Tuesday 13 October 2009

iPhone control!

Control from your iPhone

ML Electronics has announced a new low cost 2-wire LED lighting control system design that can be managed from an iPhone as well as a PC or other computing device.

The company has completed a reference design for a low cost home LED lighting control system for ‘retro fitting’ into existing standard housing as a replacement for, or enhancement to, conventional lighting. A key feature of the system is that the same 24 VDC supply lines that power the LEDs are used for the control signals, using a unique protocol developed by them.

The system is operated using one or more master controllers which address a number of slaves, and each slave controls clusters of three RGB/white LEDs. The master can be controlled via Ethernet, Wireless LAN (Wi-Fi), Bluetooth®, DMX512, DALI or any custom control interface. As part of the development, they produced both PC and iPhone applications to address the master via Wireless LAN.

The slaves are connected to the master using a 2-wire low voltage 24 volt supply, and each slave is capable of controlling the colour and brightness of up to 50 Watts of LED illumination from data command signals superimposed on the power line. A master unit injects control data onto the low voltage supply line controlling the slaves using the MLE protocol. Each master can control two ‘strings’, each with 16 slaves. These strings can be wired in parallel, so that each slave produces the same colours, or in series, allowing slaves to produce different output colours if desired. No earth is required, and there are no separate control lines.

An unusual feature of the design is the iPhone application that can be used to control the lights – setting brightness levels and turning them on and off. Control can be zoned, with a facility to pre-programme and store complex scenarios. For example, in a kitchen installation, a user might set up a scenario with mood lighting around the worktop areas, white light above the eating area, and no light by the entrance by the doors, then implement it using only one or two clicks on the user interface. The same facilities are offered on the PC application.

Commenting, Mike Lloyd, Managing Director of ML Electronics, said, “ML Electronics is passionate about making our industry more sustainable, and we see LED lighting as a more sustainable option for ambient and effect lighting. By implementing a control system using only two wires, we’ve simplified the installation and reduced the amount of material required. Adding an iPhone app to control the lighting is a fun extra feature.” He added, “Although power line control is commonplace over mains wiring, implementing it on a low voltage DC feed is considerably more challenging.”

The reference design is available to companies seeking control solutions for LED lighting and other applications.

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