|Publication number||USRE46499 E1|
|Application number||US 12/399,954|
|Publication date||1 Aug 2017|
|Filing date||8 Mar 2009|
|Priority date||3 Jul 2001|
|Publication number||12399954, 399954, US RE46499 E1, US RE46499E1, US-E1-RE46499, USRE46499 E1, USRE46499E1|
|Inventors||Bradbury R. Face, Clark D. Boyd, Glenn F. Rogers, Jr., Gregory P. Thomas|
|Original Assignee||Face International Corporation|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (220), Classifications (8)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application claims priority from provisional application No. 60/302,990 filed Jul. 3, 2001.This is a continuation reissue application from Reissue application Ser. No. 12/183,574 filed Jul. 31, 2008, which is a reissue application of U.S. Pat. No. 7,084,529 B2 issued on Aug. 1, 2006, from U.S. application Ser. No. 10/188,633 filed Jul. 3, 2002, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/302,990 filed Jul. 3, 2001, all of which are incorporated by reference herein in their entireties.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates generally to switching devices for energizing lights, appliances and the like. More particularly, the present invention relates to a self-powered switch initiator device to generate an activation signal for a latching relay. The power is generated through a piezoelectric element and is sent through signal generation circuitry coupled to a transmitter for sending RF signal (which may be unique and/or coded) to one or more receivers that actuate the latching relay. The receivers are also trainable to respond to multiple transmitters.
2. Description of the Prior Art
Switches and latching relays for energizing lights, appliances and the like are well known in the prior art. Typical light switches comprise, for example, single-pole switches and three-way switches. A single-pole switch has two terminals that are hot leads for an incoming line (power source) and an outgoing line to the light. Three-way switches can control one light from two different places. Each three-way switch has three terminals: the common terminal and two traveler terminals. A typical pair of three-way switches uses two boxes each having two cables with the first box having an incoming line from a power source and an outbound line to the second box, and the second box having the incoming line from the first box and an outbound line to the light.
In each of these switching schemes it is often necessary to drill holes and mount switches and junction boxes for the outlets as well as running cable. Drilling holes and mounting switches and junction boxes can be difficult and time consuming. Also, running electrical cable requires starting at a fixture, pulling cable through holes in the framing to each fixture in the circuit, and continuing all the way back to the service panel. Though simple in theory, getting cable to cooperate can be difficult and time consuming. Cable often kinks, tangles or binds while pulling, and needs to be straightened out somewhere along the run.
Remotely actuated switches/relays are also known in the art. Known remote actuation controllers include tabletop controllers, wireless remotes, timers, motion detectors, voice activated controllers, and computers and related software. For example, remote actuation means may include modules that are plugged into a wall outlet and into which a power cord for a device may be plugged. The device can then be turned on and off by a controller. Other remote actuation means include screw-in lamp modules wherein the module is screwed into a light socket, and then a bulb screwed into the module. The light can be turned on and off and can be dimmed or brightened by a controller.
An example of a typical remote controller for the above described modules is a radio frequency (RF) base transceiver. With these controllers, a base is plugged into an outlet and can control groups of modules in conjunction with a hand held wireless RF remote. RF repeaters may be used to boost the range of compatible wireless remotes, switches and security system sensors by up to 150 ft. per repeater. The base is required for all wireless RF remotes and allows control of several lamps or appliances. Batteries are also required in the hand held wireless remote.
Rather than using a hand held RF remote, remote wall switches may be used. These wall switches, which are up to ¾″ thick, are affixed to a desired location with an adhesive. In conjunction with a base unit (plugged into a 110V receptacle) the remote wall switch may control compatible modules or switches (receivers). The wireless switches send an RF signal to the base unit and the base unit then transmits a signal along the existing 110V wiring in the home to compatible switches or modules. Each switch can be set with an addressable signal. Wireless switches also require batteries.
These remotes control devices may also control, for example, audio/video devices such as the TV, VCR, and stereo system, as well as lights and other devices using an RF to infrared (IR) base. The RF remote can control audio/video devices by sending proprietary RF commands to a converter that translates the commands to IR. IR commands are then sent to the audio/video equipment. The console responds to infrared signals from the infrared remotes and then transmits equivalent commands to compatible receivers.
A problem with conventional wall switches is that extensive wiring must be run both from the switch boxes to the lights and from the switch boxes to the power source in the service panels.
Another problem with conventional wall switches is that additional wiring must be run for lights controlled by more than one switch.
Another problem with conventional wall switches is that the high voltage lines are present as an input to and an output from the switch.
Another problem with conventional wall switches is the cost associated with initial installation of wire to, from and between switches.
Another problem with conventional wall switches is the cost and inconvenience associated with remodeling, relocating or rewiring existing switches.
A problem with conventional RF switches is that they require an external power source such as high voltage AC power or batteries.
Another problem with conventional RF switches is the cost and inconvenience associated with replacement of batteries.
Another problem with conventional RF switches is that they require high power to individual modules and base units.
Another problem with conventional AC-powered RF switches is the difficulty when remodeling in rewiring or relocating a wall switch.
Another problem with conventional RF switches is that a pair comprising a transmitter and receiver must generally be purchased together.
Another problem with conventional RF switches is that transmitters may inadvertently activate incorrect receivers.
Another problem with conventional RF switches is that receivers may accept an activation signal from only one transmitter.
Another problem with conventional RF switches is that transmitters may activate only one receiver.
Accordingly, it would be desirable to provide a network of switch initiators and/or latching relay devices that overcomes the aforementioned problems of the prior art.
The present invention provides a self-powered switching initiator or latching relay device using an electroactive or electromagnetic actuator. The piezoelectric element in the electroactive actuator is capable of deforming with a high amount of axial displacement, and when deformed by a mechanical impulse generates an electric field. In an electromagnetic device, the relative motion between a magnet and a series of coils develops the electrical signal. The electroactive actuator is used as an electromechanical generator for generating a momentary signal that initiates a latching or relay mechanism. The latching or relay mechanism thereby turns electrical devices such as lights and appliances on and off or provides an intermediate or dimming signal.
