Great research starts with great data.

Learn More
More >
Patent Analysis of

Lighting circuit and vehicle lamp

Updated Time 12 June 2019

Patent Registration Data

Publication Number

US10000150

Application Number

US15/686520

Application Date

25 August 2017

Publication Date

19 June 2018

Current Assignee

KOITO MANUFACTURING CO., LTD.

Original Assignee (Applicant)

KOITO MANUFACTURING CO., LTD.

International Classification

B60Q1/14,H05B33/08,H05B37/02

Cooperative Classification

B60Q1/1415,B60Q2300/45,B60Q2300/42,B60Q1/1423

Inventor

MURAMATSU, TAKAO,KIKUCHI, SATOSHI

Patent Images

This patent contains figures and images illustrating the invention and its embodiment.

US10000150 Lighting circuit vehicle lamp 1 US10000150 Lighting circuit vehicle lamp 2 US10000150 Lighting circuit vehicle lamp 3
See all images <>

Abstract

A lighting circuit drives a light source including plural light emitting elements and includes a bypass switch circuit which includes plural bypass switches connected in parallel with the plural light emitting elements, a boost converter which boosts a power supply voltage to generate a direct current voltage stabilized at a variable target voltage, a buck converter which receives the direct current voltage to supply a driving current stabilized at a target current to the light source and which includes a hysteresis controller configured to stabilize the driving current between a peak value and a bottom value and to change a difference between the peak value and the bottom value such a switching frequency of the buck converter approaches a constant value, and a voltage adjusting circuit which is configured to dynamically change the target voltage of the boost converter according to an output voltage of the buck converter.

Read more

Claims

1. A lighting circuit configured to drive a light source including a plurality of light emitting elements connected in series, the lighting circuit comprising: a bypass switch circuit which includes a plurality of bypass switches, each being connected in parallel with corresponding light emitting element of the plurality of light emitting elements; a boost converter which is configured to boost a power supply voltage to generate a direct current voltage stabilized at a variable target voltage; a buck converter which is configured to receive the direct current voltage to supply a driving current stabilized at a target current to the light source and which includes a hysteresis controller, wherein the hysteresis controller is configured to stabilize the driving current between a peak value and a bottom value which are defined in proximity to the target current and to change a difference between the peak value and the bottom value such that a switching frequency of the buck converter approaches a constant value; and a voltage adjusting circuit which is configured to dynamically change the target voltage of the boost converter according to an output voltage of the buck converter.

2. The lighting circuit according to claim 1, wherein the voltage adjusting circuit is configured to change the target voltage such that a difference between the target voltage of the boost converter and the output voltage of the buck converter does not exceed or approaches a predetermined value.

3. The lighting circuit according to claim 1, wherein the voltage adjusting circuit is configured to change the target voltage faster at rise of the output voltage of the buck converter than at fall of the output voltage of the buck converter.

4. The lighting circuit according to claim 1, wherein the voltage adjusting circuit is configured to change the target voltage in a time shorter than a control period of the bypass switch circuit when the output voltage of the buck converter rises.

5. The lighting circuit according to claim 1, wherein the voltage adjusting circuit is configured to change the target voltage changes in a time longer than a control period of the bypass switch circuit when the output voltage of the buck converter falls.

6. The lighting circuit according to claim 5, wherein the voltage adjusting circuit is configured to change the target voltage in a time longer than three times of the control period of the bypass switch circuit when the output voltage of the buck converter falls.

7. The lighting circuit according to claim 1, wherein the voltage adjusting circuit includes a peak hold circuit which is configured to receive an output detection voltage corresponding to the output voltage of the buck converter, and the target voltage is corresponding to an output voltage of the peak hold circuit.

8. The lighting circuit according to claim 1, wherein the voltage adjusting circuit includes: a diode which is configured to receive an output detection voltage corresponding to the output voltage of the buck converter at an anode thereof; a first resistor which is provided between a cathode of the diode and a ground; a capacitor which includes one end grounded; and a second resistor which is provided between the other end of the capacitor and the cathode of the diode, and wherein the target voltage is set according to a voltage of the capacitor.

9. The lighting circuit according to claim 1, wherein the voltage adjusting circuit includes: an analogue to digital (A/D) converter which is configured to convert an output detection voltage corresponding to the output voltage of the buck converter into a digital value; a peak detection circuit which is configured to generate a peak detection signal representing a peak of the digital value; a filter which is configured to receive the peak detection signal and has a faster responsiveness in a rising direction and a slower responsiveness in a falling direction; and a digital to analogue (D/A) converter which is configured to convert an output signal of the filter into an analog voltage, and wherein the target voltage is set according to the analog voltage.

10. The lighting circuit according to claim 1, further comprising: a light distribution controller which is configured to control the plurality of bypass switches according to a desired light distribution pattern, wherein the voltage adjusting circuit is configured to control the target voltage based on a voltage between both ends of the light source estimated from ON/OFF states of the plurality of bypass switches.

11. The lighting circuit according to claim 1, wherein the lighting circuit is configured to drive a plurality of light sources and includes a plurality of buck converters corresponding to the plurality of light sources, respectively, and wherein the voltage adjusting circuit is configured to change the target voltage according to a highest voltage among output voltages of the plurality of buck converters.

12. A vehicle lamp comprising: a light source including a plurality of light emitting elements connected in series; and the lighting circuit according to claim 1 configured to drive the light source.

