10-Step Decimal Dimming


 Decimal Dimming, 10-Steps, and the International Decimal Voltage Converter

Introduction –

   Decimal Dimming is when the electrical dimming control to lighting is reduced to 10 proportional voltage steps from 0 to 100% of full voltage. This is the basis of Decimal Dimming; 10 discreet controls steps, not variable. It is a step-dimming method using 10 equal steps to control lighting loads. Lighting loads are lamps, lamp arrays, fixtures and integrated environments. The scope of this consideration is in the realm of lighting, electrical control and energy management.
Decimal Dimming is a combination of lighting control theory, lighting industry methods, and devoting resources to make a standard electronic control chip that will benefit the practice of Decimal Dimming.
The Decimal Dimming concept is built around using a single master chip that performs, in a most accurate way, the ability to generate and read line voltage from 100, 120, 230, 277, or 347VAC; generate and read VDC voltages from 0-48, sink 0-10VDC current, generate and read a Pulse Width Modulation duty cycle.
This paper introduces the concept of the International Decimal Voltage Converter as a large scale integrated chip that takes most lighting voltages and converts them into 10 discreet steps. This becomes referred to as 10-Step Dimming. Decimal Dimming is what the 10-Step Dimming system is based on. Using the number ten as the base, lighting level commands are converted in the chip from 10 inputs to 10 steps of output at the appropriate voltage. This integrated chip is called the Decimal Dimming chip, or DD chip.
As an International Decimal Voltage Converter, the chip can operate in two directions, or modes. The normal mode is converting ten discreet contacts (10-Steps) into ten discreet voltages. It can also reverse operation and close ten contacts based on a variable voltage input (Voltage Mode). 10-Step and Voltage operation is selectable. The one chip converts 10-Steps in either electrical direction; either 10-Steps to a voltage, or a voltage to 10-Steps.
The 10-Steps are fixed equally at 10% increments. It is possible to actually chart out each voltage that a decimal step would output.
Decimal Dimming uses 10-Steps including the recognition of no Step. The lighting level of Off is equal to no Step, or no control command. The default condition is ‘0’ or Off; therefore no Step is translated as Off. No Step is a valid condition for 10-Step, Voltage, and status functions.
A fundamental desire is to have the chip comply with basic binary On-Off conversions. Because ‘no-step’ is the same as no output or voltage, de-activating Steps reverts the output to ‘Off’. Choose nothing, and nothing comes out. Therefore the DD chip can act as a simple voltage switch if desired; Step 1-10 for On, to No Step (none) for Off.

Step #               Control Level %       Input Voltage %     Output Voltage %

No Step     =      Level 0                              Voltage 0                    0  (VAC)

Step 1       =      Level 01-10                        Voltage 1-10               10

Step 2       =      Level 11-20                        Voltage 11-20             20

Step 3       =      Level 21-30                        Voltage 21-30             30

Step 4       =      Level 31-40                        Voltage 31-40             40

Step 5       =      Level 41-50                        Voltage 41-50             50

Step 6       =      Level 51-60                        Voltage 51-60             60

Step 7       =      Level 61-70                        Voltage 61-70             70

Step 8       =      Level 71-80                        Voltage 71-80             80

Step 9       =      Level 81-90                        Voltage 81-90             90

Step 10      =      Level 91-100                    Voltage 91-100           100

The key to the Decimal Dimming chip is the ability to generate a precise sinewave in 10 discreet voltage steps. After the sinewave is generated it needs to be amplified. Current amplification of the sinewave is external to the device; provided by others. The ability to generate the correct sine wave as a pure control voltage is the main advantage; after that, it is the ability of the secondary power amplifier or switch device to correctly translate the chip’s signals downstream to other devices. The quality of the current amplifier or switching device will determine the quality of performance from a fixture or load.

The DD chip always generates ten proportional steps of voltage control. This mathematical relationship of dimming levels will also facilitate energy management calculations and monitoring services. It can be easier to track energy use using fixed voltage steps over time.

The Decimal Dimming chip converts both low voltage and line voltages. One section is used for line voltage connections, and the other sections are all low voltages. Low voltage sections include closure inputs, serial commands, PWM, 0-48VDC source, and 0-10VDC sinking for dimming ballasts and LED drivers.

The design of the chip allows trigger points from incoming voltages to be converted to 10-Steps that can also be charted and mathematically determined. Applying fixed levels or output parameters is a key attribute of Decimal Dimming. For example Step 3 on the chip outputs 30% of 120VAC or 36VAC, Step 4 outputs 40% etc.

