Thursday, January 19, 2012

Toy traffic light using a signal tower

Just finished building a toy traffic light for the kids. It uses a signal tower (used on factory floors to provide visual alarms and indication of machine status) which employs 12VDC incandscent lamps. I haven't checked but the bulbs look like the same size and actually have same socket type as automobile tailight lamps.

There's nothing particularly unique or special about this circuit, although I haven't come across any toy traffic light design that uses signal towers. What I do like about this circuit is the fact that a single user interface--a momentary contact pushbutton--controls all the functions, and that I didn't have to include any indicator LED or buzzer and instead could use the lamps of the traffic light itself to provide feedback to the user.



Operation

There are three modes:
1. Flashing amber (0.8sec on, 0.8sec off)
2. Flashing red (0.8sec on, 0.8sec off)
3. Normal traffic light operation: green --> amber --> red (variable red/green on-time, amber on-time = 2sec)

Upon power up the traffic light starts in mode 1. Modes are selected by pressing the button momentarily.

The stop (red) and go (green) time is user selectable. This is accomplished by pressing and holding the button down (regardless of what mode the traffic light is in). 1.5 seconds after pressing the button all lights will be turned off indicating the green light is about to begin showing the amount of go/stop time. Three seconds after pressing the button the green light will go through sets of blinking. The number of flashes per set indicates the go/stop time:

Number of flashes per set Go/Stop time in seconds
1 5
2 10
3 15
4 20

As with the modes keeping the button depressed will eternally cycle through the four sets. To choose a go/stop time the user releases the button after the particular set of flashes has occured. So letting go of the button after the set of three flashes of the green light will set the go time and stop time to 15 seconds. The selected go/stop time is stored in EEPROM so the circuit doesn't forget even when powered down. Once the button is released the traffic light goes into mode 3 and begins with the yield (amber) light on. 

Hardware


I originally planned to use the PIC12615 which is more than adequate. Unfortunately I need EEPROM which the 615 lacks. The only 8-pin PIC with EEPROM that I have right now is the 12F1822 and so that's what I ended up using for the MCU.

The circuit has a polarity reversal protection in the form of a 1N5822 Scottky diode (D1 in the schematic) which has a rated capacity of 3A. Although the wall wart has a no-load measured output of 16VDC, this drops to around 12V when any of the lamps is on. Each of the power transistors also has a voltage drop across their collector-emitter. So to minimize further dip in voltage across the the incandescents I opted to use a Schottky instead of an ordinary rectifier. I've used the TIP102 NPN Darlington since as I reported in the Darlington transistor test, the 102 has the least collector-emitter voltage in the three types I was able to get hold of and play around with. As stated in that test using this very same signal tower, the power dissipation in the Darlingtons is such that heatsinks can be dispensed with.

Here's the finished board with all the components soldered. You'll notice there are several drill holes around the MCU. I've added pads to the unused MCU pins as well to the +5V rail and to the pushbutton tracks. These are "just in case" pads if ever I need to modify the board. The additional pushbutton pads are 0.1" apart and will accommodate a 2-way (2-pin) connector. I was going to solder the connector in case things don't work out and the board-mounted pushbutton doesn't work the way I planned. That rod sticking out of the blue pushbutton is a one and quarter inch piece of bamboo cut from a disposable chopstick. It extends out of case (through a small drilled hole) and will act as the button the user will pushing. It's the rod-poking-out-of-the-case part which I wasn't sure would work--and thus the backup connector for a case-mounted pushbutton. I applied a coat of nail polish to the chopstick just to seal the pores and prevent it from being attacked by molds (I've noticed that some brand new but long stored chopsticks have molds on them and I've seen molds appear on a bamboo chopping board after it had been left damp for some 24 hours).

