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METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR DRIVING
LED LIGHT SOURCES FOR A PROJECTION
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 5
1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates to image projection displays and more particularly to the circuitry to drive an LED light source employed in an optical pathway of such displays. 10
2. Background Information
Projection systems have been used for many years to project motion pictures and still photographs onto screens for viewing. More recently, presentations using multimedia projection systems have become popular for conducting sales demonstrations, business meetings and classroom instruction. In a typical operating mode, multimedia projection systems receive analog video signals from a personal computer ("PC"). The video signals may represent still, 2Q partial, or full-motion display images of a type rendered by the PC. The analog video signals are typically converted in the projection system into digital video signals, and the signals are electronically conditioned and processed to control an image-forming device, such as a liquid crystal display ^ ("LCD") or a digital micro-mirror device ("DMD").
A popular type of multimedia projection system employs a broad spectrum light source and optical path components upstream and downstream of the image-forming device to project the image onto a display screen. An example of a 30 DMD-based multimedia projector is the model LP420 manufactured by In Focus Systems, Inc., of Wilsonville, Oreg., the assignee of the present application.
Significant effort has been invested into developing projectors producing bright, high-quality, color images. How- 35 ever, the optical performance of conventional projectors is often less than satisfactory. For example, suitable projected image brightness is difficult to achieve, especially when using compact portable color projectors in a well-lighted room. The projectors typically use high intensity arc lamps 40 as their light source and then filter out all of the light except for blue, green, and red light, which are optically transported along three separate light paths or using some form of sequential color modulator. Because LCD displays have significant light attenuation and triple path color light paths 45 are heavy and bulky, portable multimedia projectors typically employ DMD displays in a single light path configuration. Producing a projected color image with this configuration typically requires projecting a frame sequential image through a sequential color modulator such as a color wheel 50 to coordinate color image data.
FIG. 1 shows a typical prior art frame sequential color (FSC) display system 10 in which a sensor 12 senses a timing mark 14 to detect a predetermined color index position of a motor 16 that rotates a color wheel 18 having 55 respective red, green, and blue filter segments R, G, and B. A light source 20 projects a light beam 22 through color wheel 18 and a relay lens 24 onto a display device 26, such as an LCD-based light valve or a DMD. A display controller (not shown) drives display device 26 with sequential red, 60 green, and blue image data that are timed to coincide with the propagation of light beam 22 through the respective filter segments R, G, and B of color wheel 18. A DC motor rotates color wheel 18 at about 6,650 rpm to about 7,500 rpm. Successful operation of a FSC display system depends on 65 properly synchronizing the red, green, and blue image data to the angular position of color wheel 18.
Sensor 12 typically employs opto-electrical or electromechanical shaft position detectors or motor armature position detectors and usually requires some means for aligning timing mark 14 to the start of one of the filter segments. This alignment is typically a costly and error prone mechanical adjustment that accounts for angular differences between motor 16 and the mechanical mounting of filter segments R, G, and B. Of course, electrical or mechanical delays associated with sensor 12 further contribute to alignment errors. The accumulated angular errors open the possibility of synchronization errors between the red, green, and blue image data to the angular position of color wheel 18, a possibility that prior art projectors avoid by building a timing duty cycle into the display controller electronics.
The timing duty cycle provides for driving display device 26 with the red, green, and blue image data for only a portion of the time during which the light beam 22 is propagated through each of respective filter segments R, G, and B. This prevents presenting display device 26 with improperly colored light. For example, the timing duty cycle provides for blanking the sequential image to a DMD device in order to change the color and brightness as is required by prior art color wheel systems with fixed-sized filter segments. Unfortunately, the timing duty cycle reduces the total amount of illumination available for displaying each color which, in turn, reduces the brightness of the displayed color image. In addition, color wheels 18 and their associated motors are heavy and noisy.
An alternative technique is to use an array of light emitting devices (LEDs) as the source of light in projection display systems. The use of an LED light source substantially eliminates the mechanical, optical, and electrical rotational timing errors that are intrinsic to color wheel systems, and is described in a commonly assigned co-pending application Ser. No. 09/507,260, now issued as U.S. Pat. No. 6,224,216 on May 1, 2001, by Fred Parker et al. and entitled "System and Method Employing LED Light Sources for a Projection Display," the subject matter of which is herein incorporated by reference.
Rather than starting with a broadband light source and filtering out the undesired wavelengths, the LEDs emit desired wavelengths such as the primary colors red, green, and blue. As a result, the use of LEDs as the light source in a projection display system eliminates the need for color wheels, color wheel motors, or beam splitters. In addition, the LEDs offer a longer life, fewer thermal and environmental issues than mercury-containing high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps, better primary colors and redundancy for failed LED die, or dice.
Circuits for driving an LED array are known in the art. For example, an LED array circuit for use in retrofitting traffic signal displays with LEDs is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,936,599. However, LED array circuits in traffic signals, which display simple static images, do not address the complex sequencing and control requirements for the generation of light suitable for a projection display system. What is needed, therefore, is an LED array circuit for a projection display system that is capable of driving an LED array for displaying complex and dynamic multi-colored images.
According to one aspect of the invention, a circuit is provided to drive LEDs that emit light in desired wavelengths, such as the primary colors red, green, and blue, which serve as the light source for a projection display