The basics of the chip’s line voltage dimming comes from generating a line voltage dimming signal in the form of a sine wave. The idea is the chip generates a line voltage control signal to a current amplifier, similar to an audio system with an amplifier.

The chip will not be able to handle high current. The DD chip can be used with power amplifiers or power boosters as a control voltage. The idea is to have the chip generate the correct Decimal Dimming control signal, and other third-party devices will take that signal and tailor it to specific needs. The high voltage aspects of the chip are limited to low current applications.

Modern dimmers are built on the principal of limiting a large regulated current supply; taking a large current from the city power company and resisting its flow. Decimal Dimming works by generating an exact voltage at low current, and then amplifying it.

The unique part of Decimal Dimming is that the DD chip generates the actual line voltage as a sine wave, so no triac dimmers are needed, no waveforms are chopped, and all devices using the chip output the same voltages. Because the chip generates the voltage waveform, it is not affected by incoming line voltage fluctuations or harmonic content. The outputs of the chip can be digitally created and provide other devices with a stable and uniform control signal. For most voltages, the chip uses a form of amplitude modulation of a sine wave to generate line voltage levels. This is a key difference between Decimal Dimming and standard line voltage dimming. Other sine wave dimmers are built using a more expensive variable dimmer to control the entire rated load as one high current unit. The theory of Decimal Dimming would account for precise signal generation to remote current amplifiers, where the power amplifiers do the high current and high heat work away from the signal generator.

There is potential to produce a single lighting control system where the output current is determined by an installed power amplifier so that multiple DD chips work with multiple channels of amplifiers. Or one common Decimal Dimming controller can work with many amplifiers covering a single large lighting space. There could be a master controller in 1 location with a local rack of amplifiers, or the individual power amplifiers could be remotely positioned. Transmission, wiring and amplification are not the scope of this document.

The value of the chip and Decimal Dimming comes in the form of a uniform output delivered around the world.

Standard line voltage dimmers around the world focus on taking a line voltage connection and chopping the sine wave to vary the current. These dimmers can be forward phase cut or reverse phase cut; but they are both chopping a sine wave output over time. The output is prone to harmonic distortion, input voltage fluctuations, neutral interaction, and RF interference. Most of the world focuses on taking large power, like a 15A circuit from a panel, and squeezing it through a small dimmer to control a group of lights. There are large amounts of dimmers manufactured sacrificing output quality in order to achieve variable dimming. The push to have cheap variable dimmers has actually given the user too many low quality options. Standard dimmers are prone to problems because of inaccurately constructed dimming sliders or rapid ramp rates that force a user to ramp up and down a dimmer until they find the proper level. 10-Step dimming provides a more understandable method for people who do not really want the task of such variable dimming for most uses, and 10-Steps would make things easier and far more predictable.

The majority of manufactured light dimming circuits employ a method of taking the available line level power and reducing it by mechanical or electronic means to lower and vary the voltage output. Decimal Dimming is different in that the DD chip generates the correct voltage for all 10-Steps, and output amplifiers do the work of distributing power. The focus is on the DD chip, not the power amplifiers. The DD chip is inherently more accurate than existing methods of line voltage dimming for lighting. Again, the primary idea is to build the Decimal Dimming chip, sell it worldwide, and promote a standard form of dimming. The Decimal Dimming 10-Step standard can be adapted by existing electronic dimmers and modified for mechanical lighting controls.

Human response to Decimal Dimming does require some adaptation. The smooth linear dimming is replaced by 10-Steps. The stepping of levels, or the step-fade, would take some getting used to if the user is familiar with theatrically smooth dimming. The enjoyment of a slow fade is replaced with the accuracy and uniformity of the Decimal Dimming. Most wall dimmers with a slider have limited movable range and moving the slider a couple millimeters can jump a light level; devices with movable sliders would benefit from using the precision of Decimal Dimming. Electronic dimming systems employing 10-Step dimming would inherit the noticeable effects of light levels jumping from one level to another, but should gain in lower cost-per-dimmer, program simplicity, and less complicated user interfaces.

A popular style of wall dimming is to tap a button for On, tap it again for Off, and press and hold the button to dim up and down. Press-and-hold dimming buttons using 10-Steps will be constrained by—timing. The rate of a 10-Step fade would be measured in Steps per Second. Depending on the application, the steps would be a noticeable attribute of Decimal Dimming. 10-Step dimming applied to a simple push button inherently offers the use of accurate ‘preset levels’ for every installation. Each Tap on the button can be translated into a step increase or decrease to the chip. It will be much easier for the common user to recreate a light level by the amount of taps they provide to the same button. It will be easier to communicate a desired level when the choices are reduced to 10. From an Off state, three taps on a button, or Step 3, will always be the same voltage and the same light level; easy to recreate for the user. The Decimal Dimming chip provides a standard 10-Step output that is easy to understand in a lighting application anywhere in the world.