Read more

Claim Tree

  • 1
    1. A lighting circuit configured to drive a light source including
    • a plurality of light emitting elements connected in series, the lighting circuit comprising: a bypass switch circuit which includes a plurality of bypass switches, each being connected in parallel with corresponding light emitting element of the plurality of light emitting elements
    • a boost converter which is configured to boost a power supply voltage to generate a direct current voltage stabilized at a variable target voltage
    • a buck converter which is configured to receive the direct current voltage to supply a driving current stabilized at a target current to the light source and which includes a hysteresis controller, wherein the hysteresis controller is configured to stabilize the driving current between a peak value and a bottom value which are defined in proximity to the target current and to change a difference between the peak value and the bottom value such that a switching frequency of the buck converter approaches a constant value
    • and a voltage adjusting circuit which is configured to dynamically change the target voltage of the boost converter according to an output voltage of the buck converter.
    • 2. The lighting circuit according to claim 1, wherein
      • the voltage adjusting circuit is configured to change the target voltage such that a difference between the target voltage of the boost converter and the output voltage of the buck converter does not exceed or approaches a predetermined value.
    • 3. The lighting circuit according to claim 1, wherein
      • the voltage adjusting circuit is configured to change the target voltage faster at rise of the output voltage of the buck converter than at fall of the output voltage of the buck converter.
    • 4. The lighting circuit according to claim 1, wherein
      • the voltage adjusting circuit is configured to change the target voltage in a time shorter than a control period of the bypass switch circuit when the output voltage of the buck converter rises.
    • 5. The lighting circuit according to claim 1, wherein
      • the voltage adjusting circuit is configured to change the target voltage changes in a time longer than a control period of the bypass switch circuit when the output voltage of the buck converter falls.
    • 7. The lighting circuit according to claim 1, wherein
      • the voltage adjusting circuit includes a peak hold circuit which is configured to receive an output detection voltage corresponding to the output voltage of the buck converter, and the target voltage is corresponding to an output voltage of the peak hold circuit.
    • 8. The lighting circuit according to claim 1, wherein
      • the voltage adjusting circuit includes: a diode which is configured to receive an output detection voltage corresponding to the output voltage of the buck converter at an anode thereof; a first resistor which is provided between a cathode of the diode and a ground; a capacitor which includes one end grounded; and a second resistor which is provided between the other end of the capacitor and the cathode of the diode, and wherein
    • 9. The lighting circuit according to claim 1, wherein
      • the voltage adjusting circuit includes: an analogue to digital (A/D) converter which is configured to convert an output detection voltage corresponding to the output voltage of the buck converter into a digital value; a peak detection circuit which is configured to generate a peak detection signal representing a peak of the digital value; a filter which is configured to receive the peak detection signal and has a faster responsiveness in a rising direction and a slower responsiveness in a falling direction; and a digital to analogue (D/A) converter which is configured to convert an output signal of the filter into an analog voltage, and wherein
    • 10. The lighting circuit according to claim 1, further comprising:
      • a light distribution controller which is configured to control the plurality of bypass switches according to a desired light distribution pattern, wherein the voltage adjusting circuit is configured to control the target voltage based on a voltage between both ends of the light source estimated from ON/OFF states of the plurality of bypass switches.
    • 11. The lighting circuit according to claim 1, wherein
      • the lighting circuit is configured to drive a plurality of light sources and includes a plurality of buck converters corresponding to the plurality of light sources, respectively, and wherein
  • 12
    12. A vehicle lamp comprising:
    • a light source including a plurality of light emitting elements connected in series
    • and the lighting circuit according to claim 1 configured to drive the light source.
See all independent claims <>

Description

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims the benefit of priority of Japanese Patent Application No. 2016-164836, filed on Aug. 25, 2016, the content of which is incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to a lamp for an automobile or the like.

BACKGROUND

A vehicle lamp can generally switch between a low beam and a high beam. The low beam provides a predetermined illumination for a nearby area and has light distribution designed to not give glare to an oncoming vehicle or a preceding vehicle. The low beam is mainly used when driving in urban areas. On the other hand, the high beam provides a bright illumination for a front wide area and a distant area. The high beam is mainly used when driving at high speed on a road with few oncoming vehicles or preceding vehicles. Therefore, although the high beam gives better visibility to a driver than the low beam does, the high beam would give glare to a driver of a preceding vehicle or a pedestrian in front of the vehicle (for example, JP-A-2015-153657).

In recent years, Adaptive Driving Beam (ADB) technique has been proposed which dynamically and adaptively controls a light distribution pattern of a high beam based on conditions surrounding the vehicle. The ADB technique reduces glare to a vehicle or a pedestrian by detecting presence of a preceding vehicle, an oncoming vehicle or a pedestrian in front of the vehicle and reducing light of an area corresponding to the detected vehicle or pedestrian.

A vehicle lamp with an ADB function will be described. FIGS. 1A and 1B are block diagrams of a vehicle lamp with the ADB function according to comparative technique. The comparative technique should not be recognized as a prior art.

Referring to FIG. 1A, a vehicle lamp 1R includes a light source 2 and a lighting circuit 20R. A high beam illumination area of the ADB is divided into N sub-areas (N is a natural number equal to or more than 2). The light source 2 includes a plurality of light emitting elements 3_1 to 3_N corresponding to the N sub-areas, respectively. Each light emitting element 3 is a semiconductor device, such as a Light Emitting Diode (LED) or a Laser Diode (LD), and is disposed to illuminate the corresponding sub-area.

The lighting circuit 20R receives a power supply voltage VBAT from a battery 4 and changes a light distribution of the high beam by individually controlling ON (lighting-on) and OFF (lighting-off) of each of the light emitting elements 3_1 to 3_N. Further, the lighting circuit 20R adjusts an effective luminance by controlling a current ILAMP flowing into the light emitting element 3 by Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) at high frequency.

The lighting circuit 20R includes a boost-buck converter 22, a bypass switch circuit 24, and a light distribution controller 26. The boost-buck converter 22 is a constant current converter which generates an output current ILAMP stabilized at a target value IREF to be supplied to the light source 2.

The bypass switch circuit 24 includes a plurality of bypass switches 28_1 to 28_N corresponding to the plurality of light emitting elements 3_1 to 3_N. Each bypass switch 28_i is connected in parallel with the corresponding light emitting element 3. When the bypass switch 28_i is off, the driving current ILAMP flows into the corresponding light emitting element 3_i such that the light emitting element 3_i lights on. When the bypass switch 28_i is on, the driving current ILAMP flows into the bypass switch 28_i such that the corresponding light emitting element 3_i lights off.

The light distribution controller 26 controls ON/OFF of the plurality of bypass switches 28_1 to 28_N based on a light distribution pattern. Further, the light distribution controller 26 controls the plurality of bypass switches 28_1 to 28_N individually by PWM to perform PWM dimming of the plurality of light emitting elements 3_1 to 3_N.