The mechanical actuating means for the electroactive actuator element applies a suitable mechanical impulse to the electroactive actuator element in order to generate an electrical signal, such as a pulse or wave having sufficient magnitude and duration to actuate downstream circuit components. A switch similar to a light switch, for example, may apply pressure through a toggle, snap action, paddled or plunger mechanism. Larger or multiple electroactive actuator elements may also be used to generate the electrical signal. Copending application Ser. No. 09/616,978 entitled “Self-Powered Switching Device,” which is hereby incorporated by reference, discloses a self-powered switch where the electroactive element generates an electrical pulse. Copending provisional application 60/252,228 entitled “Self-Powered Trainable Switching Network,” which is hereby incorporated by reference, discloses a network of switches such as that disclosed in the application 09/616,978, with the modification that the switches and receivers are capable accepting a multiplicity of coded RF signals. In the present invention, a modification has been developed to the mechanical actuation of the electroactive element resulting in a modification of the type of electrical signal produced by the actuator. The present invention describes a self-powered switch initiator having an electroactive element and accompanying circuitry designed to work with an oscillating electrical signal. To harness the power generated by the electroactive element, the accompanying RF signal generation circuitry has also been modified to use the electrical signal most efficiently.
In one embodiment of the invention, the electroactive actuator is depressed by the manual or mechanical actuating means and the oscillating electrical signal generated by the electroactive actuator is applied to the relay or switch through circuitry designed to modify the electrical signal. In yet another embodiment, the electromagnetic or electroactive actuator signal powers an RF transmitter which sends an RF signal to an RF receiver which then actuates the relay. In yet another embodiment, the electromagnetic or electroactive actuator signal powers a transmitter, which sends a pulsed RF signal to an RF receiver which then actuates the relay. Digitized RF signals may be coded (as with a garage door opener) to only activate the relay that is coded with that digitized RF signal. The transmitters may be capable of developing one or more coded RF signals and the receivers likewise may be capable of receiving one or more coded RF signal. Furthermore, the receivers may be “trainable” to accept coded RF signals from new or multiple transmitters.
Accordingly, it is a primary object of the present invention to provide a switching or relay device in which an electroactive or piezoelectric element is used to activate the device.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a device of the character described in which switches may be installed without necessitating additional wiring.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a device of the character described in which switches may be installed without cutting holes into the building structure.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a device of the character described in which switches do not require external electrical input such as 120 or 220 VAC or batteries.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a device of the character described incorporating an electroactive device that generates an electrical signal of sufficient magnitude and duration to activate a latching relay and/or switch initiator.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a device of the character described incorporating an electroactive that generates an electrical signal of sufficient duration and magnitude to activate a radio frequency transmitter for activating a latching relay and/or switch initiator.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a device of the character described incorporating an actuator that generates an electrical signal of sufficient magnitude to activate a radio frequency transmitter for activating a latching relay and/or switch initiator.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a device of the character described incorporating a transmitter that is capable of developing at least one coded RF signal.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a device of the character described incorporating a receiver capable of receiving at least one coded RF signal from at least one transmitter.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a device of the character described incorporating a receiver capable of “learning” to accept coded RF signals from one or more transmitters.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a device of the character described for use in actuating lighting, appliances, security devices and other fixtures in a building.
Further objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent from a consideration of the drawings and ensuing description thereof.
Piezoelectric and electrostrictive materials (generally called “electroactive” devices herein) develop a polarized electric field when placed under stress or strain. The electric field developed by a piezoelectric or electrostrictive material is a function of the applied force causing the mechanical stress or strain. Conversely, electroactive devices undergo dimensional changes in an applied electric field. The dimensional change (i.e., expansion or contraction) of an electroactive device is a function of the applied electric field. Electroactive devices are commonly used as drivers, or “actuators” due to their propensity to deform under such electric fields. These electroactive devices or actuators also have varying capacities to generate an electric field in response to a deformation caused by an applied force.
Electroactive devices include direct and indirect mode actuators, which typically make use of a change in the dimensions of the material to achieve a displacement, but in the present invention are preferably used as electromechanical generators. Direct mode actuators typically include a piezoelectric or electrostrictive ceramic plate (or stack of plates) sandwiched between a pair of electrodes formed on its major surfaces. The devices generally have a sufficiently large piezoelectric and/or electrostrictive coefficient to produce the desired strain in the ceramic plate. However, direct mode actuators suffer from the disadvantage of only being able to achieve a very small displacement (strain), which is, at best, only a few tenths of a percent. Conversely, direct mode generator-actuators require application of a high amount of force to piezoelectrically generate a pulsed momentary electrical signal of sufficient magnitude to activate a latching relay.
Indirect mode actuators are known to exhibit greater displacement and strain than is achievable with direct mode actuators by achieving strain amplification via external structures. An example of an indirect mode actuator is a flextensional transducer. Flextensional transducers are composite structures composed of a piezoelectric ceramic 32 element and a metallic shell, stressed plastic, fiberglass, or similar structures. The actuator movement of conventional flextensional devices commonly occurs as a result of expansion in the piezoelectric material which mechanically couples to an amplified contraction of the device in the transverse direction. In operation, they can exhibit several orders of magnitude greater strain and displacement than can be produced by direct mode actuators.
The magnitude of achievable strain of indirect mode actuators can be increased by constructing them either as “unimorph” or “bimorph” flextensional actuators. A typical unimorph is a concave structure composed of a single piezoelectric element externally bonded to a flexible metal foil, and which results in axial buckling or deflection when electrically energized. Common unimorphs can exhibit a strain of as high as 10%. A conventional bimorph device includes an intermediate flexible metal foil sandwiched between two piezoelectric elements. Electrodes are bonded to each of the major surface of the ceramic elements and the metal foil is bonded to the inner two electrodes. Bimorphs exhibit more displacement than comparable unimorphs because under the applied voltage, one ceramic element will contract while the other expands. Bimorphs can exhibit strains up to 20%.
For certain applications of electroactive actuators, asymmetrically stress biased electroactive devices have been proposed in order to increase the axial deformation of the electroactive material, and therefore increase the achievable strain of the electroactive material. In such devices, (which include, for example, “Rainbow” actuators (as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,471,721), and other flextensional actuators) the asymmetric stress biasing produces a curved structure, typically having two major surfaces, one of which is concave and the other which is convex.