Wallbox dimming devices could easily be represented with Decimal Dimming. Each wall dimmer would have the slider convert to 10-Steps and output only ten voltage levels. The slider or digital fader would connect to the 10-Step inputs on the chip and generate 10 uniform voltage steps on the output of the dimmer. Dimmers could be made to output the same uniform voltage steps making Decimal Dimming attractive to buyers and easy to specify. A 120VAC dimmer at Step 3 would output the same voltage in New York as it would in Los Angeles; Decimal Dimming makes the performance consistent everywhere. That same 120VAC dimmer at Decimal Dimming Step 3 will provide 30% of the required electricity to the fixture, just as a dimmer at 230VAC in Germany would provide 30% energy at Step 3; Step 3 is always 30% power.

The emerging LED market would be firmly stabilized by the introduction of a uniform dimming method that would allow manufacturers to test based on the 10-Steps of voltage, and produce more unified luminance chart for dimming applications or product specifications. Fixture makers would have more possibilities to design parameters based on predictable levels or steps.

Decimal Dimming LED displays, such as those found on wall dimmers,  would naturally use ten individual LEDs to represent the 10-Steps. That could take up too much real estate on a small wall dimmer, plus the expense. In order to minimize on parts, the display can use five LEDs with bi-level outputs of ‘bright’ and ‘dim’ or ‘off’ to distinguish different Steps. The Odd Steps are displayed by a ‘dim’ LED; the Even Steps would use the ‘bright’ LED. In a five LED array, if the first two LEDs were ‘bright’, and the third LED was ‘dim’, and the last two LEDs were Off, that would indicate Step 5; if the first three LEDs were ‘bright’, then Step 6 would be active. Five LEDs ‘bright’ is Step 10 or full On; five LEDs ‘off’ is Step 0 or Off.

As a visual indicator, if an Led went from ‘dim’ to ‘bright’, that would indicate a Step increase. If the ‘dim’ Led went Off, that would indicate a Step decrease. That is a method of using 5 LED indicators instead of 10.

Related to the 10-Step LED display previously mentioned is the ability for fixture and LED array manufacturers to arrange the switching components within an LED array to a 10-Step method. It could be as simple as turning Off every other LED in a fixture array to get 50% dimming, every 3rd LED to get 33% dim, and every 4th LED to get 25% dimming.

If the array of LEDs only allowed for individual switching, then a 10-Step dimming method could be employed that does not use any variable dimming electronics before or after the LED array. This method does sacrifice fixture beam spreads at outer angles while gaining consistent step-dimming performance. It does not require the use of 10 LEDs, just the control aspects.

LEDs can be dimmed using various current methods. If a fixture LED component does not dim below 30% of supplied voltage, then a fixture maker could make an array that combines both individual LED step dimming and total array step dimming. For 50% dimming level, Step 5, a maker could provide the fixture to have all LEDs dim to 50%, or make every other LED Off, or make 1 Led On while 2 LEDs are at 50% combined with 2 LEDs Off; either way, it is that fixture maker’s idea of Step 5 in the Decimal Dimming method. They can then publish an accurate specification for the product.

It is up to the fixture manufacturers to make two identical fixtures working at different voltages to look equal at 30% power. Dimmers providing accurate output worldwide would seem to be a global advantage to a manufacturer.

It may be that a manufacturer will be able to say their product does not dim below Decimal Dimming Step 2, or 20%. Once again, it could simplify the process of testing and specifications.

If the 10-Step Dimming method says all tests for 120 volt fixtures at Step 3 shall receive a sine wave input of 36VAC, then that is what the manufacture’s must use as a 10-Step specification of performance. If Fixture ‘XYZ123’ is fed 36VAC from a Step 3 chip, then the results should be recorded and all fixtures using the DD chip should perform under those exact standards theoretically. The idea is to allow all competing manufacturers to have a common reference, and to give all dimmer manufacturers a common denominator for product performance and construction.

For the fixture manufacturer or lamp maker, it is up to them to create a product that will perform the same under identical 10-Step methods, then let it translate to the marketplace and specifiers who get a more consistent baseline for design considerations.

The ability to use two Decimal Dimming chips back-to-back allows easier translation of one voltage to another. This can be important. One chip translates a voltage to a Step, then transfers the Step to another DD chip, that DD chip then outputs one of 10-Steps in a different voltage form. (Vin>StepOut>StepIn>Vout)

120VAC from a common line dimmer is converted to 10-Steps in the beginning—that Step translates back into another 10-Step chip—that converts the incoming Step to 10VDC—to control a ballast/driver (line voltage dimmer converted to 0-10v LED dimmer).

