News Column

Patent Application Titled "Switch for Multi-Function Control of a Thermostat" Published Online

July 23, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Electronics Newsweekly -- According to news reporting originating from Washington, D.C., by VerticalNews journalists, a patent application by the inventors Moore, Glenn A. (Geneva, IL); Poplawski, Daniel S. (Oswego, IL); Soderlund, Ernest E. (Hampshire, IL), filed on March 5, 2014, was made available online on July 10, 2014.

The assignee for this patent application is Braeburn Systems Llc.

Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Thermostats typically have multiple functions that require user input, such as setting time of day, day of week, programming temperature set points or programming user settings.

"Control panels typically include an assortment of buttons for operating the thermostat and adjusting the settings. Adjustment of the settings using the assortment of buttons can often times be confusing to the user and require detailed review of user manuals and instruction guides in order to properly operate the thermostat and adjust the settings to the user's liking.

"In some cases a liquid crystal display (LCD) may he provided that includes touch pads populated on the display screen. The touch pad may include numerals, word phrases or graphics (collectively, 'icons') that appear on the display screen. By touching the appropriate icon, the user can make adjustments to the functioning of the thermostat and activate specific modes of operation or make setting adjustments. Some display screens include so many icons that is difficult for the user to find the appropriate icon. Also when multiple icons are displayed on a screen so that the maximum number of functions may be identified via the icons on the single screen, the size of each individual icon may tend be small. Due to the small size of the icon buttons displayed on the screen and the over-population of the display screen with multiple icon buttons, it can be very difficult for a user to operate such a thermostat.

"Some thermostats are known to have mechanical buttons or switches ('hard buttons'). Such hard buttons are commonly used in combination with touch pads ('soft buttons') on a LCD. For example, thermostats are known that have an 'UP' button pad and a 'DOWN' button pad disposed within two apertures formed in the face of a housing, and being the only hard buttons provided by the thermostat. Such buttons have a flexible arm interconnecting each of the buttons. The arm is mounted behind the housing and cannot be touched or viewed by a user when the thermostat housing is assembled. The flexible arm provides for movement of the two button pads. Some thermostats have multiple hard buttons on different portions of the thermostat housing. The use of the hard buttons can be confusing to a user when there are multiple buttons populating the thermostat housing. Further, when the thermostat includes multiple hard buttons and multiple touch pads on a display screen the interaction and combination of usage of such hard buttons and soft buttons can be confusing to a user. In such cases the proper combination of when to use the hard button in combination with the soft button and the proper coordination and sequencing of the use of the hard and soft buttons can raise the level of complexity for a user beyond that which is comprehendible and such complexity may prevent the proper programming or operation of the thermostat. The present invention overcomes many of the above mentioned disadvantages of previously known thermostats."

In addition to obtaining background information on this patent application, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "A thermostat is provided that includes a microprocessor for controlling a HVAC system using multiple modes of operation comprising a housing for enclosing a circuit board and encasing a display screen. A rocker switch is mounted in the housing adjacent to the display screen. The rocker switch may include a bar having a first end and a second end, so that the bar may rock between a first position where the first end is depressed and second position where the second end is depressed. The thermostat further comprises a first receptor mounted on the circuit board adjacent the first end and a second receptor mounted on the circuit board adjacent the second end. The first and second receptors may signal the microprocessor in order to adjust a first and second alpha-numeric icon represented on the display screen during at least a first and second mode of operation of the thermostat. During the first mode of operation moving the rocker switch to the first or second position will cause an adjustment of the first icon in relation to the first mode of operation. During the second mode of operation, moving the rocker switch to the first or second position will cause an adjustment of the first or second icon in relation to the second mode of operation.

"In an embodiment, the first mode of operation comprises one of adjusting the temperature setting, time of day setting, day of week setting, programming a set point time, installer setting configuration or user setting. In an embodiment, the second mode of operation comprises one of adjusting the temperature setting, time of day setting, clay of week setting, programming set point time, installer setting configuration or user setting. In an embodiment, the first mode is different from the second mode. In an embodiment, the second mode of operation set point is adjusted by the first actuator contacting the first receptor.