The THUNDER actuator 12 is as a composite structure, the construction of which is illustrated in
During the cooling step of the process (i.e. after the adhesive layers 66 and 66a have re-solidified) the ceramic layer 67 becomes compressively stressed by the adhesive layers 66 and 66a and pre-stress layer 64 due to the higher coefficient of thermal contraction of the materials of the adhesive layers 66 and 66a and the pre-stress layer 64 than for the material of the ceramic layer 67. Also, due to the greater thermal contraction of the laminate materials (e.g. the first pre-stress layer 64 and the first adhesive layer 66) on one side of the ceramic layer 67 relative to the thermal contraction of the laminate material(s) (e.g. the second adhesive layer 66a) on the other side of the ceramic layer 67, the ceramic layer deforms in an arcuate shape having a normally convex face 12a and a normally concave face 12c, as illustrated in
Alternatively, the substrate comprising a separate prestress layer 64 may be eliminated and the adhesive layers 66 and 66a alone or in conjunction may apply the prestress to the ceramic layer 67. Alternatively, only the prestress layer(s) 64 and 68 and the adhesive layer(s) 66 and 66a may be heated and bonded to a ceramic layer 67, while the ceramic layer 67 is at a lower temperature, in order to induce greater compressive stress into the ceramic layer 67 when cooling the actuator 12.
Referring now to
A flexible insulator may be used to coat the convex face 12a of the actuator 12. This insulative coating helps prevent unintentional discharge of the piezoelectric element through inadvertent contact with another conductor, liquid or human contact. The coating also makes the ceramic element more durable and resistant to cracking or damage from impact. Since LaRC-SI is a dielectric, the adhesive layer 67a on the convex face 12a of the actuator 12 may act as the insulative layer. Alternately, the insulative layer may comprise a plastic, TEFLON or other durable coating.
Electrical energy may be recovered from or introduced to the actuator element 12 by a pair of electrical wires 14. Each electrical wire 14 is attached at one end to opposite sides of the actuator element 12. The wires 14 may be connected (for example by glue or solder 20) directly to the electroplated 65 and 65a faces of the ceramic layer 67, or they may alternatively be connected to the pre-stress layer(s) 64. As discussed above, the prestress layer 64 is preferably adhered to the ceramic layer 67 by LaRC-SI material, which is a dielectric. When the wires 14 are connected to the pre-stress layer(s) 64, it is desirable to roughen a face of the pre-stress layer 64, so that the pre-stress layer 64 intermittently penetrates the respective adhesive layers 66 and 66a, and make electrical contact with the respective electroplated 65 and 65a faces of the ceramic layer 67. Alternatively, the Larc-SI adhesive layer 66 may have a conductive material, such as Nickel or aluminum particles, used as a filler in the adhesive and to maintain electrical contact between the prestress layer and the electroplated face of the ceramic. The opposite end of each electrical wire 14 is preferably connected to an electric pulse modification circuit 10.
Prestressed flextensional transducers 12 are desirable due to their durability and their relatively large displacement, and concomitant relatively high voltage that such transducers are capable of developing. The present invention however may be practiced with any electroactive element having the properties and characteristics herein described, i.e., the ability to generate a voltage in response to a deformation of the device. For example, the invention may be practiced using magnetostrictive or ferroelectric devices. The transducers also need not be normally arcuate, but may also include transducers that are normally flat, and may further include stacked piezoelectric elements.
In operation, as shown in
In operation, when the push button 22 is depressed in the direction of arrow 16, the quick-release mechanism 24 pushes down on the shaft 26 and plates 27 and 28 and deforms the actuator 12. When the quick-release mechanism 24 reaches the release cog 25, the quick-release mechanism 24 pivots on its hinge and releases the downward pressure from the shaft 26, plates 27 and 28 and actuator 12. The actuator 12, on account of the restoring force of the substrate of the prestress layer 64, returns quickly to its undeformed state in the direction of arrow 30 as in
As previously mentioned, the applied force causes the piezoelectric actuator 12 to deform. By virtue of the piezoelectric effect, the deformation of the piezoelectric element 67 generates an instantaneous voltage between the faces 12a and 12c of the actuator 12, which produces a pulse of electrical energy. Furthermore, when the force is removed from the piezoelectric actuator 12, the actuator 12 recovers its original arcuate shape. This is because the substrate or prestress layers 64 and 68 to which the ceramic 67 is bonded exert a compressive force on the ceramic 67, and the actuator 12 thus has a coefficient of elasticity that causes the actuator 12 to return to its undeformed neutral state. On the recovery stroke of the actuator 12, the ceramic 67 returns to its undeformed state and thereby produces another electrical pulse of opposite polarity. The downward (applied) or upward (recovery) strokes should cause a force over a distance that is of sufficient magnitude to create the desired electrical pulse. The duration of the recovery stroke, and therefore the duration of the pulse produced, is preferably in the range of 50-100 milliseconds, depending on the amount of force applied to the actuator 12.
Referring again to
One end 121 of an actuator 12 is placed between the mating surfaces 70a and 75a of the base and clamping plates 70 and 75. The mating surfaces 70a and 75a are then urged towards each other with the screw 76 to rigidly hold the end 121 of the actuator 12 in place between the base and clamping plates 70 and 75 with the opposite end 122 of the actuator 12 free to be moved by a mechanical impulse applied manually or preferably by a deflector assembly 72.
Referring now to
The clamping assembly 75 holds the actuator 12 in place in its relaxed, i.e., undeformed state above the base plate 70 with the free end 122 of the actuator 12 in close proximity to a deflector 72 assembly. More specifically, the actuator 12 is preferably clamped between the mating surfaces 70a and 75a of the base and clamping plates 70 and 75 with the convex face 12a of the actuator 12 facing the base plate 70. Since the actuator 12 in its relaxed state is arcuate, the convex face 12a of the actuator 12 curves away from the upper surface 70a of the base plate 70 while approaching the free end 122 of the actuator 12. Mechanical force may then be applied to the free end 122 of the actuator 12 in order to deform the electroactive element 67 to develop an electrical signal.