Another example is where a 120VAC dimmer as an input recalls Step 4, and that Step 4 output is connected to another DD chip Step 4 input which in turn outputs a 277VAC Step 4, or 110.8VAC (a 120v circuit translated to a 277v circuit using the same parts). There could be opportunities to avoid dimming problems involving neutral wire interaction using these methods and voltage amplifiers. The idea is to increase accuracy from one system to another using the 10-Step standard.

On the other hand, lighting sensors designed for lighting fixtures could be more uniform in their applications worldwide with a reduction to ten common steps of dimming, based on a control voltage. It is inherently easier to deal with daylighting systems if there are only 10-Steps of control versus one hundred; there is a simple 10:1 reduction in complexity to start.

Energy managing systems may be able to predict energy use in more simplified terms using 10-Steps for both users and energy providers.

Decimal Dimming could help by simplifying the standard for lighting evaluations. 10 Steps should benefit the lighting industry by at least providing a 10 point metric that all manufacturers can comply with or report specifications regarding lighting devices and fixtures. 2 different manufacturers can make an identical looking fixture, but if it dims then a customer can ask what are the differences at Step 4. Step 4, or 40% can be sold as ‘looking identical’ world-wide. Using the DD Chip assures the same performance, mathematically, to a very great degree.

The main theory behind Decimal Dimming is that it will be cheaper, more accurate, more reliable and more understandable to a wider range of people than variable range dimmers. The simplicity over variable dimmers is a ten to one reduction in complexity of programming and operation. There are 90% less options for a user on purpose in order to provide accuracy over variability; 10 accurate choices, period.

A 10-Step method will facilitate international use as the concept inherently includes multi voltage aspects arranged in 10-Steps. Decimal dimming is both internationally metric, and also biologically suited to ten fingered species who count in base 10.

A key idea driving the development of the Decimal Dimming chip is to own the ability to create a new dimming system based on reliable and predictable electronics. The intent is to own the chip that does the electronic work used by companies worldwide on a daily basis. It is prudent for a company to control the least expensive way to deliver the best product to the most customers.

It is also assumed that the ability to produce the first Decimal Dimming chip with full functions is many years away. There are parts we can assemble today that will do these functions, but to integrate them on a small silicon chip will take some financial doing and dedication. As of today we need to take a breadbox of parts and reduce it to the size of an old fashioned cigarette lighter, a thumb drive or a postage stamp.

Decimal Dimming will not replace smooth linear dimmers already in the market place. The DD chip is not expected to be adopted by every manufacturer worldwide. But from a marketing and production standpoint it is an option that should be given attention because it does have the possibility to drastically open up some markets for a specially driven company and its affiliates. The company to company sales aspects could be very long term and prosperous.

From an electronic stand point the chip offers a tremendous amount of flexibility, as it should. It is engineered to integrate the more common control voltages into a more standard 10-Step format. Multiple voltages can be predictably translated to accommodate all kinds of scientific, commercial, or consumer related devices.

At minimum the DD chip solves for 10-Step control of 0-10VDC ballast and LED drivers. It will easily turn a low voltage signal On and Off from a push button. It reads push buttons and converts a button to as many as ten different voltages. LED drivers can be calibrated based on 10% incremental voltage inputs, and those can be controlled by Decimal Dimmers.

It can work with PWM signals for high speed control, both sending and receiving signals. PWM can directly control LED drivers. The translation of pulse width modulation interacting with the 10-Steps opens up new opportunities for control of LEDs, motors, shades, and other step-controlled devices.

There is a status port to identify what the chip is currently doing. Through basic RS-232 communication an operator can monitor the status of the chip Steps, ranges and modes. The COM port accepts basic commands. Further applications TBD.

The 10-Step outputs (Pins 01-10) can act like a level meter. That applies to all the voltage sections. With Pin 12 grounded the 10-Steps act as a composite graph that activates more than one Step at a time to display levels.

The line level section is a low current voltage generator and reader. It either produces or measures a line level signal. The line level section of the DD chip needs a current amplifier to perform useful work and that is not the scope of the chip. The main aspect of the line voltage section is that it produces ten discreet high quality sine waves for each voltage range. The same section can read an incoming line voltage and activate a proportional 10-Step output connection.

There are two main topic covered in this paper, 10-Step Dimming theory and the DD chip. The 10-Step concept is independent and can apply to mechanical and digital controllers in the electrical world. The DD chip is directly based on the 10-Step concept, and acts as an international voltage generator used with current amplifiers.

