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Harvesting light to save energy

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Cypress MicroSystems (represented by Braemac ) announced the availability of an electronic ballast design example using its Programmable System on Chip (PSoC) mixed-signal array with an embedded microcontroller. The PSoC allows the design engineer to streamline the development of electronic lighting systems. Cypress’s design example showcases the single-chip electronic dimming ballast controller that includes Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI) communication capability.

The PSoC Lighting product family is based on the company’s reconfigurable mixed-signal array with an on-board controller. PSoC devices offer an integrated mix of analogue and digital logic, memory and processing circuitry in one package. In contrast, traditional microcontroller-based solutions require additional chips to perform functions such as signal amplification, filtering, analogue-to-digital conversion, LCD control, and real-time clock generation.

“Thirty to forty percent of the energy used in a typical building is for lighting,” says Nathan John, director of strategic marketing for Cypress MicroSystems. “DALI ballasts enable central digital control of fluorescent lighting fixtures, providing the capability to dim individual fixtures in response to changes in ambient light; this “light harvesting” results in substantial energy savings. Using PSoC, designers can quickly implement complete DALI lighting solutions that are fast, inexpensive and highly reliable.”

PSoC devices integrate programmable blocks of analogue and digital logic, an 8-bit processor, 8 to 16 kBytes of Flash memory and 256 Bytes of SRAM. The PSoC family includes pre-programmed, specialised versions for lighting, energy, motor control, communications, automotive and battery applications.

The PSoC lighting solution enables 1-100 percent dimming (per DALI spec EN60929), yielding significant energy saving. PSoC manages both the ballast control functions as well as the communication between lighting fixtures and their controllers. Other solutions are said to require two devices to perform the dimming ballast capability: one chip to control the ballast function and one chip to manage the communication interface.

Cypress claims that the PSoC platform typically reduces customer development time by 33 percent and lowers bill of material costs by an average of US$5 ($7) by reducing the number of chips required for solutions utilising a traditional microcontroller and discrete digital and analogue components.

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