Because of the composite, multi-layer construction of the actuator 12 it is important to ensure that the clamping member 75 not only holds the actuator 12 rigidly in place, but also that the actuator 12 is not damaged by the clamping member 75. In other words, the actuator 12, and more specifically the ceramic layer 67, should not be damaged by the clamping action of the clamping member 75 in a static mode, but especially in the dynamic state when applying a mechanical impulse to the actuator 12 with the plunger 72. For example, referring to
Referring again to
As can be seen in
The recess 80 is designed not only to prevent damage to the ceramic layer 67, but also to provide a surface along which electrical contact can be maintained with the electrode 68 on the convex face of the actuator 12. The recess 80 extends into the base plate 70 and has a variable depth, preferably being angled to accommodate the angle at which the convex face 12a of the actuator 12 rises from the recess 80 and above the top surface 70a of the base plate 70. More specifically, the recess 80 preferably has a deep end 81 and a shallow end 82 with its maximum depth at the deep end 81 beneath the clamping member 75 and substrate 12 just before where the ceramic layer 67 extends into the recess 80 at point C. The recess 80 then becomes shallower in the direction approaching the free end 122 of the actuator 12 until it reaches its minimum depth at the shallow end 82.
The recess 80 preferably contains a layer of rubber 85 along its lower surface which helps prevent the ceramic layer 67 from being damaged when the actuator 12 is deformed and the lower edge C of the ceramic layer 67 is pushed into the recess 80. Preferably the rubber layer 85 is of substantially uniform thickness along its length, the thickness of the rubber layer 85 being substantially equal to the depth of the recess 80 at the shallow end 82. The length of the rubber layer 85 is preferably slightly shorter than the length of the recess 80 to accommodate the deformation of the rubber layer 85 when the actuator 12 is pushed into the recess and rubber layer 85.
The rubber layer 85 preferably has a flexible electrode layer 90 overlying it to facilitate electrical contact with the aluminum layer 68 on the ceramic layer 67 on the convex face 12a of the actuator 12. More preferably, the electrode layer 90 comprises a layer of copper overlaying a layer of KAPTON film, as manufactured by E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, bonded to the rubber layer 85 with a layer of adhesive, preferably CIBA adhesive. The electrode layer 90 preferably extends completely across the rubber layer 85 from the deep end 81 to the shallow end 82 of the recess 80 and continues for a short distance on the top surface 70a of the base plate 70 beyond the recess 80.
In the preferred embodiment of the invention, the end 121 of the actuator 12 is not only secured between the clamping plate 75 and the base plate 70, but the aluminum electrode layer 68 covering the ceramic layer 67 of the actuator 12 is in constant contact with the electrode layer 90 in the recess 80 at all times, regardless of the position of the actuator 12 in its complete range of motion. To this end, the depth of the recess 80 (from the top surface 70a to the electrode 90) is at least equal to a preferably slightly less than the thickness of the laminate layers (adhesive layers 66, ceramic layer 67 and prestress layer 68) extending into the recess 80.
An assembly was built having the following illustrative dimensions. The actuator comprised a 1.59 by 1.79 inch spring steel substrate that was 8 mils thick. A 1-1.5 mil thick layer of adhesive having a nickel dust filler in a 1.51 inch square was placed one end of the substrate 0.02 inch from three sides of the substrate (leaving a 0.25 inch tab on one end 121 of the actuator). An 8-mil thick layer of PZT-5A in a 1.5 inch square was centered on the adhesive layer. A 1-mil thick layer of adhesive (with no metal filler) was placed in a 1.47 inch square centered on the PZT layer. Finally, a 1-mil thick layer of aluminum in a 1.46 inch square was centered on the adhesive layer. The tab 121 of the actuator was placed in a recess in a clamping block 76 having a length of 0.375 inch and a depth of 4 mils. The base plate 70 had a 0.26 in long recess 80 where the deep end 81 of the recess had a depth of 20 mils and tapered evenly to a depth of 15 mils at the shallow end 82 of the recess 80. A rubber layer 85 having a thickness of 15 mils and a length of 0.24 inches was placed in the recess 80. An electrode layer of 1 mil copper foil overlying 1 mil KAPTON tape was adhered to the rubber layer and extended beyond the recess 1.115 inches. The clamping member 75 was secured to the base plate 70 with a screw 76 and the aluminum second prestress layer of the actuator 12 contacted the electrode 90 in the recess 80 substantially tangentially (nearly parallel) to the angle the actuator 12 thereby maximizing the surface area of the electrical contact between the two.
As shown in
Referring now to
Within the casing 200 is a mounted quick release mechanism 180 comprising a spring loaded rocker arm 185 on the interior surface 172b of the plunger 172 which works in conjunction with a release pin 186 mounted on the top surface 70 of the base plate 70. The quick release mechanism 180 is designed to deflect and then quickly release the free end 122 of the actuator 12 in order to allow it to vibrate between positions 291 and 292. The quick release mechanism 180 is also designed not to interfere with the vibration of the actuator 12 as well as to return to a neutral position for follow-on deflections of the actuator 12.
Inside the casing 200 is also a release pin 186 which is located on the top surface 70a of the base plate 70. The release pin 186 is located in a position just beyond the free end 122 of the actuator 12 in its deflected position, but not beyond the rocker arm 185. In other words, when the plunger 172 is depressed toward the release pin 186, depressing with it the actuator 12 from position 291 to position 292, the release pin 186 will contact the rocker arm 185 but not the actuator 12. As the rocker arm 185 (and actuator 12) are depressed further, the release pin 186 pushes the rocker arm 185 away, making the rocker arm 185 pivot away from the clamped end 121 of the actuator 12. The rocker arm 185 pivots until the edge 122 of the actuator 12 is no longer held by the rocker arm 185 in position 292, at which point the edge 122 of the actuator 12 is released and springs back to its undeformed state, thereby oscillating between positions 291 and 292.
When pressure from the plunger 172 is released, the plunger 172 returns to its undeflected position (with the ridge 173a against the lip 202a) by virtue of the restoring force of the spring 150. Also when the pressure from the plunger 172 is released, and the plunger 172 returns to its undeflected position, the rocker arm 185 also returns to its undeflected position (above the actuator 12 against the stop 183) by virtue of the restoring force of the spring 187. Lastly, the actuator 12 also returns to its undeflected state in position 291 after its oscillations between positions 291 and 292 have ceased.