It is my belief that the International Decimal Voltage Converter chip and the concept of 10-Step Decimal Dimming as a company strategy should be implemented as an untapped resource.



International Decimal Voltage Converter Outline

 Decimal Dimming chip v07



International Decimal Converter Pin Assignment Functions

 The initial design for the Decimal Dimming chip uses a 28 pin package integrating both high and low voltages. The following is an explanation of the workings of the DD chip, Pin for Pin. This will explain in detail the electrical functions of the Decimal Dimming Chip as described in this paper.

  1.    The 10-Step Section [Pin 1 – 10]
    The Decimal Dimming chip has one connection pin for each of the 10-Steps, Pins 1 through 10. The 10-Step connections can be used as inputs or outputs. There is a Voltage Mode and a 10-Step Mode for the DD chip, with the conversion mode set by another Pin. Basically, the chip is oriented so that the Steps are on one side, and the voltage sections are on the other side of the chip.
    b. In the default 10-Step Mode, when a 10-Step input is selected and latched to ground, the voltage outputs are assigned a proportional level and the voltage is generated. Pins 1-10 chose the proportional decimal output by default. The output is regulated at highest voltage (Step) takes precedence. Only one Step is active at a time normally. In the 10-Step Mode, choosing a 10-Step input generates a proportional decimal output on the voltage sections.
    c. In the 10-Step Mode, activating one of the 10-Steps causes the DD chip to generate a signal from the Status port, PWM output, and the VDC sinking connection. It will also output a voltage based on the Range selected on Pin 24.  The output voltage can be low voltage DC or high voltage AC signal. The voltage output will be on either Pin 21 (VDC><) or Pin 28 (line voltage out); but not both. For example, an input to Step 3 (Ground PIN 3) would simultaneously generate a Status message indicating Step 3 Active, a PWM signal with the ratio 3:7 based on the PWM Reference, 3 of 10 volts sinking, and based on a 120VAC-60Hz setting, and 36VAC on a 120VAC line voltage connection.
    d. If more than one input step is received the highest takes precedence.
    e. While in the default 10-Step Mode, if 120VAC range was selected using Pin 24, then Pin 28 would output 10-Steps with Step 1 being exactly 12VAC, Step 2 is exactly 24VAC, Step 3 is exactly 36VAC, and so on until Step 10 with an output of 120VAC. If the Voltage Range was 277VAC, then Pin 28 would output 27.7VAC for Step 1, and exactly 55.4VAC for Step 2 and so on. The chip accounts for five single phase line voltages, five VDC voltage ranges, and Pulse Width Modulation conversion.
    f. In the Voltage Mode, the 10-Step connections can act as closures to a reference voltage or ground. The input from the voltage section and is translated to the 10-Step connections. When the step is activated by a voltage trigger, it closes a connection from the Ref pin (Pin 11) to the corresponding step connection (Pins 1-10). In this mode the 10-Steps can send a voltage signal to another device indicating the incoming voltage level. If the voltage at Pin 11 (Ref) is a 5VDC signal, then there will be 5VDC at Pin 1 during Step 1, and all other Steps will have no voltage output. During Step 2 there will be 5VDC on Pin 2 and no voltage on any other Step, etc.
    g. In the Voltage Mode, a voltage coming in is translated to a proportional closure from Step 1 to 10. For example, if the incoming voltage on Pin 26 is 120VAC and the input is full On, then the Step 10 connection would be active. If the incoming voltage was lowered to 100VAC, then it would trigger Step 8, meaning the voltage detected was greater than 80% and less than 90% of 120VAC. A 230VAC system would get exactly 115VAC at Step 5 for example. No input voltage detected means no Steps are active.
    h. In the Voltage Mode, only one voltage can be translated at a time. Having more than one voltage at an Input is a violation and not recommended. If the line voltage section (Pin 26) has an input, then no low voltage signals should appear at the inputs to the DD chip. Input to Pins 19-23, and Pin 26 are mutually exclusive and only one input can be active.
    i. Ground Pin 12 to enable the Composite Mode and allow more than one Step active at a time; bargraph mode. The Voltage Mode also allows the 10-Step connections to act in a composite mode that makes the ten connections act as a decimal level indicator or bargraph by activating more than one output step at a time. With a voltage input at 30% of maximum, then Step 3 will allow voltage on Pin 1, 2, and 3 at the same time; creating an array.
