stanford, Fullerton, Calif. 92631 [22] Filed: Jan. 20, 1972 [2i] Appl. No.: 219,478

Primary Examiner-Herman Karl Saalbach Assistant Examiner,-Lawren ce J. Dahl 57 ABSTRACT A lamp control circuit useful as a lamp flasher, dim- 1111 3,803,452 Apr. 9, 1974 mer or timer and to obtain stroboscopic or other unusual lighting effects. The circuit includes a switch which alternates between two stable states with the dwell time in each state established by a respective interval timing circuit. Power from an ac source is supplied to the lamp by a controlled rectified gated via one of two diacs. The first diac conducts when the voltage across a first capacitor, charged from the ac source, exceeds a certain level and when the switch is in one state. When the switch is in the other state, a discharge circuit maintains the capacitor charge below the diac threshold level. During this time, however, the second diac can gate on the rectifier when the voltage across an associated capacitor, charged from an adjustable voltage source, is sufficiently great. In a flasher mode the switch continuously alternates be tween states, the circuit providing separate control of the lamp bright and dim time interval and of the dim light intensity. Unusual lighting effects are obtained when the switch dwell time in each state is less than the ac source period.

10 Claims/1 Drawing F i gure LAMP CONTROL CIRCUIT BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention The present invention relates to a lamp control circuit for intermittently changing the intensity level of an incandescent or fluorescent lamp. The circuit is useful as a lamp flasher, dimmer, timer or stroboscope control,.and to provide other unusual lighting effects.

2. Description of the Prior Art A wide variety of applications exist for lamps exhibiting intermittently changing intensity levels. Such lamps may be used to attract attention, as in a sign or advertising display; for decorative or aesthetic effect, as in twinkling Christmas tree lights; and for functional purposes such as timing in an educational game or a stroboscope. In the past, no lamp control device has been available having the versatility for implementing all of these functions, and it is an object of the present invention to provide such a circuit which is operative with either incandescent or fluorescent lamps.

Most prior art lamp flashers merely switch on and off the power to the lamp. The lamp alternates between conditions of maximum brightness and no light output. The resultant display lacks the unusual, aesthetically pleasing effect achieved when a lamp alternates between two different intensity levels, one mode of operation implemented by the present invention.

Another shortcoming of prior art lamp flashers is a lack of control over the time duration that the lamp is on or off. Thus, many lamp flashers employ a fixed, periodic cycle with identical on and off times. The result is a monotonous blinking of the lights. Other devices utilize thermostatic type switches which open or close for short periods of time when a heater reaches a certain temperature. Random blinking is achieved.

In contradistinction, the present invention facilitates independent control of the time intervals during which the lamp is at each intensity level. Thus, in an advertising display a lamp may be maintained at a bright level for a relatively long period, then switched to a dim level for a very short time interval. In another application, Christmas tree lights can be adjusted to glow dimly, with sudden bright flashes; a twinkling effect is produced.

The independent time interval adjustment feature permits the present invention to be used for strobos'copic control of a lamp. In another application, the circuit may be used in conjunction with an educational game. Thus the lamp may illuminate a question for a selected period of time. At the end of this interval, the lamp intensity is reduced so that the question no longer can be seen. The off interval, during which time the question must be answered, can be separately controlled. Thus, e.g., the student may have five seconds to read the question, and one second to provide the answer. At the end of the answer time, the light comes on again to illuminate another, or perhaps the same, ques tion. In an alternative embodiment, a second lamp may be lit during the answer period, telling the student that he must answer the question. The second lamp could illuminate the correct answer.

In still another mode of operation the present invention can be used to provide unusual, psychedelic lighting effects. For example, a fluorescent lamp can be made to flash. at rates greater than the ac source frequency. The flashing rate may be asynchronous with the line frequency, producing unique optical beat effects.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The foregoing objectives are achieved by providing a lamp control circuit including a switch which alternates between two stable states with the dwell time in each state established by a respective interval timing circuit. Power from an ac source is supplied to an incandescent or fluorescent lamp via a controlled rectifier which is gated on by one of two diac circuits, depending on the setting of the bistable switch.