Referring now to
The channel 240 is adapted to slidably retain a spring loaded paddle 250. Preferably, the paddle has first and second ends 251 and 252 respectively and a central pin 255. The channel in the face plate 220 allows the paddle to extend through the face plate 220, while also slidably retaining the central pin 255 in the channel 240. More specifically, the paddle 250 extends through the face plate 220 by means of the channel 240, along which the paddle may be slid in a direction parallel to the channels' axis L, i.e., from the clamped end 121 to the free end 122 of the actuator 12 and back. The first end 251 of the paddle 250 is located above the exterior surface 220b of the face plate 220 and the second end 252 of the paddle 250 is located within the casing 200 above the actuator 12. The paddle 250 is retained in the described position be means of the pin 255 which is retained in the channel 240. Thus, the width of the channel 240 at the exterior surface 220b is sufficient for the paddle upper portion 251 to pass through, as is the width of the channel 240 at the interior surface 220a is sufficient for the paddle lower portion 252 to pass through. The width and height of the channel 240 within the face plate 220 (between the interior and exterior surfaces 220a and 220b) is sufficient to accommodate the width and height of the central pin 255, which is wider than the width of the paddle upper and lower portions 251 and 252.
The first end 251 of the paddle 250 preferably extends a distance above the exterior surface 220b of the face plate 220 enough to be grasped manually. The second end 252 of the paddle 250 preferably extends into the casing 200 a distance above the actuator 12 such that the paddle 250 does not contact the clamping member 75 and/or clamped end 121 of the actuator 12, but also far enough that it may contact and deflect the free end 122 of the actuator 12. The paddle 250 is also preferably hinged at the second end 252 (within the casing 200 or the channel 240 at or in proximity to the central pin 255) in a manner that allows the second end 252 to pivot about the hinge or central pin 255 when travelling in one direction but not the other. Preferably, the second end 252 of the paddle 250 is hinged in a way that it may pivot when the paddle 250 is travelling toward the first wall 201 of the casing 200 but not pivot when travelling towards the second wall 202 of the casing 200.
Preferably the paddle 250 is also spring loaded so that the paddle is constantly urged along the channel 240 towards the first wall 201 of the casing 200. To that end, there is a spring 260 held between the paddle and the first 201 or second wall 202 of the casing 200 or most preferably the spring 260 held between the paddle 250 and the first or second end 241 or 242 of the channel 240. In order to urge the paddle toward the first wall 201 the spring 260 is either held in tension between the paddle 250 and the first end 241 of the channel 240, or most preferably the spring 260 is held in compression between the paddle 250 and the second end 242 of the channel 240.
This provides for device wherein an actuator 12 mounted on a base plate 70 is contained within a casing 200 formed by the base plate 70, four walls 201, 202, 203 and 204 and a face plate opposite the base plate 70. Because the paddle 250 is slidably mounted, placing pressure (in the direction of arrow 281 on the on the 251 first end of the paddle makes it slide along the channel 240 toward the second wall 202 of the casing 200. Because the paddle 250 is slidably mounted and spring loaded, releasing pressure from the paddle 250 makes it return along the channel 240 toward the first wall 201 of the casing 200 until it comes to rest against the first end 241 of the channel 240.
In operation, when the paddle 250 is moved (in the direction of arrow 281) toward the second end 242 of the channel 240, the paddle lower portion 252 contacts concave face 12c of the actuator 12 and commences to deflect the actuator free end 122 (away from position 291). As the paddle 250 continues to move in the direction of arrow 281, the paddle lower portion 252 depresses the free end 122 of the actuator 12 to its maximum deflection at position 292 when the free end 122 is directly beneath the paddle lower portion 252. When the paddle moves further from this point in the direction of arrow 281, the free end 122 of the actuator 12 is abruptly released from the applied deflection of the paddle lower portion 252. Upon release, the edge 122 of the actuator 12 springs back to its undeformed state at position 291, thereby oscillating between positions 291 and 292. Upon release of pressure (in the direction of arrow 281) from the paddle 250, the paddle then travels in the direction of arrow 282, by virtue of the restoring force of the spring 260. As the paddle 250 returns towards its undeflected position (towards the first end 241 of the channel 240), the free end 122 of the actuator 12 in position 291 applies pressure against the lower portion 252 of the paddle 250. In response to the pressure being applied to the paddle lower portion opposite the direction of travel of the upper portion 251, the lower portion 252 pivots about the hinged central pin 255 of the paddle. After the paddle lower portion 252 has traveled in the direction of arrow 282 beyond the free end 122 of the actuator, the lower portion 252 returns to its undeflected (unbent) state. The pivoting of the paddle lower portion 252 allows the paddle 250 to return to its neutral undeflected position at the first end 241 of the channel 240.
When the end 122 of the actuator 12 is deflected and then released (either manually or using a deflector assembly 72 such as in
The applied force, whether by manual or other mechanical deflection means 72 causes the piezoelectric actuator 12 to deform and by virtue of the piezoelectric effect, the deformation of the piezoelectric element 67 generates an instantaneous voltage between the faces 12a and 12c of the actuator 12, which produces an electrical signal. Furthermore, when the force is removed from the piezoelectric actuator 12, the actuator oscillates between positions 291 and 292 until it gradually returns to its original shape. As the actuator 12 oscillates, the ceramic layer 67 strains, becoming alternately more compressed and less compressed. The polarity of the voltage produced by the ceramic layer 67 depends on the direction of the strain, and therefore, the polarity of the voltage generated in compression is opposite to the polarity of the voltage generated in tension. Therefore, as the actuator 12 oscillates, the voltage produced by the ceramic element 67 oscillates between a positive and negative voltage for a duration of time. The duration of the oscillation, and therefore the duration of the oscillating electrical signal produced, is preferably in the range of 100-250 milliseconds, depending on the shape, mounting and amount of force applied to the actuator 12.
The electrical signal generated by the actuator 12 is applied to downstream circuit elements via wires 14 connected to the actuator 12. More specifically, a first wire 14 is connected to the electrode 90 which extends into the recess 80 and contacts the electrode 68 on the convex face 12a of the actuator 12. Preferably the wire 14 is connected to the electrode 90 outside of the recess close to the end of the base plate 70 opposite the end having the clamping member 75. A second wire 14 is connected directly to the first prestress layer 64, i.e., the substrate 64 which acts as an electrode on the concave face 12c of the actuator 12.