    j. Reference voltage from Pin 11 is switched to each Step output from a positive air-gap switching method. No voltage from one Step will leak to another. Closures to Pins 1-10 shall be Break-before-Make type for proper 10-Step operation. Switching will accommodate up to the 347v, single phase switch leg, 100mA maximum; similar to the output of Pin 28 of the DD Chip.
  2. The 10-Step Voltage Driver Section [Pin 11, 12, 13]
    a. Pin 11 (Ref) provides the reference signal that is switched out of Pins 1 through Pin 10 when using the Voltage Mode. As Steps are activated the reference voltage from Pin 11 is routed out the proper decimal output connection. The 10-Step section acts electrically as a 10-pole voltage switcher. Whatever voltage or Ground connection is applied to Pin 11 is switched out of Pins 1-10 when the Step is On. For example, if the input voltage to Pin 26 was 120VAC, then the Reference voltage from Pin 11 could be coming out of Pin 10, or Step 10. If the input voltage was 10% less, or 108VAC, then Pin 9 would be hot and Pin 10 would not. If the input went to 24VAC or 20%, then the Ref output would be on Step 2 and Pin 2. If there was no input to the chip on Pin 26 (source Off) then there would be no output from any 10-Step connections (No Step). As the incoming control voltage changes so will the outgoing Step, but the reference signal on Pin 11 stays the same. (*Note: Pin 11 can accept a variable signal.)
    b. Input voltages on Pin 11 can come from the line voltage connections, 0-48VDC connections, PWM control with a reference frequency, or ground. Grounding Pin 11 is acceptable; the 10-Step section can switch to ground. The voltage path from Pin 11 to Pins 1-10 is rated at 0-400VAC and 0-50VDC.  [Current rating TBD]
    c. Pin 12, when grounded, allows for all Steps to be active at the same time instead of mutually exclusive. In Voltage Mode this allows the 10-Steps to act as a bargraph. For example, if an input voltage was translated to Step 4, Pins 1 through 4 would output the Ref voltage from Pin 11. Pin 12 in the 10-Step Mode is shut Off with no connection.
    d. When the DD chip has Pin 13 grounded, the chip reverts to using the 10-Step connections as outputs and the voltage terminals become inputs. This pin enables Voltage Mode. The ten steps are now closure outputs to the chip when the 10-Step pin is enabled. For example, voltage coming into Pin 26 at 120VAC (set at Pin 24 & 25) is now converted to ten outputs steps (Pins 1-10).
    e. The default is the 10-Step Mode where the DD chip translates 10-Steps out to a voltage. Ground Pin 13 to enable the Voltage Mode. In 10-Step Mode Pin 11 and 12 are disabled and not used.
    f. Voltage Mode allows voltages from the PWM Section, VDC Sourcing, and Line Voltage Section to activate the 10-Steps. Only one voltage input at a time allowed.
    g. Rate of Step change should be minimum 0.05 seconds. Inputs to Steps 1-10 , for example, can be output to digital pulses on Pin 21, VDC> at the rate of 20 per second or greater. This is 10 discreet pulses at 20 per second for low level communication, accurately generated by the DD chip.
  3. The Status Section [Pin 16, 17, 18]
    A. Operation Status Display
    a. [Pin 1-10] Status of 10-Steps (On, Off)
    b. [Pin 12] Composite Mode Status (Std, Comp)
    c. [Pin 13] 10-Step/Voltage Status (10, V)
    d. [Pin 19] Reference Frequency (Clock rate)
    e. [Pin 20] Duty Cycle Status (0:10, 1:9, 2:8..9:1, 10:0)
    f.  [Pin 21] 0-48VDC Output Range (0-48v)
    g. [Pin 23] 0-10VDC Sink Status (0-10v)
    h. [Pin 24] Voltage Range Setting (1-10 or 5-347v)
    i.  [Pin 25] Voltage Hertz (50, 60)
    j.  [Pin 26] Input Voltage (IN volts)
    k. [Pin 28] Output Voltage (OUT volts)
    B. Input commands (TBD)
    a. Activate a Step (1-10)
    b. 10-Step/Voltage Conversion Mode
    c. 0-24VDC Output Range
    d. Line Voltage Range Select (1-10)
    e. Disable RX commands
    C. Disable input commands
    Pin 18 can enable or disable digital incoming communication. Ground this pin to disable the chip from using the serial port to input commands preventing the chip from remote control.
  4. The Pulse Width Modulation Section [Pin 19, 20]
    a. This section of the chip can both generate and receive 10-Steps of dimming applied to PWM devices. There are two Pins on the chip: one for input/output of the pulse width waveforms [20]; and one for determining the base frequency of the output pulse [19]. For example if the reference frequency from a pulse generator to Pin 19 was at 1000Hz, the input or output on Pin 20 would reference this 1000Hz basis.
