Development platform for designing communications-enabled lighting

August 12, 2013 // By Graham Prophet
Microchip's latest development platform simplifies the process of designing lighting systems using advanced PIC microcontroller peripherals

The Lighting Communications Development Platform provides all of the components required to create a DMX512A or DALI lighting network. This enables lighting engineers to design intelligent lighting and control systems with a large array of Microchip’s 8, 16 and 32-bit PIC microcontrollers; and analogue, wireless, and human-interface solutions. The Starter Kit includes two main boards, two communications-interface adapters (DALI or DMX512A), one prototype board and the required cables/power supplies.

Designers new to lighting communications can quickly start creating connected lighting applications via a simple board-to-board network. This platform uses a single, low-cost 8-bit PIC MCU for the user interface, LED control and communications. Software development is based on the free Microchip DALI and DMX512A libraries, which are written in C and can be ported to any PIC microcontroller. Additionally, the kit features the Cree XLamp MC-E Color LED, enabling high-lumen output in a small form factor, along with a LEDnLIGHT collimator LLC19N optic and holder by Gaggione for high-quality colour mixing and tight beam control. Industry-standard lighting communication connectors and isolation devices are also included.

With the ability to create fully customised lighting solutions, this platform provides quicker time to market via Microchip’s free DMX512A and DALI software libraries. By using a PIC MCU, lighting engineers can add numerous feature enhancements into their smart lighting infrastructure designs, including increased efficiencies, reduced costs and an improved user experience. Additionally, the platform enables easy integration into an existing lighting communication network for the development of advanced network applications.

“Microchip is collaborating with industry leaders in LED Lighting, such as Cree, Inc., at all levels of our product development and definition,” said Steve Drehobl, vice president of Microchip’s MCU8 Division. “These unique relationships give us a greater understanding of what is required to accelerate the market transition to solid-state lighting... providing solutions that allow solid-state lighting to realise its full potential by enabling a smart lighting infrastructure.”

Microchip’s Lighting Communications Development Platforms include