Referring now to
The circuit also comprises a voltage regulator U2, which controls magnitude of the input electrical signal downstream of the rectifier 31. The rectifier 31 is electrically connected to a voltage regulator U2 with the D2-D4 junction connected to the Vin pin of the voltage regulator U2 and with the D1-D3 junction connected to ground and the ground pin of the voltage regulator U2. The voltage regulator U2 comprises for example a LT1121 chip voltage regulator U2 with a 3.3 volts DC output. The output voltage waveform is shown in
Referring again to
The output of the voltage regulator U2 is connected to a PIC microcontroller, which acts as an encoder 40 for the electrical output signal of the regulator U2. More specifically, the output conductor for the output voltage signal (nominally 3.3 volts) is connected to the input pin of the programmable encoder 40. Types of register-based PIC microcontrollers include the eight-pin PIC12C5XX and PIC12C67x, baseline PIC16C5X, midrange PIC16CXX and the high-end PIC17CXX/PIC18CXX. These controllers employ a modified Harvard, RISC architecture that support various-width instruction words. The datapaths are 8 bits wide, and the instruction widths are 12 bits wide for the PIC16C5X/PIC12C5XX, 14 bits wide for the PIC12C67X/PIC16CXX, and 16 bits wide for the PIC17CXX/PIC18CXX. PICMICROS are available with one-time programmable EPROM, flash and mask ROM. The PIC17CXX/PIC18CXX support external memory. The encoder 40 comprises for example a PIC model 12C671. The PIC12C6XX products feature a 14-bit instruction set, small package footprints, low operating voltage of 2.5 volts, interrupts handling, internal oscillator, on-board EEPROM data memory and a deeper stack. The PIC12C671 is a CMOS microcontroller programmable with 35 single word instructions and contains 1024×14 words of program memory, and 128 bytes of user RAM with 10 MHz maximum speed. The PIC12C671 features an 8-level deep hardware stack, 2 digital timers (8-bit TMRO and a Watchdog timer), and a four-channel, 8-bit A/D converter.
The output of the PIC may include square, sine or saw waves or any of a variety of other programmable waveforms. Typically, the output of the encoder 40 is a series of binary square waveforms (pulses) oscillating between 0 and a positive voltage, preferably +3.3 VDC. The duration of each pulse (pulse width) is determined by the programming of the encoder 40 and the duration of the complete waveform is determined by the duration of output voltage pulse of the voltage regulator U2. A capacitor C5 is preferably be connected on one end to the output of the voltage regulator U2, and on the other end to ground to act as a filter between the voltage regulator U2 and the encoder 40.
Thus, the use of an IC as a tone generator or encoder 40 allows the encoder 40 to be programmed with a variety of values. The encoder 40 is capable of generating one of many unique encoded signals by simply varying the programming for the output of the encoder 40. More specifically, the encoder 40 can generate one of a billion or more possible codes. It is also possible and desirable to have more than one encoder 40 included in the circuit in order to generate more than one code from one actuator or transmitter. Alternately, any combination of multiple actuators and multiple pulse modification subcircuits may be used together to generate a variety of unique encoded signals. Alternately the encoder 40 may comprise one or more inverters forming a series circuit with a resistor and capacitor, the output of which is a square wave having a frequency determined by the RC constant of the encoder 40.
The DC output of the voltage regulator U2 and the coded output of the encoder 40 are connected to an RF generator 50. A capacitor C6 may preferably be connected on one end to the output of the encoder 40, and on the other end to ground to act as a filter between the encoder 40 and the RF generator 50. The RF generator 50 consists of tank circuit connected to the encoder 40 and voltage regulator U2 through both a bipolar junction transistor (BJT) Q1 and an RF choke. More specifically, the tank circuit consists of a resonant circuit comprising an inductor L2 and a capacitor C8 connected to each other at each of their respective ends (in parallel). Either the capacitor C8 or the inductor L2 or both may be tunable in order to adjust the frequency of the tank circuit. An inductor L1 acts as an RF choke, with one end of the inductor L1 connected to the output of the voltage regulator U2 and the opposite end of the inductor L1 connected to a first junction of the L2-C8 tank circuit. Preferably, the RF choke inductor L1 is an inductor with a diameter of approximately 0.125 inches and turns on the order of thirty and is connected on a loop of the tank circuit inductor L2. The second and opposite junction of the L2-C8 tank circuit is connected to the collector of BJT Q1. The base of the BJT Q1 is also connected through resistor R2 to the output side of the encoder 40. A capacitor C7 is connected to the base of a BJT Q1 and to the first junction of the tank circuit. Another capacitor C9 is connected in parallel with the collector and emitter of the BJT Q1. This capacitor C9 improves the feedback characteristics of the tank circuit. The emitter of the BJT Q1 is connected through a resistor R3 to ground. The emitter of the BJT Q1 is also connected to ground through capacitor C10 which is in parallel with the resistor R3. The capacitor C10 in parallel with the resistor R4 provides a more stable conduction path from the emitter at high frequencies.
Referring now to
In operation: The positive voltage output from the voltage regulator U2 is connected the encoder 40 and the RF choke inductor L1. The voltage drives the encoder 40 to generate a coded square wave output, which is connected to the base of the BJT Q1 through resistor R2. When the coded square wave voltage is zero, the base of the BJT Q1 remains de-energized, and current does not flow through the inductor L1. When the coded square wave voltage is positive, the base of the BJT Q1 is energized through resistor R2. With the base of the BJT Q1 energized, current is allowed to flow across the base from the collector to the emitter and current is also allowed to flow across the inductor L1. When the square wave returns to a zero voltage, the base of the BJT Q1 is again de-energized.