    b. Pin 19 receives a reference voltage that determines the frequency of the PWM circuit. It calculates the frequency of the pulse width and determines a decimal PWM signal based on 10% increments of this reference frequency. For example if the reference frequency was 1000Hz, Step one, in 10-Step mode,  would output a 10% version of the reference frequency from Pin 19 of (1000Hz * 0.1) of 100Hz. Steps are always 10% of the reference frequency; there are only 10 generated frequencies.
    c. The reference frequency could exceed 100kHz.
    d. In 10-Step Mode, Pin 20 outputs the PWM waveform using Decimal Dimming. Decimal Dimming uses the fixed duty cycles of 1:9, 2:8, 3:7, 4:6, 5:5, 6:4, 7:3, 8:2, 9:1, 10:0. Step 10 makes the pulse a DC signal; full constant voltage. For example, if the Reference signal on Pin 19 was 10kHz, then Step 4 would generate a PWM signal of 4kHz, a 4:6 ratio or 40% of 10kHz.
    e. In Voltage Mode, Pin 20 receives a PWM signal and converts it to 10-Steps. Pin 19 is used as a clock reference to determine the pulse frequency and should be a fixed frequency for normal operation. For example if the reference pulse width frequency (Pin 19) is 1000Hz and the input to Pin 20 is 100Hz then the DD chip would convert that into Step 1 on Pin 01. When the input signal to Pin 20 is raised to 440Hz Step 5 is On. The Step is determined by the relationship between the reference voltage on Pin 19 and the control voltage on Pin 20.
    f. Pin 20 pulse rate should be in sync with clock reference cycles.
    g. No voltage on Pin 20 equals no Step, or Off.
  5. The VDC Input/Output Section [Pin 21, 22]
    a. The DC voltage section uses two pins on the DD chip; Pin 21, 22, for sending and receiving direct current low voltage.
    b. Pin 21 is the port for 0-48v low voltage control.
    Pin 22 is the VDC reference common.
    c. Pin 24 (Vset) is used for Voltage Range selection, Pin 21 for VDC input/output, and Pin 22 (COM) is the VDC common.
    d. The direct current connection (Pin 21) is governed by the VDC range selection for all five DC voltages. This range selection from Pin 24 applies to both the Voltage Mode and the 10-Step Mode.
    e. The VDC connection on Pin 21 should source and deliver up to 48VDC at a low current level. It would require a current amplifier to use this for dimming 24VDC lights or any other larger current demanding device. It can be used to control LED drivers or other devices requiring a low current control voltage.
    f. There is a connection for VDC common on Pin 22 (COM DC)
  6. The 0-10VDC Current Sinking Section [Pin 23]
    a. There are two connections for the use of 0-10VDC current sinking inputs; Pins 22(COM) & 23(VDCs). The port would conform to IEC 60929 and be compatible with all the existing ballasts and LED drivers already in use. At 2mA per device, the 0-10VDC section should be able to sink 50-100mA of current and drive at least 25 standard Mark Vll ballast.
    b. A simple resistive potentiometer connected to Pins 22 and 23 will allow 10-Step control in Voltage Mode.
    c. This is the provision for 0-10VDC Current Sinking for fluorescent ballasts and LED drivers.
    d. Ballast/LED Driver is connected from purple wire (+) to PIN 23 VDCs. Gray wire (-) from Ballast/Driver connects to PIN 22 COM DC for current sinking operation.
    e. 10-Step Mode of the DD chip by default converts the Steps to Volts. Pins 22 & 23 act like a standard 0-10volt dimmer. Grounding PIN 1 will sink the PIN 23 (0-10v) to 1 volt exactly. PIN 5 does 5 volts and PIN 10 sinks 10 volts, full light output. When connected to a dimming LED driver, this allows 10 closures to recall 10 discreet lighting levels, and Off. In 10-Step Mode, Off for the DD chip is ‘control Off’ or ‘no control voltage’. Note the Off, or ‘an open’ will result in Full On to a Mark VII ballast or LED driver.
    f. Voltage Mode of the DD chip, when selected, converts 0-10 volts to 10-Steps; one volt per step. Pins 22 & 23 act like a Mark VII ballast. When PIN 13 is grounded for Voltage Mode, PIN 23 outputs 10 volts to convert current sinking levels to 10-Steps. It will allow a standard 0-10v dimmer currently in use to provide 10 accurate steps of control to Pins 1-10; or 10-Steps of discreet outputs from a variable dimming input.
    g. 0-10VDC current sinking Voltage Mode provides for 10-Step voltage outputs when combined with a Reference voltage on Pin 12 [see 1e].
  7. Range Select [Pin 24]
    a. Pin 24 is used to set both the low voltage direct current range and the single phase line voltage range. When voltage is applied to the pin the DD chip will allow the setting of the line voltage range using the ten input connections (10-Steps).
