Optical Design Software for Solidworks and Rhino
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Real world uses of Photopia
Use Photopia to design and analyize architectural lighting systems directly in SOLIDWORKS and Rhinoceros
Photopia is the perfect optical design software for your tunable white, circadian lighting or RGBW mixing optical design projects. Photopia includes a large range of accurate white and RGB LED source models based on their physical geometry and measured spectral properties. Photopia also produces all standard photometric reports & plots for indoor, roadway and floodlight applications. Furthermore, Photopia’s true color images, color reports & special colorimetric plots help you both qualitatively & quantitatively evaluate the color uniformity in your beam. This is helpful when using single color white LEDs due to their variable spectrums over emission angle and emission area. It’s even more essential in tunable white applications with 2 or more different CCT LEDs used in the same optic.
This example tunable white reflector optic uses an array of 14 LEDs, half at 2700K and half at 5000K. The LED array is arranged to mix the colors as best as possible, but there are still large gaps between the LEDs of each color. Putting a simple diffuser in front of this LED array would mix the colors well, but that also eliminates your ability to control the beam distribution. Many designs require specific intensity distributions such as a wide batwing, asymmetric wall washer or narrower spots & floods. This example achieves a 40° medium flood beam angle. Producing a controlled beam angle with well mixed colors requires adding beam spreading features to the optic that blend just the right amount, but no more. The types of curved facets shown on this reflector are an effective mechanism for controlled beam spread. These types of features can be quickly generated for reflector and lens optics with the Grasshopper tool provided in one of our tutorials.
The first true color image shows the appearance of the spot produced when the color mixing is not quite enough. If you look closely around the beam perimeter, you will see alternating regions that are more blue and more yellow. As the design gets closer to producing well mixed results, it becomes more difficult to see the subtle changes in the true color image, which in part depends on the quality of your display.
The “Delta u'v' from Average” plot makes it much easier to identify color difference trends in the beam. In this plot, black represents the average beam color and bright green is the largest difference from the average. In the uniform u'v' color space, a color difference of 0.001 is 1 MacAdam Ellipse, which is a just perceptible color difference. Keeping max color differences to 0.004 within the main beam angle is a common goal for single color designs. This is much more difficult to achieve in a tunable white design, which therefore puts a greater emphasis on reducing the chance of perceiving distinct blue/yellow patterns in the beam. The “Delta u'v' from Average” plot for this beam clearly shows the blue/yellow color differences around the perimeter from the 10 alternating color LEDs.
With additional color mixing features, the color uniformity has been significantly improved. The changes around the beam perimeter are no longer seen and there is now only a smoothly changing color from the beam center outward, a much more acceptable trend.
Successfully designing this type of optic so that it works the first time you build it is not possible without accurate color LED models, useful optical design tools & relevant output, all of which is provided by Photopia.
In addition to visual color quality renderings, Photopia contains complete color data on any illuminance surface and for the entire distribution. This allows you to verify the final mixed CCT, determine compliance with Delta u'v' metrics, and quantify color in specific parts of the beam.
✔ Total luminous and radiant flux
✔ Total CCT, u'v', uv, and xy
✔ Delta u'v' over beam, field and distribution
✔ Color coordinates and uniformity for each illuminace plane
✔ IESX file with color for each angle in distribution
Photopia can be used to model lighting effects not possible in standard lighting design software such as AGI32, Dialux & Relux. Luminaires in lighting design software are approximated as uniformly emitting rectangular boxes and room surfaces are generally assumed to be diffuse. Any glossy reflections shown in lighting design software renderings are only approximated effects using a single pass ray trace at the end of the image generation process. Such effects don't influence computed lux values. Luminaire photometry doesn't generally include spectral properties and when it's assigned, it's generally constant over the entire distribution. By contrast, Photopia can model any light source geometry & spectral properties along with any type of material scattering & spectral properties.
To the left is a luminaire modeled with randomized holes in the shade with red, green & blue LEDs inside. Since the LEDs are all in unique locations, they project offset patterns through the holes onto the surrounding room surfaces. Their colors are all mixed in the beam center however, which includes their direct light plus light reflected off the white reflector.
The reflector geometry itself was generated within Rhino using both Photopia's Parametric Optical Design Tools and Grasshopper. Grasshopper was used to create the Voronoi pattern holes through the reflector surface.
This type of design evaluation can be done in both SOLIDWORKS & Rhino. While Photopia builds on the modeling power of both CAD systems, in this case it gets a direct benefit from Grasshopper while running within Rhino.
Underwater applications include several challenges for accurate photometric modeling.
Photopia can model all these effects by properly tracking the light as it starts in air within the luminaires, passes through a glass lens and exits into water. Once the rays are in water, their spectral properties change due to the water’s non-uniform spectral absorption properties (longer wavelengths absorb at a higher rate). Rays also TIR and Fresnel reflect off the top surface water/air interface, helping light propagate further in the water.
Color mixing effects are shown in this example with RGB pool lights set so one emits full red, another full blue and another full green.
In addition to the visual effects, Photopia shows quantitative results accounting for all the light interactions within the water, allowing designers to confirm adequate lighting levels are achieved. This is something very difficult to physically verify before full construction of a project, making the simulation all the more important.
Photopia is ideally suited for designing and evaluating the performance of luminaires that interact with surfaces at very close proximity. This wall grazer design is intended to be mounted so that it nearly touches the wall being lit. “Far-field” photometry does not adequately quantify the way this luminaire will interact with the wall. The 3D rays within and emitting from the luminaire model in Photopia precisely describe the light field it produces. Surfaces can therefore be placed anywhere, including within the luminaire, to see how the light interacts with those surfaces.
The 2D raytrace for this wall grazer illustrates how the main reflector aims light toward the wall, directing the majority down the wall surface and tapering a small amount toward the top. The vertical back reflector in this case can't produce a precisely controlled beam that blends well with the main beam, so it is made from a diffusing dark gray surface to minimize the extra light at the top of the wall.
This 1200mm long extruded luminaire uses 4 LED boards with offset mounted LEDs that help minimize beam shadowing caused by the PCB and thus maximize the amount of light the main reflector can direct toward the wall.
The design was first evaluated for the beam uniformity along a flat, 3m x 3m wall surface. This style reflector produces an extremely sharp cutoff toward the room, as seen on the direct beam floor illuminance. This type of luminaire is commonly used to illuminate textured wall surfaces however, so simulating it with the actual wall geometry is extremely helpful. The rock wall image shows the reflected light (exitance) from the slate gray stone surface and a madeira brown floor using the 4000K LED boards. Light spreads further across the floor in the rock wall image since it includes the light reflected from the wall onto the floor. The rock surface was generated with a Grasshopper definition in Rhino, so it’s fully parameterized and another illustration of the benefits of Photopia running directly inside of Rhino.
The first step to evaluating if Photopia is a good fit for your company is to schedule an online demonstration where one of our expert optical engineers will discuss your projects and give you a walkthrough of the software.
After the online demo, we're happy to provide a 2 week trial license so that you can use the software on your own projects or show it to others in your office.
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