"In an embodiment, the display screen may include an icon representing one of a programming, configuration, system, fan, hold, day, time, clean, humidity, outdoor, installer or user modes. In an embodiment, the rocker switch may select one of a residential, commercial, programming, system type, set point lower limit, set point upper limit, compressor balance point, auxiliary heat balance point or service filter monitor modes. In an embodiment, the rocker switch may adjust one of a time, day, temperature, fan or humidity value.

"In an embodiment, the first receptor may be a shorting finger on the circuit board. In an embodiment, the first position may increment the set point of the first mode of operation. In an embodiment, the second position may decrement the set point of the first mode of operation.

"In an embodiment, the housing may include a pocket and the rocker switch is mounted within the pocket so that the bar may be rocked therein. In an embodiment, the pocket may include a first aperture and the first actuator extends from the bar through the first aperture to the first receptor, the second actuator may extend from the bar through the first aperture to the second aperture and the pivot member may extend from the bar through the first aperture to the circuit board.

"In an embodiment, the display screen may include a first icon and upon depressing the first or second end of the bar, the first icon on the display is adjusted in order to reflect adjustment of a set point. In an embodiment, the first icon may be a numeric and the adjustment by depressing the bar either decrements or increments the numeric. In an embodiment, the first icon is a graphical display.

"In an embodiment, the display screen may include a touch pad for selecting the first mode of operation and the second mode of operation and the rocker switch may adjust set points for the modes selected by the touch pad. In an embodiment, the display screen may include a first touch pad for selecting the first mode of operation wherein the bar is depressed to adjust a set point to a first value for the first mode of operation and a first icon on the display is adjusted to reflect the first value. A second touch pad may be provided by the display screen and at least one of the first touch pad or the second touch pad is activated to select the second mode of operation wherein the bar is depressed to adjust a set point to a second value for the second mode of operation and a second icon on the display is adjusted to reflect the second value. In an embodiment, the first and second icons are displayed simultaneously on the display. In an embodiment, the first value is interdependent on the second value. In an embodiment, continuously depressing on the bar will cause the first or second value to sequentially decrement or increment until the bar is released.

"In an embodiment, multiple icons may displayed on the display screen simultaneously and upon activation of the touch pad the first icon is modified to indicate that it is the icon being adjusted while the other icons remain unchanged. In an embodiment, following a flashing display of the first icon and depression of the bar, the flashing is deactivated and the first icon is adjusted to reflect the first value. In an embodiment, the first and second touch pads may be activated simultaneously in order to select the first mode of operation. In an embodiment, the first touch pad may allow for selection of both the first and second mode of operation. In an embodiment, the display screen may be an LCD segmented screen.

"While the foregoing provides a general explanation of the subject invention, a better understanding of the objects, advantages, features, properties and relationships of the subject invention will be obtained from the following detailed description and accompanying drawings which set forth an illustrative embodiment which is indicative of the various ways in which the principle of the subject invention may be employed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"For a better understanding of the subject invention, reference may be had to embodiments shown in the attached drawings in which:

"FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of an embodiment of a thermostat of the present invention;

"FIG. 2 is a side elevation section view taken at line 2-2 from FIG. 1;

"FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the thermostat of FIG. 1 with the upper housing removed;

"FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the bottom of the upper housing of the thermostat of FIG. 1;

"FIG. 5 is an enlarged perspective view of the upper housing depicted in FIG. 4;

"FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram of the present invention;

"FIGS. 7-18 are diagrammatic views of the display screen of embodiments of the present invention illustrating examples of operation of the present invention."

For more information, see this patent application: Moore, Glenn A.; Poplawski, Daniel S.; Soderlund, Ernest E. Switch for Multi-Function Control of a Thermostat. Filed March 5, 2014 and posted July 10, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=1631&p=33&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140703.PD.&OS=PD/20140703&RS=PD/20140703

Keywords for this news article include: Electronics, Circuit Board, Microprocessors, Braeburn Systems Llc.

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Source: Electronics Newsweekly


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