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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 3:19 pm 
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The climate control system in the LEAF quite likely has the worst user interface of anything in the car. I suggest that we debate what it should look like and, if we can come to some agreement, find a way to bring our proposal to Nissan's attention. As a starting point, here is my present opinion as to what the system should look like and how it should behave. These ideas just came to me today, and I may well change my opinion on some of them based on your input.

  1. The MODE button is inconvenient to use and rather inflexible. Relabel it AIRFLOW, and display a ribbon of touch buttons at the bottom of the console when it is pressed. The five buttons would be: Outside air; Windshield; Dash; Floor; and Rear. (I understand that a rear vent is being added in the 2012 model.) Each button would indicate whether it was currently on or off, and each could be set independently. Pressing AIRFLOW again would hide the ribbon.
  2. The most serious omission in the current system is the lack of any heater on/off button. With outside air controlled by the Airflow ribbon, the Fresh air and Recirculate buttons can be repurposed as heater control buttons. Use the top one for high heat and the bottom one for low heat. Clicking either on when it was off would turn the other off if it was on. Clicking either off when it was on would turn off the heater.
  3. Clicking AUTO off will cause all buttons to behave independently in a true manual mode, though they will initially be in whatever state they were in automatic mode. The one interaction is that if only one of the A/C or heat buttons is on, the temperature setting will control cycling of the A/C or heater. If both A/C and a heat button are on, or if neither is, the temperature setting will be ignored.
  4. Clicking AUTO on will allow the system to control several of the button actions, including fan speed, high/Low heat, A/C, and Outside air. The system will respond as it considers appropriate to manual changes made to temperature settings, fan speed settings, and airflow ribbon buttons. Pressing the A/C or high or low heat buttons will turn auto mode off.

Ray

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 4:56 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:21 pm
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Location: SF Bay Area, Ca
Delivery Date: 21 Apr 2011
Leaf Number: 776
When I have the climate control on and I shut it off, it takes me from recirculated air to outside air automatically.
Don't choose outide air, let me keep the air recirculating. This bugs me daily.

In addition to your suggestions, I would like to be able to make my preferred selections, hold the auto button for 3-5 seconds then auto would now be whatever I want it to be. Then I could easily change it every few months as the seasons change. Easy. Like preset radio stations.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 5:23 pm 
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Location: Portland, OR
Delivery Date: 27 Oct 2011
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planet4ever wrote:
1. The MODE button is inconvenient to use and rather inflexible. Relabel it AIRFLOW, and display a ribbon of touch buttons at the bottom of the console when it is pressed. The five buttons would be: Outside air; Windshield; Dash; Floor; and Rear. (I understand that a rear vent is being added in the 2012 model.) Each button would indicate whether it was currently on or off, and each could be set independently. Pressing AIRFLOW again would hide the ribbon.

The mode button is a standard UI for just about every car on the road today so I have no problem with it. I think your suggestion ribbon of buttons, while improving flexibility of where the air is coming from and flowing to, is not necessary.
planet4ever wrote:
2. The most serious omission in the current system is the lack of any heater on/off button. With outside air controlled by the Airflow ribbon, the Fresh air and Recirculate buttons can be re-purposed as heater control buttons. Use the top one for high heat and the bottom one for low heat. Clicking either on when it was off would turn the other off if it was on. Clicking either off when it was on would turn off the heater.

+3 A Heat off button is definitely a good idea, not sure why high vs low heat have much of a benefit other than adding more buttons.

planet4ever wrote:
3. Clicking AUTO off will cause all buttons to behave independently in a true manual mode, though they will initially be in whatever state they were in automatic mode. The one interaction is that if only one of the A/C or heat buttons is on, the temperature setting will control cycling of the A/C or heater. If both A/C and a heat button are on, or if neither is, the temperature setting will be ignored.

