US 20060214502 A1
A control handle for electromechanical devices, such as the brakes of a train or other vehicle, is disclosed. The control handle incorporates elements for electrical switching as well as elements for measuring the angle of rotation between the control handle's rotating portion and its stationary portion. Some of the switching elements and measuring elements are combined onto a single printed circuit board in order to reduce size, complexity, and cost.
1. A control handle comprising:
a grip arranged to be grasped by a human operator;
a shaft fastened to the grip;
a hub fastened to the shaft and arranged to be moved rotationally by the shaft;
a spiral resonator and switch trace board supported by the hub;
a stationary mounting block supporting the hub for movement;
a switch contact supported by the stationary mounting block; and
a spiral track and main board supported by the stationary mounting block.
2. The control handle of
3. The control handle of
4. The control handle of
5. The control handle of
6. The control handle of
7. A method comprising:
converting movement of a human operator to mechanical movement of a shaft;
moving a hub in response to the movement of the shaft, wherein the hub is attached to the shaft and is supported by a stationary mounting block;
moving a spiral resonator and switch trace board supported by the hub;
determining a hub position measurement of the movement of the spiral resonator board and switch trace board in relation to a spiral track and main board where the spiral track and main board is supported by the stationary mounting block;
activating and deactivating electrical circuits based on the interaction of the spiral resonator board and a switch contact where the switch contact is supported by the stationary mounting block; and
generating as a control output based on the hub position measurement and the states of the electrical circuits.
8. The method of
9. The method of
10. The method of
11. The method of
12. The method of
13. A control handle comprising:
a moveable shaft;
a moveable member fixedly fastened to the moveable shaft and arranged to be moved by the moveable shaft;
a spiral resonator and switch trace board supported by the moveable member;
a stationary member supporting the moveable member for movement;
a switch contact supported by the stationary member; and
a spiral track and main board supported by the stationary member.
14. The control handle of
15. The control handle of
16. The control handle of
17. The control handle of
18. The control handle of
19. The control handle of
20. The control handle of
21. The control handle of
Embodiments relate to a novel and improved control handle. Embodiments also relate to control handles containing both electrical switches and a spiral position sensor as integral elements.
Prior control handles are typically implemented with pneumatic, mechanical, or electrical hardware. In high reliability applications, such as for brake systems for locomotives, the control handles are almost entirely implemented with pneumatic or mechanical linkages. Control handles implemented with electrical hardware are disclosed in two published patent applications, incorporated here by reference, numbered 20040168606 and 20040168539. The control handles disclosed in those applications are superior to previous handles because they are smaller, easier to maintain, and more reliable.
Spiral sensors are a type of non-contact robust position sensor that is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,815,091, also incorporated by reference. In essence, a spiral sensor consists of 2 parts, one that moves in relation to the other. The output of the sensor is a measurement of the relative displacement between the two parts. Applications 20040168606 and 20040168539 disclose, but do not claim, using Spiral Sensors in a control handle. Applications 20040168606 and 20040168539 also disclose a control handle wherein contact switches are used to detect handle position. However, they do not disclose a control handle in which both contact switches and a Spiral sensor are used. Furthermore, they do not disclose a control handle wherein electrical switching elements and Spiral sensor elements are combined on the same printed circuit board.
The present invention combines electrical switches and Spiral sensing to overcome limitations in the prior art.
In accordance with an aspect of the embodiments a control handle is here described. By pushing and pulling on the handle, a person causes a hub mounted inside a stationary mounting block to rotate. The hub is part of a rotating assembly that includes the handle, shaft, hub, Spiral resonator and switch trace board, and a Spiral insulating cup. The stationary mounting block is part of a non-moving assembly including the block itself, a switch contact, a Spiral track and main board, and a Spiral insulating cup. The switch traces on the Spiral resonator and switch trace board and the switch contact interact to activate and deactivate electrical circuits. The Spiral resonator on the Spiral resonator and switch trace board and the Spiral track on the Spiral track and main board interact to produce a measurement of the relative angular offset between the Spiral track and the Spiral resonator. As such, rotation of the hub causes electrical switching and a changing measurement of the angular offset. The electrical circuits and the position measurement can be used to control electromechanical hardware, such as the brakes on a locomotive.
