Take control of LED lighting

Suitable for retro-fitting into existing house lighting systems, ML Electronics’ new two-wire LED lighting control design can be managed from an iPhone, a PC or other computing device. ML Electronics 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
ML Electronics.

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,
ML Electronics 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.