Assuming the driving current ILAMP flows into M light emitting elements among the plurality of light emitting elements 3_1 to 3_N (0≤M≤N), a voltage between both ends of the light source 2, i.e., an output voltage VOUT of the boost-buck converter 22, is M×VF. Here, for ease of understanding, a forward voltage VF of the light emitting element 3 is assumed to be uniform. Therefore, the output voltage VOUT of the boost-buck converter 22 varies by time based on the combination of ON and OFF of the plurality of bypass switches 28_1 to 28_N.

As described above, the boost-buck converter 22 can be regarded as a constant current source which generates the constant driving current ILAMP. It is noted that the boost-buck converter 22 does not actively change the output voltage VOUT. The output voltage VOUT changes as a result of dynamical changing of the combined impedance of the light source 2 and the bypass switch circuit 24, i.e., the load impedance of the boost-buck converter 22.

Referring to FIG. 1B, a lighting circuit 20S includes a boost converter 30 and a buck converter 32 connected in series in place of the boost-buck converter 22 of FIG. 1A. When VF=5 V and N=12, the voltage between both ends of the light source 2 varies dynamically from 0 to 60V. The boost converter 30 is a constant voltage converter which stabilizes an output direct current voltage VDC at a voltage level higher than the maximum value 60V of the voltage between both ends of the light source 2. The buck converter 32 has a constant current output similar to that of the boost-buck converter 22 of FIG. 1A and stabilizes the current ILAMP of the light source 2 at a predetermined target value.

After examining the lighting circuit 20S of FIG. 1B, the inventors have recognized the following problems. That is, since the frequency of the PWM dimming performed by the bypass switch circuit 24 is several hundreds of Hz, the load impedance of the buck converter 32 also changes at several hundreds of Hz. In order to realize such high-speed responsiveness, it is necessary to perform hysteresis control (Bang-Bang control) in the buck converter 32. FIG. 2 is a circuit diagram of the buck converter 32 with the hysteresis control.

The buck converter 32 includes an output circuit 40 and a hysteresis controller 50. The output circuit 40 includes an input capacitor C1, a switching transistor M1, a rectifier diode D1, an inductor L1, and a current sense resistor RCS.

In the hysteresis control, an upper limit current IUPPER and a bottom limit current IBOTTOM are defined in proximity to a target value IREF of the driving current ILAMP which is a control object. The switching transistor turns off when the driving current ILAMP (coil current IL) reaches the upper limit current IUPPER, and the switching transistor turns on when the driving current ILAMP falls to the bottom limit current IBOTTOM, and this cycle is repeated.

The hysteresis controller 50 includes a current detection circuit 52, a hysteresis comparator 54, and a driver 56. The current sense resistor RCS is provided on a path of the driving current ILAMP. A voltage drop proportional to the driving current ILAMP is generated between both ends of the current sense resistor RCS. The current detection circuit 52 generates a current detection signal VCS corresponding to the voltage drop of the current sense resistor RCS. The hysteresis comparator 54 compares the current detection signal VCS with an upper threshold VTHH corresponding to the upper limit current IUPPER and a bottom threshold VTHL corresponding to the bottom limit current IBOTTOM, and generates a control pulse SCNT corresponding to the comparison results. The driver 56 drives the switching transistor M1 according to the control pulse SCNT.

FIG. 3 is an operation waveform diagram of the buck converter 32 of FIG. 2. In a section where the control pulse SCNT is at an ON level (for example, a high level), the switching transistor M1 is on, and in a section where the control pulse SCNT is at an OFF level (for example, a low level), the switching transistor M1 is off. When the switching transistor M1 is on, a voltage between both ends of the inductor L1 is VIN−VOUT. Therefore, the coil current IL flowing into the inductor L1 (i.e., the driving current ILAMP) rises with a slope of (VIN−VOUT)/L1. When the switching transistor M1 is off, a voltage between both ends of the inductor L1 is −VOUT. Therefore, the coil current IL (i.e., the driving current ILAMP) falls with a slope of −VOUT/L1.

The ON time TON and OFF time TOFF of the switching transistor M1 are given by equations (1) and (2).

TON=ΔI/{(VIN−VOUT)/L1}  (1)

TOFF=ΔI/(VOUT/L1)  (2)

ΔI is a hysteresis width (ripple width) of the coil current IL, that is, the difference between a peak value IUPPER a and a bottom value IBOTTOM. ΔI is proportional to the difference ΔV between the upper threshold signal VTHH and the bottom threshold signal VTHL as shown in the following equation.

ΔI=ΔV/RCS

In the vehicle lamp 1S of FIG. 1B, although an input voltage VIN (VDC) of the buck converter 32 remains constant, the output voltage VOUT fluctuates dynamically with the PWM control of the bypass switch circuit 24. The switching period TON+TOFF of the switching transistor M1, i.e. switching frequency fSW, fluctuates with the output voltage VOUT, which makes it difficult to deal with electromagnetic noise.

SUMMARY

The present invention has been made in view of the above circumstances, and an aspect of the present invention provides a vehicle lamp capable of suppressing frequency fluctuation of a switching converter.

An aspect of the present invention provides a lighting circuit configured to drive a light source including a plurality of light emitting elements connected in series. The lighting circuit includes a bypass switch circuit, a boost converter, a buck converter, and a voltage adjusting circuit. The bypass switch circuit includes a plurality of bypass switches, each of which is connected in parallel with corresponding light emitting element of the plurality of light emitting elements. The boost converter is configured to boost a power supply voltage to generate a direct current voltage stabilized at a variable target voltage. The buck converter is configured to receive the direct current voltage to supply a driving current stabilized at a target current to the light source. The buck converter includes a hysteresis controller of a hysteresis control method. The hysteresis controller is configured to stabilize the driving current between a peak value and a bottom value which are defined in proximity to the target current and to change a difference between the peak value and the bottom value such that a switching frequency of the buck converter approaches a constant value. The voltage adjusting circuit is configured to dynamically change the target voltage of the boost converter according to an output voltage of the buck converter.

According to the above configuration, the output voltage of the buck converter can follow high speed load variation by using the hysteresis control. Further, since the switching frequency can be stabilized by controlling the difference between the peak value and the bottom value, the noise specs can be cleared.