In accordance with another aspect, a movable shaft, connected to a moveable element is moved. The motion causes the moveable element to move in relation to a stationary element. The moveable element is part of a moveable assembly that includes the shaft, moveable element, Spiral resonator and switch trace board, and a Spiral insulating element. The stationary element is part of a non-moving assembly containing stationary element, a switch contact, a Spiral track and main board, and a Spiral insulating element. The geometry of the entire apparatus is not constrained to any one type of motion. For example, the motion could be along a line, along a curve or on a plane. The result of moving the moveable element in relation to the stationary element is electrical switching and a measurement of relative position. The electrical circuits and the position measurements can also be used to control electro-mechanical hardware, such as the brakes on a locomotive.
The accompanying figures, in which like reference numerals refer to identical or functionally similar elements throughout the separate views and which are incorporated in and form a part of the specification, further illustrate the present invention and, together with the background of the invention, brief summary of the invention, and detailed description of the invention, serve to explain the principles of the present invention.
The present invention is a control handle similar to those currently used to control the brakes of a train. It is an advance over the prior art handles because it combines elements of electrical switching with a Spiral position sensor. An overview of features of a control handle is shown in
A rotating assembly 3 is shown in
A stationary assembly is shown in
A Spiral resonator and switch trace board 7 is shown in
A Spiral track and main board 10 is shown in
The design, manufacture, and use of switch traces 14, continuous traces 15, and switch contacts 11 can be understood by those skilled in the art of switching circuits. Similarly, the switch contact 11 can be used to deactivate an electrical circuit when electric current cannot flow because the switch contact strips 22 are not touching the switch traces 14 properly. In the preferred embodiment, rotation of the switch traces with respect to the contact switch completes and breaks electrical circuits. A continuous trace 15 interacts with the switch contact 11 the same way as a switch trace 14 except that switch contact strips 22 are in continuous contact with the continuous trace 15. The continuous trace in the preferred embodiment of the present invention is not required to be in all embodiments of the present invention. Similarly, there can be multiple switch contacts in a different embodiment of the present invention even though the preferred embodiment has only one. The status of the electrical circuits as activated or deactivated can be used as switched control signals. The switched control signals can be used to control the brakes of a vehicle, such as a train.
The Spiral resonator 13 induced changes in the magnetic field also affect the electrical current in the Spiral track 19. Changing currents in the Spiral track 19 also changes the voltage in the Spiral track 19. A peak detector 23 monitors the changing voltage and sends the peak voltage to a gain stage 30, which amplifies it. The amplified voltage from the gain stage 30 is then read, via an analog to digital converter 31, by the microcontroller 28. The microcontroller 28 uses the measured voltage to calculate the angular position of the Spiral resonator 13 in relation to the Spiral track 19 and sends that calculation out as the Spiral sensor output 29. The Spiral sensor output 29 of the Spiral resonator can be used as a control signal. The control signal can be used to control the brakes of a vehicle, such as a train.
An aspect of the embodiment illustrated in
The preferred embodiment produces a control output that can include the Spiral sensor output and switched control signals. As shown in
As shown in
An advantage of the present invention is that it is smaller, and less expensive than other control handles. A control handle with multiple Spiral sensors and switching elements can be built. In the preferred embodiment, all of the Spiral elements and switching elements are on one side of the hub 5. All those elements can be duplicated on the other side of the hub to produce a control handle with multiple or redundant outputs. Similarly, those elements can also be put onto the same printed circuit board to again produce a control handle with multiple or redundant outputs.
The preferred embodiment is restricted to rotary movement. Another embodiment of the invention removes that restriction to allow the moveable portion of the control handle to move along a line, plane, or curve. The alternative embodiments would operate similarly to the preferred one, but for some minor changes in certain elements. The minor changes are the result of replacing the rotationally constrained elements with ones that are not so constrained. The hub becomes a moveable member. The Spiral cups become Spiral insulating forms. The stationary mounting block becomes a stationary member. The function of these parts remains the same while their range of allowed movement is no longer constrained to rotation.
The embodiment and examples set forth herein are presented to best explain the present invention and its practical application and to thereby enable those skilled in the art to make and utilize the invention. Those skilled in the art, however, will recognize that the foregoing description and examples have been presented for the purpose of illustration and example only. Other variations and modifications of the present invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art, and it is the intent of the appended claims that such variations and modifications be covered.
The description as set forth is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the scope of the invention. Many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teaching without departing from the scope of the following claims. It is contemplated that the use of the present invention can involve components having different characteristics. It is intended that the scope of the present invention be defined by the claims appended hereto, giving full cognizance to equivalents in all respects.