    b. Pin 24 sets one of five ranges [5, 10, 12, 24, 48 volt] for the VDC voltage, and five ranges for the VAC voltages [100, 120, 230, 277, 347].
    c. To set the range, apply 5VDC to Pin 24, then tap a Step (Pin to Gnd), then remove voltage from Pin 24. Once the range is selected, the voltage is removed from Pin 24 and it is stored in non-volatile memory.
    Step 1 = 0 – 05VDC Range
    Step 2 = 0 – 10VDC
    Step 3 = 0 – 12VDC
    Step 4 = 0 – 24VDC
    Step 5 = 0 – 48VDC
    Step 6 = 0 – 100VAC
    Step 7 = 0 – 120VAC
    Step 8 = 0 – 230VAC
    Step 9 = 0 – 277VAC
    Step 10 = 0 –347VACd. Pin 24 determines the line voltage range and the status will be available on the Pin 16 Status line. Once selected the DD Chip will create 10-Steps based on the defined voltage range. This choice is stored in non-volatile memory and only changed by applying power to Pin 24 again.
    e. Pin 24 is only used when the chip is setting a voltage range.
  8. The Line Voltage Section [Pin 25 – 28]
    a. The line voltage section of the DD chip has connections for the generated line voltage output, neutral, line input, and 50/60Hz frequency selection.
    b. There is a dedicated Line Input and Line Output connection.
    c. Pin 25 selects the AC line voltage frequency. The default is no connection (N/C) and 50 Hertz. Ground Pin 25 to set the VAC range for 60 Hertz. Do this once for most applications.
    d. Pin 26 is the line voltage input connection allowing voltage to be converted to 10-Steps. When the DD chip is in Voltage Mode a control input to this pin will activate the 10-Steps as outputs so an existing voltage dimmer can be converted to 10-Steps.
    e. Pin 27 is the Neutral connection for both input and output voltage.
    f. Pin 28 will generate a low current sine wave at line level.
    g. In the standard 10-Step Mode, the input from 10-Steps (Pins 1-10) generates ten discreet output voltages based on the line voltage. If the reference voltage on Pin 24 & 25 (Range Select and Hz) was 120VAC 60Hz, then Pin 28 (VACout), at 120VAC output will generate one of ten output voltages available from its Decimal Dimming control.
    h. In 10-Step Mode, these high voltage outputs are generated by the DD chip in ten discreet voltage steps. Each voltage range has ten discreet voltage steps that are mathematically calculated the same for every DD chip. This allows uniform dimming control regardless of installation location. These voltages are not high current and are designed for use with current amplifiers or other devices.
    i. Once the voltage range and frequency have been selected, then all 10-Step voltages can be calculated. All output voltages at all ranges can be charted because they are all the same for the DD Chip in all aplications.
  9. Dual Chip Application – Voltage Translator
    a. Two DD Chips back to back allows decimal voltage translation and conversion. A 120VAC input could generate 10-Steps as an output. Those 10-Steps could be linked to another DD chip 10-Steps input, in order to generate 10-Steps of 0-10VDC (sinking) for ‘wall dimmer to LED driver translation. Another example could allow a simple low voltage battery operated device to control a high voltage device. Two chips together allow voltage conversion from one chip to the other, or one voltage to another. The corresponding voltage amplifiers would do the high current work.Decimal Voltage Conversion ChartDecimal Voltage Conversion Chart








Decimal Dimming Chip 10-Step Conversion
Diagram A)

DD Chip 10-Step to 120v














Diagram B)

DD Chip 120v to 10-Step















Diagram C)
Dual DD Chip 10v to 120v

Diagram D)

Dual DD Chip 120v to 277v

2 thoughts on “10-Step Decimal Dimming

    • The DD chip would generate a precise fundamental sinusoidal waveform which is then amplified. For example, Step 3 mandates that at 120VAC the chip shall generate 36VAC output on Pin 28. The external amplifier can boost it to 36VAC at 5 Amps current to control lights.
      If the DD chip sends the fixture exactly 36VAC, then it is up to the fixture to translate that into usable lumens. If the fixture receives an accurate 36VAC and ‘flickers’, then it is the responsibility of the fixture maker to acknowledge such a condition. It is not a problem with the DD chip dimmer.
      At Step 3, the output of a DD chip dimmer would be predictable worldwide. Any fixture manufacturer would know exactly what to expect from a DD chip dimmer during tests.

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