When the input voltage of the buck converter remains constant and the switching frequency is stabilized, the difference between the input voltage and the output voltage of the buck converter may become large. In this case, in order to reduce the coil current and thus reduce a fluctuation width (ripple width) of the driving current, it is necessary to select a component with a large inductance and thus a large-size component as the inductor (coil). Regarding this problem, the difference between the input voltage and the output voltage of the buck converter can be reduced, thus the ripple width with respect to the same inductance value can be reduced and a small inductor can be selected accordingly in the above configuration.

The voltage adjusting circuit may be configured to change the target voltage such that a difference between the target voltage of the boost converter and the output voltage of the buck converter does not exceed or approaches a predetermined value.

Thus, the voltage between both ends of the inductor of the buck converter can be kept at a predetermined value, and the size of the inductor can be reduced by reducing the predetermined value.

The voltage adjusting circuit may be configured to change the target voltage faster at rise of the output voltage of the buck converter than at fall of the output voltage of the buck converter. Thus, the control of the buck converter can be prevented from being unstable.

The voltage adjusting circuit may be configured to change the target voltage in a time shorter than a control period of the bypass switch circuit when the output voltage of the buck converter rises. Thus, the insufficiency of the output voltage (the voltage between both ends of the light source) of the buck converter, and the decrease in the luminance of the light source can be suppressed.

The voltage adjusting circuit may be configured to change the target voltage in a time shorter than ½ of the control period of the bypass switch circuit when the output voltage of the buck converter rises.

The voltage adjusting circuit may be configured to change the target voltage in a time longer than the control period of the bypass switch circuit when the output voltage of the buck converter falls. Thus, the oscillation of the buck converter can be suppressed.

The voltage adjusting circuit may be configured to change the target voltage in a time longer than three times of the control period of the bypass switch circuit when the output voltage of the buck converter falls.

The voltage adjusting circuit includes a peak hold circuit which is configured to receive an output detection voltage corresponding to the output voltage of the buck converter. The target voltage may be corresponding to the output voltage of the peak hold circuit. Thus, the target voltage can be controlled by a simple analog circuit.

The voltage adjusting circuit includes a diode which is configured to receive an output detection voltage corresponding to the output voltage of the buck converter at an anode thereof, a first resistor which is provided between a cathode of the diode and a ground, a capacitor which includes one end grounded, and a second resistor which is provided between the other end of the capacitor and the cathode of the diode. The target voltage may be set according to the voltage of the capacitor.

The voltage adjusting circuit includes an A/D converter which is configured to convert the output detection voltage corresponding to the output voltage of the buck converter into a digital value, a peak detection circuit which is configured to generate a peak detection signal representing a peak of the digital value, a filter which is configured to receive the peak detection signal and has a faster responsiveness in a rising direction and a slower responsiveness in a falling direction, and a D/A converter which is configured to convert an output signal of the filter into an analog voltage. The voltage adjusting circuit may set the target voltage according to the analog voltage.

The lighting circuit may further include a light distribution controller which is configured to control the plurality of bypass switches according to a desired light distribution pattern. The voltage adjusting circuit may be configured to control the target voltage based on a voltage between both ends of the light source estimated from ON/OFF states of the plurality of bypass switches. Response delay can be suppressed by the feed forward control based on the estimated value of the voltage between both ends of the light source.

The lighting circuit may be configured to drive a plurality of light sources and include a plurality of buck converters corresponding to the plurality of light sources. The voltage adjusting circuit may be configured to change the target voltage according to a highest voltage among output voltages of the plurality of buck converters. Thus, one boost converter can be shared by the plurality of buck converters, and the circuit scale can be reduced.

Another aspect of the present invention provides a vehicle lamp. The vehicle lamp includes a light source including a plurality of light emitting elements connected in series and the above-described lighting circuits for driving the light source.

Any combination of the above constituent elements, and the constituent elements and expressions substituted in methods, apparatus, systems, or the like are also effective as aspects of the present invention.

According to an aspect of the present invention, the frequency fluctuation of the switching converter can be suppressed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above and other aspects of the present invention will become more apparent and more readily appreciated from the following description of illustrative embodiments of the present invention taken in conjunction with the attached drawings, in which:

FIGS. 1A and 1B are block diagrams of a vehicle lamp with an ADB function according to comparative technique;

FIG. 2 is a circuit diagram of a buck converter with hysteresis control;

FIG. 3 is an operation waveform diagram of the buck converter of the FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a block diagram of a vehicle lamp including a lighting circuit according to an embodiment;

FIG. 5 is a circuit diagram showing a specific configuration example of the lighting circuit;

FIGS. 6A and 6B are circuit diagrams showing configuration examples of a frequency stabilizing circuit;

FIG. 7 is a waveform diagram showing basic operation of the lighting circuit;

FIG. 8 is an operation waveform diagram when the lighting circuit of FIG. 4 performs PWM dimming;

FIGS. 9A and 9B are diagrams illustrating further advantages of the lighting circuit;

FIGS. 10A and 10B are circuit diagrams showing configuration examples of a voltage adjusting circuit;

FIGS. 11A and 11B are operation waveform diagrams of the lighting circuit when a light distribution pattern is changed;

FIG. 12 is a block diagram of a voltage adjusting circuit according to a first modification; and

FIGS. 13A and 13B are block diagrams of a lighting circuit according to a second modification.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Embodiments of the present invention will be described with reference to the drawings. Identical or equivalent components, members, and processes shown in each drawing are given with same reference numerals, and repeated descriptions are omitted appropriately. The embodiments are not intended to limit the scope of the present invention but are merely illustrative, and all features described in the embodiments and combinations thereof are not essential to the present invention.

In the specification, “a state where a member A is connected to a member B” includes not only a case where the member A and the member B are connected physically and directly, but also a case where the member A and the member B are connected indirectly via other members which do not cause substantial effects on an electrical connection state thereof or do not impair functions or effects due to the connection thereof.

Similarly, “a state where a member C is provided between a member A and a member B” includes not only a case where the member A and the member C, or the member B and the member C, are connected directly, but also a case where the member A and the member C, or the member B and the member C, are connected indirectly via other members which do not cause substantial effects on an electrical connection thereof or do not impair functions or effects due to the connection thereof.

For ease of understanding, a vertical axis and a horizontal axis of a waveform diagram or a time chart referenced in the present specification are enlarged and reduced appropriately, and each waveform is also simplified, exaggerated or emphasized.