The first diac supplies a rectifier gating signal when the voltage across a first capacitor charged from the ac source exceeds a certain level and when the switch is in a first stable state. When the switch is in the second state, a discharge circuit maintains the capacitor charge below the diac threshold level. During this time, however, the second diac can gate on the controlled rectifier when the voltage across a second capacitor is sufficiently great. A potentiometer controls the voltage used to charge the second capacitor. Thus, the potentiometer setting may establish the lamp intensity level when the switch is in the second state.

The bistable switch itself includes a pair of transistors connected so that one conducts when the other is off. Separate interval timing circuits, each including a capacitor charged via a resistor from an adjustable voltage source, are associated with the transistors. These circuits independently establish the dwell times of the switch in the two stable states.

The discharge circuit includes a complementary pair of transistors connected in series. The base of one transistor receives an input only when the switch is in the second stable state. The base of the other transistor is grounded. A pair of diodes connect the first capacitor to the otherwise unconnected, non-control elements of the complementary transistors. The diodes are oriented to accomplish discharge of the capacitor regardless of the charge polarity.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING A detailed description of the invention will be made with reference to the accompanying drawing.

FIG. 1 is an electrical schematic diagram of a lamp flasher in accordance with the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT The following detailed description is of the best presently contemplated mode of carrying out the invention. This description is not to be taken in a limiting sense, but is made merely for the purpose of illustrating the general principles of the invention, since the scope of the invention best is defined by the'appended claims.

Referring now to the drawing, the inventive lamp control circuit 10 is connected to an ac source by a plug 11, and supplies power from this source to a lamp or other load via a socket 12. The power thus supplied alternates between two levels under control of a bistable switch generally designated 13. When the switch 13 is in one stable state, the setting of a potentiometer 14 establishes the level of power supplied to the load. Separate potentiometers 15, 16, independently control the dwell time of the switch 13 in each of the two stable states.

In an illustrative mode of operation, the switch 13 dwell time in each state may be longer than the ac source period. With the dwell times so adjusted, the lamp will alternate between maximum intensity when the switch 13 is in the first (bright) state, and a level of lesser intensity, established by the potentiometer 14, when the switch 13 is in the second (dim") state. The potentiometers 15, 16 respectively control how long the lamp remains at the bright and dim intensity levels.

One line 20 from the ac source is connected directly to the terminal 12a of the socket 12. The other line 21 from the ac source is connected via a fuse 22 and a triac 23 or like controlled rectifier to the terminal 12b of the socket 12. The triac 23 is controlled by a signal supplied via a line 24 to the triac gate. When the switch 13 is in the first state, this signal is provided by a circuit 25; with the switch 13 in the second state, the triac 23 is controlled by a circuit 26 including the potentiometer 14.

The potentiometer 14 is connected in series with a current limiting resistor 27 across the triac 23. The potentiometer tap 14a is connected to the gate of the triac 23 via a diac 28 and a current limiting resistor 29, and to a capacitor 30. The capacitor 30 is charged to a voltage level adjusted by the potentiometer 14. The diac 28 conducts when the voltage across the capacitor 30 exceeds a certain threshold level (typically on the order of to volts). Accordingly, a gating signal may be supplied to the line 24 during a portion of each ac half cycle established by the setting of the potentiometer 14. The triac 23 goes into conduction when a gating signal is present on the line 24, thereby supplying power to the load for the remainder of the ac half cycle.

The circuit 25 similarly includes a diac 33 connected to the triac control line 24 via a current limiting resistor 34. When the switch 13 is in the first state, an ac signal from the line charges a capacitor 35 via a capacitor 36 and a line 37. When the voltage across the capacitor 35 exceeds the threshold level of the diac 33, a gating signal is supplied to the triac 23. When the switch 13 dwell times are adjusted to be greater than the ac period, this diac 33 gating signal occurs near the beginning of each ac half cycle, causing the triac 23 to conduct for most of each ac cycle, thereby supplying the load with maximum power.