I made the 12VDC traces to and from the incandescent lamps including ground really wide--150 mils--to minimize voltage drop. The traces narrow to just 50mils near the TO-220 pads to prevent shorts. Yes, the text at the bottom of the board is a dedication to the users of this circuit--my young nephews and niece. Naturally I chose Comic Sans as the font. You might notice scratches on the green photosensitive coating (which I always intentionally leave on the tracks). There was a lot of flux residue after soldering so I washed the board with detergent and scrubbed it using a toothbrush. So the blame for those unsightly scratches rests squarely on the shoulders of that brush!

Although the case has provisions--standoffs with holes in them--for screw mounting of boards, I couldn't find small enough screws that would fit. So I just dabbed copious amounts of hot melt glue on the standoffs and pressed the board onto them. Part of the glue oozed through the drilled holes of the board and formed nice hemispherical beads. The hefty black wall wart is at the bottom right. Its wire is too short so I added a meter more so the kids have leeway in placing the traffic light in their play area.

One of my concerns is that the children will knock this thing over and break it. So I cut out a sponge in the shape of circle with a diameter one and a half times larger than the signal tower. I can just glue it on top of the tower. It'll definitely break any falls and save the polystyrene or acrylic lenses from cracking and breaking. But the sponge solution is ugly to state it mildly. So I might instead superglue something akin to an O-ring around the sides of top cap of the tower. Not as elastic and shock absorbing as the sponge but it's still better than nothing at all. Another is option would be a quarter inch PVC or rubber tubing.

Firmware

I simply adapted the firmware I used for the 4-way traffic light I built the kids last year. This signal tower version is actually a lot simplier--no charlieplexing necessary. I opted to just clock the MCU using its default power-on frequency of 500kHz. Only one timer is used. I can no longer remember why I chose timer2 instead of timer0. For expediency's sake I didn't bother changing what ain't broken. A state machine is used with a timer tick of 4ms. In the configuration word, watchdog timer, power up timer, brownout reset, stack over/underflow reset are all enabled. All other options are disabled. Internal oscillator is used with I/O function on all pins.

/*

Kids' Traffic Light Using a Signal Tower

Created:        January 10 2012
Processor:      PIC 12F1822
Compiler        mikroC Pro 5.0.0


* Uses a 12VDC wall wart as power supply

* Tower light 12VDC red, amber, green incandescent lamps are switched by NPN Darlington transistors

* pushbutton:
     * when momentarily pressed: cycles through different possible modes:
          1. normal traffic light: green -> amber -> red
          2. flashing amber
          3. flashing red
     * when pressed and kept depressed for over a couple of seconds: cycles through different green/red light on time:
          1. 5sec
          2. 10sec
          3. 15sec
          4. 20sec.

* green/red light on time is stored in EEPROM


--------------------------+--------------------------------------
No. of green flashes/set  |   Green/red light on time in seconds
--------------------------+--------------------------------------
         1                |            5
         2                |           10
         3                |           15
         4                |           20
--------------------------+--------------------------------------

*/



// ************************************************************************************************
//       input / output
// ************************************************************************************************

#define  lred      LATA.f0                       // NPN darlington switches 12VDC incandescent lamp
#define  lamber    LATA.f1                       // NPN darlington switches 12VDC incandescent lamp
#define  lgreen    LATA.f2                       // NPN darlington switches 12VDC incandescent lamp

#define  tris_red  TRISA.f0
#define  tris_amber TRISA.f1
#define  tris_green TRISA.f2

#define  pb        PORTA.f3                      // momentary contact push button
#define  tris_pb   TRISA.f3

#define  wpullup   0b111000                      // for WPUA -- enable pull ups on pb and unused pins


// ************************************************************************************************
//       for traffic light
// ************************************************************************************************

#define  ambertime           500       // in normal mode -- amount of time for amber light to be on after green and before red -- time in terms of timer2 ticks
#define  flashambertime      200       // in flashing amber mode -- amount of time for amber light to be on and amount of time to be off -- time in terms of timer2 ticks
#define  flashredtime        200       // in flashing red mode -- amount of time for red light to be on and amount of time to be off -- time in terms of timer2 ticks
#define  flashgreentime      50        // during selection of green/red light on time -- amount of time for green light to be on and amount of time to be off when it is flashing -- time in terms of timer2 ticks