In the specification, reference numerals given to electrical signals such as voltage signals and current signals, or circuit elements such as resistors and capacitors represent voltage values and current values, or resistance values and capacitance values.

FIG. 4 is a block diagram of a vehicle lamp 300 including a lighting circuit 400 according to an embodiment. The vehicle lamp 300 configures a lamp system 200 together with a battery 202 and a vehicle Electronic Control Unit (ECU) 204. The battery 202 supplies a battery voltage (a power supply voltage) VBAT of 12V or 24V. The lighting circuit 400 receives the battery voltage VBAT as power supply to light a light source 310. The lighting circuit 400 is connected to the vehicle ECU 204 through a bus 206 such as Controller Area Network (CAN) and Local Interconnect Network (LIN). The vehicle lamp 300 has an ADB function and dynamically changes a light distribution pattern based on information or a command value from the vehicle ECU 204.

The vehicle lamp 300 includes the light source 310 and the lighting circuit 400. The light source 310 includes a plurality of (N) light emitting elements 312_1 to 312_N connected in series. The light emitting elements 312 are semiconductor light emitting devices, such as Light Emitting Diode (LED), Laser Diode (LD) and organic Electro Luminescence (EL), which emit light with luminance corresponding to a driving current ILAMP. The number N of the light emitting elements 312 corresponds to a resolution in controlling the light distribution pattern. The number N is, for example, 4, 8, 12, 24, but is not limited thereto.

The lighting circuit 400 is connected to the light source 310 through wire harness 320. The lighting circuit 400 includes a boost converter 410, a buck converter 430, a bypass switch circuit 450, a voltage adjusting circuit 460, and a light distribution controller 470.

The bypass switch circuit 450 includes a plurality of bypass switches 452_1 to 452_N, and the i-th bypass switch 452_i is connected in parallel with its corresponding light emitting element 312_i of the plurality of light emitting elements 312_1 to 312_N. In FIG. 4, the number of the bypass switches 452 is equal to the number of the light emitting elements 312, but is not limited thereto.

The light distribution controller 470 controls the plurality of bypass switches 452_1 to 452_N of the bypass switch circuit 450, so as to obtain a desired light distribution pattern based on information or a control command from the vehicle ECU 204. Assuming that a forward voltage VF of the light emitting elements 312 is 5 V and N=12, the output voltage VOUT can vary from 0 to 60 V.

The boost converter 410 has an adjusting (ADJ) terminal and boosts the power supply voltage VBAT to generate a DC voltage VDC which is stabilized at a target voltage VDC(REF) corresponding to a voltage VADJ of the ADJ terminal. In other words, the boost converter 410 stabilizes the DC voltage VDC at the target voltage VDC(REF) which is proportional to the voltage VADJ of the ADJ terminal.

In one example, the output voltage VDC of the boost converter 410 is divided by resistors R31 and R32 and is fed back. The boost converter 410 adjusts a duty ratio of switching such that the voltage-divided feedback signal VFB matches the voltage VADJ of the ADJ terminal.

In a steady state,

when K1=VADJ/VOUT and K2=VDC/VADJ are satisfied,

VDC=K1×K2×VOUT.

Here, K1×K2 is referred to as a control gain G If G=K1×K2>1, VDC can be maintained at a voltage level higher than the VOUT, and the potential difference ΔV between an input voltage and an output voltage of the buck converter 430 can satisfy VDC−VOUT=(K1×K2−1)×VOUT. Here, the potential difference ΔV refers to the difference between a maximum value of the output voltage VOUT and the input voltage. If the maximum value of the output voltage VOUT is 60 V, and K1×K2=1.1, the potential difference ΔV between the input voltage and the output voltage can be less than 0.1×60=6 V. The potential difference ΔV is preferably about 1 to 10 V.

The buck converter 430 receives the DC voltage VDC and supplies the driving current ILAMP stabilized at the target current IREF to the light source 310. As described below, the buck converter 430 includes a hysteresis controller 480 of a hysteresis control method. The hysteresis controller 480 stabilizes the driving current ILAMP between a peak value IUPPER and a bottom value IBOTTOM which are defined in proximity to the target current IREF. Furthermore, the hysteresis controller 480 changes the difference ΔI between the peak value IUPPER and the bottom value IBOTTOM, such that the switching frequency fSW of the buck converter 430 approaches a constant value.

The voltage adjusting circuit 460 dynamically changes the voltage VADJ of the ADJ terminal of the boost converter 410 according to the output voltage VOUT of the buck converter 430, that is, the voltage between both ends of the light source 310.

Preferably, the voltage adjusting circuit 460 changes the voltage VADJ of the ADJ terminal, such that the difference between the target voltage VDC(REF) of the output voltage VDC of the boost converter 410 and the output voltage VOUT of the buck converter 430 (in other words, the difference between the input voltage and the output voltage of the buck converter 430) does not exceed or approaches a predetermined value. For example, the voltage adjusting circuit 460 may change the voltage VADJ of the ADJ terminal following the peak of the output voltage VOUT of the buck converter 430. For example, the voltage adjusting circuit 460 may also generate the voltage VADJ based on the peak of the output voltage (output detection voltage) VOUTS divided by resistors R41 and R42.

FIG. 5 is a circuit diagram showing a specific configuration example of the lighting circuit 400. The boost converter 410 includes an output circuit 412 and a controller 414. The output circuit 412 includes an inductor L2, a switching transistor M2, a diode D2, and a capacitor C2. The voltage VADJ of the ADJ terminal is input to a reference pin REF of the controller 414. A feedback voltage VFB corresponding to the output voltage VDC of the boost converter 410 is fed back to a feedback pin FB of the controller 414. The controller 414 drives the switching transistor M2 such that the feedback voltage VFB matches the reference voltage VADJ. The controller 414 may use a commercially available control IC, and the configuration thereof is not particularly limited.

The buck converter 430 includes an output circuit 432 and the hysteresis controller 480. The configuration of the output circuit 432 is similar to that of FIG. 1. When a current detection signal VCS reaches an upper threshold VTHH corresponding to the upper value IUPPER of the driving current ILAMP, the hysteresis controller 480 turns off the switching transistor M1, when the current detection signal VCS reaches a lower threshold VTHL corresponding to the bottom value IBOTTOM of the driving current ILAMP, the hysteresis controller 480 turns on the switching transistor M1, and the hysteresis controller 480 repeatedly performs the above operation.