When the switch 13 assumes the second state, a circuit a maintains the capacitor 35 discharged so that the diac 33 does not conduct, and no output signal is provided by the circuit 25. During this interval, conduction of the triac 23 is controlled by the circuit 26 as described above.

With the switch 13 in the second state, a positive signal is provided on a line 38 to the discharge circuit 250. During each ac half cycle that the source power on the line 20 is positive, the switch 13 output signal is supplied via a resistor 39 to the base of an NPN transistor 40, causing that transistor to conduct.

Thus whenever the transistor 40 conducts during a positive half of the ac cycle, the positive charge on the capacitor 35 rapidly is discharged to ground via a resistor 41, a diode 42, the transistor 40 and the emitter-tobase path through a grounded base PNP transistor 43. During the negative half of each ac cycle, the capacitor The bistable switch 13 itself operates in a manner not unlike a free-running multivibrator. Thus the switch 13 includes a pair of transistors 51, 52 which alternate continuously between the first state in which the transistor 51 is off and the transistor 52 is on, and the second state in which the transistor 51 is on and the transistor 52 is off. The dwell times in the first and second states are controlled by interval timing circuits 53 and 54 respectively including the potentiometers l5 and 16.

When the switch 13 assumes the first state, the transistor 52 goes on. As a result, the line 38 drops to ground potential, biasing the base of the transistor 51 to ground via a resistor 55; the transistor 51 goes off. The potentiometer 15 is connected between a positive supply line 56 and ground, so that a positive voltage is provided at the potentiometer tap 15a. This voltage begins to charge a timing capacitor 57 via a resistor 58 connected by a line 59 to one terminal of the capacitor 57. The other capacitor 57 is connected to the line 38, and thus is held at ground potential.

As the capacitor 57 charges, the voltage on the line 59 becomes increasingly positive. This line 59 also is connected via a diode 60 and a resistor 61 to the base of the transistor 51. Thus as the capacitor 57 charges, the voltage at the transistor 51 base goes more positive, eventually reaching a level sufficiently high so as to bias on the transistor 51. When this occurs, the collector voltage of the transistor 51, on a line 62, drops from a positive value to ground. Since the line 62 is connected via a resistor 55' to the transistor 52 base, that transistor goes off. The switch 13 thus flips from the first to the second state.

The setting of the potentiometer 15 will establish the voltage level supplied via the resistor 58 to charge the capacitor 57. Accordingly, the setting of the potentiometer 15 will control how soon the transistor 51 is turned on, and thus will establish the interval or dwell time during which the switch 13 remains in the first state. The second interval timing circuit 54 functions in a manner exactly analogous to the timing circuit 53 (and includes components identified by corresponding primed numbers). The setting of the potentiometer 16 controls the voltage level used to charge the capacitor 57 and thus establishes the timer interval taken to turn on the transistor 52.

The transistor 51 collector voltage is provided by a divider including the resistors 64, 65 series connected between the line 56 and ground. Collector voltage to the transistor 52 is supplied via a resistor 66. A speedup capacitor 67 connected between the collectors of the transistors 51, 52 completes the switch 13 circuit.

Power to the switch 13 is supplied by single diode 70 connected in series with a current limiting resistor 71 between the voltage supply line 20 and the line 56. A capacitor 72 provides some filtering for the otherwise pulsating dc supplied on the line 56 during each ac half cycle that the line 20 is positive.

If the first timing potentiometer 15 is set at a minimum and the second timing potentiometer 16 set at a maximum, the switch 13 essentially will remain set in the second (dim") state. Under this condition, power supplied via the socket 12 is controlled entirely by the potentiometer 14. The potentiometer 14 thus can be used as a dimmer, to control the constant light level from a lamp connected to the socket 12.

The device can be used with either an incandescent or a fluorescent lamp. When flashing a fluorescent lamp, the potentiometer 14 is adjusted to a level which will maintain ionization when the switch 13 is in the dim state. When the switch 13 flips to the bright state, the fluorescent lamp will go to full intensity. The lamp will continue to flash at the duty cycle established by the interval timing potentiometers 15 and 16.