#define  changergtime        750       // minimum amount of time for button to be kept pressed before cycling through the green light on time -- time in terms of timer2 ticks
                                       // given 4ms timer2 tick, changergtime of 250 = 1sec real time

#define  prechangergtime     changergtime - 375  // amount of time after button is held down when all lights are turned off in preparation for possible change of green/red light on time

#define  rgtime_increm       1250      // amount of time for green/red light to be on, and multiples thereof upon continual button press -- value in terms of timer2 ticks.
#define  maxgtime            4         // maximum allowed multiple of rgtime_increm

int16 REDGREENTIME;                    // amount of time for green/red light to be on -- time in terms of timer2 ticks
int8  RGTIME;                          // multiples of rgtime_increm such that RGTIME*rgtime_increm = REDGREENTIME


// ************************************************************************************************
//       eeprom
// ************************************************************************************************

#define  addr_rgtime      0x10         // eeprom address for user selected green/red light on time

// ************************************************************************************************
//       for pushbutton
// ************************************************************************************************

#define  rising              1         // rising edge detected. used by PBedge
#define  released            1         // rising edge detected. used by PBedge
#define  falling             2         // falling edge detected. used by PBedge
#define  pressed             2         // falling edge detected. used by PBedge
#define  none                0         // no edge. used by PBedge

int8 PBval;                            // last eight values of the switch upon reading it
int8 PBedge;                           // edge detected?, 0 = no edge detect, 1 = rising edge, 2 = falling edge; other values = Not Used / Undefined for now
bit PBlevel;                           // voltage level of switch when not bouncing (hi = 1, lo = 0)

// ************************************************************************************************
//       general defines and variables
// ************************************************************************************************


#define  int1                bit
#define  int8                unsigned char
#define  int16               unsigned int
#define  int32               unsigned long

#define  on                  1
#define  off                 0

#define  _on                 0
#define  _off                1

#define  yes                 1
#define  no                  0

#define  input               1         // for TRISx
#define  output              0         // for TRISx

#define  analog              1         // for ANSELx
#define  digital             0         // for ANSELx

#define  hi                  1         // switch level high
#define  lo                  0         // switch level low

int16 TIME = 0;                        // records how long a light has been on  -- in terms of timer2 ticks

// ************************************************************************************************
//       for state machines
// ************************************************************************************************

enum {_normal, _flashingamber, _flashingred, _flashgreen, _standby} STATEMODE = _flashingamber;
enum {_go, _yield, _stop} STATENORMAL = _stop;
enum {_init, _flash} STATEFLASHGREEN = _init;

// ===========================================================================================
//       functions
// ===========================================================================================


void ComputeRedGreenTime()
{
  REDGREENTIME = RGTIME*rgtime_increm;
}

void IniReg()
{
  TRISA = input;
  ANSELA = digital;
  
  tris_red = output;
  tris_amber = output;
  tris_green = output;

  // enable weak pull up for pushbutton and unused pins
  OPTION_REG.NOT_WPUEN = 0;
  WPUA = wpullup;
  
  // default clock frequency is 500kHz upon power up.
  // Timer2 is used for state machine and switch debouncing timing tick
  // with clock = 500kHz, PR2 = 125, prescale = 1:4, postscale = 1:1
  // TMR2 will count from zero to PR2 and timer2 interrupt occurs every 125*4 / (500kHz / 4) = 4ms = timer2 tick
  T2CON = 0b101;             // postscaler = 1:1, prescaler = 1:4, timer2 on
  TMR2 = 0;
  PR2 = 125;

  WDTCON = 0b1000;           // prescale = 1:512 (16ms typical)
                             // WDTE in configuration word is configured so that WDT enabled when MCU awake and disabled when MCU asleep

