Patent number 8610547 is assigned to
The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "This invention relates generally to transmitters and more particularly concerns a simplified method and apparatus for programming universal radio frequency (RF) transmitters.
"Transmitters are used in a variety of applications in which wireless operation is desired. For example, most garage door openers, gate operators, and rolling shutter systems utilize transmitters to operate the movable barrier associated with the operator, (e.g., to operate the door, gate or shutter). Many of the transmitters supplied with these products are designed as single function, single frequency devices with a preset carrier frequency and use either a switch-selectable code or a preset factory code. Switch-selectable codes are set by the user setting a plurality of switches on the transmitter and the receiver units. Factory-set codes are input into the receiver by causing a controller (e.g., microcontroller or other processor such as a microprocessor, gate array or the like) within the receiver to perform a learn function. The receiver enters the learn mode, then the user activates the transmitter, which transmits a signal representing the factory programmed code stored in the transmitter.
"Over the years, there have been a variety of code formats used for RF transmitters. Many of the commonly used code formats employ a fixed code format that may be set with Dual In-line Package switches (DIP switches), non-volatile memory devices, or the like. Other more secure formats include billion code format in which operators can be programmed to operate upon receipt of an authorized actuation signal which consists of a code that is selected from more than a billion possible codes. More recently, rolling code formats have become widely used in order to offer a greater degree of security.
"Rolling code transmitters are preferred in such applications as remote keyless entry systems, garage door operators, etc. An example of a rolling code generating transmitter of the type described herein is disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 08/873,149 filed
"Fixed code RF transmitters are preferred in such applications as gate operators, which are typically operated by many more users than a garage door operator, because they are easy to program-making it easier to add/program additional transmitters to be used with the gate operator. For example, additional DIP (or fixed) coded RF transmitters can be programmed simply by matching the fixed command code, (e.g., the code identified by the various position of the DIP switches), of the added transmitter to other RF transmitters programmed for operating the gate. This eliminates the need to go through a lengthy programming sequence.
"In addition to the various code formats used, several transmitter manufacturers have developed their own modulation format and have selected their own carrier frequencies for transmitting coded signals. For example, some garage door operator manufacturers transmit actuation signals consisting of packets of ten bit codes at 300 MHZ (Multi-Code), others transmit packets of eight bit or ten bit codes at 310 MHZ (Linear/Moore-O-Matic/Stanley), while still others transmit packets of nine bit, twelve bit, or twenty bit codes at 390 MHz (Genie/Chamberlain).
"Unfortunately, transmitters often stop working, break, become damaged and/or get lost before their respective receivers die out. When this happens, it often becomes necessary to purchase a new transmitter. Most manufacturers who sell products using transmitters offer replacement transmitter units for sale for a period of time. However, as manufacturers improve their products by offering greater functionality, the cost of providing replacement parts for older model units increases and over time makes the manufacture of some transmitters impractical to do. In addition, the aftermarket for replacement transmitters is brisk, which leaves little incentive for a company to fill this gap and provide nothing but replacement transmitters. As a solution to these problems some companies offer universal transmitters for sale which can be used on a variety of products made by a variety of manufacturers.
"In order to operate properly, universal transmitters must be capable of transmitting a plurality of different codes at a plurality of different code modulations and frequencies (or carrier frequencies). These transmitters are often sought after because consumers do not always know what type of transmitter they need, or prefer having the security of knowing that the transmitter they are buying will work with their system. Universal transmitters are also attractive to personnel who install and service movable barrier operators because they reduce the number of transmitters the installers need to stock and reduce the number of transmitters they need to learn how to program and/or operate.
"In order to offer these capabilities, however, the electronic circuits used within the transmitter become more complex, larger and expensive. One drawback to requiring more complex circuitry is that the addition of components can often create RF interference among the other components and/or require redesign of the circuit layout. Similarly, the added electronics often increase the size and expense of the circuit and may require the use of a larger, more expensive microprocessor or controller. Typically, only a portion of the larger controller is used which increases waste and lowers the efficiency of the overall circuit. Another drawback to requiring more complex circuitry is that the transmitter often becomes harder for a user to program. For example, some universal transmitters require the user to perform a lengthy sequence of pressing and releasing the user inputs in order to enter the learn mode and/or program the transmitter. Therefore, designing a universal transmitter which can operate at multiple frequencies for multiple code formats, while making the programing of the transmitter less complicated is the aftermarket supplier's greatest challenge.
"To date, several attempts have been made to provide universal transmitters. One example is U.S. Pat. No. 5,564,101 to Eisfeld et al. which discloses a universal transmitter for use with a garage door opener that allows for a user to program a transmitted modulation format and carrier frequency and transmit a signal corresponding to the selections. This transmitter uses two sets of mechanical DIP switches to select the transmitter code and carrier frequency. Such a configuration requires a larger controller having additional I/O ports, which will make the circuit more complex, increase the overall circuit size, raise costs, and result in making the transmitter more complicated to program.
"U.S. Pat. No. 5,661,804 to Dykema et al. discloses a learning transmitter which can operate a plurality of different receivers employing rolling or encrypted code. No user input is required to learn the code and frequency, other than activating the transmitter to be copied. A single RF circuit, phase locked loop frequency synthesizer and dynamically tunable antenna are provided for learning and transmitting the desired code. Unfortunately, not all transmitters are functional when they are being replaced, so learning transmitters are not always available substitutes. In addition, transmitters which use single multi-frequency transmitter loops to generate signals at a variety of frequencies require additional time to manufacture-due to the increased time required to tune the transmitter loop appropriately-which increases the manufacturing costs and lowers the profitability of the transmitter for the manufacturer.