When current flows across the choke inductor L1, the tank circuit capacitor C8 charges. Once the tank circuit capacitor C8 is charged, the tank circuit begins to resonate at the frequency determined by the circuit's LC constant. For example, a tank circuit having a 7 picofarad capacitor and an inductor L2 having a single rectangular loop measuring 0.7 inch by 0.3 inch, the resonant frequency of the tank circuit is 310 MHz. The choke inductor L1 prevents RF leakage into upstream components of the circuit (the PIC) because changing the magnetic field of the choke inductor L1 produces an electric field opposing upstream current flow from the tank circuit. To produce an RF signal, charges have to oscillate with frequencies in the RF range. Thus, the charges oscillating in the tank circuit inductor/tuned loop antenna L2 produce an RF signal of preferably 310 MHz. As the square wave output of the inverter turns the BJT Q1 on and off, the signal generated from the loop antenna 60 comprises a pulsed RF signal having a duration of 100-250 milliseconds and a pulse width determined by the encoder 40, (typically of the order of 0.1 to 5.0 milliseconds thus producing 20 to 2500 pulses at an RF frequency of approximately 310 MHz. The RF generator section 50 is tunable to multiple frequencies. Therefore, not only is the transmitter capable of a great number of unique codes, it is also capable of generating each of these codes at a different frequency, which greatly increases the number of possible combinations of unique frequency-code signals.
The RF generator 50 and antenna 60 work in conjunction with an RF receiver 270. More specifically, an RF receiver 270 in proximity to the RF transmitter 60 (within 300 feet) can receive the pulsed RF signal transmitted by the RF generator 50. The RF receiver 270 comprises a receiving antenna 270 for intercepting the pulsed RF signal (tone). The tone generates a pulsed electrical signal in the receiving antenna 270 that is input to a microprocessor chip that acts as a decoder 280. The decoder 280 filters out all signals except for the RF signal it is programmed to receive, e.g., the signal generated by the RF generator 50. An external power source is also connected to the microprocessor chip/decoder 280. In response to the intercepted tone from the RF generator 50, the decoder chip produces a pulsed electrical signal. The external power source connected to the decoder 280 augments the pulsed voltage output signal developed by the chip. This augmented (e.g., 120VAC) voltage pulse is then applied to a conventional relay 290 for changing the position of a switch within the relay. Changing the relay switch position is then used to turn an electrical device with a bipolar switch on or off, or toggle between the several positions of a multiple position switch. Zero voltage switching elements may be added to ensure the relay 290 activates only once for each depression and recovery cycle of the flextensional transducer element 12.
Switch Initiator System with Trainable Receiver
Several different RF transmitters may be used that generate different tones for controlling relays that are tuned to receive that tone. In another embodiment, digitized RF signals may be coded and programmable (as with a garage door opener) to only activate a relay that is coded with that digitized RF signal. In other words, the RF transmitter is capable of generating at least one tone, but is preferably capable of generating multiple tones. Most preferably, each transmitter is programmed with one or more unique coded signals. This is easily done, since programmable ICs for generating the tone can have over 230 possible unique signal codes which is the equivalent of over 1 billion codes. Most preferably the invention comprises a system of multiple transmitters and one or more receivers for actuating building lights, appliances, security systems and the like. In this system for remote control of these devices, an extremely large number of codes are available for the transmitters for operating the lights, appliances and/or systems and each transmitter has at least one unique, permanent and nonuser changeable code. The receiver and controller module at the lights, appliances and/or systems is capable of storing and remembering a number of different codes corresponding to different transmitters such that the controller can be programmed so as to actuated by more than one transmitted code, thus allowing two or more transmitters to actuate the same light, appliance and/or system.
The remote control system includes a receiver/controller for learning a unique code of a remote transmitter to cause the performance of a function associated with the system, light or appliance with which the receiver/controller module is associated. The remote control system is advantageously used, in one embodiment, for interior or exterior lighting, household appliances or security system. Preferably, a plurality of transmitters is provided wherein each transmitter has at least one unique and permanent non-user changeable code and wherein the receiver can be placed into a program mode wherein it will receive and store two or more codes corresponding to two or more different transmitters. The number of codes which can be stored in transmitters can be extremely high as, for example, greater than one billion codes. The receiver has a decoder module therein which is capable of learning many different transmitted codes, which eliminates code switches in the receiver and also provides for multiple transmitters for actuating the light or appliance. Thus, the invention makes it possible to eliminate the requirements for code selection switches in the transmitters and receivers.
In the invention, each transmitter, such as transmitters 126 and 128, has at least one unique code which is determined by the tone generator/encoder 40 contained in the transmitter. The receiver unit 101 is able to memorize and store a number of different transmitter codes which eliminates the need of coding switches in either the transmitter or receiver which are used in the prior art. This also eliminates the requirement that the user match the transmitter and receiver code switches. Preferably, the receiver 101 is capable of receiving many transmitted codes, up to the available amount of memory locations 147 in the microprocessor 144, for example one hundred or more codes.
When the controller 290 for the light or appliance is initially installed, the switch 222 is moved to the program mode and the first transmitter 126 is energized so that the unique code of the transmitter 126 is transmitted. This is received by the receiver module 101 having an antenna 270 and decoded by the decoder 280 and supplied to the microprocessor unit 244. The code of the transmitter 126 is then supplied to the memory address storage 247 and stored therein. Then if the switch 222 is moved to the operate mode and the transmitter 126 energized, the receiver 270, decoder 280 and the microprocessor 244 will compare the received code with the code of the transmitter 126 stored in the first memory location in the memory address storage 247 and since the stored memory address for the transmitter 126 coincides with the transmitted code of the transmitter 126 the microprocessor 244 will energize the controller mechanism 290 for the light or appliance to energize de-energize or otherwise operate the device.
In order to store the code of the second transmitter 128 the switch 222 is moved again to the program mode and the transmitter 128 is energized. This causes the receiver 270 and decoder 280 to decode the transmitted signal and supply it to the microprocessor 244 which then supplies the coded signal of the transmitter 128 to the memory address storage 247 where it is stored in a second address storage location. Then the switch 222 is moved to the operate position and when either of the transmitters 126 and 128 are energized, the receiver 270 decoder 280 and microprocessor 244 will energize the controller mechanism 290 for the light or appliance to energize de-energize or otherwise operate the device. Alternately, the signal from the first transmitter 126 and second transmitter 128 may cause separate and distinct actions to be performed by the controller mechanism 290.