Huh? Why so complicated? Heat uses the heater, A/C uses the dehumidifier. If I turn the heat off, then the temp setting goes to the current cabin temp, if I turn A/C off same thing. I may want A/C to dehumidify, if I turn A/C on temp should not be affected. So if I push one of those Auto is disabled. just leave it at that (as described in #4 below).
planet4ever wrote:
Clicking AUTO on will allow the system to control several of the button actions, including fan speed, high/Low heat, A/C, and Outside air. The system will respond as it considers appropriate to manual changes made to temperature settings, fan speed settings, and airflow ribbon buttons. Pressing the A/C or high or low heat buttons will turn auto mode off.[/list]

So in summary I suggest only adding a Heat on/off button. Pressing any button other than Auto disables auto and lets the user manually configure things as they'd like. To me the problem is Climate Control state on startup: When the car first starts leave the climate settings as they were the last time the car was driven, or better yet turn Climate Control OFF when I restart the car until I turn it on.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:04 pm 
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planet4ever wrote:
  1. The MODE button is inconvenient to use and rather inflexible. Relabel it AIRFLOW, and display a ribbon of touch buttons at the bottom of the console when it is pressed.
Relabeling "MODE" to "AIRFLOW" and adding a ribbon is a good start. However, both methods requires the driver to to take eyes off the road. The "airflow" + five-position on-screen ribbon will be slightly better in this respect, because while I don't need to keep looking at the display while pressing the button, I still need to look at the screen to select one of the five positions.

Sometimes the simplest solution is the best: I would prefer a dial which rotates to select airflow blend. The shape of the dial/knob tells me which way it's pointing w/o needing to look at it.

BTW, allowing air to exit from random combinations of five air outlets will mean the "air distribution" box will be more complicated than allowing only the "conventional" mixes of flows where one can only divide air flow between any two outlets at a time (face/feet, feet/defrost, defrost/face). One would need a "junction box" with five outlets, each with an independently controlled valve/door (five moving parts). The "conventional" junction box is just a round box with outlets around its perimeter, and one rotating flap/valve directs air in any of two outlets at one time infinitely adjustable proportions (one moving part).

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:05 pm 
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planet4ever wrote:
  1. [...]
  2. The most serious omission in the current system is the lack of any heater on/off button.
Agreed! I would add a heater on/off switch, and maybe a reminder/suggestion to turn the heater on, in case the user forgets or does not realize that cranking the temperature setting all the way up won't turn on the heater!

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:05 pm 
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planet4ever wrote:
  1. [...]
  2. Clicking AUTO off will cause all buttons to behave independently in a true manual mode, [...]
I'm of the KISS school: I'd rather not have the "AUTO" button altogether. The only "auto" thing will be temperature control, which will only vary the fan speed to attempt to achieve the target temperature. It should not change air intake (fresh versus re-circ), or turn the A/C or the heater on or off.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:13 pm 
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Location: Queen Creek, Arizona
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Also, turning on the fan should not automatically turn the ac back on.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:25 pm 
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padamson1 wrote:
So in summary I suggest only adding a Heat on/off button.
I didn't state this, but one of my objectives was to not force any change to the physical configuration of the buttons. I'm sure some Nissan designers are tickled by the bow-tie effect they created and would resist "destroying" it. So I consider adding a Heat on/off button to be problematic.

padamson1 wrote:
To me the problem is Climate Control state on startup: When the car first starts leave the climate settings as they were the last time the car was driven, or better yet turn Climate Control OFF when I restart the car until I turn it on.
I definitely like the idea of leaving the settings as they were the last time. I'm not so sure about always starting with it off.

padamson1 wrote:
The mode button is a standard UI for just about every car on the road today so I have no problem with it. I think your suggestion ribbon of buttons, while improving flexibility of where the air is coming from and flowing to, is not necessary.
Apparently I haven't driven any "standard" cars. Most cars I've driven have a dial for where the air goes. Our Prius has a climate control screen where we can set nearly anything exactly as we want it. This business of having to punch a button half a dozen times and watch a tiny display until you get to the one you want, and have to go all the way around the choices again if you miss it, all while trying to drive down the road, strikes me as very clumsy and somewhat unsafe. I think Andy may have the best answer, except that it would require a redesign of the physical layout. I hadn't thought, though, about his point that complete flexibility is likely to require a more complex distribution box. Does anyone know if the LEAF uses the sort of rotating single flap he describes?