  // retrieve stored green/red light on time value.
  // If eeprom-stored value is out of valid range then set it to minimum and store this value in eeprom
  // stored values are in terms of multiples of rgtime_increm such that stored value multiplied by rgtime_increm = time in terms of TMR2 ticks
  RGTIME = EEPROM_Read(addr_rgtime);
  if (RGTIME == 0 || RGTIME > maxgtime)
  {
    RGTIME = 1;
    EEPROM_Write(addr_rgtime, RGTIME);
  }
  ComputeRedGreenTime();                     //REDGREENTIME = RGTIME*rgtime_increm;

  // initialize push button
  PBval = 0xFF;
  PBlevel = hi;
} // void InitRegisters()


// normal traffic light operation: green --> amber --> red
// red/green light on time is user selectable
void Normal()
{
  switch (STATENORMAL)
  {
    case _go:
      if (++TIME < REDGREENTIME)
        lgreen = on;
      else
      {
        STATENORMAL = _yield;
        TIME = 0;
        lgreen = off;
      }
      break;

    case _yield:
      if (++TIME < ambertime)
        lamber = on;
      else
      {
        STATENORMAL = _stop;
        TIME = 0;
        lamber = off;
      }
      break;

    case _stop:
      if (++TIME < REDGREENTIME)
        lred = on;
      else
      {
        STATENORMAL = _go;
        TIME = 0;
        lred = off;
      }
      break;

    default:
      TIME = 0;
      STATENORMAL = _yield;
  } // switch (STATENORMAL)
} // void StateMachNormal()


// amber flashes on and off
void FlashingAmber()
{
  static bit flag;

  if (++TIME < flashambertime)
  {
    if (flag)
      lamber = on;
    else
      lamber = off;
  }
  else
  {
    if (flag)
      flag = 0;
    else
      flag = 1;
    TIME = 0;
  }
} // void FlashingAmber()


// red flashes on and off
void FlashingRed()
{
  static bit flag;

  if (++TIME < flashredtime)
  {
    if (flag)
      lred = on;
    else
      lred = off;
  }
  else
  {
    if (flag)
      flag = 0;
    else
      flag = 1;
    TIME = 0;
  }
} // void FlashingRed()


// when user selects red/green light on time the green light is flashed 1,2,3,or 4 times 
// to indicate 5, 10, 15, 20sec of on time
void FlashGreen()
{
  static int8 i, CYCLES;
  static bit flag;
  
  switch (STATEFLASHGREEN)
  {
    case _init:
      i = 0;
      flag = 1;
      TIME = 0;
      CYCLES = RGTIME*2-1;
      STATEFLASHGREEN = _flash;
      break;

    case _flash:
      if (++TIME < flashgreentime)
      {
        if (flag)
          lgreen = on;
        else
          lgreen = off;
      }
      else
      {
        if (flag)
          flag = 0;
        else
          flag = 1;
        TIME = 0;
        if (++i >= CYCLES)
        {
          lgreen = off;
          STATEMODE = _standby;
        }
      }
      break;
  } // switch (STATEFLASHGREEN)
} // void FlashGreen()


void StateMachMain()
{
  switch (STATEMODE)
  {
    case _normal:
      Normal();
      break;

    case _flashingamber:
      FlashingAmber();
      break;

    case _flashingred:
      FlashingRed();
      break;

    case _flashgreen:        // green light is flashed to indicate to user the length of time green/red light are on during normal mode
      FlashGreen();
      break;

    case _standby:           // do nothing mode where all lights are off. used when changing green on time
      break;

    default:
      STATEMODE = _normal;
  }
} // void StateMachMain()


void AllLightsOff()
{
  lred = off;
  lamber = off;
  lgreen = off;
}

void DebounceSwitch()
{
  // shift all bits to the left
  // if switch reading is hi then let pb_val bit 0 = 1
  PBval <<= 1;
  if (pb)
    ++PBval;

  PBedge = none;

  // if level is lo and all bits of pb_val are now hi then
  // a rising edge has been detected
  // switch is considered just released when rising edge is detected
  // switch level is now hi
 if ((!PBlevel) && (PBval == 0xFF))
  {
    PBlevel = hi;
    PBedge = rising;
  }

