Return of the Rotary

07 January 2016

The Return of the Rotary dial to lighting controls is a reinvention of a familiar lighting control interface which has all but disappeared in commercial lighting control applications.

Now the Rotary dial is a digital encoder and its this digitisation which heralds a new world of opportunities beyond what could be achieved with the previous analogue dimmers of old.

But this revolution is not just limited to digital functionality and is equally applied to the asthetics with some simple but innovative mechanical options to enable the digital rotary dial to be functional and beautiful.

Why Use a Rotary Dial?

A rotary dial is a lighting interface everyone understands.

When one rotates the dial to the right the lights go up; when I rotate the dial the opposite direction the lights dim down.

Simple and effective with all the control needed to set an exact lighting level.

The rotary dial is an unassuming yet intuitive interface to control lighting. And unlike multi-button light switches or high end touch screens and panels the humble rotary dial invites users rather than frightening them.

Its simplicity even conveys its operation without the need for labeling.

What is a Digital Rotary Encoder?

The RAPIX Rotary switch is a Digital Rotary Encoder. This means that its operation is not fixed and can be modified to suit the desired operation.

This RAPIX rotary dial interface also includes a built in switch, typically used to turn one or a group or collection of lights on or off. However as it is digital this switching operation can be customised with long and short press instructions, press and release instructions to affect a single light source or an entire building.

Again as a result of the digitisation of the rotary interface it is also possible to adjust the speed at which rotating the dial in either direction dims the lighting. That is, with its subtle tactile feedback, how many rotations does the dial travel compared to how much the lights dim.

This fine tuning of control provides an extremely responsive and tactile interface which can be modified to suit a user’s needs to a very fine level, simply.

QuickFlick (TM)

Taking a leaf out of modern tablet interface an extension of the dials operation provides a QuickFlick(TM) functionality.

Just as a modern day tablets allow the user multiple gestures to perform different functions, so the QuickFlick(TM) function extends the functionality of the simple dial yet further.

A user can quickly flick the dial in either direction and the connected lighting will immediately transform to maximum output or minimum output respectively without a fade rate.

A Rotary Dial that Looks Great Too

With the introduction of 2 sizes of dials and some simple latex rings, the rotary dials has been made more versatile than ever before.

A large dial and a small dial ensure the correct aesthetics and operation are easily achieved. A single small dial on a plate looks out of place where a single large dial has a more comfortable modern aesthetic.

For example a single wall plate could encompass a large dial in the bottom position and a small dial in the top position, each with a different coloured ring. The size and the colour coding make it clear to a user that the dials do not have the same operation.

The large dial may be programmed to switch and dim all lighting in a boardroom, whilst the smaller dial is dedicated to controlling the lighting above the screen or projected image.

The latex rings affix to the dials and allow a subtle glow from the included white and amber selectable LED back-lights. These back-lights are controllable to provide state indication and operation and can be turned off when the lights turn off too.

This back-lighting capability is another result of digitisation and further adding to the intuitive operation for the user.

The Rotary: A New Hope

Lighting controls has spent so long searching for the next big thing in control interfaces, when all the time the rotary was in plain sight.

Digitisation now provides the expanded control and functionality needed in a modern lighting control system such as RAPIX Lighting Control. Whilst evolution of the mechanical design elements has transformed its select-ability in modern architectural commercial office spaces.

There is still hope that lighting control interfaces can provide people a simple and intuitive interface and look good doing it.

This is possible with the RAPIX Lighting Control System, a new Lighting control system embedded with Ethernet and DALI out of the box to create a new generation of DALI Lighting Control System which is easier to design, simpler to install and faster to commission.