The discharge circuit 250 is extremely fast acting. Thus the circuit 10 will operate effectively when the dwell time in either or both switch 13 stable states is less than the ac source period. With the switch 13 dwell times so adjusted, the triac 23 may be gated into conduction by either of the circuits 25, 26 during each ac half cycle, depending on whether the capacitor or the capacitor 36 first reaches diac threshold level. As a result, unusual lighting effects are achieved, which may include flashing at a beat frequency related to the difference between the ac source frequency and the switch 13 alternation rate.

As an optional feature, the device 10 also may supply power to a second lamp or other load under timing control of the same switch 13. The circuit shown at the bottom of FIG. 1 facilitates such operation.

The second lamp is connected to a socket 12' having a first terminal 12a connected to the ac line 20, and a the switch 13 is in the second state. With the switch 13 in the first state, the gating signal on the line 24' will be established by the setting of a potentiometer 14 associated with the circuit 26. Thus, if two lamps are connected to the respective sockets 12 and 12, the lamps will flash in unison, but one lamp will become bright when the other goes dim, and vice versa.

The inventive lampcontrol circuit can be employed advantageously in an educational game. Thus a lamp connected to the socket 12 will go on to illuminate brightly a question to be answered. How long the question may be studied is adjusted by the potentiometer 15. At the end of the study period, the question lamp goes off and a second lamp, connected to the socket 12 goes on indicating that the question must be answered. The answer period is controlled by the potentiometer 16. Programmed learning is enhanced.

Intending to claim all novel, useful and unobvious features shown or described, the applicant claims:

1. A lamp control circuit comprising:

a controlled rectifier connecting an ac power source to said lamp,

switch means alternating between first and second stable states,

a first gating circuit including a first capacitor charged from said source, a first diac operatively connecting said first capacitor to the control electrode of said rectifier, said first gating circuit gating 5 said rectifier into conduction when the voltage across said first capacitor exceeds a threshold level, and a discharge circuit connected to inhibit charging of said capacitor when said switch means is in said second state, so that said first gating circuit can gate said rectifier into conduction only when said switch means is in said first state, and

a second gating circuit including a second capacitor,

a second diac operatively connecting said second capacitor to the control electrode of said rectifier, and potentiometer means connected to said ac source to provide an adjustable voltage for charg' ing said second capacitor, said second gating circuit gating said rectifier into conduction when the voltage across said second capacitor exceeds said threshold value and when said switch means is in said second state in which said first capacitor is discharged.

2. A control circuit according to claim 1 wherein said discharge circuit comprises:

a pair of series connected, complementary transistors one of which is biased on only when said switch means is in said second state and the other of which has a grounded base,

a pair of unidirectionally conducting means respectively connecting said first diac other terminal to the otherwise unconnected collector and emitter elements of said complementary transistors and respectively oriented to permit discharge of said first capacitor through said other complementary transistor for positive or negative charge on said first capacitor.

3. A control circuit according to claim 1 wherein said switch means comprises:

first and second transistors connected so that one 40 conducts when the other is off, and

a separate interval timing circuit associated with each transistor and operative to turn on that associated transistor after the other transistor has been on for a selectable interval of time.

4. A control circuit according to claim 3 wherein the interval timing circuit associated with each transistor comprises:

a capacitor having one terminal connected to a noncontrol element of the other transistor,

means supplying a selectable voltage via a resistor to the other terminal of said capacitor, the values of said capacitor, said resistor, and said selectable voltage establishing said interval of time, unidirectionally conducting means connecting said capacitor other terminal to the control electrode of the associated transistor, and v a resistor connected between said associated transistor control electrode and said other transistor non- 60 control element.