  // if level is hi and all bits of pb_val are now low then
  // a falling edge has been detected
  // switch is considered just pressed when falling edge is detected
  // switch level is now lo
  if ((PBlevel) && (!PBval))
  {
    PBlevel = lo;
    PBedge = falling;
  }
} // void DebounceSwitch()


void ProcessKey()
{
  int8 MODE;                           // temporary storage of current STATEMODE
  
  static  int16  PBPRESSTIMETOTAL = 0; // Keeps track of how long PB is depreesed in terms of timer2 ticks
                                       // Keeps track of total time from falling edge (switched pressed) to rising edge (switch released).
                                       // if less than changergtime then we know the keypress is momentary and is meant to cycle through the various traffic light modes

  static  int16  PBPRESSTIME = 0;      // Keeps track of how long PB is depreesed in terms of timer2 ticks
                                       // this variable is reset every time it exceeds changergtime
                                       // every time it exceeds changergtime green on time is incremented

  DebounceSwitch();
  MODE = STATEMODE;
  
  if (PBlevel == lo)
  {
    if (++PBPRESSTIMETOTAL == prechangergtime)
    {
      AllLightsOff();
      STATEMODE = _standby;
    }
    
    if (++PBPRESSTIME >= changergtime)
    {
      PBPRESSTIME = 0;
      if (++RGTIME > maxgtime)
        RGTIME = 1;
      EEPROM_Write(addr_rgtime, RGTIME);
      ComputeRedGreenTime();                 //REDGREENTIME = RGTIME*rgtime_increm;
      STATEMODE = _flashgreen;
      STATEFLASHGREEN = _init;
    } // if (++PBPRESSTIME >= changergtime)
  } // if (PBlevel == lo)

  if (PBedge == released)
  {
    if (PBPRESSTIMETOTAL < changergtime)
    {
      switch (MODE)
      {
        case _flashingred:
          STATEMODE = _normal;
          STATENORMAL = _yield;
          break;
          
        case _normal:
          STATEMODE = _flashingamber;
          break;
           
        case _flashingamber:
          STATEMODE = _flashingred;
          break;
          
        default:
          STATEMODE = _normal;
      } // switch (MODE)
    } // if (PBPRESSTIMETOTAL < changergtime)
    else  // green/red light on time has been changed so go to normal traffic light mode and begin with amber light
    {
      STATEMODE = _normal;
      STATENORMAL = _yield;
    }
    
    AllLightsOff();
    TIME = 0;                // reset timer so that whatever mode has been selected, light will go through full time allotted
    PBPRESSTIMETOTAL = 0;
    PBPRESSTIME = 0;
  } // if (PBedge == released)
} // void ProcessKey()


void main()
{
  IniReg();

  while(1)
  {
    if (PIR1.TMR2IF)
    {
      PIR1.TMR2IF = 0;
      asm{clrwdt}
      ProcessKey();
      StateMachMain();
    } // if (PIR1.TMR2IF)
  } // while(1)
} // void main()



----

10am Addendum:

Rummaged through the junk bins and found this silicone gasket. It's probably from some old thermos bottle. Still very elastic, has an internal diameter several millimeters smaller than the signal tower's and even matches the cream color of the signal tower and circuit board's plastic case. Great find.

I wiped down the sides of the cap with alcohol, let it dry, coated it with a thin layer of cyanoacrylate adhesive, and then slipped the gasket on. The only problem is I didn't expect the superglue to set within 10 seconds (usually takes about half a minute) so part of what is now the rubber bumper isn't properly aligned with the cap. Oh well.

I knocked the tower over a couple of times. From the sound of the thud it still doesn't match the exceptional shock absorbing properties of the sponge but this will have to do. It certainly beats having no bumpers at all.

1 comment:

  1. This signal tower light is similar to what we have only that it is manufactured by Qlight.
    Signal Tower Lights Supplier

    ReplyDelete