"While all of these systems are capable of operating a plurality of receivers, each is complex, expensive, and difficult to program. Accordingly, there is a need for a simple, smaller, and less expensive transmitter capable of transmitting a plurality of different codes at a plurality of different modulations and frequencies. There is also a need for a new way of programing a universal transmitter that is less complicated and easier to perform."
In addition to the background information obtained for this patent, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "A universal transmitter disclosed herein is capable of transmitting a plurality of signals at a plurality of different modulations and frequencies, and provides a simplified programming setup so that multiple signal configurations (including code format, modulation format and frequency) can be programed quickly and easily. The transmitter comprises a signal configuration input which an operator can use to select a desired signal configuration for transmission, a controller for interpreting the selected signal configuration, storing it to memory, retrieving it when the appropriate user input is depressed, and outputting it to a transmitter circuit capable of transmitting the selected signal configuration received from the controller at a predetermined modulation and frequency, and at least one user input for actuating the transmitter and identifying to the controller what signal configuration is to be transmitted by the transmitter.
"The universal transmitter operator (or user) can store and transmit a plurality of signal configurations at a plurality of modulations and frequencies by simply placing the transmitter into a learn mode, adjusting the signal configuration input to a desired first signal configuration, selecting a user input with which the first signal configuration is to be associated so that the controller can retrieve and transmit the desired first signal configuration when operated, and storing the first signal configuration to memory so that the stored first signal configuration can be recalled and transmitted by the transmitter every time the user input associated with that signal is actuated. Once the transmitter is out of the learn mode and the user selects the user input associated with the stored first signal configuration, the controller will retrieve the stored first signal configuration from its memory location and transmit the signal specified by the stored first signal configuration settings at its appropriate code modulation and frequency.
"A second signal configuration can be programmed by simply placing the transmitter back into learn mode, re-adjusting the signal configuration input to a desired second signal configuration, selecting a user input with which the second signal configuration is to be associated, and storing the second signal configuration to memory so that the stored second signal configuration can be recalled and transmitted by the transmitter every time the user input associated with that signal is actuated. Once the transmitter is out of the learn mode and the user selects the user input associated with the stored second signal configuration, the controller will retrieve the stored second signal configuration from its memory location and transmit the signal specified by the stored second signal configuration settings at its appropriate code modulation and frequency.
"More particularly, the universal transmitter may include user inputs consisting of multi-position switches for identifying the signal configuration (e.g., the transmitter type, security code, code modulation, frequency, etc.), a controller for reading the multi-position switch settings, determining the selected signal configuration, storing the selected signal configuration into memory, and outputting the selected signal configuration with the appropriate code and at the appropriate modulation, a transmitter circuit for transmitting the signal configuration at the appropriate modulation and frequency, and a user input for actuating the transmitter and identifying to the controller what signal configuration is to be transmitted and at what modulation and frequency. The user input may be a DIP switch capable of identifying the transmitter type and security code format for the actuation signal. According to the preferred embodiment, two multi-position DIP switches may be used, with one being used for selecting what type of manufacturer's transmitter is to be emulated and another being used for selecting what type of security code is to be transmitted by the transmitter. The transmitter type selection indicates to the controller what type of code modulation and frequency the actuation signal is to be transmitted at, (e.g., is it suppose to operate as manufacturer A's transmitter at 300 MHZ, manufacturer B's transmitter at 310 MHZ, manufacturer C's transmitter at 390 MHZ, etc.). The security code switch indicates to the controller what logic sequence makes up the actuation signal, (e.g., what string of bits or bit sequence should be transmitted).
"Once a user input has been actuated, the universal transmitter's controller will determine whether the transmitter has been placed into a learn mode or whether normal operation has been specified. When in the learn mode, the controller will determine which user input (e.g., pushbutton input) has been selected by the user and will store the signal configuration selected via the multi-position switch settings into a memory location associated with that particular user input. A user can store another signal configuration by simply placing the transmitter back into learn mode and re-adjusting the signal configuration input to the desired additional signal configuration. The controller will determine which user input has been depressed and will store the signal configuration selected via the multi-position switch settings into a memory location associated with that particular user input. This routine may be repeated until all the desired signal configurations have been programmed, until all the memory locations are full, or until all the user inputs have been assigned a desired signal configuration.
"When in the normal operation mode, the controller will determine which user input has been actuated by the user and will retrieve the signal configuration stored at the memory location associated with the depressed input. The controller interprets the signal configuration retrieved from memory and outputs the stored code to transmitter circuitry capable of transmitting the signal specified by the stored signal configuration settings at the appropriate code modulation and frequency so that a receiver actuation signal will be generated. The transmitter circuitry may include a tunable transmitter loop capable of transmitting at a variety of frequencies, or may include separate transmitter loops each capable of generating signals at different frequencies. According to the preferred embodiment, separate transmitter loops are used and the controller interprets the signal configuration retrieved from memory and outputs the signal to the transmitter loop circuitry capable of transmitting the signal at the appropriate code modulation and frequency."
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Keywords for this news article include: Electronics, Microprocessors,
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