As described above, the hysteresis controller 480 stabilizes the switching frequency fSW by adjusting the difference between the upper threshold VTHH and the lower threshold VTHL. The hysteresis controller 480 includes a voltage source 482, a comparator 484, a driver 486, and a frequency stabilizing circuit 488. The voltage source 482 is a variable voltage source which generates the upper threshold VTHH and the lower threshold VTHL. The average value of the upper threshold VTHH and the lower threshold VTHL corresponds to the target value IREF of the driving current ILAMP.

When the control pulse SCNT as the output of the comparator 484 is at an ON level (during a period when the switching transistor M1 is on), the comparator 484 compares the current detection signal VCS with the upper threshold VTHH. When the control pulse SCNT is at an OFF level (during a period when the switching transistor M1 is off), the comparator 484 compares the current detection signal VCS with the lower threshold VTHL. The driver 486 drives the switching transistor M1 according to the control pulse SCNT.

The frequency stabilizing circuit 488 adjusts the potential difference (hysteresis width) ΔVHYS between the upper threshold VTHH and the lower threshold VTHL such that the switching frequency fSW of the switching transistor M1 matches a target frequency fREF. Particularly, when the switching frequency fSW is higher than the target frequency fREF, the hysteresis width ΔVHYS is increased so as to decrease the switching frequency fSW. When the switching frequency fSW is lower than the target frequency fREF, the hysteresis width ΔVHYS is decreased so as to increase the switching frequency fSW.

FIGS. 6A and 6B are circuit diagrams showing the specific configuration examples of the frequency stabilizing circuit 488. The frequency stabilizing circuit 488 includes a frequency detection circuit 490 and an error amplifier 492. The frequency detection circuit 490 receives the control pulse SCNT or a signal having the same frequency with the control pulse SCNT, and generates a frequency detection signal VFREQ representing the switching frequency fSW. The error amplifier 492 amplifies the error between the frequency detection signal VFREQ and a reference signal VFREQ(REF) which represents the target value of the switching frequency.

The voltage source 482 generates the upper threshold VTHH and the lower threshold VTHL according to an error signal VERR. For example, the voltage source 482 includes resistors RH, RL and a current source 494. The current source 494 outputs a current IERR corresponding to the error signal VERR. An analog voltage VADIM is applied to one end of the resistor RH, and VTHH is generated at the other end of the resistor RH where VTHH=VADIM−IERR×RH. One end of the resistor RL is grounded, and VTHL is generated at the other end of the resistor RL where VTHL=IERR×RL.

If RH=RL=R, the average value of the VTHH and VTHL is VADIM/2. Therefore, the average value of the coil current IL, that is, the luminance of the light source 310, can be dimmed according to the voltage VADIM. In addition, the difference (hysteresis width ΔVHYS) between the VTHH and VTHL satisfies ΔVHYS=2×IERR×R.

The specific configuration example of the voltage source 482 is shown in FIG. 6B. The current source 494 includes an operational amplifier OA51, a transistor M51, and a resistor RL. In this configuration, VTHL=VERR and IERR=VERR/RL.

Other than the examples shown in FIGS. 6A and 6B, those skilled in the art can design the frequency stabilizing circuit 488 or the voltage source 482 with equivalent functions, which are included in the scope of the invention.

The configuration of the lighting circuit 400 is described as above. Next, operation of the lighting circuit 400 will be described. FIG. 7 is a waveform diagram showing basic operation of the lighting circuit 400. For concise explanation and easy understanding, the operation is shown when the number of the bypass switches 452 which are on is decreased over time without performing PWM dimming in the bypass switch circuit 450. In this case, the output voltage VOUT rises with time. The voltage adjusting circuit 460 increases the voltage VADJ of the ADJ terminal according to the rise of the output voltage VOUT. Therefore, the input voltage VIN (VDC) of the buck converter 430 follows the rise of the output voltage VOUT. Here, for ease of explanation, it is assumed that the difference ΔV between the input voltage and output voltage remains constant.

Next, the operation of the buck converter 430 is explained. When the potential difference ΔV between the input voltage and output voltage is substantially constant, a rising slope (VIN−VOUT)/L1 of the coil current IL (lamp current ILAMP) is substantially constant. On the other hand, a falling slope −VOUT/L1 becomes steep as the output voltage VOUT rises. The buck converter 430 changes the difference ΔIHYS between the upper limit current IUPPER and the lower limit current IBOTTOM such that the switching frequency fSW (period: 1/fSW) becomes constant.

Specifically, the frequency stabilizing circuit 488 of the buck converter 430 adjusts the difference ΔIHYS between the upper threshold VTHH and the lower threshold VTHL such that the switching frequency fSW becomes constant. The hysteresis width ΔVHYS increases as the output voltage VOUT rises.

The basic operation of the lighting circuit 400 is described as above. FIG. 8 is an operation waveform diagram when the lighting circuit 400 of FIG. 4 performs the PWM dimming. When the light distribution pattern is constant, each bypass switch 452 of the bypass switch circuit 450 is controlled repeatedly with a same pattern, and the output voltage VOUT of the buck converter 430 repeats the same waveform over the PWM period TPWM. A PWM period TPWM is a few milliseconds, such as about 3 to 5 ms.

In this example, the output voltage VOUT varies from 15 to 40V in the PWM period TPWM. The voltage adjusting circuit 460 generates the voltage VADJ corresponding to the peak of the output voltage VOUT, i.e., 40V and supplies it to the ADJ terminal. When the control gain G=1.1, the output voltage VDC of the boost converter 410 is stabilized at 44V, and the potential difference ΔV between the input voltage and output voltage of the buck converter 430 is 4 V.

The operation of the lighting circuit 400 is described as above. Next, advantages of the lighting circuit 400 will be described.

According to the lighting circuit 400, since the buck converter 430 employs the hysteresis control, the output voltage VOUT of the buck converter 430 can follow high speed load variation. Further, since the switching frequency fSW can be stabilized by adjusting the difference ΔIHYS between the peak value IUPPER and bottom value IBOTTOM of the driving current ILAMP, the noise specs can be cleared.