Thus, the codes of the transmitters 126 and 128 are transmitted and stored in the memory address storage 247 during the program mode after which the system, light or appliance controller 290 will respond to either or both of the transmitters 126 and 128. Any desired number of transmitters can be programmed to operate the system, light or appliance up to the available memory locations in the memory address storage 247.
This invention eliminates the requirement that binary switches be set in the transmitter or receiver as is done in systems of the prior art. The invention also allows a controller to respond to a number of different transmitters because the specific codes of a number of the transmitters are stored and retained in the memory address storage 247 of the receiver module 101.
In yet another more specific embodiment of the invention, each transmitter 126 or 128 contains two or more unique codes for controlling a system, light or appliance. One code corresponds in the microprocessor to the “on” position and another code corresponds in the microprocessor 244 to the “off” position of the controller 290. Alternately, the codes may correspond to “more” or “less” respectively in order to raise or lower the volume of a sound device or to dim or undim lighting for example. Lastly, the unique codes in a transmitter 126 or 128 may comprise four codes which the microprocessor interprets as “on”, “off”, “more” and “less” positions of the controller 290, depending on the desired setup of the switches. Alternatively, a transmitter 126 or 128 may only have two codes, but the microprocessor 244 interprets repeated pushes of “on” or “off” signals respectively to be interpreted as dim up and dim down respectively.
In another embodiment of the invention, receiver modules 101 may be trained to accept the transmitter code(s) in one-step. Basically, the memory 247 in the microprocessor 244 of the receiver modules 101 will have “slots” where codes can be stored. For instance one slot may be for all of the codes that the memory 247 accepts to be turned on, another slot for all the off codes, another all the 30% dimmed codes, etc.
Each transmitter 126 has a certain set of codes. For example one transmitter may have just one code, a “toggle” code, wherein the receiver module 101 knows only to reverse its current state, if it's on, turn off, and if it's off, turn on. Alternatively, a transmitter 126 may have many codes for the complex control of appliances. Each of these codes is “unique”. The transmitter 126 sends out its code set in a way in which the receiver 101 knows in which slots to put each code. Also, with the increased and longer electrical signal that can be generated in the transmitter 126, a single transmission of a code set is achievable even with mechanically produced voltage. As a back-up, if this is not true, and if wireless transmission uses up more electricity than we have available, some sort of temporary wired connection (jumper not shown) between each transmitter and receiver target is possible. Although the disclosed embodiment shows manual or mechanical interaction with the transmitter and receiver to train the receiver, it is yet desirable to put the receiver in reprogram mode with a wireless transmission, for example a “training” code.
In yet another embodiment of the invention, the transmitter 126 may have multiple unique codes and the transmitter randomly selects one of the multitude of possible codes, all of which are programmed into the memory allocation spaces 247 of the microprocessor 244.
In yet another embodiment of the invention, the transmitter 126 signal need not be manually operated or triggered, but may as easily be operated by any manner of mechanical force, i.e., the movement of a window, door, safe, foot sensor, etc. and that a burglar alarm sensor might simultaneously send a signal to the security system and a light in the intruded upon room. Likewise, the transmitter 126 may be combined with other apparatus. For example, a transmitter 126 may be located within a garage door opener which can also turn on one or more lights in the house, when the garage door opens.
Furthermore, the transmitters can talk to a central system or repeater which re-transmits the signals by wire or wireless means to lights and appliances. In this manner, one can have one transmitter/receiver set, or many transmitters interacting with many different receivers, some transmitters talking to one or more receivers and some receivers being controlled by one or more transmitters, thus providing a broad system of interacting systems and wireless transmitters. Also, the transmitters and receivers may have the capacity of interfacing with wired communications like SMARTHOME or BLUETOOTH.
While in the preferred embodiment of the invention, the actuation means has been described as from mechanical to electric, it is within the scope of the invention to include batteries in the transmitter to power or supplement the power of the transmitter. For example, rechargeable batteries may be included in the transmitter circuitry and may be recharged through the electromechanical actuators. These rechargeable batteries may thus provide backup power to the transmitter.
It is seen that the present invention allows a receiving system to respond to one of a plurality of transmitters which have different unique codes which can be stored in the receiver during a program mode. Each time the “program mode switch” 222 is moved to the program position, a different storage can be connected so that the new transmitter code would be stored in that address. After all of the address storage capacity have been used additional codes would erase all old codes in the memory address storage before storing a new one.
This invention is safe because it eliminates the need for 120 VAC (220 VAC in Europe) lines to be run to each switch in the house. Instead the higher voltage overhead AC lines are only run to the appliances or lights, and they are actuated through the self-powered switching device and relay switch. The invention also saves on initial and renovation construction costs associated with cutting holes and running the electrical lines to/through each switch and within the walls. The invention is particularly useful in historic structures undergoing preservation, as the walls of the structure need not be destroyed and then rebuilt. The invention is also useful in concrete construction, such as structures using concrete slab and/or stucco construction and eliminate the need to have wiring on the surface of the walls and floors of these structures.
While the above description contains many specificities, these should not be construed as limitations on the scope of the invention, but rather as an exemplification of one preferred embodiment thereof. Many other variations are possible, for example:
In addition to piezoelectric devices, the electroactive elements may comprise magnetostrictive or ferroelectric devices;
Rather than being arcuate in shape, the actuators may normally be flat and still be deformable;
Multiple high deformation piezoelectric actuators may be placed, stacked and/or bonded on top of each other;
Multiple piezoelectric actuators may be placed adjacent each other to form an array.
Larger or different shapes of THUNDER elements may also be used to generate higher impulses.
The piezoelectric elements may be flextensional actuators or direct mode piezoelectric actuators.
A bearing material may be disposed between the actuators and the recesses or switch plate in order to reduce friction and wearing of one element against the next or against the frame member of the switch plate.
Other means for applying pressure to the actuator may be used including simple application of manual pressure, rollers, pressure plates, toggles, hinges, knobs, sliders, twisting mechanisms, release latches, spring loaded devices, foot pedals, game consoles, traffic activation and seat activated devices.
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|Cooperative Classification||Y04S20/14, H03K2217/94089, H03K17/964, H01H2239/076, Y02B90/224, Y10T307/766, H01H2300/03|