5. A device according to claim 1 wherein said load comprises an incandescent or a fluorescent lamp.

6. A control circuit according to claim 1 and adapted to supply power to two lamps, further comprising:

another controlled rectifier connecting said ac source to the second lamp,

a third gating circuit for gating said other rectifier into conduction when the voltage across a third capacitor charged from said source exceeds a threshold level and when said switch means is in said second state, and

a fourth gating circuit for gating said other rectifier into conduction when the voltage across a fourth capacitor charged from an adjustable voltage source exceeds a threshold level while said switch means is in said first state.

7. A lamp control circuit comprising:

a source of ac power connected to said load via a controlled rectifier,

a first gating means for initiating conduction of said rectifier when a signal derived from said source exceeds a certain value, said first gating means including a first capacitor charged from the ac source to provide said derived signal, and a first diac operatively connected between said first capacitor and the control electrode of said rectifier,

a second gating means comprising a potentiometer connected to said source to provide an adjustable voltage, a second capacitor charged by said adjustable voltage, and a second diac operatively connected between said second capacitor and said rectifier control electrode, said second gating means initiating conduction of said rectifier at a phase angle of the ac cycle established by the magnitude of said adjustable'voltage,

switch means continuously alternating between two stable states and having separate interval timing means to establish the respective dwell time in each of said stable states, and

disable circuit means, comprising a circuit discharging said first capacitor when said switch means is in one of said stable states, for preventing said first gating means from initiating conduction of said rectifier when said switch means is in said one stable state.

8. A control circuit according to claim 7 wherein said controlled rectifier comprises a triac connected in series with one line between said ac source and said load.

9. A control circuit according to claim 8 wherein said switch means comprises first and second transistors operatively connected so that one transistor conducts when the other is off, each interval timing means comprising:

a capacitor charged through a resistor by a voltage of controllable magnitude, said capacitor being connected between the non-control electrode of one transistor and a diode leading to the control electrode of the other transistor, another resistor shunting said diode and said capacitor.

10. A control circuit according to claim 7 wherein said switch means is powered by substantially'unfiltered dc voltage supplied during half of each ac source cycle by a single diode.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US5192895 *Mar 16, 1992Mar 9, 1993Taiwan Geni Electronics Co., Ltd.Synchronously-controlled light string
US9301349Jun 19, 2012Mar 29, 2016On-Bright Electronics (Shanghai) Co., Ltd.Systems and methods for dimming control using system controllers
US9408269 *Dec 10, 2012Aug 2, 2016On-Bright Electronics (Shanghai) Co., Ltd.Systems and methods for dimming control using TRIAC dimmers
US9414455Dec 5, 2014Aug 9, 2016On-Bright Electronics (Shanghai) Co., Ltd.Systems and methods for dimming control with capacitive loads
US9480118Jan 9, 2015Oct 25, 2016Guangzhou On-Bright Electronics Co., Ltd.Systems and methods for intelligent control related to TRIAC dimmers
US9554432Aug 5, 2015Jan 24, 2017On-Bright Electronics (Shanghai) Co., Ltd.Systems and methods for dimming control using system controllers
US9585222Aug 5, 2014Feb 28, 2017On-Bright Electronics (Shanghai) Co., Ltd.Systems and methods for intelligent dimming control using TRIAC dimmers
US20140132172 *Dec 10, 2012May 15, 2014On-Bright Electronics (Shanghai) Co., Ltd.Systems and methods for dimming control using triac dimmers
US20140346973 *Aug 13, 2014Nov 27, 2014On-Bright Electronics (Shanghai) Co., Ltd.Systems and methods for dimming control using triac dimmers
EP0240355A2 *Apr 2, 1987Oct 7, 1987Optikinetics LimitedOptical effects projector
EP0240355A3 *Apr 2, 1987Nov 11, 1987Optikinetics LimitedOptical effects projector
Classifications
U.S. Classification315/210, 315/200.00A, 315/240, 315/DIG.400
International ClassificationH05B37/02, H05B41/30, H05B41/44
Cooperative ClassificationH05B41/44, Y10S315/04, H05B37/02, H05B41/30
European ClassificationH05B37/02, H05B41/44, H05B41/30