FIGS. 9A and 9B are diagrams illustrating further advantages of the lighting circuit 400. FIG. 9A shows the coil current IL of the lighting circuit 400 of FIG. 4, and FIG. 9B shows the coil current IL when the output VDC of the buck converter 430 is constant. For example, VOUT=20 V and VDC=22 V in FIG. 9A, and VOUT=20 V and VDC=60 V in FIG. 9B. When comparing FIG. 9A with FIG. 9B, FIG. 9B has the same falling slopes as FIG. 9A but larger rising slope than FIG. 9A. In this case, assuming that the inductance values L1 of the buck converters are the same, the ripple width of the coil current IL in FIG. 9B is larger to obtain the desired same switching frequency fSW. In particular, when employing a frequency stabilizing control, a ripple width becomes further larger as the output voltage VOUT rises. Therefore, in order to keep the ripple width within the allowable range while keeping the direct voltage VDC to 60 V and within a range of the output voltage VOUT, the inductance value L1 needs be significantly increased, so that an expensive and large component needs to be selected as the inductor L1.

In this respect, according to the lighting circuit 400, the potential difference between the input voltage and output voltage of the buck converter 430 can be suppressed by the voltage adjusting circuit 460. Therefore, a small inductance value L1 can be selected and can be small-sized even when the frequency stabilizing control is employed in the buck converter 430. Further, cost of the device can be reduced since components with low inductance value are usually inexpensive.

In particular, the voltage adjusting circuit 460 changes the voltage VADJ of the ADJ terminal such that the difference ΔV between the target voltage VDC(REF) of the boost converter 410 and the output voltage VOUT of the buck converter 430 does not exceed or approaches a predetermined value. Further, the size of the inductor can be reduced by decreasing that predetermined value.

Next, the control when the light distribution pattern is dynamically changed will be described. When the light distribution pattern is constant, the output voltage VOUT varies in a PWM period but the peak of the output voltage VOUT is constant. In contrast, the peak value of the output voltage VOUT varies when the light distribution pattern changes.

The voltage adjusting circuit 460 changes the voltage VADJ of the ADJ terminal faster at the rise of the output voltage VOUT of the buck converter 430 than at the fall of the output voltage VOUT. The rise and fall here refers to those in the time scale not shorter than the PWM period and longer than the PWM period. Specifically, the voltage VADJ of the ADJ terminal preferably varies in a time shorter than the control period (a PWM period) TPWM of the bypass switch circuit 450 during the rise of the output voltage VOUT of the buck converter 430. For example, the voltage VADJ of the ADJ terminal follows the output voltage VOUT within a time scale shorter than ½ of the PWM period TPWM. Therefore, the insufficiency of the output voltage VOUT can be suppressed and the decreasing of the luminance of the light source 310 can be suppressed.

On the contrary, the voltage VAW of the ADJ terminal preferably varies in a time longer than the control period TPWM of the bypass switch circuit 450 during the fall of the output voltage VOUT of the buck converter 430. For example, the voltage VADJ of the ADJ terminal follows the output voltage VOUT within a time scale longer than three or five times of the control period TPWM.

FIGS. 10A and 10B are circuit diagrams showing configuration examples of the voltage adjusting circuit 460. A voltage adjusting circuit 460a of FIG. 10A includes a diode D21, a first resistor R21, a second resistor R22, and a capacitor C21. The voltage adjusting circuit 460a can be regarded as a peak hold circuit 461, and the voltage VADJ of the ADJ terminal corresponds to the output voltage VC21 of the peak hold circuit 461.

A voltage adjusting circuit 460b of FIG. 10B is configured by a digital circuit. An A/D converter 462 converts the output detection voltage VOUTS into a digital value S41. A peak detection circuit 463 is used for generating a peak detection signal S42 representing a peak of the digital value S41. A filter 464 receives the peak detection signal S42 and has a faster responsiveness in rising direction and a slower responsiveness in falling direction. A D/A converter 465 converts an output voltage S43 of the filter 464 into an analog voltage VADJ.

FIGS. 11A and 11B are operation waveform diagrams of the lighting circuit 400 when the light distribution pattern is changed. FIG. 11A shows the operation when a dark light distribution pattern PAT1 is changed to a bright light distribution pattern PAT2. At this time, the average value and the peak value of the output voltage VOUT rise, and the waveform of the output voltage VOUT changes. The voltage VADJ of the ADJ terminal quickly follows the rise of the peak value of the output voltage VOUT in a time scale shorter than a PWM period TPWM (preferably, a time scale shorter than TPWM/2). Therefore, the decreasing of the luminance of the light source 310 caused by the insufficiency of the output voltage VOUT can be avoided.

FIG. 11B shows the operation when the bright light distribution pattern PAT2 is changed to the dark light distribution pattern PAT1. At this time, the average value and peak value of the output voltage VOUT fall, and the waveform of the output voltage VOUT changes. The voltage VADJ of the ADJ terminal slowly follows the fall of the peak value of the output voltage VOUT in a time scale longer than several times of the PWM period TPWM (preferably, a time scale longer than 3×TPWM). Therefore, oscillation or instability of system including the boost converter 410 and the buck converter 430 can be prevented.

Although the present invention has been described based on the embodiments, the embodiments merely show the principle and application of the present invention. Various changes of modifications and configurations may be made in the embodiments without departing from the inventive concept as defined in the claims.

(First modification)

In the above-described embodiment, the voltage VADJ of the ADJ terminal is changed according to the output voltage VOUT. However, the present invention is not limited thereto. Switching patterns of the plurality of bypass switches 452 for each light distribution pattern are known. Therefore, a waveform of the output voltage VOUT in each light distribution pattern can be estimated by calculation.

FIG. 12 is a block diagram of a voltage adjusting circuit 460c according to a first modification. The voltage adjusting circuit 460c estimates a peak value of a voltage between both ends of the light source 310 (i.e. a peak value of the output voltage VOUT of the buck converter 430) in one PWM period based on a pattern of ON/OFF states of the plurality of bypass switches 452_1 to 452_N, and controls the voltage VADJ of the ADJ terminal based on the estimated value. For example, an output voltage estimator 466 receives information S51 of the light distribution pattern and generates a peak value S52 of the output voltage VOUT within the PWM period based on the information S51. For example, a table showing a relationship between the light distribution pattern and the peak value may be held in the output voltage estimator 466. A D/A converter 467 converts the peak value S52 into an analog signal and outputs it to the ADJ terminal. Functions of the output voltage estimator 466 and the D/A converter 467 may be implemented in the light distribution controller 470 or in the lamp ECU common to the light distribution controller 470.