padamson1 wrote:
A Heat off button is definitely a good idea, not sure why high vs low heat have much of a benefit other than adding more buttons.
It may not have much benefit. I only thought of it when I realized that (a) the most reasonable way to free up a button seemed to be to move the Inside/Outside air function, and (b) that freed up two buttons. But many resistive heaters do have high and low settings because it is easy to wire them that way, and I thought a low setting might be more efficient than cycling on and off. Besides, it gives the driver an explicit way to limit the power draw. I did also think of using one of those two buttons for heat, and the other for Outside air on/off, but I couldn't decide which one to put on top, and it seemed like an illogical pair of functions to put on what was obviously a pair of buttons.

padamson1 wrote:
planet4ever wrote:
3. Clicking AUTO off will cause all buttons to behave independently in a true manual mode, though they will initially be in whatever state they were in automatic mode. The one interaction is that if only one of the A/C or heat buttons is on, the temperature setting will control cycling of the A/C or heater. If both A/C and a heat button are on, or if neither is, the temperature setting will be ignored.
Huh? Why so complicated? Heat uses the heater, A/C uses the dehumidifier.
You've got me there. Actually, I think it sounds more complicated than it is in practice, but providing high and low heat does make it complicated to explain.

padamson1 wrote:
If I turn the heat off, then the temp setting goes to the current cabin temp, if I turn A/C off same thing.
Umm .. that's not what happens now. The setting is remembered and reused later. I like that.

Ray

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 10:10 pm 
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Location: Tujunga
Delivery Date: 12 Mar 2011
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I would get rid of the temperature setting, and simply have a max heat, min. heat, with an energy use attached to the setting. Likewise with the A/C and a total off switch for both. Fan speed as a third setting. Fourth would be the air direction, with fifth and sixth being defrosters for the front and rear to make those a one touch feature.

An auto temperature setting is something I have never liked in any car. Too many variables in me to make it worth the trouble. When I want it hotter, I want a lot of heat NOW, and will turn it off until I want it again. Same thing with getting cold. I don't want to play with a temperature setting to get what I want, and it complicates something that doesn't need to be complex. KISS Keep It Simple Stupid

The AUTO button could be altered to be an on off switch for the heater, one push for XXX KW use, two for XXX+1, two pushes for xxx+2, etc. No more than 5 levels, three would likely be enough.
The A/C would work just like the heat.
The Defroster buttons are already there, as well as the mode and fan speeds. The temperature setting could still be useful for the pre heat, pre cool option, but make it an option, not a setting. Often all I want is a vent, a small amount of outside air. Harder to do than it should be with the current layout.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 11:48 pm 
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Location: Portland, OR
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planet4ever wrote:
Apparently I haven't driven any "standard" cars. Most cars I've driven have a dial for where the air goes. Our Prius has a climate control screen where we can set nearly anything exactly as we want it. This business of having to punch a button half a dozen times and watch a tiny display until you get to the one you want, and have to go all the way around the choices again if you miss it, all while trying to drive down the road, strikes me as very clumsy and somewhat unsafe. I think Andy may have the best answer, except that it would require a redesign of the physical layout. I hadn't thought, though, about his point that complete flexibility is likely to require a more complex distribution box. Does anyone know if the LEAF uses the sort of rotating single flap he describes?

My 2010 Prius has a mode button that functions exactly the same as the Nissan (they pulled the climate control off the TouchScreen that was in the Prius II [which I liked better]). However I misspoke, as not every car has one button that you must cycle to change the mode, but most every car has the same modes (feet, feet & dash, dash, feet & windshield). Yes a dial would be better as you could adjust it by feel without having to look at the screen to verify the mode, but now that I drive the LEAF everyday I've got the modes down and I glance down to see the current mode & don't need to look anymore to change it to what I want.


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