According to this modification, the input voltage VDC of the buck converter 430 may be adjusted to a suitable voltage level by the feed forward control without detecting the output voltage VOUT.

(Second modification)

FIGS. 13A and 13B are block diagrams of a lighting circuit 400b according to a second modification. The lighting circuit 400b drives a plurality (two channels here) of light sources 310_1 and 310_2. The lighting circuit 400b includes a plurality of buck converters 430_1 and 430_2 corresponding to the plurality of light sources 310_1 and 310_2, respectively. The plurality of buck converters 430_1 and 430_2 receive an output voltage VDC of a boost converter 410. A voltage adjusting circuit 460b changes the voltage VADJ of the ADJ terminal according to the highest voltage among output voltages VOUT1 and VOUT2 of the plurality of buck converters 430_1 and 430_2.

FIG. 13B shows a configuration example of the voltage adjusting circuit 460b. The configuration of the voltage adjusting circuit 460b is the same as that of FIG. 10A. A plurality of diodes D21 corresponding to the plurality of channels have a shared cathode. The plurality of diodes D21 function as a maximum value circuit, and a voltage corresponding to the maximum voltage among the plurality of output detection voltages VOUTS1 and VOUTS2 is generated at the cathode.

Read more
PatSnap Solutions

Great research starts with great data.

Use the most comprehensive innovation intelligence platform to maximise ROI on research.

Learn More

Patent Valuation

$

Reveal the value <>

19.15/100 Score

Market Attractiveness

It shows from an IP point of view how many competitors are active and innovations are made in the different technical fields of the company. On a company level, the market attractiveness is often also an indicator of how diversified a company is. Here we look into the commercial relevance of the market.

56.0/100 Score

Market Coverage

It shows the sizes of the market that is covered with the IP and in how many countries the IP guarantees protection. It reflects a market size that is potentially addressable with the invented technology/formulation with a legal protection which also includes a freedom to operate. Here we look into the size of the impacted market.

70.5/100 Score

Technology Quality

It shows the degree of innovation that can be derived from a company’s IP. Here we look into ease of detection, ability to design around and significance of the patented feature to the product/service.

65.0/100 Score

Assignee Score

It takes the R&D behavior of the company itself into account that results in IP. During the invention phase, larger companies are considered to assign a higher R&D budget on a certain technology field, these companies have a better influence on their market, on what is marketable and what might lead to a standard.

19.0/100 Score

Legal Score

It shows the legal strength of IP in terms of its degree of protecting effect. Here we look into claim scope, claim breadth, claim quality, stability and priority.

Citation

Patents Cited in This Cited by
Title Current Assignee Application Date Publication Date
車両用灯具およびその駆動装置、その制御方法 株式会社小糸製作所 17 February 2014 24 August 2015
Light source control device KOITO MANUFACTURING CO., LTD. 28 February 2014 18 September 2014
Vehicle lamp and lighting circuit thereof KOITO MANUFACTURING CO., LTD. 02 October 2015 07 April 2016
LED array driving apparatus and backlight driving apparatus using the same SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO., LTD. 29 December 2005 02 October 2007
Electronic device for driving light emitting diodes NXP, B.V. 29 November 2007 04 March 2010
See full citation <>

More like this

Title Current Assignee Application Date Publication Date
Semiconductor switching circuit GENERAL ELECTRIC TECHNOLOGY GMBH 03 December 2015 09 June 2016
Light unit and method for controlling a light unit comprising one or more lighting devices. PHILIPS LIGHTING HOLDING B.V. 14 June 2016 29 December 2016
Circuit arrangement and method for decreasing the light modulation of at least one light source operated at a voltage OSRAM GMBH 22 March 2016 03 November 2016
Driver circuit for providing constant voltage to an auxiliary circuit TECHNICAL CONSUMER PRODUCTS, INC. 18 May 2016 01 December 2016
Predictive LED forward voltage for a PWM current loop TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INCORPORATED,TEXAS INSTRUMENTS JAPAN LIMITED 08 June 2017 14 December 2017
Linear constant current LED drive device capable of driving reduced number of leds SHENZHEN SENDIS SEMICONDUCTOR CO., LTD 07 April 2016 22 December 2016
LED lighting module PHILIPS LIGHTING HOLDING B.V. 13 June 2016 29 December 2016
LED driving output end capacitor protection circuit OPPLE LIGHTING CO., LTD 27 November 2015 02 June 2016
Time-delay lighting circuit and device thereof ZHEJIANG SHENGHUI LIGHTING CO., LTD. 16 December 2016 28 December 2017
Lighting control circuit and method for multiple leds PHILIPS LIGHTING HOLDING B.V. 02 September 2016 16 March 2017
Laser light source module, light source device, and method for specifying failure laser diode MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORPORATION 29 March 2016 05 October 2017
Pixel driving circuit, pixel driving method, and display device BOE TECHNOLOGY GROUP CO., LTD.,CHENGDU BOE OPTOELECTRONICS TECHNOLOGY CO., LTD. 04 July 2016 13 July 2017
See all similar patents <>

More Patents & Intellectual Property

PatSnap Solutions

PatSnap solutions are used by R&D teams, legal and IP professionals, those in business intelligence and strategic planning roles and by research staff at academic institutions globally.

PatSnap Solutions
Search & Analyze
The widest range of IP search tools makes getting the right answers and asking the right questions easier than ever. One click analysis extracts meaningful information on competitors and technology trends from IP data.
Business Intelligence
Gain powerful insights into future technology changes, market shifts and competitor strategies.
Workflow
Manage IP-related processes across multiple teams and departments with integrated collaboration and workflow tools.
Contact Sales
Clsoe
US10000150 Lighting circuit vehicle lamp 1 US10000150 Lighting circuit vehicle lamp 2 US10000150 Lighting circuit vehicle lamp 3